By: Presley DePugh
Many of our childhood shows had villains we loved to hate. “Avatar the Last Airbender” had Fire Lord Ozai (Mark Hamill), “Gravity Falls” had Bill Cipher (Alex Hirsch) and “Lab Rats” had Marcus (Mateus Ward).
The last villain mentioned is a personal favorite who had many facets that mostly went unexplored by the show.
Before diving into Marcus’ story, let’s go over “Lab Rats.” It was a science fiction kids sitcom that aired on Disney XD from 2012 to 2016 and followed Leo (Tyrel Jackson Williams) who moves in with his mom Tasha (Angel Parker) and her new husband, Donald Davenport (Hal Sparks). Leo soon discovers that he has three new bionic human stepsiblings; Adam (Spencer Boldman) has super strength, Bree (Kelli Berglund) has super speed and Chase (William Brent) has super intelligence.
The first season of “Lab Rats” focused on Leo and the Davenport siblings navigating high school and going on life-threatening adventures. “Concert in a Can” (season 1, episode 19) introduced Marcus as a kid trying to weasel his way into Adam, Bree and Chase’s lives while being a brat toward Leo, who quickly caught on to Marcus’ good-boy facade. Things turn more sinister in the next episode “Mission Space” when the episode ending reveals that Marcus set up cameras in the secret lab where the bionic teens live.
Season two’s main protagonist is Marcus, who we find out is a bionic android built by Donald’s evil brother, Douglas (Jeremy Kent Jackson). Marcus meets his demise in “Bionic Showdown Part 2” (season 2, episode 15). Not only does Douglas turn good in season three but many main antagonists grace our screens as well such as the menacing Victor Krane (Graham Shiels) and the calculating Gisele (Jessalyn Wanlim), the latter ending up bringing Marcus back.
Gisele fought the heroes in “Bionic Action Hero” (season 4, episode 13-14) because the Davenports’ fame from being bionic had overshadowed her bionic android showcase. At the end of “Bionic Action Hero,” Gisele’s androids are destroyed; however, the audience saw her find Marcus’ remains and his return and final demise in the show’s finale “The Vanishing.”
Marcus’ revenge against the Davenports was short-lived, as he was eliminated for good, along with Gisele. While Marcus was an evil, two-faced android, he was still a complex character that deserved more screen time than the eight episodes he was in.
Marcus is the best villain on the show
Despite being a complete brat in his first episodes, Marcus proved to be a terrifying antagonist who can manipulate his victims, while also occasionally giving us a brief view of his humanity.
In the episodes that featured Marcus from the first and second seasons, we saw Marcus trying to get into the bionic siblings’ good graces while trying to kill Leo. For instance, in the episode “Speed Trapped” (season 2, episode 1) Marcus talked Adam, Bree and Chase into sneaking out to a social event with him, along with talking them into nearly going home with him. After Leo stops them and the bionic trio walks away, Marcus tricks Leo into getting trapped in a self-driving car heading into the ocean.
The fact that a deadly android appearing to be an innocent pre-teen boy could manipulate human weapons into being his friends while trying to destroy them, is scary. It is an all-too- real situation when people are manipulated by someone to hurt them in some way or to gain something; both were the case for Marcus, which is when the android becomes complex.
Throughout season two, Marcus always refers to Douglas as “Dad” and even mentions himself taking out the trash, having a pizza night and other things that kids do with their parents. Yes, Leo, Adam, Bree and Chase love Donald as a father. However, they know they already have that love. Marcus being tasked with taking down his cousins by a parent to gain their love is just wrong. And to boot, when Adam destroys the underground lair where Douglas’ lab is in “Bionic Showdown Part 2,” Douglas runs off by himself while Marcus gets crushed to death with a pile of rocks.
So when Marcus comes back in the series finale, “he’s got an ax to grind,” according to Gisele. In a passionate speech that made hearts pound, Marcus told his father, “When they attacked me, you ran away. You were my creator, and you left me to die.” Mateus Ward’s performance not just in this scene but in the episode was profound. Despite the show’s demographic being about-10-year-olds, everyone could see the pain of abandonment on Marcus’ face.
In comparison to other “Lab Rats” villains, Marcus had a compelling and sympathetic backstory along with an exterior with a diabolical mind. Gisele was a cold-hearted, jealous villain and Krane was just intimidating. Marcus had humane layers that are likely not seen until you pick apart the character.
Since Marcus is such a complex character, he deserves to be in the villain hall of fame next to people like Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) and Azula (Grey Delisle).