The Marvel Universe is well known for it’s villains, whether they are portrayed well on screen or not. From overpowered humans to planet eaters, this is a list of some of the most memorable and most powerful baddies that the heroes of the Marvel Universe are challenged by time and time again.
Thanos, The Mad Titan
The obvious first answer, due to Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, lets talk about Thanos first. According to his origins in the comics, Thanos was born on Titan, the largest moon orbiting Saturn; closer to Earth than you’d think. He grew up to be a well mannered and intellectual student of science, though he continuously pondered about death, but feared killing. His life changed when he was convinced by a mysterious girl to enter a cave with his friends. They were separated and his friends were killed by cave-dwelling creatures. Distraught, he found the mysterious woman who urged him to take revenge on the creatures and slaughter them all, which he did, overcoming his fear of killing. He grew smarter and would perform experiments on animals and people that he would kill, all to appease this mysterious girl. However, the final straw was when he killed his own mother. He swore off his killing and left Titan. While traveling the cosmos he would find a mate to marry, yet abandon them and the child they bore each time as he jumped from planet to planet. He was then confronted space pirates who drove Thanos to the point where he slaughtered them all. He then returned to Titan in secret and met the mysterious girl who then revealed herself as the personification of Death. She told him to become a god; the most powerful destroyer to kill trillions. So he went from planet to planet, killing his numerous children and razing the civilizations they were born into, all the while acquiring new powers. His quest led him to forge the Infinity Gauntlet and acquire all of the Infinity Stones so that he could kill half of the universe so that Death would fall in love with him.
Mephisto, Lord of the Lower Depths
An extra-dimensional being, Mephisto is an ancient entity whose origins are largely unknown. He resides in a place he calls Hell. It is not the actual Christian Hell. He calls it this to play with the fear that mortals have of a single being that is capable of damning them to eternal destruction, for that is what he is. He looks like the archetypal version of the devil and has taken the name Mephisto as a shortened version of Mephistopheles, the name given to Satan in Faust’s legends. It is made clear in the comics that he is not in fact the Christian Satan, or the Greek Hades, nor any entity of the underworld, but he is indeed trying his hardest to act like it. He does have it within his power to devour human life and condemn the humans to his realm of Hell where they become former shell’s of their previous existence, or become demon followers of Mephisto. His primary goal is to enslave or devour all of human life, or any extraterrestrial who dwells on this sphere. To enslave humanity he tempts and strives to break the will of people so that they will bow to him. He has attempted to enslave the Silver Surfer, Thor, Dr. Doom, and briefly employed Ghost Rider (who eventually worked to fight against Mephisto). In short, he pretty much is the devil, anyone besides the heroes of the Marvel Universe would be hard pressed to find a way to stop such a being.
Kang The Conqueror
Kang the Conqueror was born as Nathaniel Richards in the 30th century of Earth, in a universe where humanity was never plunged into the dark ages. It is said that Kang is a descendant of Reed Richards. The tricky thing about Kang is that, like everyone, there is a different version of him for every dimension. But like Reed Richards, sometimes he has risen to be a benevolent ruler, or a tyrant bent on destruction, depends on the dimension. Generally speaking, the entity known as Kang the Conqueror is the worst case scenario. As an adult Nathaniel Richards came in possession of a Time Machine where he traveled back to ancient Egypt and became King Rama-Tut. The Fantastic Four put a stop to him, so he decided to return to his original time. A time storm shot him forward a hundred years to a war torn Earth. It was here that Nathaniel reinvented himself as Kang the Conqueror. He soon took over Earth, and then the rest of the galaxy, and so on and so forth. It was not enough however, obsessed with our modern era and the age of superheroes, he desired the past as well as the present. This is what brings him into conflict with our heroes, and what makes him so dangerous. The future is already his, time is just his plaything. He is an inter-dimensional, time-unbound overlord, and a force to be reckoned with.
Galactus, The Devourer of Worlds
Galactus is the sole survivor of the sixth incarnation of the multiverse. As multiverses are born with a “Big Bang”, they die with a “Big Crunch”, compacting into what is known as a “Cosmic Egg” from which a new multiverse is born. Galactus was born Galan on the planet of Taa. It was the most advanced planet in the Universe at the time. When Galan was born the multiverse was ending. They sent Galan as an explorer into the cosmos to find a solution to stop the Big Crunch, to no avail. Him and his space crew were pulled into the cosmic egg as the multiverse died. However, the remaining sentience in the sixth multiverse merged with Galan giving birth to Galactus. As he floated in the new infinity of the seventh multiverse he sat in this ship. He built a suit to control the raw power fluctuating inside of him and transformed his ship into a sort of incubator so that he would grow into the powerful being we know of today. When he emerged from his incubation he was hungry. His life force could only be sustained by cosmic energy. The only thing with the energy to sustain him was entire planets. Thus began Galactus’ quest across the multiverse to devour all planets. Those planets that lay in his sight merely await his coming, and their eventual doom.
Dr. Doom, The Great Destroyer
Dr. Doom comes from perhaps the most average of beginnings when it comes to others on this list, but he remains a looming threat in the Marvel Universe. Victor Von Doom was born in Haasenstadt, Latveria. His mother was killed when a bargain with Mephisto went wrong. Because of this, Victor decided to make learning about science and magic a priority in order to better understand the deal that killed his mother and with hopes to possibly save her. During his studies he received a scholarship to the State University in Hegeman, New York. It was here that he tried to build and inter-dimensional portal that literally blew up in his face, scarring him for life; and he was kicked out of school. So Victor left America and traveled back to Latveria in a suit of armor built by himself and overthrew the government, declaring himself King of the land. He uses the country to further his plans for world domination. In his travels he has mastered the mystical arts and is a technological genius. He controls particle and cosmic manipulation. He has the ability to possess the bodies of others, and has ultimate destructive powers; and it is his power that Reed Richards steals to bring about the beginning of the seventh multiverse as a continuation of the sixth. He is quite a formidable foe to the Marvel Universe for a man born on a military installment on Earth.
Dormammu, Lord of Darkness
Regarded by some as the baddest bad guy of them all (which is a shame we haven’t seen a lot of him in the MCU), Dormammu is one of the most ancient and powerful beings in the Omniverse. Born eons ago in the dimension of the Faltines, Dormammu and his sister Umar rose to become the most powerful sorcerers in the universe, against the wish and will of all those in the Faltines. For this they were exiled and they trolled the cosmos afterwards. Throughout their ventures they came across the Dark Universe; a universe bounded by magic with pocket dimensions and portals opening and closing throughout the landscape. Here they convinced the leader of a millennia old civilization named Olnar to join forces with them in their conquest to conquer other universes which they would bond with the dark universe. But, in a cataclysmic battle with the Mindless Ones, Olnar was killed and Umar was wounded and de-powered (and later Banished by Dormammu). This left Dormammu as the most powerful being in the Dark Universe. He was designated as the leader and overlord of the civilization there and works constantly to bring all other universes under his control and merge them with the dark universe. At one point when Dormammu held control of the Evil Eye, he almost brought the entire Marvel universe as we know it into the Dark Universe to role over it. He is a powerful sorcerer whose very being is that of pure magical energy. An entity dreaded by Odin himself, Dormammu is a magical nemesis not to be trifled with without great sacrifice.