long live the king

Kingpin just fixed Marvel’s biggest post-Thanos problem

He’s big and mean... just a little more terrestrial.

Marvel spent 20 years building up the greatest supervillain in cinematic history, but with the snap of Iron Man’s fingers, Thanos turned to dust. So where does the Marvel Cinematic Universe for next? Kang the Conqueror seems like the obvious new big bad, while plenty of other comic book villains are waiting to be deployed, but it’s possible Hawkeye just revealed an unlikely answer.

The surprising new frontrunner may be none other than Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin. It may sound ridiculous to compare a corpulent mob boss to the Mad Titan, but could Kingpin actually fill the Thanos-shaped void in the MCU? TKTKTKTK.

Kingpin vs. Thanos

In order to judge Kingpin against Thanos, we first need to identify what made Thanos so great in the first place. His most obvious narrative strength is that he was an intergalactic threat, unlike the earthly villains featured in the majority of MCU movies up to the point. If 2012’s The Avengers proved anything, it was that any follow-up would need to be literally out of this world.

Thanos’ other big strength was his moral dilemma. The Mad Titan wasn’t right, but you could see where he was coming from. There was a twisted and misguided justice to his actions, which made him a better villain than someone who’s just evil for evil’s sake.

Kingpin in Netflix’s Daredevil.Netflix

So does Kingpin stack up? He’s almost as physically imposing as Thanos, and he certainly always has his own agenda, one that usually centers around shady business dealings. Could his current scheme involve the sale of Stark Tower and the concerted efforts to undermine each of the Avengers? It certainly is within the realm of possibility.

Kingpin isn’t an intergalactic warlord Thanos, but maybe that’s what the MCU needs. He’s flesh-and-blood human, and could be a feature, not a bug. Ever since Thanos ravaged the Earth, every Marvel outing feels like the end of the world. Maybe what we need is a more grounded villain to reset the Avengers.

Then again, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Earth’s Mightiest Heroes unite to stop Fisk. Usually, that’s a solo mission for Spider-Man or Daredevil.

The MCU’s next Thanos

Kingpin’s huge-but-grainy reveal in Hawkeye Episode 5Marvel Studios

If Kingpin isn’t the next Thanos, who is? There are all sorts of possibilities. There’s the constant underlying threat of Secret Invasion, as teased in post-credits scenes after Spider-Man: Far from Home and WandaVision. But seeing as an upcoming Disney+ series is dedicated to that fight, it’s unlikely to be a Thanos-level threat. Then, there’s Contessa Valentina, who contacted John Walker and Yelena Belova and recruited them for a mysterious cause.

But while Val approached Yelena with an assignment, Yelena was ultimately hired by Eleanor Bishop, who was seen talking with Kingpin in the last few shots of Hawkeye Episode 5. Is it possible that both Val and Eleanor answer to Wilson Fisk? In that case, he could be the mastermind building a team of morally compromised superheroes.

Either way, the MCU has been missing a physically large villain who can pose a metaphorically large threat to the well-being of the Avengers, and Kingpin fits the role perfectly. In fact, by being nothing but a nefarious scoundrel up to no good recruiting superheroes to his side to do the dirty work for him, he could even be worse than Thanos ever was.

Hawkeye is now streaming on Disney+.