Anytime a new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie heads our way (Thor: Ragnarok opens today in case you’ve somehow missed the ads, trailers, and general cultural presence), it brings with it an opportunity to interact. I’ve written about Marvel in the past, including a full-on ranking of all the films within the universe. This time around I wanted to focus on the villains (often the fly in the Marvel ointment) and started with a simple prompt: If I had to fight one MCU villain, who would it be? I’m talking me, a normal, mortal, five-foot-nine-ish dude with no super powers, super tech, or even any real training, up against the various Marvel villains in all their glory. How would I fare and what strategies would I employ against each of them? I went through the MCU films, thought about their respective villains, and broke them down into four groups ranked from easiest to defeat to most difficult. Also, this is very silly.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this piece described Malekith as a frost giant instead of a dark elf. I'd apologize for this gaff but Thor the Dark World is awful and therefore I've given it as little thought as humanely possible.
I GOT THIS
16. Malekith, Thor the Dark World
I live in Texas. There is a zero percent chance that a dark elf from a sunless, frozen world could even begin to handle the heat in Texas, let alone the humidity. Malekith would melt and I would soak him up into a water bottle and leave him on display for the rest of time.
15. Colonel Zemo, Captain America: Civil War
This guy has literally no super powers and I’m not convinced he’s even all that smart. His entire strategy is based on fooling superheroes into fighting each other. Since I am not a super hero, I would not fall for this and I feel confident I could at least restrain Daniel Bruhl until the authorities arrived.
14. Ronan, Guardians of the Galaxy
In theory, Ronan is a formidable opponent. He looks intimidating, he appears to be very physically gifted, and he has a super cool weapon. However, he must suffer from a paralyzing case of ADD as he is extremely easy to distract through dance and would be no match for my devastating dance moves.
13. Red Skull, Captain America: First Avenger
As with Ronan, Red Skull appears to be unbeatable. However, there is no evidence that his super powers come with immortality and as such, in 2017, he would be at least 100 years old, if not dead, and I’m pretty confident I can defeat a corpse.
12. Loki, Thor
Loki from Avengers is a serious opponent (see below) but Loki from Thor? Please. Loki seems very emotionally fragile. I would blare some Phil Collins at Loki, watch him collapse into a Feelings Puddle and snatch his staff. This isn’t even hard.
11. Obadiah Sane, Iron Man
Obadiah is a question mark for sure but I’m relying on his lack of familiarity with his janky Iron Man suit technology and potentially limited battery power to wear him down eventually, at which point I’m just facing off against a bald Jeff Bridges. I want no part of a long-haired Jeff Bridges but the bald version can catch these hands.
I AM NOT SO SURE ABOUT THIS
10. Kaecilius, Doctor Strange
Kaecilius is very powerful and moreover, he is quite dedicated to bringing the world to an end. Hey, we all have those days, I get it. I am no match for his magical powers but, hear me out on this; has Kaecilius ever seen Parks and Recreation? I doubt it. He seems like the kind of guy who never really watched much TV. If I could engage Kaecilius’s inquisitive mind and convince him to watch a season of Parks and Recreation (probably season four or five, something he could understand without much backstory), I think I could show him there is good in the world and also, while he’s wrapped up in the Leslie Knope-Ben Wyatt relationship, I could bash his head and take his ring.
9. Mandarin, Iron Man 3
The hierarchy of powers within Iron Man 3 is VERY difficult to ascertain, to be sure, so I may be underrating the fightability of Mandarin. I do feel like, however, I could rope-a-dope him into literally imploding as he doesn’t seem particularly stable, either physically or mentally.
8. Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, Ant-Man
My prospects are beginning to get dicey at this point. Cross is legitimately evil and Yellowjacket is formidable. My goal here would be to get him to follow me to an offseason lake town where I would rig every bug zapper I could find to one trailer and fry him.
I DO NOT LIKE MY CHANCES
7. Ultron, The Avengers: Age of Ultron
On the surface, Ultron seems unbeatable for a lowly normal such as myself. If you dig a little deeper, however, you discover that his strategies are flawed (why, of all the places on earth you could attack, would you start with Zokovia, idiot?), he’s very bad at picking allies, and he’s a bit egotistical. If I can just avoid him for a while, I imagine he makes a mistake, at which point I pounce. (Though, to be fair, I have no idea what to do once I pounce. I’ll wing it.)
6. Adrian Toomes/Vulture, Spider-Man Homecoming
He may not have super powers but his technology more than makes up for what he’s lacking. Moreover, Toomes is out there fighting for his family’s livelihood. This strangely makes him much more difficult to contend with than some of the “bigger” villains. I would probably try to Jaws him and shoot his jetpack and hope for the best.
5. Loki, The Avengers
In this scenario, I imagine Loki would show up and, buoyed by my previous success against Loki, I would smirk and reach for my iPod, assuming my Phil Collins strategy would work again, at which point Loki, now less a mopey teenager and more a powerful warlock, would probably cut out my eye. Maybe “Against All Odds” tugs on his heartstrings, though, and he relents before actually killing me.
I AM DEAD
3-4. Emil Blonsky/Abomination, The Incredible Hulk and Ivan Vanko/Whiplash, Iron Man 2
I have almost no strategy against Abomination. He’s an ultra-powerful monster and even if he powers down, he’s still Tim Roth. I don’t like my chances against Tim Roth even without powers. Similarly, while Whiplash is a marginal villain, if I somehow manage to relieve him of his whips and Iron Man suits, I still have to contend with what I can only assume would be a very angry Mickey Rourke. *Shudders*
2. Ego, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2
Ego is both a planet AND Kurt Russell. How do you even begin to fight against that combination? I have no bomb in my backpack, I don’t even have duct tape for the Death Button; I am virtually useless. If I sang “Cat’s in the Cradle” at the top of my lungs would that cause Ego some emotional distress, allowing me to escape? I don’t know, maybe, but that’s really all I have going for me.
1. Hydra, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Hydra is far too sprawling an organization for one normal human such as myself to take down. Without Cap’s shield or Falcon’s wings or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s…whatever Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has going for it, I’m powerless. I would probably just run from trusted celebrity to trusted celebrity, blabbing about Hydra only to find out they, too, are Hydra agents. I’ll give you Robert Redford and Bill Paxton, but Garry Shandling?! Garry Shandling is a Hydra agent?! I can’t win this war. I give up.