While the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets plenty of praise from critics and fans alike for the complexity of its heroes, it also gets its share of criticism for having poor villains. For every richly-drawn nemesis like Loki, there’s a Malekith or Ronan, who can only be distinguished from one another by the color of their face make-up.
Fortunately, Stephen McFeely, one of the co-writers for Captain America: Civil War, is acutely aware of this issue and has a very simple explanation for why Marvel’s villains haven’t been anywhere near as interesting as their heroes so far: the movies aren’t about them. As McFeely tells JoBlo, there just isn’t enough time in these movies to give the villains as much focus as the heroes.
“If you think about it, I get the criticism, but the early phases were all origin stories. It tends to create a similar villain. When it is no longer an origin story, I think you might have a little bit more freedom to create different villains. I’m sensitive to the problem. I get it. But it wasn’t the Robert Redford story, it was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It wasn’t the Red Skull’s journey, it was the journey of one guy going from ninety pound weakling to American hero and then going into the ice. So in a 120-minute movie, it is difficult, and Thanos will possibly change that, but you want time spent. Excuse me for going on a tangent but I love the Marvel Netflix shows because you have so much more time to spend with your villains. It’s literally minutes and hours spent.”
McFeely brings up some valid points, especially about how good the villains have been on Marvel’s Netflix shows, as characters such as the Kingpin and Kilgrave have frequently been more interesting than the heroes they’ve faced. With no central villain orchestrating the conflict, it will be interesting to see how Civil War compares to previous Marvel movies in this regard without its own Red Skull getting shown up at every turn by the film’s heroes.