MCU Villains With The Best Motivations For Being A Villain

Over 700 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of MCU Villains With The Best Motivations For Being A Villain
Voting Rules
Vote up the MCU villains who at least have a solid reason for being evil.

When you are looking at a list of MCU villains, some are more understandable than others. Iron Man 3's Aldrich Killian seems like the worst, Ronan the Accuser appears to be someone who doesn't really even need a rational motivation for his deeds, and Peter Quill's dad, Ego, is clearly just a jerk.

However, not all villains are created equal - and that applies to MCU antagonists, as well. Fan favorites like Killmonger and Loki are obvious choices here, but there are plenty of others to consider. Ghost was just looking to cure her molecular instability that stemmed from a childhood accident that claimed both her parents. Kaecilius was just looking to reunite with his deceased wife and son. Ultron was just looking to save the world from the destruction caused by humanity. Let's break down the MCU baddies with the best motivations for their actions.

Photo: Black Panther / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

  • Ghost Was Looking To Cure The Molecular Instability That Resulted From A Childhood Accident
    Photo: Ant-Man and the Wasp / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Ava Starr lost both of her parents in an accident where a quantum tunnel exploded and left her with a molecular instability that has her constantly switching between tangible and intangible states of being. This shifting between quantum states is extremely painful for Ava, and would've eventually led to her demise had Janet van Dyne not cured her at the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp.

    Are the childhood loss of both your parents and constant pain from molecular instability an excuse to commit crimes? Um, well, no. However, it's hard not to see Ava's side of things - and something tells us we haven't seen the last of the character in the MCU.

    382 votes
  • After a traumatic childhood involving the slaying of his father at the hands of his uncle, Erik Killmonger became a ruthless member of a US black ops group. He would go on to make his way to Wakanda, challenge his cousin T'Challa for the throne, and become the king of Wakanda - all with the goal of arming oppressed African immigrants around the world.

    Was Killmonger a monster who had no scruples about dispatching anyone who stood in his way? Unquestionably. But at the end of the day, his passion for trying to help oppressed peoples around the world instead of hiding away is admirable. If only he wasn't such a bloodthirsty madman.

    540 votes
  • The Vulture Was Driven By A Desperate Need To Provide For His Family
    Photo: Spider-Man: Homecoming / Sony Pictures Releasing

    Right after the Battle of New York in The Avengers, salvage company owner Adrian Toomes gained a contract to help clean up the wreckage of the city. Toomes invested all his money into bolstering the company's capabilities - then the Stark-backed Damage Control took over the clean-up, wiping Toomes's business out in the process.

    With seemingly nowhere else to turn for revenue, Toomes and his crew turned to reverse-engineering Chitauri weapons for sale on the black market. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and all that. Still, selling illegal weapons doesn't seem like the best way to make a living.

    408 votes
  • Helmut Zemo Lost His Entire Family In The Battle Of Sokovia
    Photo: Captain America: Civil War / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    As traumatic as losing a parent or partner is, it's often said there is nothing more harrowing than losing a child. So imagine just how horrible it would be to lose your father, your partner, and your son all in one fell swoop. That is exactly what drove Helmut Zemo to break up the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War.

    Zemo blames the Avengers for the loss of his family and takes it upon himself to make sure there are no more innocent casualties from their epic conflicts with the evil powers that be. What machinations will he get up to in the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier? We'll have to wait and see.

    382 votes
  • 5
    133 VOTES

    Sylvie Just Wanted To Stop The TVA From Destroying Lives Like They Did Hers

    Sylvie Just Wanted To Stop The TVA From Destroying Lives Like They Did Hers
    Photo: Loki / Disney+

    Sylvie Laufeydottir was a child in Asgard, playing with toys, when Ravonna Renslayer and other members of the TVA showed up to arrest her for the crime of being a Variant against the Sacred Timeline. Young Sylvie was able to escape before her scheduled “pruning,” but was thereafter forced to live her life on the run, hopping back and forth between various apocalypses to stay ahead of the TVA.

    As she ran, Sylvie eventually made it her mission to return to the TVA and burn it to the ground, both in the literal and figurative senses. While she spoke often about the tyranny of the TVA, and how their dedication to one singular timeline constituted the removal of free will, it was always clear that her primary motivation was to stop the TVA from destroying the lives of more innocent individuals - innocents like her. 

    133 votes
  • Loki Was Left To Perish By His Real Father And Was Raised In The Shadow Of His Adopted Brother, Thor
    Photo: Thor / Paramount Pictures

    What kind of adventures will Loki embark upon in his self-titled Disney+ series after all of the character development he's gone through since 2012's The Avengers has been wiped out? It's hard to say, but the Loki that stole the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame was still coming to grips with his identity after finding out he was abandoned by his real father and adopted by Odin.

    Loki has long been one of the MCU's most dynamic characters, and his oscillation between villain, antihero, and actual hero has been fun to watch - especially in light of his genuine identity crisis. But is familial strife reason enough to try to conquer the Earth, banish Odin, and take over Asgard? Not really.

    356 votes