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Every MCU Villain's Most Heroic Moment

List Rules
Vote up the MCU moments where villains did a little good for a change.

It can be extremely cathartic in an MCU film when villains become heroes, even for a brief moment in time. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is mostly made up of pretty straightforward superhero flicks, meaning the bad guys are bad guys with almost zero room for nuance or complication. That being said, there have been a couple of times where MCU antagonists have proven themselves to be more than heartless criminals with a compunction for murder.

Not every villain needs to meet a grisly end with nothing but negative marks on their report card. Loki and Nebula became full, satisfying examples of MCU villains turned heroes. Skurge sacrificed himself to save innocent Asgardians at the end of Thor: Ragnarok. Heck, Mysterio was even a pretty good mentor for Peter Parker there, for a while. Remember it's never too late to change, and vote up your favorite moments of baddies putting on the white hat.

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  • Loki Sacrifices Himself To Try And Stop Thanos - Or At Least Buy Some Time
    Photo: Avengers: Infinity War / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Remember when Loki took the throne after getting his brother banished from Asgard in Thor? How about when he tried to take over the Earth with the might of the Chitauri army in The Avengers? Or when he faked his demise in Thor: The Dark World and subsequently pretended to be Odin to rule over the Nine Realms? Well, the Loki of the early MCU had clearly evolved by the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War.

    The trickster god's final gambit comes when he attempts to stab Thanos after pledging his "undying fidelity" to the Mad Titan. Had Loki succeeded, half the universe would've been saved! Alas, Thanos is ready for the betrayal, and he subsequently chokes the God of Mischief to death in front of his brother's eyes. Maybe becoming a hero so late in the game wasn't a good choice, eh?

    491 votes
  • Adrian Toomes Keeps Spider-Man's Identity A Secret In Lock-Up
    Photo: Spider-Man: Homecoming / Sony Pictures Releasing

    Getting the great Michael Keaton to portray Adrian Toomes in Spider-Man: Homecoming was a complete coup for Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios. Who else could realistically play a loving dad who moonlights as a practical supervillain who is just a little bit unhinged? And though Toomes does try to slay Peter Parker by the end of the film, he also decides not to sell him out when Mac Gargan comes looking for Spider-Man's identity.

    The Vulture may be a villain, but he's not about to sign a teenager's death warrant. Maybe it has something to do with what Toomes said when he figured out Peter was Spidey? "Nothing is more important than family," he explained. "You saved my daughter's life, and I could never forget something like that." Ugh, what a good scene.

    491 votes
  • Nebula Eliminates Her Own Alternate-Universe Self To Protect Hawkeye
    Photo: Avengers: Endgame / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    While Loki may be the more popular villain-to-hero turn in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Nebula's is arguably more impactful. Loki's upbringing in the shadow of Thor wasn't really all that bad, and the God of Mischief seemingly suffered from serious sibling envy more than anything else. Nebula, on the other hand, was tormented by her adoptive father, Thanos, and was forced to fight her sister, Gamora, over and over and over. When she lost (and she always did), she would be "enhanced" with a new robotic body part. It's understandable that Nebula is a misguided villain when we first meet her in Guardians of the Galaxy, but by the time Avengers: Endgame hit theaters, Nebula was an entirely different person.

    She had spent time mourning the loss of her sister, coming to terms with the demise of her father, and working with the Avengers to keep peace in the galaxy. When a time-displaced version of herself from the past threatens to kill Hawkeye and take the Infinity Stones to her father - this time threatening to end all life in the universe - Nebula shoots her then and there. It is the culmination of her story arc, and it is incredible to see such a fleshed-out supporting character fulfill her potential in the background of four films.

    389 votes
  • Yondu Helps The Guardians And Nova Corps In The 'Battle of Xandar'
    Photo: Guardians of the Galaxy / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Foreshadowing his eventual Guardian status in the film's sequel, Yondu assists Peter Quill's goofy band of misfits as they team with the Nova Corps to stop Ronan the Accuser in Guardians of the Galaxy. Yondu does this only because he believes he'll get his hands on an Infinity Stone at the end of the day, but stopping the destruction of a planet is a heroic act however you slice it.

    And seeing the mohawked pirate use his whistle-powered Yaka Arrow to take out a whole bunch of Sakaarans in mere seconds is pretty cool. When he figures out that Quill has tricked him by swapping out the Power Stone at the last second, Yondu doesn't even seem that mad about it! He laughs it off. That is a man with a sense of humor, right there.

    432 votes
  • Skurge Sacrifices Himself To Save Innocent Asgardians As The Realm Is Destroyed
    Photo: Thor: Ragnarok / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Skurge the Executioner was never the bravest Asgardian around. When Hela storms into Asgard near the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok, he puts his hands up in deference. "I'm just the janitor," he exclaims. When Hela is slaughtering Asgard's army, he doesn't lift a finger. Even when Hela commands him to take innocent lives, he almost does so before being spared the trauma at the last minute. All in all, Skurge wasn't a heroic guy.

    That being said, he did come to the rescue of various Asgardian innocents during the final Battle of Asgard. The bald warrior got to use his beloved machine guns to mow down some of Hela's Berserkers before taking a sword to the heart. The guy could've laid low and lived another day, but he couldn't live with himself if he did, so he laid down his life to save others. Good on you, Skurge.

    356 votes
  • Xu Wenwu Relinquishes The Ten Rings To Shang-Chi So He Can Save Ta-Lo
    Photo: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Family ties play a major role in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Our titular hero has complicated relationships with everyone in the primary cast, and the scars of his mother's demise drive the film's main plot as Wenwu leads a charge into Ta-Lo to set her free. Of course, she's dead, and he spends the entire film hearing the manipulative whispers of the Dweller-in-Darkness ringing in his ears. Wenwu believes his wife is still alive, though, and things come to a head when he comes face-to-face with his son outside of Ta-Lo's Dark Gate.

    The Dweller-in-Darkness ends up being freed by Wenwu, and as his soul is taken from his body against his will, Wenwu releases control of the Ten Rings to his son to stop the Soul Eater from wreaking havoc upon the planet. With the power of the Ten Rings, Shang-Chi becomes the superhero he was always destined to be. Shang-Chi's father caused the whole mess, but at least he realized his mistake in the end and had one last moment with his son in the process.

    250 votes