As sad as it is to say…I’m going to miss Thanos.
Yes, he murdered half of the universe. Yes, he killed his daughter. Yes, he is solely responsible for the fate of some of our favorite heroes. But there’s no denying just how fantastic of a villain he was.
Marvel built this character up from the very beginning. The audience knew who he was and what he wanted before we ever even saw him up close. Infinity War showed how layered of a villain he was.
Thanos wasn’t a one-note character like many villains are created. He was intimidating and cunning, powerful and calculating. Most importantly, he was surprisingly human. He showed genuine emotion towards Gamora and even towards Stark at the end. In his mind, he truly was saving everyone. He was a hero in his own story.
Then came Endgame, which showed just how dangerous and lethal life gets when it becomes personal for him. And make no mistake, this round became extremely personal for Thanos. He wanted our heroes to suffer in this film. More than that, he didn’t just want to wipe half of life out of existence anymore; he wanted to wipe it all away.
Endgame treated Thanos as much more of a traditional villain in the sense that it was truly an Avengers movie, while Infinity War really was Thanos’ movie and it treated him as the focus of the story.
So…how does Marvel top possibly the greatest villain of all time? A villain that was so delicately fleshed out by the writers and so brilliantly performed by the great Josh Brolin? The answer? Build up the next villain in a similar way to Thanos. Audiences like payoffs! Here are 5 candidates to fill the Mad Titan’s oversized shoes.
Kang the Conqueror
Known as Nathaniel Richards (yes, he may be a direct descendant of Reed Richards), Kang has gone by a number different aliases throughout his history in the comics. Kang hails from the future, the 30th century to be exact, but jumps in-and-out of timelines. In his own timeline, his planet is dying so he decides to jump into a past timeline where Earth isn’t on the brink of extinction. Why? To take over this version of Earth as his own.
With his ability and willingness to jump from timeline-to-timeline, you can see why Kang would be the perfect villain to take over for Thanos. Since Endgame introduced (SPOILER) time-travel–specifically, alternate timelines–it’s easy to see how the events of Endgame opened the door for Kang to introduce himself.
Kang also opens the door for a Young Avengers adaptation as Kang is the older version of Young Avengers member, Iron Lad. A brilliant strategist who is a master of hand-to-hand combat and time travel, Kang would be a perfect villain to take Thanos’ place.
Most Marvel fans have this guy as their number one choice to take over the role as the MCU “big bad.” Thanos snapped his fingers and wiped half of life from existence. You can’t raise the stakes much higher than that. What you can do though is increase the size and presence of the new main villain.
In terms of size, it doesn’t get bigger than Galactus! The portrayal/version we got in Fantastic Four 2 was extremely underwhelming and didn’t do the character justice at all.
Galactus is a cosmic being (entity, really) who was born in the universe before ours, which is a weird, long story in itself. Galactus is absolutely enormous and he eats planets for substance. If that’s not terrifying, I don’t know what is. He isn’t someone you can physically beat in hand-to-hand combat. It’s going to take brains and cunning to defeat him.
Physically, the Avengers would be nothing more than annoying little gnats trying to fight him physically. And of course, with Galactus comes…the Silver Surfer! Galactus would be a fantastic choice to try to fill the void left by Thanos.
While Dr. Doom is typically seen as a Fantastic Four-specific villain, he’s far too powerful to only tango with one small fraction of The Avengers. It will take a lot more than Marvel’s first family to take him down for good.
Viktor Von Doom carries a few similarities to Tony Stark. Both are scientific geniuses and extremely rich with unlimited resources at their fingertips. The only difference, while Stark needed his Iron Man suit and his technology when going into battle, Von Doom was transformed physically and gifted with actual cosmic powers.
A rich, scientific genius with actual powers who seeks world domination…now that’s a formidable foe. We could see Von Doom get an origin in the first MCU Fantastic Four film before spinning him off and allowing him to pull strings from behind the scenes through the next phases of the MCU before a final confrontation against the Avengers.
Not to mention, he possesses an army of superbots that look just like him. Doom is coming with some serious firepower! Having someone like Doom take over would be a nice change of pace from the Mad Titan as it would be an Earth-based super villain as opposed to a cosmic being.
While it would be nice to see Marvel go the route of a more Earth-based supervillain to change things up, there’s no denying the popularity of the cosmic side of the MCU. The Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, or Thanos, the cosmic side of MCU so much to offer.
Now that Disney has the rights back to the Fantastic Four, we’ll get a new film about Marvel’s first family, also with roots in the cosmic side of the universe. Annihilus has ties to all of them in the comics.
Annihilus is essentially a humanoid insect creature. His look is very distinct, which is important when choosing the next MCU villain. Annihilus hails from the negative zone, which is a doomed alternate universe that is contracting rapidly. He also commands a large horde of bipedal insect warriors and his very own Gauntlet-like device called the Cosmic Control Rod, which allows him to harness the energy from the negative zone.
In the comics, he has used the rod to slow his aging, boost his strength, fly through space, and fire incredibly powerful energy blasts. He would pose a significant physical threat to our heroes. If done right, Annihilus could be just as fierce, if not more so, than Thanos.
Our last choice is one that may be a little less likely, but then again, Marvel isn’t afraid to change a character around from the source material. (Talos in Captain Marvel anyone?)
Adam Warlock was a hero in the comics during the Infinity Saga who was crucial in defeating Thanos. However, he has not been seen or mentioned since this post-credit scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
As far as we (the audience) knows, the MCU Adam Warlock could be an antagonist and nothing more, but time will tell!
In the comics, Warlock is a genetically engineered “perfect” being. He has been split into various incarnations of himself in the comics, including Magus, who is the embodiment of every evil thought or impulse Adam Warlock has ever had or felt.
It would be strange for Marvel to have Warlock turn into Magus permanently and never give Warlock himself his time to shine, especially since fans have been anticipating Warlock’s debut for awhile now.
I’m sure a lot of fans were disappointed he didn’t factor into Infinity War or Endgame, but maybe he was being saved so that he could help the Avengers stop his evil self from universal domination?! Fingers crossed!