Nearly 40% Of MCU Fans Polled Said This Is The Best Phase 1 Villain

(Welcome to Survey Says, a feature where we conduct a movie-related survey for a random group of people and explain why they're completely right, completely wrong, or somewhere in-between.)

Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a little shaky. The folks at Marvel were trying to figure out how to weave together multiple movies into an overarching plot while also trying to make each new entry feel like something fresh. One of the biggest challenges facing the creators of those early MCU films was having a good villain, because many of the villains from individual comic runs didn't have big fanbases. 

We asked 624 MCU fans based in the U.S. which Phase 1 villain they thought was the best, and their answer really wasn't a surprise. 

Low-Key in Love with Loki

Nearly 40% of those surveyed said that Loki Laufeyson, the villain of "Thor" and "The Avengers," was the best villain in Phase 1. Loki's popularity is undeniable, because Marvel brought him back in Phase 2 and Phase 3, then gave him his own Disney+ series. Most of the other Phase 1 villains never made it out of their debut movie, let alone have that kind of attention. (In fact, "Loki" is set to come back for a second season!) Loki, played to perfection by Tom Hiddleston, is a charming, complex character that's hard not to love. He may be a god of mischief, but he's our god of mischief, darn it. 

Loki isn't completely evil. His motivations are at least a little relatable to anyone who's ever felt overshadowed by a sibling, and he eventually manages to redeem himself in "Avengers: Infinity War." Way back in Phase 1, however, he was just a charismatic chaos deity who got tossed like a rag-doll by Mark Ruffalo's Hulk.

A Little Love for the Red Skull

The second-most popular Phase 1 MCU villain was Red Skull from "Captain America: The First Avenger." Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving, was the head of the nefarious organization HYDRA. He was defeated by Captain America (Chris Evans) at the end of that movie, but Marvel brought him back for "Infinity War," played by actor Ross Marquand. (Weaving didn't want to reprise the role, and we can't entirely blame him.)

And the Rest

So how did the rest of the Phase 1 villains stack up?

Red Skull's comrade-in-arms, Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), placed third with 12% of votes. "The Incredible Hulk" villain Abomination came right at the heels of Zola with just a little bit less than 12% of the votes.

"Iron Man" villain Obadiah Stane, played by Jeff Bridges, came in behind Abomination. That feels like a bit of a crime, given Bridges' great performance and "The Incredible Hulk" being pretty forgettable, but I'll allow it. "Iron Man 2" villain Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) earned right around 5% of the votes. Raza, the commander of the Ten Rings terrorist cell in "Iron Man," came in last with only 3.5% of votes. He wasn't really in the movie once Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) escaped the cave in the desert, so it's no surprise folks weren't as attached to him as they were a character like Loki, who had tons of screen time.

In order to make a compelling superhero movie, you need a great villain. Loki is definitely one of the best.