Marvel has been one of the two names synonymous with comic books for well over 50 years. The Marvel line of comics has produced classic heroic characters like Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, and the Avengers. Part of what has made these heroic characters so classic and kept the comics selling has been the plethora of villains in the Marvel universe. Not every villain is spectacular or even particularly memorable, but a select few are truly great and drive a story even more than a good hero. The following are the ten greatest villains in the Marvel comic book universe.
10. Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) – The Kingpin is particularly impressive because he is one of the very few major characters in the Marvel universe that has no special abilities or powers whatsoever. Through pure determination, he has made himself into one of the strongest, most intelligent, and charismatic people on the planet. Through cold, calculating effort, he built a massive criminal empire and consistently goes toe to toe with super-powered heroes like Spider-Man and Daredevil. Kingpin’s purpose in the comic book universe is to show the absolute potential of a non-powered human being and it is a truly impressive and frightening sight.
9. Mojo – Mojo is a patently insane multi-dimensional television director and producer. This may not sound like a villain, but his drive for money and fame makes him enslave others and force them to “act” in his programming. He is a horrid creature with basically no morals, yet his flare for the dramatic and cast of minions makes him a consistently entertaining villain whenever he appears.
8. Apocalypse – According to the Marvel universe, Apocalypse was the first mutant ever born. Born in ancient Egypt, millennia before the next mutant would be born he mastered the secrets of eternal life and started an eons long agenda to promote the survival of the fittest. In the world view of Apocalypse, only the strongest deserve to live. He is willing to manipulate world events and commit mass genocide in order to achieve his dream and he is willing to wait centuries or millennia for his dream to be fulfilled. Almost no other villain has such long term goals or patience.
7. Venom (Eddie Brock) – Spider-Man has two villains that truly make him a great character and Venom is the first of those villains. Born of a symbiosis between Spider-Man and an alien organism, Venom is basically an evil Spider-Man. By melding with more physically powerful Eddie Brock, the alien organism created the symbiote venom, which is more powerful than Spider-Man in every way. It is the existence of a villain that is truly superior to Spider-Man in every way that draws out his inner strength and creates some of the best stories.
6. Galactus – First introduced in Fantastic Four, Galactus is probably the most single-minded villain in the Marvel universe. At all times Galactus hungers and the only thing that can briefly sate Galactus is a populated planet. When Galactus first appeared he was beyond the scale of any previous villain. Even to this day, few villains are as massive or capable of producing as much devastation as Galactus. Every appearance of Galactus is a major event and only the combined forces of the Earth’s heroes and villains have even a chance of fighting him off. That is the kind of villain that stands out.
5. Dr. Doom (Victor von Doom) – Victor is a man dominated by his ego. Born into nobility and almost inhumanly beautiful, he believed the world was simply a place for him to enjoy his appetites and enforce his will. The horrible scarring of his face simply hardened his will and made him even more determined to fulfill what he believed was his destiny. In many ways, he is simply a more determined, more egotistical version of the Kingpin. The difference is that he has access to powerful magic and unbelievable technology. Where the Kingpin works only on a local scale, Doom works on a global scale. Only when he is recognized as the undisputed ruler of the world will his vision be complete. And, unlike many other villains, Doom has come remarkably close to fulfilling his vision multiple times.
4. Magneto (Erik Lehnsherr) – Nearly as often a hero as a villain, Magneto is Marvel’s way of showing that having conviction for a righteous cause isn’t enough without compassion to temper that conviction. A holocaust survivor, Magneto is determined to prevent the mutant race from being oppressed in the same way he was oppressed years before. He approaches his cause with no mercy for those who would oppose him and zealous hatred for anyone who shows even the slightest support for his opponents. Magneto’s story often plays out as a person struggling between being a ruthless dictator and a selfless martyr. He is one of the few villains that readers will often feel empathy for.
3. Loki – Loki is none other than the mythical Norse trickster god, half-brother of Thor. In the Marvel universe all of the Norse gods live and Thor has chosen to live upon Earth and defend the mortals. Living up to his legend, Loki counters Thor’s actions by raining chaos down upon the mortal population. The consummate trickster, Loki is often the mastermind behind the actions of other villains and his chaos is so great that he can rarely be stopped without a cadre of heroes facing off with him. Finally, like the god of legend, he has a sharp wit that makes his every conversation a memorable masterpiece of storytelling.
2. Sinister (Nathaniel Essex) – Usually seen as a lieutenant to Apocalypse, Sinister is by far one of the most interesting villains in the Marvel Universe. Sinister is similar to Apocalypse in that he takes the long approach to his villainy. Unlike Apocalypse, he doesn’t believe that the fittest deserve to survive. Instead, he believes that only those genetically crafted to be superior should survive. To this end, he manipulates the genetic lines of mutants, trying to form the ultimate beings. His manipulations are responsible for some of the most powerful mutants ever to live. Unlike most other villains, he almost never directly fights. Instead, he manipulates others with tactical genius and when confronted directly uses his almost infinite knowledge of genetics to disable any enemy. From his nom de plume to his suave style, he is a villain to be remembered.
1. Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) – No arch-nemesis complements his hero as well as the Green Goblin. Nearly identically matched in strength and intellect, Norman Osborn and Peter Parker are eternal enemies as Spider-Man and Green Goblin. Both have nearly killed each other countless times and Green Goblin is responsible for killing the greatest love of Peter Parker’s life: Gwen Stacy. To add to the great rivalry, Peter Parker and Norman Osborn are inextricably linked by ties of family and friends while their alter egos wage an endless war. The brilliant insanity of the Green Goblin makes him an exceptional villain whose dastardly deeds include siring children with the woman he later killed and starting a war with Asgard itself. He doesn’t just wear the likeness of a goblin, he truly is a living symbol of evil.