Who will be the ultimate villains in Joss Whedon's Avengers movie? Nobody really knows, even though speculation and rumors have been flying faster than a million quinjets.
Which makes this the perfect time to assemble our own wishlist of Avengers villains that we'd like to see Whedon tackle. After all, Joss Whedon is the master of creating fascinating baddies, and the decades of Avengers comics offer plenty of colorful menaces that Whedon could go to town with. But which Avengers nemeses are especially suited to the Joss Whedon school of arch-villainy?
Here's our suggestions for 10 Avengers villains we'd love to see Whedon bring to the big screen.
10. The Circus of Crime
Why they rule: They'd be a fun set of minor villains for the Avengers to vanquish before they go on to face the real menaces. Their leader, the Ringmaster, uses hypnosis to make entire audiences helpless, so the circus members can rob them. There are scary-weird clowns. You could wrap this in with the storyline where the Hulk, hiding from the Avengers, joins a circus while pretending to be a robot clown.
Why they would benefit from the Joss touch: He could mock them. A lot. Plus the Ringmaster's use of hypnosis and brainwashing could allow Whedon to delve into intense questions about people's control over their own lives. But mostly he could mock them.
Why they might not work: They might be a bit too campy. And we're not sure the state of CG animation is good enough to render the Hulk wearing robotic clown makeup yet.
9. B.A.D. Girls, Inc.
Why they rule: They're an ass-kicking squad of female assassins, and they're morally ambiguous. They're an offshoot of the Serpent Society.
Why they'd benefit from the Joss touch: Well, Whedon loves strong female characters. And the Avengers is looking pretty male-dominated. Plus, one of their members is Diamondback, who has a romantic history with Captain America — and the other members of B.A.D. Girls Inc. worked behind the scenes to make sure Cap and Diamondback had an uneventful first date. So you could build in a tormented, conflicted love story, of the kind that Whedon excels at.
Why it might not work: Um, because they're called B.A.D. Girls Inc., and that's kind of a ridiculous name? And because then you'd have to explain the Serpent Society and King Cobra and stuff, too.
8. The Skrulls
Why they rule: They're a race of shape-shifting aliens, who can infiltrate anywhere and be anyone. And they're a huge, cosmic-level threat that would justify bringing the team of heavy hitters together. Plus they have a huge star-spanning saga attached to them, of the Skrull-Kree war, with all of its rich mythos. Oh, and the Super Skrull has all of the Fantastic Four's powers! They're heavily rumored to be in the film, but it's not confirmed yet.
Why they'd benefit from the Joss touch: The paranoia of not knowing who's a Skrull could be fertile ground for Whedon's brand of psychological weirdness. And we already know that Whedon can do big space adventure.
Why it might not work: The whole "who's secretly a shapeshifting alien" thing might be too confusing for Marvel's first big superhero team-up movie. And Sl'gur't help us all if you try to fit all of the complicated Skrull history and mythos into a two-hour movie. Not to mention all of the complicated ins and outs of the recent Secret Invasion crossover.
Why he rules: He's a badass assassin. He played a major part in the death of Captain America, back when Cap died.
Why he would benefit from the Joss touch: He could easily be reimagined into a version of Jubal Early, the sardonic, philosophical bounty hunter from the final Firefly episode. And his M.O. includes brainwashing people, which has been something of a theme with Whedon of late.
Why he might not work: He doesn't really have any superpowers of his own. So he might not pose enough of a threat by himself, unless you threw in some other baddies with him.
Why he rules: Okay, seriously, you need a crash course in why Thanos rocks the cosmos? He's one of those villains who thinks big, and often is found at the head of an army of space mercenaries. He's basically insane and has an obsessive love for death. And he's constantly trying to gain control over the Cosmic Cube and the Infinity Gauntlet — both of which were featured in Thor.
Why he would benefit from the Joss touch: He's totally nuts, and thinks that Death is his lover, or maybe his ex. (He should take it up with Deadpool.) He could be the new Alpha! Or maybe the new version of the Master, Joss' O.G. vampire villain.
Why he might not work: Like a lot of these villains, he might be too complicated and big.
Why they rule: They're evil scientists — you have to be a super-scientific genius to get a job there, and they have ties to HYDRA, which is already appearing in Captain America: The First Avenger. Among other things, they're connected to the comics origin of the Cosmic Cube, and they created the unstoppable killing machine M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing.) At one point, their leader was George Clinton.
Why they'd benefit from the Joss touch: He could definitely have a field day mocking their scientific arrogance and crazy schemes for world domination. Plus M.O.D.O.K. and his giant head sort of lend themselves to Whedonesque quips.
Why they might not work: They're pretty darn comic-booky. And who knows how well M.O.D.O.K. could be represented on screen?
Why he rules: You want a cosmic villain? He's practically the ultimate cosmic villain. Michael Korvac is a computer programmer from another universe who became a cyborg and then gained absolute power, and now he wants to turn Earth's sun nova. Or else turn Earth into a utopia. One of those two.
Why he'd benefit from the Joss touch: He's a well-meaning villain, who just wants to help but is kind of short-sighted and power-mad. He's sort of a tragic figure, created as a weapon but desiring to do good for people instead.
Why it might not work: He might be a little bit too cosmic for a first movie. And his backstory is incredibly elaborate, involving multiple cosmic beings whose power he borrowed or studied.
Why Ultron rules: He's like the Terminator, except more psychotic and needlessly destructive. And every time he comes back, he's twice as powerful as the last time. He's starred in several of the Avengers' greatest sagas, including "The Great Betrayal," "Ultron Unlimited," and the first arc of Mighty Avengers. Whenever Ultron shows up, it's a potentially world-ending threat.
Why Ultron would benefit from the Joss touch: He's a terrifying villain, but he's got a weird psychological wrinkle, since he was created by one of the Avengers, Hank Pym. And he's frequently obsessed with Hank's ex, Janet Van Dyne — to the point where he turns himself into a duplicate of her. He's almost unstoppable, and yet he struggles with the nature of humanity and the meaning of his existence.
Why it might not work: You'd have to introduce Hank Pym first, and that's a huge stumbling block. You can't just introduce Hank and then have him create the ultimate killer robot in the first 15 minutes, or everyone will hate Hank. (Well, they'll hate Hank no matter what. But you have to at least give him a chance.)
2. Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil
Why they rule: If you don't know why Baron Zemo and his Masters of Evil deserve such a plum spot on this list, go read this synopsis of the "Under Siege" storyline, and then come back here. We'll wait. In a nutshell, Zemo's team trashes the Avengers — putting Hercules in the hospital — and takes over the Mansion. They practically win, flat out.
Why they'd benefit from the Joss touch: They're sarcastic, grouchy roustabouts who all have a beef with those Avengers. And they're led by the speechifying Zemo, who's sort of grandiose and a horrible Nazi. Plus he could plant the seeds for their eventual turn to (sorta) good as the Thunderbolts.
Why it might not work: It's probably too many diverse villains, each with their own backstories, to fit into a movie that already unites several marquee heroes.
1. Kang the Conqueror
Why he rules: Kang is totally awesome. He's a time traveler from the year 3000, who conquers the 40th century and then comes back to our time to conquer the present. (It's way more complicated, but that's what it boils down to.)
Why he would benefit from the Joss touch: Kang is a total maniac, but also sort of a tragic figure — every time he travels through time, he creates a divergent self, and his various future selves are often coming back in various guises to help stop him. He's tragically in love with a princess named Ravonna, who's sort of dead. And he wants to impregnate the Celestial Madonna, so he can become the father of the most powerful being in the universe.
Why he might not work: Too much time-hopping and alternate universes might make people's heads spin.
Thanks so much to Cyriaque Lamar for the help!