Are you, like me, tired of hearing everyone say that Marvel has boring villains? No? Oh. Well I won't bore you with my lame defense of Marvel. Instead, let's unpack what it really means to have a "lame" villain in a comic book movie these days versus a villain who takes over the focus of your film.
I'm going to be honest, if a villain can make me laugh while still maintaining a sense of dread; I'm all in. This basically puts The Joker at the top of my list in most of his incarnations.
I'll even go for a villain who gets my attention through a personality quirk or interesting voice
I get that people want a coherent plot that really makes you feel like your hero will seriously have to pull out all the stops to save the day, because, why not?! Unfortunately, once you start putting too much effort into crafting this amazing villain who can't be stopped, you take away from your hero. The person, or team, that people, ostensibly, came to see.
I may be wrong (and I'll only ever know if you don't comment on this post) but I think it's better to tip the scales more in favour of building up your hero if you need to pick a side. It's what I like about what Marvel is doing with their characters. Their heroes are celebrated and get the majority of the screen time.
I'm invested in these heroes. Their personal journeys are the draw for me. A robot who has a chip on his shoulder about Tony Stark is something to stir the pot that is the heroes' self doubt!
Because I felt that the main conflict in Avengers: Age of Ultron was mainly in house, I guess I missed the part where I was supposed to be upset about how Ultron was too childish or zany. Realistically, the adversity that the Avengers needed to overcome in that movie was how they were going to trust each other and work together when they're constantly keeping secrets from each other. Add to that there is some crazy robot running around trying to destroy the earth and you've got some good movie watching on your hands.
Making the villain the most interesting thing about your movie is always risky and dare I say ill-advised. Marvel has always been about having the star of the movie be the hero and I think that works well with their universe building since you'll definitely care when you see them appear in another movie or interact with the other heroes.
Other approaches seem to favor having the villain or, in DC's next movie, the antagonist be the main draw. We'll see how that goes for them. But, those villains or show downs between two titans will go away by the next movie, then what are you left with? Trying to top the last villain or show down at the expense of the hero of your story's journey?