After a character like Thanos threatens all existence in the known universe in Avengers: Infinity War, just how the heck do you top that kind of epic villainy as your main threat going forward in the Marvel Cinematic Universe??
Luckily, the pages of Marvel Comics have provided plenty of villains of the years, some larger than Thanos, and others smaller in scale but still Earth-threatening, that could be used by Marvel Studios down the line as we march past Avengers 4. Here are our top seven examples of villains that could carry an MCU Phase IV and beyond...
Kang the Conqueror
If you were to ask who the Avengers' three biggest villains are, the average Marvel comics fan would say Thanos, Ultron... and Kang, the brutal, totalitarian dictator from the 40th century. Kang has often used time travel as a weapon, one which has constantly brought him into conflict with the Avengers more than any other group of heroes. For years, the rights to Kang were tied up with Fox, as the character first appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four as Rama-ut. But with that all soon no longer being a problem, I think Kang and his temporal manipulations might be the next big, long-term threat the Avengers must face.
For decades, Victor Von Doom was Marvel's most recognizable and infamous bad guy. Primarily a Fantastic Four villain, he nevertheless has bedeviled the Avengers, Spider-Man, and just about every other hero in the Marvel Universe. For years, his rights were restricted to Twentieth Century Fox, but again, with that issue coming off the table, it's is only a matter of time before the genius, egomaniacal ruler of Latveria comes to the MCU. Although he is a genius, he's still a mortal man, and not quite a universe-shattering threat like Thanos, but he might be the somewhat "dialed-down" villain the MCU needs next.
But if they do decide to go bigger than Thanos for the post Avengers 4 threat, how much bigger can you possibly go than the Devil himself? Okay, so technically Mephisto isn't actually the Biblical Satan, but he he comes pretty darn close. Thanos is a mighty threat, but he is ultimately a (more or less) mortal alien being with incredible power. Mephisto, however, brings a supernatural threat on such a mighty level that he would require everyone to come together to fight him.
The High Evolutionary
A human being who has extended his lifespan, the High Evolutionary isn't as well known as some other Marvel bad guys, but he's nevertheless been a thorn in the side of the likes of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four for decades. Born in England, Herbert Edgar Wyndham was a scientist who was obsessed with evolution, and evolved animals into humanoid form from his base in the Eastern European mountains. Nowhere near as big a threat as Thanos, he nevertheless could provide a through line for several Marvel films.
More a force of nature than a person per se, Galactus has existed since the dawn of time and feeds on the life force of planets for sustenance. Although we sort of saw him in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, he was portrayed as a just a giant cloud, so we're just not counting it as Galactus, no matter what that movie tells us. Just as with Doctor Doom, Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios need to restore Galactus to his proper place as one of the most dangerous villains in the cosmos, without any of this vapor crap. Phase IV of the MCU could be just the place.
Maybe the most powerful entity in the known universe, the Beyonder is quite literally beyond all normal conceptions of space and time -- which might explain the white leisure suit. His most famous achievement is when he kidnapped various heroes from across the Marvel universe, including the Avengers, X-Men and the Fantastic Four, to fight several Marvel villains on the so-called Battleworld of his own creation. This was the original concept behind the original Secret Wars crossover event, and we could easily see that storyline being a big Avengers/X-Men/FF crossover years down the line. But this feel more like a Phase V thing, once the X-Men and FF are firmly established in the MCU.
Norman Osborn / The Green Goblin
If the MCU wants to go for a more down to Earth, "pulling the strings behind the scenes" kind of threat as an over arching villain, then maybe Norman Osborn, better known as the Green Goblin, could provide that kind of threat. Although he was just a Spider-Man bad guy for decades, comics in the 21st century have elevated him to a higher status in the Marvel Universe. Could the MCU follow suit? It would not be the worst idea in the world after the cosmic stakes of Avengers: Infinity War.
Which major Marvel Comics character would you like to see be the next over-arching MCU big bad? Be sure to let us known down below in the comments.
Images: Marvel Comics