Where there's a hero, there's a villain. But, when it comes to Avengers: Infinity War, substitute that with a universe of super heroes and one mega antagonist: Thanos.
The big bad has been lurking in the background of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) ever since the post-credits scene in 2012's Avengers Assemble – but no more. Come April, when Infinity War is declared, he's slap-bang in the spotlight and the man behind the motion capture, Josh Brolin, is reportedly more than ready to be one of the most hated villains ever on the big screen.
Not that we saw much of him in the most recent trailer, but he made Peter Parker's (Tom Holland) hair stand on end – and that says it all. If Thanos turns out to be a true supervillain, he'll have to out-bad some illustrious predecessors, both within the MCU and elsewhere. Who else do we love to hate? Here's your list, from A to Zod.
Alexander Pierce – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
He's a bureaucrat in a suit, but don't let that fool you. The Winter Soldier villain Pierce, as played by Robert Redford, disguises his real intentions underneath a calm authority that's convincing enough not just to take in the audience, but a certain Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as well. It makes his power hungry plans even more terrifying and ingenious. He's the epitome of outwardly ordinary evil lurking within the superhero world.
Doc Ock – Spider-Man 2
Doctor Octopus, aka Otto Octavius, isn't just a set of robotic tentacles. Alfred Molina's mad scientist is more human than most supervillains, one who almost manages to turn himself into a near-hero by the end. But let's not forget that he didn't have just Tobey Maguire's web-slinger in his sights. Kidnapping Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and dangling her off a building is nothing short of unforgivable.
Hela – Thor: Ragnarok
Marvel's own Medusa is the first ever female villain in their cinematic universe, and she's memorable for more than just her appearance. This time, as they say, it's personal: sure, Hela gets a kick out of wreaking havoc and destruction on her return to Asgard, but there's also the little matter of a personal beef with Odin (Anthony Hopkins) on her mind.
Not that Cate Blanchett's vengeful goddess lacks a sprinkling of humour either: under Taika Waititi's direction, it's essential, and it makes her even more compelling.
The Joker – The Dark Knight
"Why so serious?" The late Heath Ledger's incarnation of Batman's (Christian Bale) nemesis The Joker is terrifyingly convincing, and resulted in a posthumous Oscar. He has no back-story (well, he hints at it, but intentionally muddles things), is hell-bent on destroying anything and everything in his path, and enjoys it all far too much.
All of that, coupled with the unnerving voice, skin-crawling tics (even if the lip licking was more to do with the prosthetics than method acting) and the deadly "magic tricks" make him one of the most memorable of malevolent forces.
Killmonger – Black Panther
Who is the main star of Marvel's record-shattering new blockbuster? While many may stump for Chadwick Boseman's title character, insurgent villain Killmonger (played by the terrific Michael B. Jordan) has stunned us all to emerge as possibly the best MCU baddie so far.
A great antagonist will always invoke feelings of sympathy as well as disgust, and the arrestingly complex Killmonger draws us in. Betrayed by his Wakandan brethren yet with a rightful claim to the African kingdom's throne, his anger is as justified as his eventual methods are appalling.
Lex Luthor – Superman
Gene Hackman's Luthor may be another villain in a suit, but he makes no effort to disguise that he's "the greatest criminal mind of our time". And his reason for being Superman's (Christopher Reeve) arch-nemesis is gloriously simple: the Man of Steel simply gets in the way of his nefarious activities. There's no lust for power here, just good old fashioned greed.
Loki – Thor/The Avengers/Thor: The Dark World/Thor: Ragnarok/Avengers: Infinity War
Yes, he's in Infinity War as well, but as a hero or villain? You just never know with Loki (Tom Hiddleston). He's a nasty piece of work, sure, and doesn't give a second thought to making deals with the devil, but that trickery and twinkle in his eye make him unexpectedly endearing. Hiddleston's god of mischief has charm and humour and is better than his counterparts at living on his wits. We shouldn't love the scoundrel, but we do.
Magneto – the X-Men series
Magneto (played as an older man by Ian McKellen and as a younger one by Michael Fassbender) isn't your straightforward super-villain. His argument is this: he sees his fellows mutants as endangered, and believes humanity will never accept them. He has a point.
In the hands of acting titans McKellen and Fassbender, his rage becomes all the more convincing. Trouble is, Magneto goes about it in the most extreme of ways. Like trying to kill every non-mutant on the planet. That's going too far…
Scarecrow – Batman Begins/The Dark Knight/The Dark Knight Rises
The only villain to appear in all three of Christopher Nolan's Batman movies, Dr Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), is the stuff of nightmares. Crane is chilling to the point of disturbing and has a deep understanding of fear. Scarecrow is even worse: armed with a toxin, he can instil mind blowing terror in his enemies. It's a deadly combination.
Ultron – Avengers: Age Of Ultron
He looks a mess to start with, a tangle of discarded robotic parts, repeating anything he hears. But it's not long before Ultron, the Avengers experiment that goes ever so slightly wrong, reveals himself to be a powerful – nay deadly – enemy. The voice of James Spader adds a beguiling menace to a robot villain packed with all-too-human emotions, a creation designed to protect people, but who ends up seeing them as inconvenient and disposable.
Zod – Superman II
At the end of the alphabet, but nowhere near bottom of the villainy pile, is Terence Stamp's (literally) fantastic General Zod. Haughty and arrogant, he walks away with all of his scenes, thanks to a commanding voice and chilly stare. It's as if he's walked straight off the pages of a DC comic, one moment camp, the next sinister, a supervillain in total command of his crazy super powers who put his own face on Mount Rushmore.
Freda Cooper is an Unlimited card holder who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.