As we all know, the MCU is a masterfully orchestrated story web that involves many intertwining characters and incredibly intentional actions with their characters’ every step. Every phase of the MCU has had their share of overarching villains that push our heroes to not only be better but sometimes — push them to the darkest corners of their being.
Every phase leading up to the current MCU phase (4) has been a brushstroke in creating the multiverse. The last conflict that compromised humanity was handled by the mad titan Thanos, who partially succeeded in committing universal genocide. While at the time we thought that was the largest scale conflict our heroes could face, the multiverse and its current subset of villains have manifested an even grander and endlessly confusing conflict.
Following the season finale of Loki and What If…? and being just a few days away from the release of Eternals, we are going to jump head first into the multiverse with Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. With all that being said, let’s get right into the MCU Phase 4 villain roster as we know it so far. Happy spooky season.
— WARNING: Spoilers for Loki and WandaVision —
Kang/He Who Remains
Comic book debut: The Avengers #8 (September 1964)
Live-action debut: Loki (2021)
A rundown for Kang/He Who Remains could go on for pages because this particular villain has had many forms over the years. Once known as Nathanial Richards, each one of his reincarnations has had an identity of its own over the course of a tiringly long timeline. This was briefly touched on in Loki by He Who Remains (played by Jonathan Majors) as he spoke about the multiverse and an individual’s many versions of self that can exist across the span of many realities. Nathaniel Richards was born in the 30th century of Earth-6311, a reality where humanity never went into the dark ages. After centuries of advancement and warfare, peace was brought to the land by a time-traveler from Earth-616 named Nathaniel Richards (also known as a “variant” — labeled as such in Loki).
Comic book debut: Fantastic Four #94 (January 1970)
Live-action debut: WandaVision (2021)
While Agatha Harkness is considered a witch mentor to the Scarlet Witch, aka Wanda Maximoff, in the comic books, Harkness (played by Kathryn Hahn) is the main antagonist in WandaVision. Set only one month after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Agatha Harkness causes mischief and trouble by way of grief within Maximoff’s manipulative reality and those acts of mischief aid in revealing Maximoff’s true form — the Scarlet Witch (played by Elizabeth Olsen). There are theories that Harkness pushing Maximoff to the point of transformation created a nexus event, which was viscerally felt and mentally noted by He Who Remains in Loki.
Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Comic book debut: The X-Men #4 (March 1964)
Live-action debut: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Shortly following the death of Vision in Avengers: Endgame, Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen) creates her ideal life in a small suburban town — a white picket fence family with a husband in the 9-5 workforce and two children. As a result of her trauma, this all-American life takes on the many themes of famous American sitcoms and the decades from which they came. WandaVision serves as Maximoff’s personal nexus event (think of a nexus event as a major turning point) in which, out of sorrow and grief, transforms her into the Scarlet Witch. In search of her children and stability, the former Avenger will be the main antagonist in the upcoming film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Comic book debut: Marvel Premiere #1 (April 1972 — as Adam Warlock), Fantastic Four #66 (June 1967 — as Him)
Live-action debut: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)
In the post-credit scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), we see Ayesha (played by Elizabeth Debicki) — a member of the gilded-skinned Sovereign, deeply disturbed by the failure to take down the Guardians after a goose chase for the batteries that Rocket (played by Bradley Cooper) stole off their planet at the beginning of the film. Still forming and gestating in his birthing pod, Adam (to be played by Will Poulter) was foretold to be an even more perfect version of a Sovereign, designed by Ayesha herself with explicit purpose to destroy the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Photos via Marvel, The Last Magazine