Skip to Content

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Top 10 Best Villains

The Marvel universe is famed for its diverse set of heroes.

No matter what corner of the earth you’re from, you’ll have a hero you can relate to. Everyone has their favorites.

Heroes can’t reach their full potential without villains.

These characters seek to destroy, rule, or protect only themselves, even if it means harming people who get in their way.

Marvel has done an incredible job at designing villains, I can’t think of a single villain who could be considered lackluster.

Maybe Taskmaster, but that’s only due to a lack of screen time, rather than actual character flaws.

I’ll be ranking the 10 best villain seen on-screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Includes the films & Disney Plus shows.

Rankings will be determined by power levels, how well they were portrayed, what impact they had on the overall universe, as well as their roles in the future, if any.

10. Agatha Harkness

Agatha revealed herself late into the Wandavision series

Age: 330 (approximately)

Species: Human

Powers: Master of Witchcraft

Agatha might not be the strongest villain on the list, nor the most impactful on the storyline, but she was a huge surprise to viewers when she was revealed.

After Wanda Maximoff took control of an entire town, Agatha somehow managed to shrug off Wanda’s enchantment and bled in to the environment to learn more.

Eventually, she revealed herself as a powerful sorcerer, capable of casting powerful offensive spells and reimagining memories, all without breaking a sweat.

Even Wanda, who we’ve seen defeat Thanos in a one-on-one fight, was helpless against her and had to call upon the power of the Scarlet Witch.

She still happily resides in Westview.

9. Hela

The Asgardian Goddess of Death

Age: 2500 (approximately)

Species: Asgardian

Powers: Asgardian Physical Enhancement, Necromancy & Weapon Fabrication

A being of pure evil, Hela heavily contributed to Ragnarok which had a devastating effect across the galaxy.

Alongside her father, Odin, Hela conquered the 9 realms and subdued them to their control.

Odin had enough of her bloodlust and banished her to Hel for a thousand years.

That’s a lot of years to hone your hate and thirst for revenge.

When Odin could no longer hold her back, Hela stunned audiences by defeating Thor & Loki in a fight, breaking Thor’s hammer and seizing Asgard’s throne.

She seems able to control certain artifacts to enhance her power, such as the Eternal Flame to resurrect fallen allies.

Otherwise, she appeared to be pretty much invulnerable to all but the strongest attacks in the universe, taking multiple stab wounds without a flinch.

Definitely one of the most powerful villains we’ve ever seen.

8. Vulture

Adrian Toomes built his Vulture suit himself

Age: 65

Species: Human

Powers: Vulture Exo-Suit

You can really understand Adrian Toomes’ point of view, which makes him such a great villain.

He was a man just trying to make a living clearing up the debris and resources left over by the Chitauri attack on New York.

That was until the government/Stark stepped in and told them to go home with no compensation.

It taught Toomes to take his own approach, therefore he donned the Vulture suit.

He’d use the suit, alongside a team of heavily trained thieves, to steal items to sell on the black market.

All this, just to put food on the table for his family.

In terms of abilities, Vulture’s suit was extremely powerful, giving him superhuman strength and agility.

There was a severe lack of weaponry on the suit, although he didn’t particularly enjoy hurting people, he’d only do it if he had to.

7. The Winter Soldier

Hydra’s Winter Soldier

Age: 97

Species: Human

Powers: Serum Physical Enhancement & Bionic Arm

The Winter Soldier is responsible for many high-profile deaths, such as Howard Stark.

James Buchanan Barnes was captured during a train raid by the Howling Commandos against Hydra, there he was subject to brutal mind control techniques, given a bionic arm & injected with Russia’s variant of the super soldier serum.

One of the most dangerous killers in human history, the Winter Soldier has been running secret ops missions for Hydra until Bucky had his mind fixed by the Wakandans.

Mastery of a variety of weapons, from handguns to grenade launchers, makes the Winter Soldier a terrifying enemy to face.

6. US Agent

John Walker after his transformation to US Agent

Age: 35

Species: Human

Powers: Serum Physical Enhancement

With the retirement of Steve Rogers came the passing of the shield on to Sam Wilson, who subsequently didn’t feel fit to wield it.

The US Government knew the importance of the symbolic nature of the shield, so they had to have someone behind it.

In came John Walker, a seasoned US Marine veteran.

All that power and glory can go very wrong if it isn’t held by someone who will respect it, and it got to Walker’s head. Especially when he took the super soldier serum.

He becomes a sub-villain of the Falcon & The Winter Soldier series before eventually being somewhat of an anti-hero.

It looks like he’s been recruited for some kind of Dark Avengers scheme so no doubt we’ll see him as a villain again in the future.

5. Xu Wenwu

Xu Wenwu prepares to fight Ying Li

Age: 1083 (approximately)

Species: Human

Powers: The Ten Rings & Master Martial Artist

Tony Leung did an incredible job of portraying this character, who is ranked as one of the best MCU villains to date.

Xu wanted ultimate power until he met his wife-to-be, Ying Li.

Then he wanted a family, which he got!

But a thousand years of domination, using the ten rings, had come back on him.

With his wife gone, he looked to train his son (Shang-Chi) and become a powerful force once again.

But his son got away from that life, with Xu happily giving him 10 years to contemplate his existence.

Revered as a mythological figure and the real Mandarin, Xu Wenwu built a huge under-empire.

He mastered the ten rings, few people knew of his existence and even fewer could defeat him in a fight.

What makes him such a great villain is his origin story, followed by what happens in the Shang-Chi movie.

Full of conviction, driven by grief and guilt, yet he does the right thing in the end.

4. Loki

Loki arrives on Earth in The Avengers (2012)

Age: 1047

Species: Frost Giant

Powers: Frost Giant Physical Enhancement & Master Illusionist

Loki has a varied experience on the big screen, with him fluttering between hero and villain.

Specifically for Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Loki was an amazing villain who very nearly defeated the Avengers to conquer Earth.

Only his arrogance got in the way, as he believed his army was unstoppable.

He introduced humanity to extraterrestrial threats, something the majorty of societies of Earth were not aware of.

It had lasting impacts on the universe, with many heroes needing to up their power, and led to the formal creation of the Avengers.

3. Zemo

Zemo in Captain America: Civil War

Age: 38

Species: Human

Powers: Master Tactician & Master of Espionage

Baron Helmut Zemo knew he was no supersoldier, tech genius, or mystical being.

Regardless, he is fuelled by vengeance, something that can turn any human into a fierce opponent.

First introduced in the Civil War film, Zemo orchestrated a divide between the Avengers, having a lasting impact on future movies, possibly even being a deciding factor in the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes preventing the snap.

To this day, he’s still the only human character to defeat the Avengers.

He soon makes a return in the Falcon & The Winter Soldier series, giving us some beautiful dance moves and epic action sequences.

2. Killmonger

Killmonger in Black Panther

Age: 29

Species: Human

Powers: Master Assassin, Master Tactician & Mastery of Martial Arts

Erik Stevens, known as “Killmonger” for the sheer amount of confirmed kills he accrued as a Navy SEAL, has one of the most moving stories in cinematic history.

Losing his father as a child made him swear to avenge him, becoming one of the most dangerous humans on the planet.

As he grew up, he saw firsthand just how difficult it was for people of color to succeed in the world.

Eventually, he learned much of his heritage and became resentful of the world around him.

He was on a mission to ensure justice was restored for people of his race.

Decades of grief, war, and violence gave him a skewed perspective on how to serve that justice.

His appearance in “What If?” episode 6 further solidifies Killmonger as one of the greatest Marvel villains ever.

1. Thanos

Thanos commands his army to charge in Avengers: Endgame

Age: 1005

Species: Titan

Powers: Titan Physical Enhancement, Master Tactician & Intellectual Mastermind

Considered to be the greatest villain in entertainment history, Thanos had a huge impact on the Marvel Universe, forever changing the course of time.

Wielding powerful weapons and armor made of Uru metal, commanding millions of troops, and being basically immune to most forms of weaponry, made him the most powerful being in the universe.

The Titan species were tremendously powerful beings, and Thanos was a mutated version, blessed with hyper-intelligence.

Avengers: Infinity War was pretty much a Thanos movie, as he easily carved his way through almost the entire Avengers line-up to collect all 6 Infinity Stones and delete half the universe’s population.

No other villain has been as powerful, had as much of an impact and been portrayed as well as Thanos!