Marvel Studios has a problem: as good as their movies are, the villains often fall flat. MCU rogues tend to be underdeveloped and unforgettable, dating all the way back to War Monger in Iron Man. But with each new film comes the hope for a better class of criminal, and that hope is reborn with Doctor Strange. So how does Mads Mikkelsen’s sinister Kaecilius stack up against his peers? Is he more Loki or more Malekith? Read on, true believers.
The problem with Marvel’s villains usually lies in their motivation. Breaking bad simply for money or power is boring; audiences can’t invest themselves in that. People want bad guys that they can sympathize with. In that regard, Kaecilius has most MCU wrongdoers beat.
The sorcerer learns that his master, the Ancient One, has been drawing power from the forbidden Dark Dimension (where time doesn’t exist) to prolong her own life. He sees this as a great injustice, and steals an ancient ritual to bring the dread Dormammu from the dark realm into our own. Kaecilius aims to stop time, extending the life of the Earth and saving its inhabitants.
That’s a pretty sound motivation. Sure many people die along the way, and he almost unleashes a terror greater than he ever imagined, but that’s what makes him the villain. At least he’s not doing it just to get rich like Darren Cross in Ant-Man. Kaecilius wants to save the world he loves. And who wouldn’t get angry at an authority figure abusing their power?
Unfortunately, in spite of his relatable rationale, Kaecilius is still another forgettable MCU villain. Mads Mikkelsen is serviceable in the role; he’s simply not given much to work with. He doesn’t get much screen time, and the time he does get feels wasted. Then he gets totally upstaged when Dormammu finally shows up.
The Bottom Line
Kaecilius is more interesting than most Marvel movie villains, but he’s no where near as memorable as Loki, or even Ultron. Still, what little character development he is given inspires hope for the future of the MCU. If the writers can keep this momentum going, soon fans will have a rogue who they can sympathize with AND who will leave a lasting impact.
Doctor Strange is in theaters November 4th.