Marvel villains can get pretty bad, but which one of them has gone over to the heroes’ side?
Since Wanda may be entering the “era of villains” in Doctor Strange 2: The Multiverse of Madness, it’s worth remembering that technically she made her MCU debut as a villainess in The Avengers: Age of Ultron”. Then by the end of the movie, she joined the Avengers as a heroine.
Marvel comics have a story of characters jumping from villain to hero, many of whom ended up in the MCU. Some changed sides several times, some were villains due to the wrong direction to later become heroes by the end of one movie, and some just survived. But everyone has a reliable arc of redemption.
Valkyrie had a heroic origin story based on Norse mythology, but after her entire squadron died in battle against Hela, she left her life serving Asgard to become a destroyer on Sakaar. This is her era of villains because she supports the tyranny of the Grand Master by capturing people like Thor and the Hulk for enslavement.
Fortunately, Valkyrie finds herself frustrated by the Grand Master’s unfair gaming practices, and her heroic core finally awakens when Loki reminds her of her fallen squadron. Only then does Valkyrie seek revenge from Hela and help Thor, Loki and Bruce Banner defeat her.
Loki has had a complicated history throughout the MCU and has been the main villain in several films. He controlled Clint Barton’s mind in The Avengers, betrayed Asgard several times, and exiled and impersonated his father Odin, which may have allowed Thanos to click in Avengers: Infinity War.
But Loki never wanted to hurt anyone, as fans learned from the TV series “Loki”. Having received his brother’s approval in Thor: Ragnarok, Loki was able to find the company and attention he craves through heroic cooperation, not destruction.
James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes is a complex Marvel character. He starts out as the hero of one of Marvel’s greatest heroes, Steve Rogers, but then he’s brainwashed into becoming one of the deadliest Hydra killers of all time, the Winter Soldier.
The Black Widow Family
As a Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff spent the entire Infinity Saga in a long arc of redemption. It started when she left the Red Room and joined the Shield, and ended with her sacrificing her life so that the Avengers could undo Thanos’ Click.
After she was abducted by Thanos, Gamora had no choice but to become such a terrible villain that she was nicknamed “the deadliest woman in the galaxy.” But over time, she was able to see the atrocities Thanos was committing and betrayed him.
Gamora’s redemption arc is like returning to the good person she would have been without Thanos. In fact, she becomes the moral core of her chosen family, the Guardians of the Galaxy, which makes her an especially great heroine.
Fans meet Nebula as a truly formidable villain. She does a lot of cruel things, and a character named Taserface calls her “the biggest sadist in the galaxy,” which in itself is quite unpleasant. She even betrays fan favorites Rocket and Groot to the Ravengers.
But Nebula’s villainy is nothing more than Thanos’ offensive programming. Once she is freed and experiences just a few moments of compassion from Gamora and Tony Stark, Nebula becomes a vital hero of the Avengers and even kills her former self to save Gamora. Fans hope that in the future they will see more of her redemption arch.
The Skrullskrulls are an oppressed race of shape—shifting space refugees, but since viewers first see them through Machiavellian Kree eyes in Captain Marvel, they are portrayed as villains. But by the middle of the film, the audience, along with Carol Danvers, realize that she is being manipulated by a ruthless, militant civilization, and the Skrulls are actually their victims.
Trevor’s Redemption Arc is one of the strangest twists in the MCU. In Iron Man 3, he is considered a powerful international terrorist. However, later in the film, the audience learns that he is actually an almost unemployed actor who is liked by real villains.
His arc is better revealed in “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, as fans see Trevor working directly with the heroes, translating vital directions of his mystical “chicken pig” Morris.
SkurgeSkurge is an Asgardian warrior who fought alongside Thor at the beginning of the MCU. When he returns in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor’s bloodthirsty older sister Hela recruits Skurge as her villainous “executioner,” a role she once played for Odin.
Despite being easily manipulated, Scurge has a strong arc of redemption that revives his heroic warrior foundations. At the crucial moment of the final battle, Skurge betrays Hela by fighting her reanimated soldiers and sacrificing himself so that the Asgardians can escape.