***Major Spoilers below***
Marvel has done a great job building a universe but they have had a couple weaknesses through most of the films. One has been a lack of good villains for the most part and the other the lack of impactful deaths. Loki and Killmonger are among the best and the Netflix suite offers up amazing villains as well but, all in all, the universe is sorely lacking. The absence of real death in the universe has been a constant failure from Marvel. Infinity War is likely to change this but, for the most part, death has been non final and lacked any real emotion. A number of deaths have been fake such as Loki, Coulson and Nick Fury and others have just lacked any emotion such as Frigga and Quicksilver. The characters weren’t developed enough to give the audience much of a payoff. Other than Yondu, there hasn’t really been an impactful death so far and that’s a real shame for films that deal with world threats that would easily kill the heroes involved. I don’t want to see an Avenger dying every movie but I also don’t like the cop out deaths either.
Unfortunately our latest MCU addition gave us both of these things at once in Ulysses Klaue; a great villain and a death that audiences care about. Andy Serkis is the king of motion capture but he proved here that he is also an amazing actor in the flesh. His performance was the best a film full of outstanding performance and another great villain in Killmonger. Sadly Marvel thought it was best to take one of the best villains we have seen and end him far too soon. I understand that Klaue’s death was a plot point but they could have come up with another way to get Killmonger into Wakanda without killing what could have been a villain to plague the Avengers for years to come.
Klaue gave us a Joker-like villain with depth and character. His haunting laugh and incredible confidence reminded me of Joker when captured in The Dark Knight. I found myself rooting for him. Though much of his motivation is based around money, he truly likes toying with people and has an immense skill at it. His ferocity and lack of emotion when committing murder demonstrate a villain that has what it takes to bring real conflict in this fantastic cinematic universe.
Black Panther is one of the better MCU films to come out and Klaue was a big part of that. His untimely demise proves, however, that the MCU still can’t learn how to manage death and villainy in this universe. They gave us an impactful death that has finality to it but sacrificed a stellar villain in the process essentially resetting any progress they had made. Add onto that the fact that the other stalwart villain of the film also passed with finality and it makes it even worse. Killmonger’s death was earned and worked with the story and character development but Klaue’s demise was cheap and felt like a betrayal on par with the Mandarin misdirection. To bring outstanding villain development to the spring only to take it away is paramount to giving a child a lollipop and snatching it out of their mouth just as they started to enjoy it.
As a fan of great villains and Andy Serkis I can’t help but feel let down by Marvel. With this death and Snoke, the guy can’t seem to catch a break with the villainous roles he has been taking on. We are certainly sure to see him take on other great roles in the future but the MCU has lost a great actor and character that could have been utilized to great effect in the future. My hope is that we see improvements in terms of impactful deaths in as well as a great villain in Thanos with Avengers Infinity War since Marvel has continued to fail on both points.