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5 Marvel villains who could follow Thanos

Interested in which villains we might see hit the big screen in Phase Four? You’ve come to the right place.

Before we get started, though, this article WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for “Infinity War.” Consider yourself warned. The digital edition of the film is available here:

After Thanos’ fateful snap in “Avengers: Infinity War,” any future villains for the Marvel Cinematic Universe have pretty big shoes to fill. The MCU had been leading up to Thanos since “The Avengers” post-credits tease way back in 2012. Kevin Feige and the Russo Brothers had to make sure that the mad titan was worth all the buildup and hype. Ten minutes into “Infinity War” we witness Thanos (Josh Brolin) ruthlessly murder two of the franchise’s favorite Asgardians and then proceed to beat the Hulk into the dust. He accomplishes all of this even before he receives the space stone.

We have to admit he’s pretty scary.

Though we’ll assuredly be presented with a radically different MCU after the “Infinity War” storyline concludes, it is due to wrap up in 2019. Whether that means Thanos is defeated, killed, or is simply not a threat anymore, it’s difficult to say. Regardless, we don’t see the studio drawing out the “Infinity War” conflict past the upcoming sequel.

So once Thanos is no longer at the top of the totem pole, who can we expect to see next? Is there anyone left in Marvel’s Rogues Gallery that can pose an equal threat?

Yes, there are. Here are our top five most likely candidates:

5. Annihilus

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/489836896943442415

Ruler of the Negative Zone, and known as the Living Death that Walks, Annihilus is primarily a villain for the Fantastic Four, much like Dr. Doom or the Silver Surfer. The reason Annihilus makes our list instead of either of those two more famous characters is mostly because we’ve already seen the others.

The Silver Surfer appeared in the 2007 “Rise of the Silver Surfer” movie, and Dr. Doom has already been the antagonist for two separate Fantastic Four films. The odds of Marvel Studios trying to rehash the iconic supervillain for a third time are sadly slim.

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Annihilus_(Earth-616

In terms of his powers, Annihilus has super durability dialed up to 11, flight, and super strength, all while able to withstand even the vacuum of space. That’s already pretty OP. Most dangerous of all, however, is that Annihilus wields the Cosmic Control Rod – a weapon highly prized and sought after by Dr. Doom.

The Cosmic Control Rod allows Annihilus to manipulate cosmic energy on a molecular level, making it capable of vastly destructive force and concussive energy. It’s also slowed Annihilus’ aging process to the point that he’s nearly immortal.

Judging by the fact that Annihilus has historically defeated Thor, Quasar, Thing, and even Thanos, we’re confident he could be a contender for next in line in terms of sheer power.

4. Kang the Conquerer

Another villain who’s caused a heap of trouble for both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, we’ve got Kang the Conquerer as our number four. Kang is a time-traveling super genius who uses advanced technology that would make Tony Stark extremely jealous. Actually, that jealousy is pretty much canon.

Potentially a descendant of Reed Richards’ father, Kang got his start stealing time-traveling tech designed by none other than Dr. Doom. He always seems to be involved, doesn’t he? Kang uses this tech to travel back to ancient Egypt where he takes on the mantle of the Pharoah Rama-Tut.

Interestingly enough, the heir to that throne is none other than En Sabah Nur – Apocalypse. Could we see a potential connection to the X-Men universe? It would certainly be overdue! If that’s what the MCU is gearing towards, we may be seeing Kang very soon indeed.

Considering that time travel in the MCU is looking increasingly likely, it would make eerie sense for the resulting time loops and conundrums to attract the attention and ire of Kang. Let’s say the only way to reverse the effects of Thanos’ snap was to use the time stone to reverse the deaths it caused. A use that arduous could create scars and rifts in the timeline, something that could easily segue into Kang’s arrival.

Kang might also force the studio to play it straight and tell the audience just what can and cannot be achieved through time travel. It would make it less of a cheap way out, and attach some weight and finality to any deaths from here on out.

3. Mephisto

When it comes to deciding a villain to top Thanos, who better than the devil himself? Mephisto was allegedly created by “the supreme being” whose suicide resulted in the very creation of the Marvel Universe to begin with. That means Mephisto has been around since the creation of the infinity stones as well.

Immortal and boasting powers of on a biblical level, we have no doubt that Mephisto could give the heroes of Phase Four a run for their money. But that’s not even the biggest reason he made our list:

In the Infinity War comic series, Mephisto plays a very significant role. He serves as the whispering voice in Thanos’ ear, offering him at first guidance and then eventual treachery. The reason Mephisto is able to accomplish this is due to his unique position:

Canonically, the infinity gauntlet is so powerful a weapon that it eventually renders its wearer insane. Adam Warlock, the hero of the infinity gauntlet comic series, was split into two moral directions under the weight of the mighty glove. The result was the amoral Magus, an evil entity of immense power and influence.

If you are hopeful that Loki’s death at the start of Infinity War was another fake out, you might be happy to see numerous similarities between Loki’s personality and Mephisto’s. If we don’t see Mephisto hit the screen in Infinity War part two, it’s frankly more likely that we get to see our favorite trickster god take on the role of the whispering traitor. It would certainly suit him well!

2. Galactus

If you’re a fan of Marvel comics and games you’re probably familiar with Galactus. This planet-sized cosmic entity is a god-like figure who feeds by draining the life energy of entire worlds. Existing prior to the Big Bang, Galactus is at the same power level of omniscient entities such as Uatu the Watcher or the Living Tribunal.

He’s a pretty big deal.

When he shows up, it’s usually a situation similar to Infinity War, where every character has to come on deck. The MCU has been doing a lot of that since Avengers, so Galactus would be the best excuse to bring out all the guns.

When Thanos raises the bar as much as he did, Galactus and Annihilus are probably the only other villains in the MCU of similar caliber. Of the two, we’d have to give the point to Galactus, making him our second most likely pick.

1. The Skrull

With the approaching Captain Marvel film, it’s almost a given the Skrull story arc is in our near future. At the heart of the entire Secret Invasion storyline, we think the Skrull are the most likely direction for the MCU to take after the Infinity Gauntlet arc is complete.

The Skrulls are an imperialist alien race seeking to colonize and claim planets in their unending war with the Kree empire. Skulking behind the scenes time and time again, the Skrull seize opportunities to capture the heroes of the MCU and take their place, posing as them and slowly infiltrating the ranks of Earth’s defenses with the eventual hope of sabotaging from the inside out.

Subtle and extremely creepy, the Secret Invasion plays out to be akin to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or “The Thing,” where everybody’s second-guessing each other and no one knows who to trust. Playing upon the similar “we’re a ticking time bomb” themes from Avengers, the Skrull Invasion proves that the scariest villain is one who’s been beside you from the very beginning.

In the comics, Ms. Marvel’s origin story was heavily involved with the Kree – the alien race vying for control of Earth against the Skrull. We think it would be a missed opportunity if the film didn’t introduce one or both of the alien races.

Agree with our list? Who are you hoping to see on-screen in the MCU?

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