Marvel has upped its bad-guy game, but two upcoming Joker projects are a reminder that DC still has the better-known nemeses – if only it can figure out how to exploit them
Before Josh Brolin’s Thanos made such an impressive impact in this year’s Avengers: Infinity War, it used to be said that villains were the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Achilles heel. Apart from Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and (in flashes) Cate Blanchett’s Hela, the bad guys of the MCU always seemed more thinly written than their valorous counterparts. Even Ultron, the ever-duplicating great robot big bad of the second Avengers movie, was never much more than a annoying digital thorn in the side of Earth’s mightiest heroes, while the less said about Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith or Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash the better.
It seems to have been criticism that Marvel has taken on the chin. The last three movies in the MCU have all boasted well-drawn antagonists with complex and believable motives, from the neo-Malthusian philosophy of Thanos, to the misguided proletarianism of Michael Keaton’s Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, to the twisted Afrocentrism of Michael B Jordan’s Killmonger in Black Panther. It might come as some surprise, then, with Marvel having upped its bad-guy game, that it is Warner Bros’s rival DCEU mega-saga that looks to be rebuilding its shared movie universe around supervillains.
Playing the Joker: can supervillains save DC's Extended Universe?