3 Best Marvel/MCU Villains 2008-2019

 

22 movies, Eleven years, hundreds of actors, dozens of bad guys, but only 3 stand as the very best Villains of kevin feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.

 

LOKI

 

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LOKI– In many ways the first AVENGERS movie stands as the most important of the MCU films, up there with the first IRON MAN movie. The IRON MAN movie proved these individual characters could work on the big screen, THE AVENGERS movie proved a super-hero team, wide screen Comic Book level action, could work for the masses; proved That this concept of long form story telling in film… could payoff, and should continue.

After 22 movies, THE AVENGERS is still the movie I saw the most in the theaters, a record three times (I almost never see a movie in a theater more than once), and the one I had the most fun with. And that is because Director Josh Whedon delivered the film of his career, the writing was brilliant, actors and effects phenomenal, and the characters… literally the stuff of Myth. And the most memorable scenes of a very memorable film revolve around Tom Hiddleston’s completely crowd pleasing performance as Loki, that sets up such memorable lines as ‘Mewling Quim’ and ‘Puny God’.

Like the best of all Villains, the two other names on this list; the Loki character while wrong, there is something compelling and seductive, and relateable in Loki’s mania. Driven by some hurt he seeks to fix, some reason that reason knows not of, that makes him more than a stock villain, but someone more complex, and someone that in moments… seen from some angle, is understandable, if not approvable.

There is a reason Hiddleston’s Loki ten years later remains… beloved. Because being more than a stock Villain, means at moments he resembles all of us, he is capable of good, as well as evil. And watching Loki navigate that line, grow as a character, makes him more than villain and more than hero… it makes him… interesting.

 

 

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KILLMONGER

 

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KILLMONGER – There were a lot of MCU villains prior to Michael B. Jordan’s acclaimed turn as KILLMONGER, in the brilliant and ground-breaking Ryan Coolger helmed BLACK PANTHER, but none of them, not Red Skull, not Ultron, not Winter Soldier, not even Loki, had me deep into the movie… unmoored about who was right and who was wrong.

To do that in a film, to bring the audience with you into a questionable grey area where there are no more heroes and no more villains, but just principles of better worlds that clash in blood, that is some deep and epic and personal filmmaking, and to accomplish that in a large scale blockbuster superhero movie, is the stuff that awards are designed to recognize.

Hats off to all involved, but particularly to the way Jordan chose to play KILLMONGER, just unique and disturbing and yet another memorable character, from an actor who has quickly become one of the best actors of his generation.

BLACK PANTHER is a film that I loved the action in, loved the fight scenes, loved the story, loved the scale, but what really sets it apart from every other MCU films before it (with the exception of THE WINTER SOLDIER, which did it in a smaller way) is the sophistication of how it is told. The murky grey areas where good and bad become… unsound. It’s a great film, that becomes stronger every time you watch it. Like leather curing in the sun.

At the film’s heart it is a tale of fathers and sons, kings and commoners, and a question of whose vision of tomorrow… is most right. And that hinges on Jordan’s KILLMONGER, a lesser villain or a lesser performance, and we would be talking about a much less successful film. Which is the case with any film, a great film seldom does so, without a great antagonist; and Jordan’s KILLMONGER is one of the greats.

 

 

 

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THANOS

 

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And now we come to the 1000lb Gorilla in the room, (it is an idiom used to call attention to an overwhelming or obvious  idea, finally being recognized – for those of you who may not be familiar with the expression) THANOS.

A CGI character that has been the big bad we have been building to in these 22 films. It is an unprecedented build up, the likes of which we will likely never see again. But boy did it pay off. Josh Brolin (son of the legendary actor James Brolin) has in the last two decades started forging his own legend, in films from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN to AMERICAN GANGSTER to TRUE GRIT to SICARIO (look forward to seeing him in the upcoming Villeneuve directed DUNE and Sean Penn helmed FLAG DAY) he has been solidly delivering the goods.

But I think it is safe to say his THANOS is likely to be the role he is remembered for above and beyond all others, just based on the cultural and historic imprint these 22 films have carved out. You have to go back to Universal Studios game changing monster movies of 1923 to 1955 to get a run as formative and impactful as this current run of MCU movies.

And THANOS is the looming shadow that haunts these films, and in INFINITY WAR and ENDGAME Brolin’s Thanos gets to come out of the shadows and take center stage.

Again as buildups go, you will likely never see, in your lifetime the like again, a 22 film novel for television, that stuck the landing.

Much has been written on the character of THANOS and the sophistication he was written and performed with. following in the wake of Jordan’s KILLMONGER, here too is another villain where, to a lesser degree, you see the mercy in his madness, the humanity in his horror. He does and is going to do horrible things, but toward ends that we must all, at the end of the day judge as… understandable.  And it is the achievement of all involved from performers to directors to special effects to camera to makeup to lighting to sound, that in not one moment of INFINITY WAR or ENDGAME, not one moment of a CGI Thanos interacting with the other actors, do I question the fiction crafted. The vision is solid.

It is a 2 film culmination of a 22 film, 11 year unequaled and un-thought of cinematic achievement, and it sticks the landing. And Thanos quite rightly gets catapulted into the conversation of most iconic cinematic villains of all time, up there with Darth Vader, Dracula, Dr. No, Dr. Mabuse, Khan, Hannibal Lecter, Joker.

 

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So that is it guys, the 3 best villains of 22 movies, and 11 years of cinematic gold!!!

 

And for Honarable Mentions:

  • Ultron
  • Red Skull
  • Winter Soldier
  • Klaw

 

Thanks for looking, feel free to comment with your favorite villain or villains, and if you enjoyed this post give some love to this installment’s sponsor:

 

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Streaming VOD Movies, TV shows and Youtube Videos of Week 2 of 2020! SHUDDER Edition!

 

 

 

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These 4 films, which I have watched since starting my SHUDDER subscription (something like $2.49 for the month, for the next 3 months) are all FANTASTIC, films, in very different ways. But all of them have soared to the top of my MUST BUY List!

MANDY I raved about in a previous post is just a brilliant primary color tinged nightmare of a dream quest/revenge story committed to film.

THE HEAD HUNTER, is a claustrophobic, incredibly tense, incredibly rousing,  actioner/creature feature mash-up.

THE WAX MASK is one of the most sumptuously filmed and strangest Italian Giallo’s, being both a period piece and a Hammer studios homage, a stunning directorial debut.

And then we come to Lucio Fulci’s CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD. I am not a champion of the nonsensical, gore filled films that most remember Fulci for, like THE BEYOND and THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY and this one, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD. I think all of these are the films he made when the audiences  neglected his true masterpieces, to some extent when he stopped caring about making great films, and just decided to pander to the lowest common denominator horror crowds. When Fulci cared, he was one of the most imaginative, talented and stylish filmmakers of his time. He made some of the best Giallos, some of the best westerns, one of the best Hitchcock homages, and one that was his stab at a serious film/period piece. It was that film’s failure that soured him on film and audiences, and made him a gun for hire, and by reports misanthropic to his cast, his crew and the audience, and a churner out of his gore films. That said while I do see these films as Fulci no longer being that filmmaker whose westerns would inspire John Woo’s Blood Ballets and dove motif, despite these films being set-pieces of gore… loosely supported by a story, they are despite all that… still very, very compelling and entertaining. He builds moments of tension and dread and horror, as well as a good smattering of WTF!. Just the audacity of these films, particularly CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, is impressive. So while not a champion of this film like I am of his earlier films, even lesser Fulci… is jaw dropping. This movie has story structure issues, it doesn’t hold together as a cogent film, it is haphazard and at times silly, but all that aside it is always visually arresting and cinematically audacious. And once seen, you want to own the BluRay to see the making of features and here the interviews and commentary because you definitely want to know what the cast thought of him, after making them do some of the things he had them do in this film.

I’ll be doing an upcoming piece on Fulci, but I guess it says everything about Fulci, is that even what I consider his ‘slapped together/whatever’ film phase, consists of many films, such as CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, that are must watch films. Even his films of derision, are dripping with imaginative talent.

 

Movie / TV Trailer of the Day or First Netflix Show I have been excited for in a Long Time!

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The poster above is by Jonathan Burton, commissioned by Universal Studios to honor the original 1931 Dracula film, but in spirit it seems perfect to capture this new Netflix distributed DRACULA that is on the horizon. The new trailer looks… AWESOME!!! View it at the link below.

Lets make no mistake Francis Ford Coppola, his questionable stance on current films aside, in his heyday made some phenomenal films. APOCALYPSE NOW, and GODFATHER on anybody’s shortlist of 100 best films.

However, some of his less celebrated movies, are the ones I love the most. TUCKER starring Jeff Bridges, is a masterful film. And his BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, is the last word in the vampire film. I love my Universal Films, I love my Hammer films, PENNY DREADFUL had its moments (a poor third season ruined it for me), but Coppola’s DRACULA has been the undisputed best take on the Dracula myth.

Based on the trailer alone, this new DRACULA, may be a worthy new take on Stoker’s most celebrated tale.

The trailer has me looking forward to it, and excited for it, which is something I have not been for a Netflix property in sometime. So yeah, this one goes on my must watch list. 🙂

 

 

DEALS OF THE DAY

Movie Poster of the Day!

 

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Synopsis

“Christopher Lee’s finest Hammer hour … It’s the part he was born to play, and he knows it.” – BritishHorrorFilms.co.uk

“One of Lee’s finest roles … it seems like there is literally nothing that the man cannot do.” – The Telltale Mind

Hammer Films’ dual reputation for screen shock and flamboyant costume adventure meld in this tale of the real-life “holy man” whose evil charm held the fate of an entire nation in its grip.

In Czarist Russia, Rasputin (Christopher Lee), a peasant monk, mysteriously demonstrates his healing powers by saving a woman’s life and asking only for wine and a Bacchanalian celebration in return. But soon Rasputin uses his evil charm and powers to become increasingly manipulative and violent. Ferocious, devious and other-worldly, this uncouth peasant ingratiates himself bit by bit into the lives of the sophisticated royal class … Christopher Lee’s multi-layered performance as Rasputin rates as one of the best portrayals in any film.

—Shout Factory

 

The above synopsis is from Shout Factory which will be releasing a Bluray of RASPUTIN this coming February. Hopefully they release a Steelbook version. I could see something similar to the above poster used on the front and back of the Steelbook. I have never seen this version of RASPUTIN so looking forward to checking it out, especially if the praise for Christopher Lee’s performance is even close to the hyperbole Shout Factory is spouting. 🙂

Movie Posters of the Day!

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for The Call of the Wild

Harrison Ford is returning to film, to do a new adaptation of Jack London’s THE CALL OF THE WILD. Not a Jack London fan, and I can take or leave his most well known novel, so whether this adaptation works, will depend on the screenwriter and director. So FAR, the trailer looks charming enough, though i’m still not sold on the cg animals. particularly when you mix live action actors with cgi actors, yes it can be done well, and it is getting better, but you are still clearly aware of the artifice. whether the movie is strong enough to transcend that artifice is DEBATABLE. honestly if they were going to do this having a real dog there, at  for the non action scenes, would i think help have grounded the movie. just in the brief trailer i didn’t buy ford and the dog, in the same scene at the same time. but, hoping for the best.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Movie Poster

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (#6 of 19)

End of the day, THE STAR WARS films have always (at heart) been fun, larger scale tributes to movie serials of old. They are supposed to be fun, people. And whether brilliant or ‘miss the mark’ for you, they all come from a place of filmmakers… trying to entertain.

If it is not for you, don’t go see them.

Stop bitching, stop whining, either shut the heck up and make your own movies,  or watch something else.  Or wait for the next one and hope it will be better. For those of you, virulently hating on the film because it is not the film your ‘no talent’ ass imagined it would be, and therefore all you have to do with your time… is spread bile on the livelihood of working people, and attack and hope the film fails… I with all sincerity think you are a tragic form of life.

It is space battles. Good guys against bad guys. And if you can’t hope for that film to be good, there is something ineffably broken with you.

For my own money. I hope every movie is going to be great. And if it doesn’t work for me, I move on to something else, and hope the next one they make will be better.

But hoping, and going thru all sorts of machinations to make a film be received poorly, again, it makes that person a particularly smarmy, unctuous and sad form of life.

Again, I’m not saying you have to love Star Wars, or any movie. I may not like the new Star Wars film, but honestly disliking , and having an Agenda against something, based on reasons outside the narrative scope of the film… well it is… classless.

Don’t be that person. Do not be subscribed to that person. 🙂 .

Whether they have a youtube channel, or blog or podcast, or website, do not be the one, spreading the mantra of hate and division and conflict. Let today be the day you speak to those people in the language they understand.

Make today the day, you unsubscribe from people who want to tear joyous things down, and try and embrace the sites and people… that want to hope for the great.

Looking forward to THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. I have to tell you, I have enjoyed all of the new STAR WARS films we have been getting; and THE RISE OF SKYWALKER looks like another one that I will enjoy. 

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Knives Out (#14 of 15)

And speaking of STAR WARS; Rian Johnson made one of my favorite STAR WARS  films, so looking forward to this Agatha Christiesque film, KNIVES OUT. The cast looks great. 

 

Hiram A. Murray in The Great War (2019)

 

I don’t love the first poster for THE GREAT WAR, it seems to overlook the strengths of the trailer, also it threw me since the name of the director was either Steven Luke or Luke Schuetzle. However a little research and it appears Steven Luke is the ‘acting name’ of Luke Schuetzle, who directs, produces, and stars in this WWI biopic. However, the trailer… I LOVED. This is a movie I am looking forward to checking out. When it makes it to streaming, or theatrical or bluray/DVD.

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for 1917 (#3 of 3)

I have not seen the trailer for 1917 (another WW1 film), but the pedigree of being directed by Sam Mendes of SKYFALL fame, makes me very interested in catching this one as well.

 

Well that is all for this installment, if you enjoyed please give a like, and check out this week’s other posts.

Till next time, be well!

Halloween Countdown – 7 for 7 – Seven Movies and Seven Reviews! Day 12!

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Dark House This film has intriguing visuals, Victor Salva creating another memorable movie boogie man in the Axe-Men, and the syncopated way they move.  However the movie gradually loses steam to a forgettable ending. Worth a look, but not a keeper.

 

DISCARNATE is another movie, where the monster/monster design is unfortunately better than the movie it is in.

The movie is ok, worth a look, but I feel the creature is the most interesting thing, and the surrounding actors and plot, while talented, have the definite feel of very rote and not particularly engaging. When not on the monster effects, it all seems a bit by the numbers.

 

 

Pikovaya dama. Chyornyy obryad (2015)

 

QUEEN OF SPADES – I have praised this movie before. A lot of other movies do the “kids daring each other to summon up things that go bump in the night” very few do it as competently, or intriguingly, or captivatingly as this film. Most of the time, it is just a bunch of stupid choices made by stupid people, followed by even more “lacking common sense” responses.

Yes we are entering the world of the fantastic, but even in that fantastic world, the responses have to be responses that we feel we would or could make in such fantastic situations.

And when the choices are even more fantastic than the premise, that is when suspension of disbelief breaks down, and we are done with the movie.

That is the problem with the vast number of horror movies. Not so here. You feel the path the characters are on, and the choices being made, are true to the constraints of the world and situation created. Huge fan of this movie. It’s a solid B/B+ of a movie. If you are a fan of LIGHTS OUT the short and feature (while this film isn’t to that level, it is not far off), give this one a try.

 

HELL HOUSE LLC- This has a bit of “people behaving not the way a rational person would behave in such a situation” vibe, it feels to me. However the movie keeps it moving, and slightly mollifies the protagonists stupid actions, by painting him into a corner, and when you feel you are in a corner, stupid decisions tend to trump rational ones.

Besides that, the movie is just well constructed, leading to the forewarned ending. Not a great movie, but a very good one. And one I can re-watch. One of the best Scare House movies (WAY better than the HOUSES OF OCTOBER movies)

Leaving D.C. (2012)BAD BEN series – I can not even tell you how many BAD BEN movies there are. IMDB list at least six, however there may be some tangentially connected films as well. I’ve seen at least 4 of the BAD BEN movies proper, and starting with the 1st (LEAVING DC) I have been a fan.

Just a great series that has fun with the haunted house and found footage tropes.

It is not Shakespeare, does not take itself too seriously (well the first one is the most sinister and ‘serious’ of them all), but isn’t just played for laughs, it is told straight forward, but like SCREAM the protagonist is aware of the movie tropes, so it is a bit “inside baseball” fun to it.  But it is fun, and is better than most horror movies out there that trod similar ground, and that have stupid, unlikable 20-something protagonists.

Ben is a character you definitely like, and root for during his misadventures.

 

Hex (2017)HEXI enjoyed this film. Dire, and complicated, and horrible, and beautiful, and an ode to hatreds and conflicts… and the emptiness and wastefulness of those hatreds and conflicts. It is haunting, in the best and worst ways. Not a big film, or a great film, it is a small intimate film, yet there is something… great in it. Not as beautiful as THE WITCH but it, like that film, stays with you long after you see it.

With a title like THE SHE-CREATURE and being from the schlock days of 1956, especially with the poster art, you wouldn’t expect much from this film. But what people forget is even though the special and creature effects were in their infancy and it shows (that poster is everything that is wrong with this movie, selling the monster rather than the mystery), the acting and direction is actually very strong in a lot of these films.

And THE SHE-CREATURE is an example of real actors (past their prime in some cases, and in roles arguably beneath them, but still delivering that star power), beautiful direction and cinematography and an intriguing premise that includes (for 1956 and arguably even today) controversial concepts of hypnotism, past life regression, spiritualism,  and a palpable racial memory that lives on in our very genes, that hold up, despite the limitations of the creature design and affects.

The film would have been better served if it never showed the monster, or showed it only in brief glimpses (ala NIGHT OF THE DEMON) unfortunately selling subtle over schlock, was not an easy sell then or now.

So we have a movie that is actually engrossing, until the outlandish rubber suit monster at its core turns up. But despite the ludicrous of everything associated with the creature design, there is a brutality to the murder scenes that the monster leaves behind, that is ahead of its time.

And bottom-barrel rubber suit or no, the story and performances around it, keeps me intrigued enough to keep watching. That aside I still enjoyed my watch.

In-fact if you were to CGI in a credible monster, over the awful blonde haired sea-monster with boobies rubber suit (Those are words you do not expect to use together in a sentence. 🙂 . Even for the 50s that monster design is deplorably bad, and a bit inexcusable when people were able to do impressive creature designs such as CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON), or edit around those scenes, you would actually have a good little movie. So definitely not a must see by any means, but it is worth a look on a slow movie day. There are things to like about it, even in 2019 going on 2020. 

So… 4 solid recommendations, and 3 not quite ready for prime time films reviewed for Halloween. If you have Amazon Prime, all the films are available to view at no cost. Come back tomorrow to see what makes the list on Day 11, of our Halloween countdown.