The Top 15 Most Powerful Marvel Movie Villains

Most Powerful Marvel Movie Villains
How will these rankings go down?

Most Powerful Villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Marvel Universe is basically a fictional space where hero and villain – or, nowadays, changing groups of heroes and a villain – duke it out. While superhero lists are basically about popularity, villains have a wonderful attribute: power-hungry single-minded focus. There are definitely spoilers here, so go watch all the Marvel movies. 

15. Iron Monger

Low-key killing Tony slowly and enjoying it...oh the treachery.

Obadiah Stane is an intimidating character in his own right: he’ll beat you in chess without fail and he is considered a master of psychological warfare. That’s probably why he was such a memorable character. The Iron Monger armor was ‘bigger and badder’ than Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit, which led to some intense fight scenes. 

Without a doubt, the single most evil thing Stane does is take Tony’s arc reactor out of his chest while explaining how he had really hated Stark all along. Talk about cold. And, also, the whole incident with the Ten Rings terrorists was set up by Stane.

Stane wanted to sell these bad-boys on the market.

While Stane is malicious and back-stabbing, he is also fool-hardy. He assumed Iron Man couldn’t beat the Iron Monger with only Stark’s original arc reactor to power the suit. Stark, on the other hand, kept his wits about him and sent Stane tumbling off the Stark Industries building and into the large arc reactor he had made. 

14. Vulture

Toomes is back in his lair after flying in the Vulture uniform.

Adrian Toomes simply works at a salvage company until he turns to the black market. While making quick cash is his motivation, selling alien Chitauri technology to criminals – and creating your own villain suit out of that high-tech material – gets you a spot on this list. Toomes even has a personal vendetta against Tony Stark for pushing the salvage company on the brink of business.

Toomes is efficient and intent on his black-market business. His most evil act is to destroy the support beams of his lair while he and Spiderman fight. Since Parker is in his homemade uniform, Toomes essentially leaves him to die in the rubble. 

Now this would be something to see at Coney Island...

Unfortunately, the Vulture suit almost killed Toomes. While Vulture and Spiderman fight near the end, the suit is damaged and the alien tech starts acting strangely. Parker realizes this and drags Toomes out of the suit before it combusts. Toomes ultimately winds up alive, but in jail.

13. Red Skull

Schmidt is a high-ranking officer of Hydra and the Nazi Party.

Johann Schmidt is the commander of the Hydra organization and he’s the prominent villain in Captain America: The First Avenger. He is obsessed with a magical object known as the Tesseract and wants to use it to take over the world. Schmidt was given the same serum that Steve Rogers was given to become Captain America, although this led to very different outcomes.

The Red Skull works under Hitler in 1940’s Germany as the head of weaponry and as the commander of Hydra. So his most evil act is just being a Nazi. ‘Nuff said. 

Captain America has to stop Red Skull from destroying the U.S. with the Tesseract.

Schmidt’s downfall comes from attempting to use the strange Tesseract to destroy American cities. Captain America fights to take control of the ship Schmidt is flying, and the plane is damaged. The Tesseract’s container is damaged and Schmidt attempts to hold the Tesseract. Within seconds, he disappears and the Tesseract falls into the ocean. We just found out where he went: if you saw Avengers: Infinity War, then you saw him.

12. Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier has no memory of his life as Bucky Barnes.

While Bucky Barnes is the Captain’s friend, he still turns into a powerful enemy in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Although he didn’t choose to be tortured, brainwashed, and turned into a killing machine, he has earned his way onto this list! Winter Soldiers remembers zilch about his old friend Steve and is actually assigned a mission to kill him.

The coldest thing Winter Soldier does in the movie is shoot Captain America three times while the Captain is trying to replace the controller chip on the Helicarrier about to kill hundreds of people. At this point, the Winter Soldier understands that Steve knows him from sometime before his memories. Shooting the Captain in vital places like the thigh and abdomen is really harsh.

The fight scenes between Winter Soldier and Captain America are on point.

As it turns out though, Captain America’s strategy to make Bucky remember himself works by the end of the movie. After replacing the chip, the Helicarrier is shot down and Steve tries to tell Bucky about the life he forgets. Do you remember the single sentence Steve used that made Bucky’s eyes go wide? When the Helicarrier crashes into the ocean, Bucky drags Steve out of the water.

11. Ultron

Ultron was actually a sneak peek at the sentience of infinity stones...

Ultron is the creation of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner in an attempt to create A.I. through the gem in Loki’s scepter. Turns out the gem was more sentient than they thought. Ultron is generally created to look similar to the Iron Man armor, and he has a lot of similar perks, so he’s plenty powerful. But the real catch is that he makes hundreds of look a-likes by the final battle.

Ultron’s most evil act is also his most central one. At the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ultron magnetizes vibranium through the ground of much of Sokovia’s capital city. This essentially lifts the city and the ground beneath it into the air and, once high enough, Ultron planned to drop it onto the Earth and destroy everything. 

Vision fighting Ultron has a whole new meaning now…

If you remember the battle in Sokovia, you remember a lot of fighting went down. Ultron got his butt kicked by Vision, Thor, and Stark. Then the Hulk decided to beat him up just a little. But in the end, Wanda Maximoff ripped his core out using telekinesis in vengeance for her brother’s death.  

10. Erik “Killmonger” Stevens

Erik and T'Challa are cousins who grew up in completely different worlds.

Erik Stevens grows up as an African-American boy without a father. And that is because his uncle killed his father for essentially stealing vibranium from Wakanda. Erik wants to continue his father’s work and ship out high-tech vibranium weapons to black people around the world who are oppressed. Before he dons his Black Panther suit however, he is still an impressive villain. He is a U.S. black ops soldier with a large head-count. And he bests T’Challa in a fight for the right to rule Wakanda. 

Showing up in Wakanda unannounced and telling his family that he wants to take the throne is perhaps not a classy way to introduce yourself, although his motivations make sense. Similarly, his most evil moment is actually also understandable. Like Bucky – and other villains further on the list – Killmonger is a hard villain to hate. His most evil act in the movie is when he kills Zuri, the Wakandan who spied on Erik’s father undercover and proved his deceit. Zuri explains this to Erik as he and T’Challa are fighting for the throne, hoping to calm Erik’s. Erik then kills Zuri, and defeats T’Challa, throwing him off a cliff in an attempt to kill him. 

The epic final battle between two superhuman Black Panthers.

Killmonger’s end comes in a final battle when both he and T’Challa fight each other with their own Black Panther suits. They both have the same amount of power – just like when they fought for the throne before – but intensified by the suits’ abilities. T’Challa stabs Erik and Erik insists he’d rather die than go to jail and he and T’Challa watch the sunset over Wakanda until Erik passes. 

9. Nebula

Nebula always tries to serve her own purposes, making her an ambiguous character.

Nebula is the adopted daughter of Thanos, and she’s Gamora’s stepsister. While her character has become more ubiquitous recently, she served as one of the main villains in Guardians of the Galaxy. She’s not particularly loyal to anyone, but her rivalry with Gamora fuels a lot of her anger.

Nebula’s most evil act is an attempt to kill her sister that almost worked. This is during the scene when she is chasing Gamora in small mining ships throughout Knowhere. They go into open space and Nebula destroys Gamora’s ship, leaving her in space and slowly dying. Thankfully Quill decided to fly out to Gamora and give her his helmet, but Nebula had already flown away. 

Nebula was slowly changed into a cyborg every time she lost in a fight to Gamora.

Nebula hasn’t really had a downfall. Instead, her character has developed and her motives changed. Ronan and Nebula were defeated at the end of Guardians, but in Vol.2 Nebula’s motives change when she and Gamora bond in, admittedly, a rather sibling-fight-on-steroids-way. Nebula decides she will kill Thanos for all the pain he caused her growing up, which is easier said than done…

8. Loki

Loki's character just gets better and more complex over time.

Oh, Loki. He is a Frost Giant, although he is raised Asgardian. But either way, he inherently has strength and abilities that put him on this list. He is Thor’s brother and also his greatest headache. The two sometimes share brotherly companionship, but other times fight in epic battles through various Marvel movies. Loki especially loves making false projections of himself to confuse his enemies in a fight.

Loki has many mischievous acts, so there is a long list to choose the most evil act from. While this is a fan theory, it is a persistent one: Loki intended to be captured by the end of the first Avengers. Since he couldn’t take over Asgard in Thor, Loki decides to cause chaos on Thor’s new favorite planet, Earth, in the first Avengers. He opens a portal that releases aliens into Earth’s dimension, causing serious damage to Manhattan. And for all of this, Loki just wanted a reason to be brought back to Asgard. Afterward, he pretends to be Odin and rules Asgard without anyone questioning him…until Thor: Ragnarok.

Thor and Loki work together throughout parts of Thor: Ragnarok.

Loki has become more and more central in the Marvel Universe, and his character has also become more complex. However, in the most recent movie, Avengers: Infinity War, Loki is killed by Thanos early on. It was a shocking end to such an important character, but, for now, Loki is dead. 

7. Abomination

Emil Blonsky has been on the hunt for Banner for years.

Emil Blonsky is a British Royal Marine on a mission to track down Bruce Banner, who has been in hiding for five years since a failed experiment turned him into the Hulk when provoked. 

In an attempt to capture the Hulk, Blonsky begins taking small amounts of the Hulk-serum, eventually leading him to slowly lose his sanity. By the time Banner is captured, Blonsky demands larger amounts of the serum and becomes the Abomination. 

The Ambonination is more physically powerful than the Hulk, but also more menacing and ruthless because Blonsky was losing his mind before he fully transformed. While the Abomination hardly has the capacity for evil, he goes on a rampage in NYC that doesn’t stop until the Hulk beats him.

The Abomination is a menace entirely fueled by rage.

The Hulk has to kill the Abomination because the Abomination is just pure power and anger. He defeats the Abomination by strangling him with a set of chains the Abomination was going to use on the Hulk. It turns out that while being crazy-mad can make you intimidating, brains still beats brawn. 

6. Hela

Hela's first line of "Kneel!" set the stage for her character.

Hela is Thor and Loki’s sister who, until Odin’s death in Thor: Ragnarok, had been kept away. She claims the throne of Asgard, since she is Odin’s firstborn, and she will do anything necessary to take it. From killing Asgard’s elite warriors to terrorizing the citizens to raising the dead, she is ruthless in her quest to queenship. She is an extremely resourceful fighter and her other powers make her an intimidating opponent. Oh, and by the way, she also destroyed Thor’s hammer. 

Probably the most evil aspect of Hela is her brutal genocidal nature. Through the movie, we learn that in one go she killed all the Valkyries (except the intriguing Valkyrie Thor meets on Sakaar). And on Asgard, she fights and killed every Asgardian soldier. You don’t want to piss her off!

Hela slowly gains control over more of Asgard as her power grows.

Of course, Hela does go down at the end of the movie. When Loki and Thor release a yet-to-be-listed fire demon, Hela tries to fight him. But not even she can thwart the ultimate end of Ragnarok.

5. Ronan the Accuser

Ronan is an elite Kree warrior on a mission, and not even Thanos scares him.

Ronan is a fanatical Kree who feels it is his duty to rid the world of Xandarians. He is powerful enough to wield an infinity stone set into his warhammer and he even threatens to kill Thanos. Being a Kree warrior, he is stronger and faster than any human, plus his armor is incredibly strong. Rocket even scrambled together a Hadron Enforcer to shoot Ronan with, but it didn’t kill him. 

Ronan’s most evil act thankfully never occurred. His whole mission in the movie was to destroy the entire planet of Xandar and the entire Xandarian species. He needed the stone to do this, but his fanaticism and war strategy helped him achieve his goals until he stood on the planet of Xandar, with stone and hammer, about to destroy it all.

Ronan's hammer holds one of the infinity stones and he is powerful enough to wield it alone.

This is also the moment of his downfall. The Guardians failed to kill him with the Hadron Enforcer the first time, so instead they launched it at the stone. It flew out of the hammer, Quill grabbed it, and then the other members of the Guardians were able to share the stone’s power and kill Ronan with the stone. 

4. Surtur

Surtur is a fire demon and the prophecy says he will be the one to destroy Asgard.

We meet Surtur at the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok. It’s actually a pretty funny scene, where Thor sort of teases him to both escape capture and learn about the prophesy of Asgard’s end. Surtur is a fire demon, and says that once he gets to the Eternal Flame in Asgard, he will destroy everything there. Thor makes quick work of Surtur and his crown through quick thinking, but not in a full-on fight. 

Surtur doesn’t have a lot of screen-time to do many evil acts. So his most evil act is that, once Loki throws Surtur’s crown into the Eternal Flame, he begins to destroy all of Asgard. Of course, he doesn’t know that all of the Asgardians are fleeing onto space ships. But he thinks he’s killing an entire species anyway.

In the end, Loki and Thor let Surtur to destroy their home in order to protect the universe from Hela.

Since the Asgardians are fleeing, the one person who still cares about Asgard itself is Hela. When Loki releases Surtur, she goes to defend the capital city. Before Thor and Loki leave, they see Hela fight Surtur…and they see Surtur win. Killing Hela earns him his spot on this list.

3. Dormammu

Doctor Strange faces off with the being Dormammu.

Dormammu is a primordial being who destroys worlds for kicks and can move between dimensions. Sounds pretty terrifying. He is the big-baddy of Doctor Strange, and the evil sorcerer Kaecilius contacts him to destroy Earth. Literally Dormammu’s entire reason for being is to drag whole planets into his Dark Dimension. 

Similarly to Ronan, Dormammu’s existence is about a central evil act: dragging planets into the Dark Dimension. Not only does he destroy planets, but he is also brings mortals to an awful dimension with no sense of time. That’s pretty evil.

Dormammu is strong, but he relents to Strange because he can't get out of a time loop.

Dormammu’s downfall is, ironically, time. Doctor creates a time loop around only himself and Dormammu, where he keeps asking the being to leave Earth. And every time Dormammu kills him, Doctor Strange simply reappears. While this sense of time is confusing, it is also terribly annoying. And Dormammu can’t get out of it until he swears to leave Earth alone. 

2. Ego

Ego is a mysterious being who announces that he is, in fact, Peter Quill's father.

By watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, you might not have understood what Ego meant when he told his son he was a Celestial. In the Marvel Universe, Celestials are ginormous beings who can move planets and create ‘pocket’ universes. They are basically near-indestructible gods, and Ego decided long ago to search for a purpose in life, setting him on a different path than other larger-than-life Celestials.

He coupled with many women over the entire universe to create children with his Celestial genes, but he killed the children who didn’t wind up with Celestial abilities. He had to create another Celestial who would help him with his plan, the Expansion. He left seedlings at every planet he visited, and with two Celestials the seedlings could be activated, take over the entire planet they inhabited, and allow Ego to essentially control much of the universe. Ego’s plan literally involves the destruction of hundreds of planets at the same time. 

Since Ego is a Celestial who inhabits a planet, his body is really an image that can't itself be killed.

The Guardians have to go to the core of the planet to destroy Ego’s brain. Rocket makes an incredibly strong bomb, of course, and Quill fights his father until the other Guardians can escape the bomb’s blast. Yondu sacrifices himself to save Quill before the entire planet, and Ego, is destroyed. 

1. Thanos

Thanos gets two of the infinity stones early in the movie, and he proves to be a seriously powerful villain.

Thanos is the villain in Marvel’s latest Avengers movie, Avengers: Infinity War. He believes that the universe is suffering from overpopulation and has made it his mission over the years to correct the balance of life in the universe. Naturally, this involves killing half the population of each planet he visits, including half of the Asgardians and half of Gamora’s species, the Zehoberei. 

Thanos is on the warpath for all of the Infinity Stones, which will allow him to kill half of all life in the universe. That is some pretty crazy power and it’s the most evil goal of any supervillain in the Marvel movies. Thanos is convinced that his methods are justified by the ends: a more peaceful life for all remaining species on each planet and in the universe. 

With a snap of his fingers...Thanos changes the lives of every character we've met.

Thanos actually succeeded in Infinity War. He collected all of the stones in the gauntlet and he killed half of every living thing in the universe. Fans are anxiously awaiting Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2, but with half of our beloved superheroes gone, things look pretty grim. Thanos is the most powerful being they have faced, and with the infinity stones, he seems invincible. 

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I love all things fantasy and sci-fi and above all love a good story. I'm an avid fan of everything nerdy from the Marvel Universe to Studio Ghibli.
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