Warning: There are spoilers for Black Panther all over this article, so please exit right now if you've yet to see Ryan Coogler's latest film.
Where are the recurring villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Marvel villains don't get to stick around, so there's no consistent thorn in the side of our favorite MCU heroes, no foil they can point to when dastardly things start to happen in their corner of the universe. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and Captain America (Chris Evans) has HYDRA. But for the most part, villains are dispatched at the end of solo adventures, and Black Panther made a huge mistake by killing off Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) in the middle of Black Panther.
Ah, I bet you thought I was going to complain about the death of Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in the same movie. While I lament the fact that Killmonger had to die following his infiltration of Wakanda -- with T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) allowing his new nemesis to see one of those legendary Wakandan sunsets -- it made more sense that Killmonger's arc would have him falling at the hands of the Black Panther. This is the journey of a traditional MCU villain... a rise in power, a challenge to our hero, a mighty fall that can lead to death (so long, Ego) or some form of incarceration (maybe we'll see you again, Adrian Toomes).
Not Klaue. Andy Serkis' deranged lunatic is eliminated fairly unceremoniously following a shootout with Killmonger as the main villain is trying to get to Wakanda. Klaue was the catalyst behind the film's thrilling South Korea confrontation, which starts in a casino and spills out into the streets for a car chase. Klaue also gets an exposition dump, so that Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and the audience can learn more about Wakanda.
Here's why I think it was a major mistake to kill off Klaue. The story didn't require it. Killmonger easily could have kept Klaue detained at the end of their confrontation, and the plot would have played out as normal. There could have been a different way to prove to W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) that Killmonger had eliminated Klaue. Then, Klaue could have been kept around as a thorn in Black Panther's side, knowing how he feels about Wakanda, and Vibranium. He could have easily been a recurring threat in upcoming Black Panther sequels (or even standalone films in the MCU). And he never had to be a focal villain, Klaue was memorable when he was assisting the main villain, be it Killmonger or even Ultron (James Spader) in the second Avengers movie.
Also, Andy Serkis was just fantastic as the unhinged Klaue. He relished every bit of screen time -- probably happy that he was able to show his own face on screen, and not hide behind the motion capture that brings to life Caesar the ape or Snoke, the Star Wars villain. Klaue's accent, his maniacal plans, his over-confidence, his sonic cannon of an arm... all of these were delicious ingredients for a villain that was ultimately underused in the MCU. Killmonger definitely had to go, but Klaue? He should have been spared to fight another day.
Do you agree? I mean, once all of the Infinity Stones are unearthed, any villain who has been killed off in the MCU can be brought back. So maybe Andy Serkis will get some more screen time in Avengers 4. But for now, Ulysses Klaue is gone. Make room for Thanos.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.