From the time Iron Man hit theaters in 2008, it was clear that Marvel Studios had a specific mission - they were determined to focus on characterization and storytelling just as much as action and big-budget special effects. Not only was the movie a wild success, but it drew near-unanimous praise, thanks in no small part to Robert Downey, Jr.'s portrayal of Tony Stark.
He humanized the two-dimensional character, making fans fall for the obnoxious billionaire with a heart. As Marvel continued its box office domination, it was clear that the studio wanted to keeping making its heroes into real people, playing with audiences' emotions as they dazzled their senses.
The studio took the same path in casting its villains, for the most part - Jeff Bridges's turn as Obadiah Stane in the movie was equal parts endearing, shocking, and terrifying, and it set the stage for some very original baddies in the films. Not all of Marvel's attempts hit the mark, but the greats have been great.
From the worst to the best, this list counts down all of the MAJOR Marvel Cinematic Universe villains - so underlings like Nebula, Baron von Strucker, and Raza of the Ten Rings, as well as cameo players like Thanos, won't be found here.
Also, there are HEAVY SPOILERS for all of the films, so proceed with caution.
Scott Fried is a Slammy Award-winning* writer living and working in New York City. He has been following/writing about professional wrestling for many years and is a graduate of Lance Storm's Storm Wrestling Academy. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/scottfried.
*Best Crowd of the Year, 2013