Every MCU Villain's Most Disturbing Moment

List Rules
Vote up the MCU villain moments that really got under your skin.

The villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe do a lot of notable things. They commit mass atrocities, murder beloved heroes, imperil civilians, and then usually suffer a suitably grisly end. But a good villain cannot just get by on destruction and violence alone. A good antagonist needs to act in such a way so as to disturb protagonists and audiences alike. A good baddie needs to make people feel revulsion along with fear.

The general evil acts of MCU villains are numerous. Whether they're taking lives or just beating people to a pulp, MCU villains tend to leave a lot of damage behind. But it’s those unsettling moments that really stick with a person, long after the end credits have rolled and the extra scenes have all played out.


  • Ego the Living Planet terminated scores of his own children, but it all happened off-screen, and a pile of bones can only unsettle so much. Instead, Ego’s most disturbing moment was a tie between two acts - decades apart, but intertwined in the most callous way imaginable.

    In order to remove the temptation of returning to Earth and abandoning his quest for universal goopification, Ego chose to give Meredith Quill, the woman he loved, an inoperable brain tumor. Then, much later, he revealed the truth to their son, Peter, flippantly and in such a way as to paint himself as the real victim, telling Peter, “It broke my heart to put that tumor in her head.”

    Ego was, by that point, so far removed from any semblance of the humanity he once possessed that he was genuinely surprised when Peter responded angrily. That takes a truly staggering lack of self-awareness about one’s own evil. 

  • Johann Schmidt is the guy who was just a little too evil for the Third Reich, so being disturbing is kind of his thing. From war crimes to human experimentation, the Red Skull has done it all, but it’s his exploitation of the horrors of the Nazi regime for his own violent purposes that render him uniquely heinous. 

    MCU audiences know that the Red Skull sent Abraham Erskine’s wife and children to a concentration camp, where they eventually passed. But only those who read the official tie-in comics know that the Skull sent them there as a motivational tactic while Erskine was still being forced to work for him, and that he kept their demises from Erskine so as to continue to dangle their fate over his head. 

    The evil of the Red Skull was probably something that didn’t need any supplementary evidence, but there it is all the same. 

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    Malekith: Kamikazeing His Wife And Son Just To Cover His Own Retreat

    Malekith’s darkest Dark Elf moment came eons before the modern era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As soon as the tide turned against him in his war against Thor’s grandfather, Bor, Malekith ordered his entire fleet to dive-bomb into the battlefield, spitefully killing countless individuals on either side - including Malekith’s own wife and son.

    This may have seemed at first like an attempt to go out in a blaze of petty glory, but it was actually even worse than that. Malekith used the mass kamikazeing as cover for his retreat, slipping away quietly from the chaos and placing himself into suspended animation to await the next Convergence. Or, to put it only mildly metaphorically, he used his family’s ashes as a smokescreen as he snuck out the back door. No wonder he didn’t show his face again for thousands of years. 

  • Erik “Killmonger” Stevens was a driven individual, not willing to let anything stand in the way of him and the throne of Wakanda - not even Linda, his girlfriend and the only friend of any sort Killmonger appeared to have. When Ulysses Klaue got wise to Killmonger’s nefarious intentions - namely, executing Klaue and using his body as a passport into Wakanda - Klaue grabbed Linda and held her at gunpoint. 

    Instead of trying to negotiate out of the situation and risk losing Klaue, Killmonger shot Klaue through Linda, ending her instantly - right after he told her everything was going to be okay. The shot only wounded Klaue and he almost got away, anyway, meaning Kilmonger’s decision was ruthless but not ruthlessly effective, and that somehow makes it all the more disturbing.

    Audiences have no way of knowing the full extent of Erik and Linda’s relationship, but it was clearly intimate enough to rate this as an exhibition in cold-heartedness.  

  • It’s a little problematic to call Ultron a truly evil being. He was just doing what his corrupted programming told him was right - though, aren’t we all? In any case, something went extra-faulty in his wiring right around the time of the Battle of Sokovia, and his actions quickly turned from calculated to cruel.

    Ultron’s plan to drop a city from the sky and end life on Earth wasn’t really affected by whether or not the Avengers successfully evacuated the city, but he still poured enormous resources into trying to stop them. Ultron even went as far as to use his primary body to hijack a Quinjet and start blasting at survivors as they tried to escape, just to do it. He saw a scared child on the ground and just started firing away, prompting first Hawkeye and then Quicksilver to jump in the way of the hail of bullets. 

    Why was shooting a random kid more important to Ultron than making sure his plan succeeded? The world may never know, but the answer can’t be good.  

  • There’s a certain tone that Alexander Pierce took as he fatally shot his housekeeper, Renata, for the crime of forgetting her phone in his house and accidentally interrupting his meeting with the Winter Soldier. The deed may have seemed like small potatoes compared to Pierce and Hydra's overall plot to assassinate millions. But there's just something to be said about that tone.

    Pierce wasn’t heartbroken or guilt-ridden when he said, “Oh, Renata, I wish you would have knocked.” He wasn’t panged with regret. He didn’t even seem to feel particularly bad. Instead, Pierce expressed, at best, mild annoyance at having to kill his trusted employee. He reacted to it with the same sort of casual disdain one might have if they got a stain on their shirt. 

    And then he presumably called a Hydra clean-up crew and went to bed.