Aside from a brilliant Loki by Tom Hiddelestone, Marvel have failed to really provide audiences with memorable and believable villains; by this I mean they do not convince us that their cause is terrifying enough or that their will to achieve it is truly indomitable. To give examples, I felt very distant and therefore unfazed by the dark elves in Thor: The Dark World, even though what they were trying to do was truly universe destroying. I like the Red Skull character but as an individual he is not particularly intimidating next to Captain America, and although the focus of the movie Captain America: the First Avenger is to stop his awful plan for destroying the United States I guess the direction of the movie failed to convey the ‘race against time element’ as it, sort of, sped through the dismantling of the Red Skull’s plan; but I do like the character and am disappointed he is not returning. The best part of Winter Soldier was that there was no single bad guy, but it was constructed as a political thriller which was fought by foot soldiers, Shield/Hydra and Cap/Winter Soldier; brilliant and my favourite Marvel movie thus far. The Iron Man villains have also been largely forgettable, Obadiah Stane fitted the movie brilliantly as a bad guy and it worked but in isolation he is just a jealous businessman trying to seize control of a company…why? He will have plenty of money, its hardly politically useful and Tony Stark dying would not be easy to explain but anyway a better villain would have greater longevity. The less said about Whiplash the better, although if they had pushed the ‘if you can make God bleed, the the people will stop believing he is God’ line a bit more it could have been far more memorable, but they didn’t even push his motivation very forcefully; it was just a note to start. I hated the Mandarin, his mechanics and his persona, I just hated it, enough said.
The point resonates that it certainly is something missing in the Marvel Universe; that the best bad guys have been distinctly absent. Even the idea of Thanos is a little concerning, even though he is the ultimate big bad, I am not sure audiences will respond the same as to a big bad that is terrestrial in origin as it brings it closer to comfort and into the realms of ‘just around the corner’ which brings the fear home. Nevertheless, with Captain America: Civil War just around the corner I have a few wants for the big, yet not the main focus, bad that is Baron Zemo.
Firstly I want a clear focus. By this I mean someone who knows what they are going to do and what they want to achieve, whatever it may be let us have some believable drive and motivation. The Red Skull was a clear example of this, his plan was quite simple, bomb the United States and take over the world through fear…great. He had an aggressive focus and displayed anger at not reaching his goal. Whiplash and the Mandarin are examples of failures in this regard. We were not really pressed about Whiplashes motivations, even though he was a cool character, he went from driven because of the smallest of backstories regarding betrayal by the Stark family and then he turned into an evil genius schemer which were two very different personalities which ruined the consistency and flow of the movie. The Mandarin was crap, but besides that, he seemed to want to generate demand, take power, and destroy Tony Stark as a side note, too much going on here, lets pick one and run with it! So be clear and be focussed please Baron, how you go about it is up to you.
Secondly, be intense and be ambitious, we want to know he is serious and that comes through the acting and persona of a character. He needs to have power and influence, whether we are aware of it initially or not because Baron Zemo is not a particularly physically intimidating character and so must have presence and an intimidating threat to him. If he could be pulling the strings of the Civil War from a senior UN position for example? Letting Bucky Barnes’ identity as Winter Soldier slip or that he killed Starks parents…similar to the comics, that would be ideal. A guy intent on war and submissive rule of others hiding behind a peacekeeping organisation would be poetry.
Finally, I would like to see him win. In some way. That is what we all loved about the joker in the Dark Knight Trilogy, not just because of Heath Ledger’s performance but because he won, and Batman and Commissioner Gordon had to cheat in order to “win”, which was brilliant writing. The writers have a great opportunity to “win” here too, as the comics suggest this divides the Avengers, Earth Mightiest Heroes, which would be a huge success to leave them vulnerable and licking their wounds with a great mistrust of one-another. Not to mention Cap dying is an even bigger personal victory and at the hands of his friends would be the most epic of victories; so to keep it sweet there is an opportunity here for the writers to propel the franchise beyond the writing achievement of the Dark Knight and into the realms of the ‘Greatest Comic Based Hero Movie of All-Time’.
So, all in all, Captain America needs to break the mould. Yes, the focus will be on them fighting amongst each other, but the franchise does need to establish something stronger than it already has in regards to the villainous opponents, in order to stop falling into the same routine as all the others. The genre needs something stronger so why shouldn’t Marvel be the ones to push the boat out? There is a cautionary note…Batman v Superman has largely failed with the internal dispute and big bad in the background approach so we hope it does not fall the same way. Although I expect Marvel to profit from already having a fully operation cinematic universe, therefore…no excuses. So that is my two cents on a believable bad guy for Civil War, are you hoping for something lasting? Something believable? Maybe a bad guy winning? Or is it all about the ‘divided we fall’? Thanks for the read and let me know your perspective on these supervillains.