The Most Powerful Marvel Villains

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Marvel might be best known for its superheroes, but behind every great hero is a villain waiting to sneak up and attack them when they aren’t looking. When it comes to ranking the most powerful Marvel villains, there are a lot of factors to consider. It’s not just about who’s the strongest physically. There’s also intelligence, cunning, magic, cosmic energy, and many other attributes to think about. With that in mind, we’ve created a list of the most powerful villains in the Marvel universe. 

20. Red Skull

Red Skull
Image: Marvel

If Captain America symbolizes what is good and pure in the Marvel Universe, Red Skull symbolizes everything evil and corrupt. As a villain, Red Skull represents all of the evil and hatred humans are capable of. A literal Nazi, he’s as hideously disfigured on the inside as he is on the outside, espousing all of the evilest and most despicable values held by the Third Reich.

Red Skull is the mastermind behind The terrorist organization Hydra, a major thorn in the side of both S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. Though he’s not the strongest Marvel Villain, what Red Skull lacks in actual power, he more than makes up for with his tenacity and twisted genius. 

19. Green Goblin

Marvel villain Green Goblin
Image: Marvel

You might not think a guy in a pink and green goblin costume who throws exploding pumpkins would be that much of a big-league threat, but that’s precisely what the Green Goblin is. The Green Goblin, AKA Norman Osborn, is equal parts savvy businessman and criminally insane super genius. The Goblin started as a typical Spider-Man villain with super strength and access to advanced technology. He soon surpassed the hero’s other rogues to become Spidey’s archnemesis. Goblin even went as far as killing the webbed wonder’s first love, Gwen Stacy, by callously tossing her off of a bridge.

Not content to remain Spider-Man’s problem alone, Green Goblin has gone up against both the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. and won. Though Osborn has seemingly died more times than we can count, he always comes back, each time as a more powerful Marvel villain than the last.

18. Sabretooth

Sabretooth comic book character
Image: Marvel

If you took Wolverine and made him bigger and meaner while stripping away all of his morals, you’d have Sabretooth. His insatiable blood lust sets the feral mutant apart from all the other Marvel Villains on the list. Other Marvel villains want to take over the world—or worse, the universe. Sabretooth just wants to kill. Some of the strongest Marvel villains, like Thanos, have body counts in the millions, but when it comes to face-to-face, hand-to-hand combat, Sabretooth has murdered more people than anyone else on this list.

Equipped with a healing factor that makes him close to unkillable and a skeleton usually laced with the unbreakable metal adamantium, Sabretooth is practically unstoppable by mortal means. Like a hairier version of The Terminator, when Sabretooth sets his mind to violence, he won’t stop until either his victim or himself is dead. 

17. Mister Sinister

Mister Sinister
Image: Marvel

Mister Sinister is one of those Marvel villains whose true power comes from his ability to play puppetmaster from behind the scenes. That’s not to say that the immortal Sinister isn’t one of the strongest Marvel villains. Between the enhancements given to him hundreds of years ago by the mutant Apocalypse and all of the powers he’s “borrowed” from other mutant’s genetic material, Sinister is more than a formidable physical combatant.

Despite this, Sinister still prefers subterfuge to a direct fight. A geneticist by trade, Sinister spends most of his time cloning and performing ethically questionable experiments on innocent mutants in a bid to gain further control over the nature of life itself. Some of Sinister’s most despicable acts include creating the techno-organic virus, a virus powerful enough to stop Apocalypse himself in his tracks, and combining Inhuman and Mutant DNA in an attempt to create a new superior species loyal only to him.

16. Loki

Image: Marvel

Fans of the MCU might consider Loki more of an anti-hero than one of the most powerful Marvel villains of all time, but make no mistake, Loki can be downright evil when he feels like it. Known by many as The God of Mischief, Loki is a master of tricks and manipulation. The dastardly sorcerer may make his brother Thor the butt of most of his schemes, but he has no problem menacing the whole world if the mood strikes him.

Loki is such a threatening Marvel villain that the Avengers formed for the sole reason of stopping him. That alone makes Loki one of the strongest Marvel villains of all time.

15. Magneto

Image: Marvel

Magneto doesn’t get enough credit as one of the most powerful Marvel villains, but he should. Many fans assume his powers stop at being able to pick up heavy pieces of metal and throw them, but that barely scratches the surface of what he’s capable of. Magneto’s metal manipulation is so strong that he once built a comb by pulling microscopic iron particles out of the air. He can kill a regular human just by stripping the iron from their blood.

In addition, Magneto has complete control over the Earth’s electromagnetic field. He once created an EMP that knocked out every electronic device on the planet. While Magneto’s motivations are usually the prolonged survival of his mutant brethren, his methods are anything but noble. If Magneto suddenly decided to hold the entire planet hostage, there’s not much any of Marvel’s heroes could do to stop him.

14. Ultron

Ultron Marvel villain
Image: Marvel

Ultron is one of the strongest Marvel villains the Avengers have ever faced and one of the most personal. In both the comics and the MCU, the Avengers team is home to Ultron’s father—Hank Pym/Tony Stark—and his son—Vision. Ultron occasionally gets bored of tormenting the Avengers exclusively and instead sets his sights on taking over the universe like he did in the Marvel Comic events Annihilation: Conquest and the Age of Ultron.

The ability to cheat death by constantly building himself new and more robust bodies, coupled with the ability to control any technology remotely, make Ultron a formidable opponent for the Avengers—or anyone else, for that matter.

13. Mephisto

Image: Marvel

All of the Marvel villains on this list are evil, but only one is the literal Devil. Mephisto is the Marvel Universe version of Satan, famous for making shady deals like the one he once made with Spider-Man to save Aunt May. Mephisto spared May’s life but, in return, forced Peter Parker to give up his marriage to Mary Jane. Mephisto is so evil he’s even double-crossed the likes of Doctor Doom and the Beyonder and gotten away with it.

In recent years, the Avengers discovered that their Mephisto is just one of the countless Mephistos plaguing the multiverse—all with the same goal of corrupting every soul in existence. Mephisto would rank higher on this list, except that, like the biblical Satan, he prefers acquiring souls through tricks and bargains rather than a straight fight. 

12. Apocalypse

Marvel Apocalypse
Image: Marvel

Born En Sabah Nur, the Marvel villain known as Apocalypse, is considered the first—and possibly most powerful—mutant. His mutant power is tough to nail down, mainly because he has so many. Apocalypse possesses various mutant abilities, including—but not limited to—shapeshifting, enhanced strength, and immortality. Easily considered one of the most powerful Marvel villains, Apocalypse managed to do something that not many villains have: he won.

Granted, the Age of Apocalypse universe exists outside Marvel’s main 616 continuity, but Apocalypse’s dark victory is no less real for the people that reside there. Apocalypse managed to defeat the combined might of the X-Men, X-Force, X-Factor, and all of the other heroic mutants, turning the world into a post-apocalyptic nightmare in the process. With enough time, the evil mutant might very well achieve the same thing in the mainline Marvel universe.

11. Onslaught

Onslaught Marvel villain
Image: Marvel

What happens when you take two of the most powerful mutants in existence and mash them together into one ultimate being? You get Onslaught. A being of almost pure psychic energy, Onslaught is an evil combination of Professor X and Magneto. A frighteningly powerful Marvel villain without many equals.

At the height of Onslaught’s power, he was able to kill the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, a feat very few Marvel Villains could accomplish. Onslaught was defeated before he could take his fight off-world, but there’s every reason to believe the villain had the potential to be an intergalactic threat on the same level as Thanos.

10. Dark Phoenix

Marvel Dark Phoenix
Image: Marvel

The Phoenix Force is one of the most powerful cosmic entities in the Marvel Universe. So when the Phoenix inhabited founding X-Men member Jean Grey, it turned her into one of the most powerful Marvel villains ever to menace the 616. The Dark Phoenix was so powerful she once ate a star as a snack, casually dooming the entire population of a nearby planet.

Dark Phoenix was nearly omnipotent and stronger than most Marvel Villains on this list. Fortunately, Jean Grey retained just enough of her sense of right and wrong to know what she was doing, as the Dark Phoenix was unforgivable. Jean used what was left of her willpower to end her own life, putting an end to the Phoenix once and for all. Just kidding, this is comics we’re talking about. The Phoenix has returned several times since the initial Dark Phoenix storyline, though it has never attained the same level of evil as it did the first time.

9. Molecule Man

Molecule Man
Image: Marvel

On the surface, Molecule Man looks like an average, unassuming, 5’7”, 140 lb nobody. There’s a reason, however, why they say never to judge a book by its cover. Molecule Man can control the very building blocks that make up the universe. He can turn a gun into sand or a bus into a giant teddy bear. There’s no actual limit to his powers. From a technical standpoint, Molecule-Man might be the strongest Marvel Villain, period.

Fortunately for everyone in the Marvel Universe, Molecule Man is a timid, shy individual with a few cards short of a full deck. All he wants is to be left alone to live a boring, uneventful life. If he ever embraces his abilities and goes full-on mustache-twirling bad guy, Molecule Man could easily take the #1 spot on this list. With his meek persona, however, he doesn’t pose much of a threat to anyone.

8. Kang the Conqueror

Kang from Marvel Comics
Image: Marvel

Kang isn’t just one of the most powerful Marvel Villains; he’s also one of the most confusing. That’s because there are always several versions of the time-traveling villain floating around at any given time or place—any one capable of taking over the Earth. Whether he’s Immortus, Rama-Tut, or Victor Timely, one thing is certain: if you go up against Kang the Conqueror, you will lose.

Most Marvel Villains are content to conquer one universe, but Kang got his nickname by conquering several. With complete mastery over time and an infinite amount of future tech capable of replicating practically any superpower, Kang the Conqueror is one Marvel villain even the Avengers don’t want to tangle with.

7. Thanos

Image: Marvel

If you’re only familiar with the MCU version of Thanos, then you’re probably wondering why the Mad Titan isn’t at the top of this list. The answer is simple: we’re judging him on his abilities without the Infinity Gauntlet. With the Infinity Gauntlet and all six Infinity stones/gems, Thanos is possibly the most powerful Marvel Villain, capable of destroying half of the universe with a snap of his fingers. However, any villain wearing the Infinity Gauntlet would wield the same power.

So why, then, is Thanos still in the top ten? Because even without the Infinity Gauntlet Thanos is one of the strongest Marvel villains ever. Thanos is in a class by himself, capable of going toe-to-toe with the Hulk and Thor. If Thanos has a weakness, it’s either his pride or his unwavering obsession with the personification of Death. Other than that, he’s practically unstoppable.

6. Dormammu

Marvel Dormammu
Image: Marvel

Mephisto might be modeled after Satan, but Dormammu is easily the most demonic Marvel Villain. Dormammu, an evil entity with mastery over dark magic, rules over a place known as the Dark Dimension. There, he and his hellish minions plot new ways to take over the Earth and subjugate its people to his will. 

Dormammu’s powers suffer somewhat when he leaves his realm, but within the Dark Dimension, he has no equal. Even in his somewhat de-powered state, Dormammu is still one of the most powerful Marvel villains. Dormammu’s dark sorcery allows him to threaten physical worlds and noncorporeal realms like the astral plane. That means it’s nearly impossible to hide from Dormammu’s wrath if you’re unlucky enough to get on the demon’s bad side.

5. Gorr the God Butcher

Marvel villain
Image: Marvel

Anyone who goes around snuffing out literal Gods deserves a spot near the top of this list. Gorr might not be the most powerful Marvel villain ever, but he has the coolest name. A name he lives up to regularly. The God Butcher has one goal and one goal only: to kill every God in existence, and he spent over 1,000 years hunting down different deities and doing just that. 

Bonded to the first and most powerful symbiote, the All-Black, Gorr possesses the power and the will to slay almost any God he encounters. It took the combined might of Thor and King Thor—a variant of Thor that lives at the end of time itself—to defeat Gorr, and even then, the butcher was too stubborn to die, instead transferring his consciousness to the All-Black. 

4. Knull

Image: Marvel

What’s more powerful than a God Butcher? The guy who gave the Butcher his power. Knull is the God of all symbiotes, including Venom, Carnage, and the All-Black that powers Gorr the God Butcher. Knull came from the inky void that existed before creation, and his goal is to return there. For that to happen, however, Knull must destroy all light in the universe—a task he’s more than up for.

Commanding an army of symbiotes as powerful as Carnage, Knull wields enough power to bend the Celestials—Gods among Gods—to his will. At one point, Knull defeated the combined might of the Silver Surfer, the Avengers, and the X-Men, making him one of the most powerful Marvel villains. Knull’s power is only truly surpassed by the villains in the top three spots.

3. Galactus

Marvel Galactus
Image: Marvel

Galactus is one of this list’s biggest and oldest Marvel villains. He’s so ancient that he was born in the universe that existed before the current one, making him essentially older than creation itself. Galactus stands over 28 feet tall and weighs approximately 36,000 lbs—though he can grow much, much bigger. Nicknamed The Devourer of Worlds, Galactus feeds on planets for sustenance and exhibits a power so great that the world’s smartest man, Reed Richards, isn’t even sure what the extent of it is. Able to create life, revive the dead, transform matter, and so much more, Galactus is one of the greatest forces in the Marvel universe.

2. The Beyonder

Marvel Beyonder
Image: Marvel

The Beyonder isn’t so much the most powerful Marvel Villain in the universe as he is a universe itself condensed into a human shape. He wields as much power as you would expect an entire universe to contain. In his first appearance during Marvel’s Secret Wars, The Beyonder transported all of Marvel’s strongest heroes and villains to a planet he created out of thin air called Battleworld and had them fight for his amusement.

Even the mighty Marvel Villain Galactus was whisked away to Battleworld against his will—a fact he was none too happy about either. When Galactus tried to challenge the Beyonder, he got a beatdown like he’d never experienced before from the only entity powerful enough to do it. Unfortunately for The Beyonder, he can be tricked into giving up some or all of his power, something the villain in the #1 spot has taken full advantage of.

1. Doctor Doom

Marvel Doctor Doom
Image: Marvel

Victor Von Doom is not the most powerful Marvel Villain. He’s not the strongest Marvel Villain. Why, then, did we put him at the top of the list? Because he’s Doctor Doom. Doom has defeated several of the Marvel Villains on this list, including the Beyonder, through a mixture of cunning trickery and sheer bravado. Doom is such a formidable foe that he once challenged Mephisto in hell—his home turf—for his mother’s soul.

On paper, Doom is barely a threat to most Marvel heroes. He’s a genius inventor with a suit that slightly augments his strength and a talent for black magic. In practice, however, no one is more dangerous than Doctor Doom. 

Doom is the very definition of a megalomaniac. In Doom’s mind, Doom must rule all because nobody but Doom is worthy to rule all. It’s Doctor Doom’s universe. All the other Marvel Villains just live in it.

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