It's a New Year, and the next 358 days or so promise to be incredibly exciting for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We'll spend time with lots of new and returning characters in theaters and at home, though one can only hope that 2022 is a better year for Marvel Studios' evildoers
Villains have been problematic for the MCU since day one, and while we met lots of awesome bad guys in 2021 (such as Kingpin, the Green Goblin, Wenwu, and Agatha Harkness), there were an awful lot who didn't quite hit the mark in the same way.
In this feature, we're looking back at the villains who most underwhelmed on the big and small screen.
Some were just there in a supporting capacity, while others were the main foe of the heroes we rooted for. All of them were terrible for different reasons, though, and you can find out why below!
Spider-Man: No Way Home featured five sinister villains, but Sandman and The Lizard were really only there to make up the numbers. So, why does Dr. Curt Connors earn a spot here in place of Flint Marko?
It was a close contest, but the fact that Marvel Studios failed to improve The Amazing Spider-Man baddie's appearance in any way definitely goes against him. The Green Goblin's mask was ditched because fans didn't love it, so why not address one of the 2012 film's biggest complaints by introducing a slightly more monstrous Lizard in the MCU?
That aside, and Connors' story wasn't expanded on in any sort of meaningful way. He still just wanted to turn people into lizards and, to us, that's just a waste of one of Spidey's most iconic foes.
Here's hoping Lizard gets another shot at redemption down the line.
On the one hand, there's really nothing wrong with Taskmaster.
While "he" was pursuing Natasha Romanoff in Black Widow, Taskmaster was more akin to a Terminator and seemed genuinely unstoppable. In fact, some questionable costume decisions aside, this villain had all the makings of an antagonist who could serve as an exciting new addition to the MCU.
It all went wrong, however, when the movie revealed that Dreykov's brainwashed daughter was beneath the mask. A female Taskmaster is actually a neat twist, but now she's been cured of her programming, it's hard to imagine the villain ever returning. We'd like to see Antonia Dreykov return with a new badass suit as formidable as ever, but that doesn't seem likely.
For the most part, Taskmaster was wasted and feels like another Ghost. There's room for redemption, though, hence why she doesn't rank higher.
6. Infinity Ultron
Had Infinity Ultron showed up a little sooner, he could have been a truly memorable big bad in What If...?'s first season. Instead, this Ultron Variant who managed to defeat Earth's Mightiest Heroes in his reality didn't quite leave the lasting impact we hoped.
Look no further than the lazy way he killed Thanos for proof of that, though we will give the show some credit for having him battle The Watcher through the Multiverse. Ultron wielding the Infinity Stones should have been more exciting than it really was, and his defeat at the hands of Arnim Zola, while clever, was a disappointment.
Ross Marquand did a decent enough job, but he's not James Spader, and that didn't help matters.
Hopefully, season 2 of What If...? will make better use of its time to make use of a lead villain who truly justifies a team like the Guardians of the Multiverse assembling.
5. Eleanor Bishop
The Tracksuit Mafia was great fun to spend time with, while Vincent D'Onofrio's return as Kingpin was a rousing success for Marvel Studios (we just hope there are already future plans in place for him).
Not quite as effective, however, was Eleanor Bishop. Marvel Studios showed their hand far too early by hinting at her being shady in the Hawkeye premiere and it quickly became apparent that she was secretly a villain. Because of that, the eventual reveal - which took five episodes to get to - was extremely underwhelming and telegraphed.
This had ripple effects throughout the entire series, and also similarly lessened the impact of that Swordsman twist.
When Eleanor's relationship with Wilson Fisk was revealed, Hawkeye failed to double down on her true nature and this was one part of the finale that fell flat, as a result.
4. Tyler Hayward
Talking of predictable bad guys, did any of you not foresee S.W.O.R.D. Director Taylor Hayward being outed as a stereotypically shady bureaucrat who was only doing what he deemed to be the right thing?
If so, you might not have been paying enough attention. No matter how easy that was to see coming, Hayward proved himself a villain with little depth and his borderline irrational desire to kill Wanda Maximoff never quite clicked. The reveal that he'd reprogrammed The Vision was a solid twist, but not one that really tied into Hayward in anything more than a superfluous way.
His defeat also came far too easy, and wasn't a moment we ultimately even really cared about.
Why? Everything that came before was too underwhelming and forgettable and there was nothing about Hayward that made us want to see more of him in the MCU's future.
3. Death Dealer
Death Dealer has never been a major villain, so we can't imagine there were too many comic book fans disappointed with his portrayal in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
You'd think Marvel Studios would have done something a little more memorable with him in this otherwise near-perfect action epic, however, especially after scenes revealing the role he played in Shang-Chi's traumatic childhood. Beyond that, Death Dealer only really showed up for a couple of cool fight scenes and not much else.
In the final battle, the villain was killed off in the most boring way possible, and that was that.
Perhaps there was another version of this film with a better story arc for Death Dealer, but we didn't get to see it. It's a shame too as, visually, this guy was pretty cool.
There was a lot to love about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, including John Walker's descent into "villainy" after becoming Captain America and taking the Super Soldier Serum.
The Flag-Smashers, however, were the worst part of Sam Wilson's transformation into the new Cap. Their mission was poorly conceived and felt like it had, for whatever reason, been changed heavily during reshoots (perhaps explaining rumours that they originally wanted to unleash a COVID-like virus on the world).
Karli Morgenthau was an underwhelming leader, and despite being a formidable threat to Sam physically, Erin Kellyman wasn't a strong enough performer to make this character land.
Throw in the Power Broker and this series was really lacking on decent bad guys.
There was not a worse villain in any 2021 superhero film or TV show than Kro. Eternals didn't deserve the negative reviews, but anyone who found something good to say about the leader of the Deviants must have really loved this movie.
Kro brought nothing of any substance to the table, and looked horrendous as well. The visual effects team dropped the ball in a big way, while Marvel Studios casting Bill Skarsgard in such a thankless role can't be forgiven. There was no need for Kro to be in Eternals, and the story of the Deviants would have played out pretty much the same way without him stealing powers.
By wasting Kro and making the film even more bloated than it already was, Chloé Zhao made a huge error here.
The opportunity to properly explore the dynamic between the Eternals and Deviants has been missed, as has Kro's romance with Thena. He's clearly dead, too, so there's no redemption to be found here.