Three episodes into the new MCU show She-Hulk: Attorney At Law and there still hasn’t been a character set as the main villain. The show focuses on several criminal cases, so there are villains in the eyes of the law like Runa, the shape-shifting Asgardian light elf. But considering who the accused was, the case was once where it wouldn’t have been so bad if the villain had won.
There have been a few other occasions in the MCU where the same could be said for other characters considered villains. The reasons they receive the badge are usually the deciding factor in whether they win or not, but sometimes it can be argued that they deserved to get what they fought for.
Hela – Thor: Ragnarok
A true firstborn of Odin, Hela, the Goddess of Death, was a villain in Thor: Ragnorok, but she had once been Odin’s closest ally in battle as the commander of Asgard’s army and his personal executioner. She helped him build Asgard, but when their priorities stopped aligning, Odin banished her and got rid of any evidence of her existence.
After Odin’s death, she had every possible claim to the throne. She was Odin’s firstborn, she played a crucial role in building the empire, and she proved that she could protect Asgard from its adversaries. She deserved it, but because of her darker qualities she was still considered unworthy.
Karli – The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Karli Morgenthau in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier fought against the injustices many of those who survived the blip were kicked out of their homes, only to be placed in communities neglected by their governments. It was hard for fans to decide if she was an MCU villain they loved or hated.
Before Bucky and Sam intervened, she was able to disrupt governments and provide resources for many displaced people. Even Sam recognized the value of the work she was doing, he just didn’t agree with her methods. She didn’t deserve to die trying to get back to a united world where everyone is taken care of.
Nebula – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Nebula’s journey in the MCU has seen her transition from a villain to a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. She ran out of pure hatred for her sister and the need to prove she was Gamora’s equal.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the sisters finally faced off in battle for the first time since the Battle of Xandar. Nebula from the first Guardians movie fighting other Guardians of the Galaxy villains didn’t deserve to win, but the one from Vol. 2 definitely did that, not only to prove her worth to herself, but also to show Gamora how her need to always be better has turned her sister into an enemy. Fortunately, it turned out that way, giving the former villain her well-deserved victory.
Najma – Ms. Marvel
After being banished to Earth, Najma only wanted to return home to the underground, and to do that she needed Kamala Khan and the bracelet she was wearing. Kamala hesitated to help them when she found out how much of a risk it could be, and Najma didn’t take it well.
Since Kamala is Ms. Marvel’s main character, Najma is considered a villain because she would pursue her own mission by any means necessary. Although the illegals have a dark history, they are presented in the series as mysterious and powerful beings who are looking for a way to return home, and they deserved this opportunity.
Zemo – The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Zemo continued his vendetta against enhanced individuals in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Sam and Bucky broke him out of prison so he could help them find the Flag Smashers, but he decided to take it a step further and get rid of any remaining super soldier serum so no one else would be able to make it.
The serum had been used to turn people into weapons of the government, who in his eyes had no regard for the innocent lives lost in their battles. After how he lost his family, the endless quest that followed and managed to open the Avengers’ eyes to their ruthlessness, he at least deserved to see the serum eradicated.
Laufey was the king of the Frost Giants who appeared in Thor. Odin and Laufey had a history of adversaries that began long before Thor. The peace between the two was fragile, so when the young and immature Thor went to Jotunheim to fight the “bad guys”, he reignited the feud.
This allowed Loki to easily lure Laufey to Asgard by offering a way to kill Odin, only for the trickster to betray and kill him. The frost giant deserved to see his revenge unfold after the royal family of Asgard consistently disrespected his kingdom, his people, and his traditions. He did what any king (including Odin) would have done.
Ayesha – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The Sovereign’s High Priestess Ayesha was considered a villain when she sent her fleet after the Guardians in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, but her villainous decision was completely justified. She had hired the Guardians to protect her Anulax batteries, only for Rocket to steal them for himself.
As any ruler would, she sent her fleet after them to retrieve the batteries only to have them destroyed by Ego, twice. The second time was just a consequence of the Guardians saving the galaxy, but the first time she should have won. The batteries were hers, and having held up her end of the bargain, she should have been able to walk away from the deal without being robbed.
Killmonger – Black Panther
Whether it was T’Challa or Killmonger on the Wakandan throne at the end of Black Panther, there would have been a well-deserved Wakandan decision. Killmonger was a villain who did dastardly things for a just cause.
After his father, a Wakandan prince, was killed for trying to give his people outside of Wakanda some of the power the kingdom possessed, Killmonger dedicated his life to the same mission. Killmonger believed that Wakanda was wrong to ignore its people outside the Wakandan bubble. With all the hard work he put in, the reasoning behind his motivation, and the purpose behind his mission to empower his people, he truly deserved the win.
The heavenly ones – The eternal ones
The Celestials were responsible for the Big Bang and in turn are the source of all things that exist. However, they played the villain in The Eternals because in order for the new celestial to arise, the human race had to be sacrificed.
Some Eternals decided they didn’t want to participate, but since they were created by the Celestials for this purpose, Arishem was right to want them to follow. To wipe out an entire race is difficult, but the purpose of human existence in Arishem’s eyes has always been to be a victim of a greater being.
This may be an unpopular opinion for the Thor trilogy, but Loki deserved the throne more than Thor did in the beginning. Thor was immature, selfish and disrespectful of the impact of his actions in the first Thor. All these elements were clearly present in his personality, but he was still appointed heir to the throne.
Loki tried to keep Thor’s actions in line, mastered Asgardian magic and killed one of Odin’s greatest enemies, Laufey, King of the Frost Giants. Of course, all of these decisions were just parts of his master plan for the throne, but Odin had raised Thor and Loki as brothers only to show his favor to Thor because of Loki’s true heritage. If Loki had at least been recognized as a possible candidate to take the throne as he was raised to believe, many of the catastrophic events in the MCU could have been avoided.