“The only matter I do not take seriously, boy, is you. Your politics bore me. Your demeanor is that of a pouty child. And apparently, you alienated my favorite daughter, Gamora. I shall honor our agreement, Kree, if you bring me the Orb. But return to me again empty handed… And I will bathe the starways in your blood.”—Thanos, to Ronan the Accuser
They say a hero is only as good as his villain, and there are few places where that is truer than in the Marvel universe. From Venom to Magneto, Marvel has managed to build an impressive rogues’ gallery to complement its heroes—and their histories, motives, and powers are as varied and fascinating as those of the characters they fight. Here are 42 dangerous facts about Marvel villains.
41. No I in Team
Every hero has their own stable of villains, so it stands to reason that the villains outnumber the heroes. The villains eventually realized this and their team-up is what sets up the Old Man Logan storyline. The villains pool their resources and kill most of the heroes in a single night. Wolverine and Hawkeye are two of the few that survive.
40. Noble Savage
Dr. Doom has the highest body count among Marvel villains, but the backstory’s somewhat complicated. During the Secret Wars storyline, Doom destroyed thousands of universes, but he did so to prevent the multiverse from decaying. Thanks, I guess?
39. Moving On
Those with a good memory or broad comics knowledge might remember the films referring to Magneto as Erik Lehnsherr. Magneto’s real name is Max Eisenhardt, and the name we may be more familiar with is an alias Magneto created after his first wife, Maga, died.
38. Natural Selection
X-Men villain Mister Sinister was born in the 19th century and was actually a scientific peer to Charles Darwin. He became a pariah among the scientific community later though, as they looked down on some of his methods like experimenting on homeless people. Definitely sounds like something a villain would do.
37. They Know Not What They Do
As of 2016, Magneto holds the crown for the Marvel villain that has died and been resurrected the most times, although an exact number is hard to find. One death came at the hands of the Sentinels, before the Scarlet Witch, who is Magneto’s daughter in the comics, brings him back to life.
36. It’s Time!
Mojo is pretty much the Dana White of the Marvel Universe, a yellow-skinned, robot-legged creature living in his own world. On Mojoworld, Mojo has enslaved the population to be an audience for his shows, which typically involve younger versions of Marvel heroes. Mojo turned the X-Men into X-Babies but wasn’t able to keep them loyal to him.
35. Purple Rain
Killgrave is arguably the best villain in the Marvel Universe, brought to creepy and charismatic life on Netflix by David Tennant. In the comics, Zebediah Killgrave is known as The Purple Man, due to his skin color—a side-effect of his powers. Like the comics, Killgrave uses his hypno-pheromones to keep Jessica Jones a prisoner for months.
34. These Eyes
Madcap is another villain with a tragic backstory, having lost his family in a car crash. Of course, it was no regular car crash, but one that involved experimental chemicals. Madcap tried to kill himself out of grief but found that his new power brought him back to life. His psyche became shattered and he gained the ability to turn people insane just by looking at them.
33. King of Misery
Spider-Man is generally ranked as having the number one or maybe number two (coming in behind X-Men) rogues’ gallery in Marvel comics. With classics like Venom, the Kingpin (Webhead got him first, Daredevil) and Green Goblin, this shouldn’t be too surprising.
32. Twisted Symmetry
The Marvel films have drawn some criticism for a slate of villains that are mirror-images of the heroes like Antman and Yellowjacket or Iron Man and Iron Monger.
Kevin Feige has said the mirror-image villains make the plot less convoluted since the villains’ origins are tied with the heroes. Since the villains’ powers and motivations are tied to the hero, there is no need for another plot thread to flesh the villain out. The interconnectedness is most useful for the origin film since the film already has to introduce the hero to the audience.
Loki, the God of Mischief, knows how to make life difficult for Thor and anyone else he views as a threat. At one point Loki used his shapeshifting abilities to turn himself into Sif, Thor’s ex-lover. This switch also accompanied some time traveling, which Loki used to kill his grandfather Bor. Loki also convinced Asgard that their ally, Beta Ray Bill, was a villainous Skrull. Thor caught on eventually, but by then, the damage was done.
30. Unsung Hero
Some sites report that Venom was a fan’s idea, but that’s not the full story. Randy Schueller won a contest where aspiring artist and writers could submit story ideas. Schueller envisioned the black suit as a stealth one, designed by the Wasp. He got a chance to write a story for it but his story ideas were rejected and he was given $220 for the black suit idea, which is peanuts compared to how much Marvel has made since. Schueller isn’t actually a fan of Venom, saying he never liked the costume-turned-villain idea.
29. Alpha and…
Wolverine is famous for his adamantium claws, and one of his enemies sports tentacles made out of a more flexible version of the material. Omega Red is a Russian murderer who was later experimented on by the Soviets, gifting him with carbonadium tentacles. Omega Red has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in Deadpool 2 but may have more screen time in the bonus Blu-Ray footage, since there is a scene titled “Chess with Omega Red.”
28. The Man With No Name
Bullseye is one of the few human Marvel villains whose full name has yet to be revealed. Bullseye uses the alias “Benjamin Poindexter” in a 1976 Daredevil comic, and Daredevil calls him “Lester” in a 1998 comic, which may have been a continuity issue due to a new writer.
27. Thanks for the Memories
In the Old Man Logan storyline, The Red Skull is left in charge of his own swath of territory. Logan has a run-in with the villain, seeing a trophy room that includes several souvenirs, such as Iron Man’s armor and Cyclops’s visor.
The Red Skull also dresses up as his old foe, Captain America, before Logan decapitates him with Cap’s shield.
26. Forked Road
Jim Starlin, the creator of Thanos, parted way with Marvel comics in December 2017. Starlin cited creative differences, mainly with Marvel executive director Tom Brevoort. It appears Marvel comics wanted to pursue new storylines and directions for the character, which Starlin disagreed with.
Galactus, The Devourer of Worlds, was stomping around before The Big Bang. Galactus was originally a humanoid explorer from the planet Taa, but the Big Bang wiped out his universe. Afterward, he became the world devourer we all know and love today.
24. Young Blood
A lot of the villains we know and love today have been around for decades, so it can be tough for the new ones to compete with their rivals’ pedigree. However, there’s no shame in trying. Fantastic Four #1 will debut in August 2018, featuring a new villain, The Griever.
23. True Love
After being separated from Peter Parker and Eddie Brock, the symbiote bonds to sociopathic Army Ranger Lee Price. The symbiote hits the road pretty fast, realizing Lee could harm it with memories of his traumatic childhood. The symbiote leaves Lee out of fear and eventually finds its way back to Brock.
22. Start Early
Like Wolverine, Sabretooth doesn’t have many memories of his younger years. However, he does remember killing his older brother over a piece of pie. Don’t feel so bad next time you fight with your siblings.
21. Making Enemies
Have you ever seen a cyborg with a human upper body and tank treads for legs? I didn’t think so. Bonebreaker was one of Donald Pierce’s Reavers, an army of cyborgs. Bonebreaker also has a cannon in his torso.
Many of the Reavers were people Wolverine left for dead, who needed metal replacements for parts that the feisty Canadian chopped off.
During the ‘60s, Sabretooth met and fell in love with Leni Zauber, who was actually Mystique in disguise. The two had a month-long fling while they worked together as government operatives, but things soured a bit when Sabretooth found out about Zauber’s true identity. Either way, they got back together decades later and had a human son, Graydon Creed, who would go on to become an anti-mutant activist.
19. Hail Hydra
Marvel faced a wave of backlash when Captain America was revealed to be a Hydra agent all along.
The full story is still unfolding, but the basic explanation is that a sentient Cosmic Cube, as seen in Avengers, rewrote Cap’s history, changing him into a young soldier raised by Hydra.
18. Gets Around
The Venom symbiote seems to be interested in doing good nowadays. It has made its way back to Eddie Brock in the current comics, but also made its way to Flash Thompson before. Best known as Peter Parker’s high school bully, Thompson became Agent Venom in 2011. As part of Operation Rebirth 2.0, Thompson fused with the symbiote to become a super-soldier fighting for good. Pick a side why dontcha, you crazy sentient alien goo!
17. Murican Godzilla
One of the newest additions to the Marvel rogues’ gallery is American Kaiju. If you watched Pacific Rim you know kaiju is the Japanese word for “strange beast,” which is used to refer to giant monsters. Corporal Todd Ziller volunteered for a program that was meant to replicate the success of the program that led to Captain America. However, the program filled some of its gaps Jurassic Park-style with Pym particles and gamma radiation, leading to a giant reptilian creature.
16. Commander in Chief
Marvel introduced the Mental Organism Designed as America’s King (M.O.D.A.A.K) in 2016. The character bears a certain resemblance to a contemporary political figure, and it also hates foreigners. M.O.D.A.A.K is defeated by a black female Captain America after threatening to crush her in “my powerful hands.” Not subtle, but Marvel hasn’t officially stated the similarities are intentional.
15. On My Mind
On our birthday, we like to reflect on our lives and enjoy the company of our loved ones. And in Wolverine’s case, maybe keep an eye out for Sabretooth. The villainous mutant has the pesky habit of stalking Wolverine every year on his birthday, or the day Wolverine thinks is his birthday. Sabretooth never attacks but he’s there somewhere when Wolverine is blowing out his candles.
The villains are finally getting some love with X-Men Black, a series of five one-shot stories that each focus on a different villain: Magneto, Emma Frost, Mystique, Juggernaut, and Mojo.
13. Pence for Your Thoughts
Reverend William Stryker, the man crusading against mutants in the X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, has drawn comparisons to Mike Pence for his appearance. Artist Brent Anderson is aware of the comparison and confirms Stryker’s look was based on Alexander Haig, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state.
12. The Motto
One of the most powerful X-Men enemies is The Hellfire Club, a group of wealthy socialites who aspire to gain more power. The name and the group’s mission are inspired by real-life socialite clubs dating back to 18th century Britain and Ireland. The purpose of real Hellfire Club meetings was mainly to indulge sexual vices, often with women who were paid for their time. The first Hellfire Club was founded in London in 1719 and this first club led to others that bore its name. Benjamin Franklin was a member at one point around 1758. Fittingly, the motto for the clubs was “Do What Thou Wilt.”
11. Keep Your Friends Close…
You might remember Donald Pierce, the metal-armed villain from Logan. In the comics, he joins The Hellfire Club as a way to get closer to mutants. By this point in the comics, evil mutants have infiltrated the group, and Pierce’s real intentions are to kill its leaders.
10. Close to Home
While super-powered beings, gods, and other inter-dimensional beings are all a worthy threat, sometimes the scariest villains are the most realistic ones. Reverend William Stryker’s army of Purifiers is introduced to the comics by killing and hanging two mutant children. The Purifiers are happy to perform this task since they believe mutants are an abomination.
9. Can’t Catch a Break
Magneto emerges as one of the most sympathetic X-Men villains due to his backstory. His hatred for humanity stems from his experiences in Auschwitz, where he was a Sonderkommando, a prisoner forced to help operate the gas chambers.
Magneto actually met his wife in the concentration camp, and later married her after surviving the Holocaust. However, she left him after witnessing his violent actions against a hostile mob. Magneto was angry with the mob since their actions got in the way of him saving his daughter from a burning house.
Although Doom ranks near the top of a lot of Marvel villain rankings, Stan Lee has personally denied that Doom truly is a villain. His argument? Doom wants to rule the world, and the desire to do so is not really a crime: ““Excuse me, officer, I want to tell you something. I wanna rule the world.” He can’t arrest you.”
I think the murder might put Dr. Doom in the villain category but we won’t argue with Stan the Man.
7. High Praise
Stan Lee’s favorite superhero is Spider-Man but from the villain side, he holds Dr. Doom closest to his heart.
Wolverine is infamous for his tragic past and the misery that follows him throughout life. Most of his love interests die and most of his attempts to lead a normal life get upended when his loved ones are in danger. One of Wolverine’s love interests, Itsu, was murdered by The Winter Soldier while she was pregnant. The unborn baby survived and became another one of Wolverine’s enemies, his son Daken. Daken eventually joined the Avengers and the X-Men, but not before nearly killing his dad by eviscerating him.
5. Champion Lover
Daken creator Marjorie M. Liu has confirmed that Wolverine’s son is bisexual. Liu says Daken also uses sex as a weapon to deceive people and achieve his own ends, such as when he charms a man so that he can ultimately kill the man and steal his passport.
4. In Utero
Charles Xavier is often depicted as a benevolent leader of the X-Men, but he has some skeletons in the closet, like his attempt to kill his twin sister in the womb. Charles detected that his sister was evil, and his subsequent attack led his mom to miscarry. Regardless, Cassandra Nova held onto life as a collection of cells and eventually rebuilt her body. As an act of vengeance, she convinced Donald Trask III to send his army of sentinels to the mutant island of Genosha. Death toll: 16 million.
3. Hand of God
Subtle or not, the X-Men comics have always been interpreted as an allegory for discrimination, whether it be racial, religious, sexual, etc. The comic book version of William Stryker makes his points a bit more on the nose in its X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills storyline. Like the film, Stryker is in the military at one point. However, he later becomes an evangelist preacher, using his Purifiers to exterminate mutants.
Styker’s wife gave birth to a mutant, leading Stryker to kill his wife and child. He then attempted to kill himself but failed. Stryker later became convinced that Satan had corrupted souls in the womb, leading to mutants. He sees his survival as a sign from God that his purpose in life is to completely eradicate mutants from the face of the Earth.
2. I’ve Got You…
Doctor Doom recognizes that a villain needs to be powerful to overcome his nemesis, so why not sacrifice his estranged wife in exchange for power? Doom allowed a pack of demons to tear his wife apart and give him new magical armor crafted from her skin. Romantic?
Mysterio might actually hold the title for the man who’s caused the X-Men the most pain, based mostly on his appearance in Old Man Logan. In one of the most brutal and horrifying moments in comics history, Wolverine wakes up one day to find the X-Men mansion overrun with enemies. He kills scores of super villains before Mysterio reveals that it had all been an illusion—Wolverine had in fact been killing all of his fellow X-Men, as well as the mansion’s young students, as they begged for him to stop. Afterwards, Wolverine left the mansion and didn’t unsheathe his claws for 50 years, living as a shell of his former self.