How Do Villains' Powers Work In The MCU

So many of Marvel's heroes are pitted against MCU villains that have powers. This means that many nerds leaving the theater after another entry in the never-ending franchise will be left wondering about a lot more than where they parked their car. Instead, their heads will be filled with questions like "Who is the most powerful villain in the MCU?" and "How do villain superpowers work?" 

Luckily, along with offering various jargon-filled explanations for how the heroes' powers work in the MCU films, these movie writers are absolutely unwilling to leave the villains' powers up to the viewer's imagination. Each MCU film is filled with a glorious amount of pseudoscience that fully explains where the villains got their fearsome abilities and exactly how they are able to use them. 


  • Loki may not be a true Asgardian, but he is the God of Mischief. Loki's power of illusions helped him earn that title. 

    Loki can manipulate illusions and project holograms that force any viewers to see the world how he wants them to. Loki frequently uses this ability to project holograms of himself and trick others into believing they're talking to (or fighting with) the real Loki. Loki could also conceal his appearance and the appearance of others just as easily as he could project new ones. 

    Loki is also an adept shapeshifter. He can alter his own appearance and the appearances of those around him. Interestingly enough, when Loki alters someone's entire form, it emits a green light. When Loki alters the clothes or objects a person is wearing, they emit orange light. This hints at different spells Loki is using depending on the degree of alteration he is attempting. 

  • When Ego first appeared to Star-Lord, he was in a human form that looked a lot like Kurt Russell. But, in fact, that body was not truly Ego. Instead, the humanoid body was just an avatar Ego used when he desired, and Ego himself was a massive brain with no body of any kind. 

    Initially, Ego was nothing more than a brain drifting through space with the ability to manipulate matter (also known as a Celestial). As an unprotected brain, Ego decided to create a shield around himself in the form of a planet. From there, he created an avatar he could send across the galaxy. Because the Kurt Russell body isn't really him (or a human at all), Ego can manipulate it in ways a human body couldn't be manipulated. For instance, it possessed super strength and could instantaneously heal itself. 

  • Aldrich Killian's Extremis Tech Used Nanotechnology To Rewrite Human DNA Into Supercharging The Body's Bio-Electric And Metabolism Processes

    Initially, Tony Stark underestimated and disregarded both Aldrich Killian's AIM project and Maya Hansen's Extremis experimentation. Sadly for Tony, these two projects eventually linked up and came back to bite him, as Killian partnered with Hansen to fund Extremis. 

    Killian gained superhuman abilities after being injected with the Extremis virus. Extremis worked by overwriting the DNA of the injected party to upgrade the user's body in various ways. The point of Extremis was to help the body regenerate limbs and recover from damage. Sadly, the formula was never quite right, and the virus supercharged the body to the point of spontaneous combustion. 

    Basically, Extremis uses the body's own bio-electricity to activate centers of the brain involved with repair. The heat exhibited by Extremis users is a result of the virus supercharging the body's metabolism. 

  • After Killmonger defeated T'Challa in combat, he gained a couple of interesting perks along with the throne. Becoming the king of Wakanda means becoming the Black Panther. To become the Black Panther, the king needs to consume a plant known as the Heart-Shaped Herb, which gives its consumer super-soldier-like abilities. 

    Everyone knows some of Black Panther's abilities come from his vibranium suit. But, in fact, all of Black Panther's abilities come from vibranium in one way or another. Vibranium came to Earth by way of a comet colliding with the planet's surface. The Heart-Shaped Herb only gained its powers because it was one of the plants surrounding the comet, and it was affected by the radiation coming off of the vibranium. After thousands of years of radiation absorption, the plant was powerful enough to give anyone that consumed it incredible abilities. So, vibranium gives the Black Panther (including Erik Killmonger) power on the inside and out. 

  • Ebony Maw was a member of the Black Order and aided Thanos in his quest to eliminate half of all life in the galaxy. Maw was primarily seen using telekinesis throughout the MCU films, which may have led some to believe he was some sort of alien mutant in the vein of Charles Xavier. In fact, Maw was a gifted sorcerer who chose to primarily weaponize his magical abilities in the form of telekinesis. 

    Much of Maw's alien sorcery is unknown to Earthlings, but it's clear he's a master, as he was able to quickly and easily take down the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth

  • There are many misconceptions about Thanos, the greatest villain and conqueror the MCU has ever seen. One of the biggest misconceptions about Thanos is that his strength comes solely from his precious Infinity Stones. While it's true the stones give Thanos the power to warp reality, they aren't what make him physically strong. 

    Thanos is a Titan. Titans are a race of beings that possess far greater strength than seen on Earth, even counting the many heroes that reside there. At the beginning of Infinity War, Thanos displayed his strength by completely decimating the Hulk. Some believed he was aided by the Infinity Stone he was wearing, but the film's directors revealed that not to be the case. Discussing how Thanos beat up the Hulk, Joe Russo said, "I would say that he’s just that powerful. You didn’t see him actively use the Power Stone in the fight." Russo explained that although Thanos isn't much stronger than Hulk, if at all, Thanos's superior fighting skills aided him in beating down the mindless Hulk.