In honor of the rights to Daredevil recently being given back to Marvel, here is every main villain from each season of the Marvel Netflix shows ranked:
16. Harold Meachum (Iron Fist Season 1): Unsurprisingly, the worst main villain from the Marvel Netflix shows comes from its most maligned show. There are several things about Harold Meachum that do indeed work, like his connection to Danny Rand (Finn Jones) and his parents along with the performance from David Wenham. However, like many things in Iron Fist season 1, the writing weighs down the character so much. Instead of Meachum looking like a serious threat, he is reduced to a forgettable villain because of the first season’s lackluster quality. Meachum isn’t a terrible antagonist, and is one of the few decent things in the show at first along with Colleen Wing. Unfortunately, he was not able to be used to his full potential and failed to make a lasting impression.
15. Davos/Steel Serpent (Iron Fist Season 2): While Davos is a slight improvement over Harold Meachum, he still isn’t anything to get too excited about. Admittedly the story is a lot more interesting surrounding him and his relationship with Danny Rand. A best friend turned arch enemy story is nothing new, especially with the Marvel Netflix shows, but it works rather well here as it does sometimes feel that there is a connection between Danny and Davos whenever they are on screen together. However, the writing once again does nothing to help the character and unlike David Wenham as Meachum, Sacha Dhawan gives a rather bland and unimpressive performance as the character. Still, the writing and backstory for Davos helps elevate the character over the previous main villain.
14. Willis Stryker/Diamondback (Luke Cage Season 1): It is a massive shame that Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) did not stay as the main villain of Luke Cage season 1, because Diamondback was a massive downgrade. The writers apparently thought that Cottonmouth would eventually become too boring so they killed him off midway through the season to replace him with Diamondback. They bet on the wrong horse for sure when it comes to that. Erik LaRay Harvey gave a terrific performance and there were several scenes where the character was a very intimidating presence. However, the character could not hold a candle to the villain from the first half and eventually feels very different in terms of tone compared the the beginning of the season.
13. Alisa Jones (Jessica Jones Season 2): With her being the mother of Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) whose only real goal is to protect her daughter, one could argue that Alisa Jones is not really a villain. However, that is the problem. Jessica Jones season 2 does not really have a main villain. Alisa is the closest thing to a main villain, and even then she does not even end up being a threat at the end of the season. While Janet McTeer gives an amazing performance as the character and has terrific chemistry with Kristen Ritter, the lack of urgency throughout the season does not help the character and the payoff is very weak. She is honestly a massive step down from Kilgrave (David Tennant). Alisa Jones is not a bad character by any means, but she is a very underwhelming villain.
12. Nobu Yoshioka (Daredevil Season 2): Originally seeming like a mere thug during Daredevil season 1, Nobu turns into the primary threat towards the end of the show’s second season and is the main reason that the relationship between Matt (Charlie Cox) and Elektra (Élodie Yung) is cut short. Nobu manages to be one of the biggest physical threats to the man without fear during the show with his unique fighting style and inability to die. However, Nobu is a very forgettable villain compared to Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio), and his rivalry with Daredevil is not as strong. Another problem with him is that he only shows up as the big bad during the end of the seventh episode and takes the center stage in the last three episodes. Before then, most of the plot revolves around either Matt dealing with his relationship with Elektra or his conflict with the Punisher (Jon Bernthal). Nobu is a decent villain, but also one of the most forgettable.
11. The Hand (The Defenders): After so much buildup through Daredevil and Iron Fist, it is a shame that the Hand could not be as good as people might have hoped. While their presence is felt greatly throughout The Defenders, the payoff to this group is unbelievably weak. The leader of The Hand (Sigourney Weaver) is built up so much and the audience is left wondering what her plans are as the show moves along. However, what her plan turns out to be is a quest for immortality through the use of some sort of dragon skeleton locked underneath New York City. Instead of being intrigued by this, most people were just left scratching their heads of how this works and why there was so much buildup to it. While the fight scenes are fun and the group is indeed menacing at several points, The Hand just didn’t feel like the threat it was being built up to be, especially with how they just waste Sigourney Weaver towards the end of the season.
10. Gregory Salinger/Foolkiller (Jessica Jones Season 3): After Alisa Jones proved to be an underwhelming villain, it was wise for the show to go back to basics and have Jessica go up against a sadistic criminal in a similar fashion to Kilgrave. Gregory Salinger (Jeremy Bobb) is a serial killer who murders people for his own demented reasons of them being gifted with abilities and not trying hard enough with them. It does not matter if his victim is a criminal or innocent bystander. If he believes they are bad, he will go after them with murderous intentions. Salinger might just be the most annoying and pathetic villain in the entire library of Marvel Netflix shows, but that is why he works rather well. Bobb gives a very menacing performance as the character, and successfully manages to make him unlikeable. However, one major flaw with Salinger is that he effortlessly manipulates the justice system without having any real ability to back up that skill. He avoids imprisonment so many times throughout the season that it becomes so unbelievable to the point of it being comical. This prevents Salinger from being any higher on the list.
9. John McIver/Bushmaster (Luke Cage Season 2): A good improvement over Diamondback, Bushmaster stands out among the villains in Luke Cage because his motives are probably more understandable than any of the characters in the show. He simply wants revenge against Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) for the murder of his family. Luke Cage is mainly just in the way of his goals. While Bushmaster isn’t as charismatic as Kilgrave or terrifying as Bullseye, he still manages to be a force to be reckoned with as he tangles with Luke Cage several times throughout season 2 and is relentless in his goals. Mustafa Shakir is great in the role and gives the right amount of effort. What keeps him from being higher on the list is that he is not as memorable or despicable as the other Marvel Netflix villains. However, Bushmaster is still a very solid villain.
8. William Rawlins/Agent Orange (The Punisher Season 1): Quite possibly the most unsympathetic villain in the Marvel Netflix universe, Rawlins is a ruthless and cruel individual who is only out there to boost his career in the CIA. Even before he established himself as the main villain, Rawlins was shown to be uncaring, callous and unpleasant. He accidentally leads Frank Castle’s (Jon Bernthal) army buddies into an ambush despite several warnings not to and shows no remorse when only a few of them come back alive with grave injuries. However, the biggest crime that this villain commits is ordering the killing of Frank’s entire family, which sets the former soldier on a warpath for revenge. While his mental breakdown and petty urge for vengeance against Frank at the end does undermine the character’s intimidating factor, Rawlins is a horrible individual and has one of the most satisfying deaths in the MCU.
7. John Pilgrim (The Punisher Season 2): You could make the argument that this character is not the main villain of The Punisher’s second season as he is being forced to chase after Frank and the teenage girl that he is protecting (Giorgia Whigham) by someone else. However, John Pilgrim (Josh Stewart) is definitely the most persistent threat throughout the season, and is able to stand out through his cool demeanor and relentless efforts to hunt down our protagonists. Stewart gives a level of honor to the character as he is not truly a bad person and simply trying to get his sons back from the people holding them hostage. However, what he will do to get his kids back and how far he will go to achieve that puts him at odds with The Punisher. This religious hit man has a terrific presence throughout the season and is one of the few antagonists that you really don’t want to see Frank kill and instead make it out alive.
6. Cornell Stokes/Cottonmouth (Luke Cage Season 1): Most people agree that if Cottonmouth was not killed off midway through the season, Luke Cage would have had a much better first outing. That is because Mahershala Ali gives a masterful performance as this ruthless crime boss. Most of his scenes are nothing short of spectacular, and include some of the best moments not in just the Marvel Netflix shows, but in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is also very frightening when he wants to be, as seen when he beats a teenage hoodlum to death with his bare hands after he stole money from him. It is a crying shame that Ali’s character was killed off so early, as he could have made Luke Cage season 1 even better than it originally was.
5. Mariah Dillard/Black Mariah (Luke Cage Season 1 and 2): The overall main villain of Luke Cage, Mariah Dillard was a ruthless force during the show, always making it difficult for the hero for hire throughout the run of the series. Originally a corrupt politician, Mariah develops into a full blown criminal after the first season. Not only does she prove to be a massive obstacle for Luke, but Alfre Woodard presents the character in a very scary way and I makes the audience want to see her taken down by Luke as each episode with her goes by. Her death by poisoning at the hands of her own daughter (Gabrielle Dennis) was extremely shocking and served as a fitting end to the villain from Harlem.
4. Billy Russo/Jigsaw (The Punisher Season 1 and 2): Formerly Frank Castle’s best friend and brother in arms, Billy Russo is without question the most impactful villain in The Punisher. Originally being very close with Frank and his family, Billy throws all of it away when he becomes one of the people responsible for the death of his best friend’s wife and kids. Now only looking to cover his tracks, Billy’s betrayal is one of the most tragic moments in the series as the flashbacks between him and Frank are extremely impactful and let the audience see just how close he was with him. While Rawlins was the main figure behind the murder of Frank’s wife and kids, Billy was the one who Frank resented the most and their showdown on the carrousel in Central Park is the one of the most intense fight scenes in Marvel tv. During season 2 in which Billy is disfigured and loses most of his memory after his fight with Frank, the character becomes more deranged and pathetic as he cannot give up his vendetta against Frank, which ultimately leads him to his death at the hands of his former best friend, who kills him without any remorse. Ben Barnes gives a phenomenal performance as the character and is one of the best characters in the show after Frank.
3. Benjamin Poindexter/Bullseye (Daredevil Season 3): After Colin Farrell’s goofy and over the top performance in the 2003 Daredevil movie, it was honestly hard to ever take the character of Bullseye seriously. However, Daredevil season 3 managed to fix the 2003 film’s mistake with their interpretation of the character. Introduced as an unstable FBI agent with a fiery temper, Benjamin Poindexter (Wilson Bethel) becomes the most terrifying villain from all of the Marvel Netflix shows after he is manipulated by Kingpin into becoming a serial killer wearing the Daredevil costume for him. Bethel is outstanding as the character, as he is very unnerving during several points throughout the season. Such examples include when he constantly stalks a former coworker named Julie, tries to murder Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) in a church and worst of all when murders a Holocaust survivor who owned Kingpin’s favorite painting in order to impress him, an action that even Kingpin himself found horrifying. Poindexter was shown to be a monster in the making since his childhood as seen during flashbacks where he murders his kind-hearted baseball coach for the sole reason of benching him so his teammates can have a turn to play. It is a shame that we could not see Poindexter fully become Bullseye, as the show was cancelled after season 3. Hopefully Disney will finally renew Daredevil for a fourth season.
2. Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Daredevil Season 1 and 3): As the main villain of Daredevil, Wilson Fisk/Kingpin is quite possibly the most complex Marvel Netflix character of them all. While he is ruthless and a criminal, he is also very sympathetic and honorable in what he does. Originally aided by his right hand man James Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore), Fisk makes it his goal to mold New York City in his own image and lets nothing stand in his way aside from the love of his life Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer). Fisk was abused by his father and soon murdered him when he pushed him too far. It is this action that sets him on the path of crime. After being defeated by Matt at the end of season 1, Fisk continues to be an antagonist to the blind lawyer during the second season as he manipulates the Punisher and overtakes the prison with ease. During season 3, Fisk becomes an even bigger threat as he breaks down Daredevil’s reputation by manipulating Poindexter and manages to get the FBI into his pocket. It becomes almost necessary for Matt to break his vows and kill Fisk after all the trouble he causes. With Vincent D’Onofrio’s magnificent performance and how much of an impact Kingpin makes on the show as a whole, he is not just a great villain. He is a perfect villain.
1. Kilgrave (Jessica Jones Season 1): There really could not be anyone else. The arch-enemy of Jessica Jones is not just the best Marvel Netflix villain of all time, but also the best villain to ever appear in a comic book show. While Kingpin and Billy Russo are very sympathetic in their goals and manage to garner sympathy from the audience during their stories, Kilgrave is the exact opposite. He is one of the few Marvel Netflix villains that can be classified as pure evil. Kilgrave immediately ended Jessica’s superhero life by hypnotizing her into becoming his personal slave for months. He forced her to do many disgusting and cruel things for his pleasure. After Jessica, finally broke free of his control, Kilgrave makes it his goal to have Jessica fall in love with him, as she is the one thing that he cannot get with his powers. The man is remorseless on what he does to the people around him and shows no care if they die or not. He does many horrific things in order to make Jessica love him, being under the delusion that they could ever become a loving couple. His death at Jessica’s hands is the most satisfying death in the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s library, as it is well deserved. Even after his death, Kilgrave is able to haunt Jessica during the following seasons and she is never truly able to move past what he did to her. David Tennant gives a masterful performance as the character and is able to rival other incredible Marvel villains like Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). Without question, Kilgrave is the best Marvel Netflix villain of all time, and it will be hard to top him if the shows ever come back.