The 10 Greatest Villains The Avengers Have Ever Faced

You need to be pretty tough to go up against the Avengers. When the world is being protected by the likes of a genius billionaire, a super-soldier, a green rage monster, and the God of Thunder, then you need one heck of a powerful enemy, either in terms of brain or brawn, for them to face.

That’s the challenge that the folks over at Marvel Comics have risen to over the years, as they’ve created numerous nemeses for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes who can actually pose some form of a threat. Obviously, it’s pretty rare that they go on to win—though, as we shall find out, that can happen—but it’s important that we, the fans, believe that the Avengers have got their work cut out for them.

From Onslaught to Norman Osborn, from Korvac to the Kree, here are our picks for the 10 greatest Avengers villains from over 50 years of Marvel comics. If your favorite isn’t found within, be sure to let us know in the usual place.

10) Korvac

His name might sound like “a vacuum cleaner”—at least that’s what his creator Steve Gerber thinks—but Korvac is actually one of the most powerful villains the Avengers have ever faced.

Michael Korvac was once an ordinary computer technician but, when the Earth was invaded by the alien Badoon, he allied with them and they transformed him into a cyborg. Still craving more power, Korvac went on to steal the Power Cosmic, the energy source of Galactus the World-Eater, and set out to reshape the Earth into a utopia.

As well as being super-powerful, Korvac is also a sympathetic villain. After wiping out the Avengers in a massive battle, he committed suicide after losing his wife. With his last ounce of strength, he resurrected all the heroes he had killed.

Despite the threat he poses—or perhaps because of that—Korvac is a very sparingly-used villain. He has appeared in two animated series, though—Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Ultimate Spider-Man—both of which substantially altered his character.

9) Taskmaster

On the other end of the power spectrum from Korvac is Taskmaster. He may not have god-like abilities, but Taskmaster is still one of the Avengers’ toughest foes in the realm of hand-to-hand combat.

The villain has the handy ability of photographic reflexes, which means that he can match the fighting style of his opponent, so long as it’s actually physically possible for him to do so. Over the years, he’s bested the likes of Captain America, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Daredevil and many, many more at their own game.

Even when he’s not fighting them directly, the Avengers often come up against his handiwork. That’s because, Taskmaster is often employed by HYDRA, A.I.M. and other supervillain groups to train up their henchman and soldiers.

Away from the Avengers, his nemesis is Deadpool. Unlike every other hero though, Deadpool is too chaotic and unpredictable to outmatch, so he’s one of the few heroes who Taskmaster cannot beat.

8) Kree/Skulls

Individually, the Kree and the Skrulls are two of the worst threats to mankind in the Marvel universe. The former believe that it’s their right to claim Earth after they experimented on humans millennia ago (thereby creations Inhumans). Meanwhile, the Skrulls see our planet as their new homeworld, after their own was destroyed by Galactus. In the likes of Secret Invasion – where the Skrulls managed to infiltrate the Avengers in a bid for world domination – the Earth has come very close to falling under their dominion.

It’s the Kree-Skrull War, though, that poses an even greater danger. The Avengers can deal with one supervillain or even one race of evil aliens, but a galactic conflict between two militant races out for the Earth proves a much bigger problem – as seen in 1974’s classic storyline, The Kree-Skrull War from Roy Thomas.

We have seen the Kree turn up in the MCU in the form of Guardian of the Galaxy‘s Ronan as well as a more starring role in Captain Marvel.

7) Norman Osborn

Norman Osborn AKA the Green Goblin is obviously most known for being Spider-Man’s arch-enemy, but the billionaire bad guy has graduated into an Avengers-level threat in the last decade or so.

After his part in preventing the Skrull incursion in Secret Invasion, Norman Osborn was appointed as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and was tasked with creating a new Avengers team by the President. What he did instead was create the Dark Avengers, a team of supervillains posing as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, with himself as Iron Patriot. Along with the likes of Doctor Doom and The Hood, Osborn plotted the rule the world with his secret Cabal during the Dark Reign saga.

Turning Spidey’s goblin-masked nemesis into basically Marvel’s answer to Lex Luthor was a left-field move, but it definitely paid off, as it gave the Avengers a human foe – culpable for very human crimes like greed, misuse of power and subterfuge – to face off against. Let’s hope that the inevitable MCU version of Osborn takes this route rather than resurrecting the Green Goblin yet again.

6) Doctor Doom

Another Avengers foe who is usually associated with another Marvel property is Doctor Doom. The Fantastic Four‘s perennial enemy is one of the iconic and formidable supervillains in the Marvel universe, so naturally he’s come up against the Avengers at certain points. Most notably in the recent Secret War arc.

With his superior intellect and scientific and mystical prowess, Doom is an impressive enough guy as it is. In Secret War, however, he managed to usurp the reality-warping powers of the Beyonder and brought the decimated remains of the multiverse together. Proclaiming himself God Emperor of the resulting Battleworld, it was left to a ragtag bunch of Marvel heroes to try and restore the status quo.

Currently, Doom is playing hero as the Infamous Iron Man – because it’s pretty hard to top your career as a supervillain after you’ve taken control of all reality. Still, you can be sure that things won’t stay this way and he’ll be making a bid for world domination again soon.

5) Baron Zemo And The Masters Of Evil

Every superhero team needs a team of supervillains to go against them, and the Avengers have the Masters of Evil. The first line-up consisted of the likes of Black Knight, Radioactive Man and Enchantress, but later iterations included Ultron and Doctor Octopus. The team’s greatest achievement was probably the occasion they managed to storm the Avengers Mansion, torturing Tony Stark’s faithful butler Jarvis in the process.

The original leader, Baron Heinrich Zemo, is one of the first and most formidable of the Avengers foes on his own. Both he and his son, Baron Helmut Zemo, were genius Nazi scientists, with Helmut also being adept at hand-to-hand-combat. You’ll probably know that an extremely different version of Zemo (the Helmut version) appeared in Captain America: Civil Warwhere he managed to do what his comic counterpart hasn’t and break apart the Avengers.

4) Kang The Conqueror

Kang the Conqueror has one of the most complex biographies of any Marvel supervillain, but to put it simply, Nathaniel Richards is a time-travelling warlord whose goal is to travel through history and conquer the greatest warriors and civilizations – naturally, then, the Avengers are his number one prize.

To demonstrate how powerful he is, Kang became the very first supervillain to conquer the Marvel world in the fan-favourite Kang Dynasty arc. And he wasn’t even defeated by the Avengers – his own son, the Scarlet Centurion, turned against him and brought him down.

Notably, Kang has also spent some time as a hero, when his younger self became the leader of the Young Avengers, Iron Lad. However, the young Nate could not escape his fate and tragically had to return to his own time to prevent the destruction of the timeline.

With his introduction in the recent Loki series it’s, likely we’ve got a whole lot more Kang to come in the MCU soon.

3) Thanos

Any Marvel fan—from the comics or the movies—knows about Thanos the Mad Titan. Already a fearsome cosmic tyrant, Thanos infamously gained the ability to warp reality to his will when he collected all five Infinity Gems and wielded the Infinity Gauntlet. Due to that, few of the Avengers’ rogues gallery can match up to the power-mad purple despot.

He was so powerful in fact that he wiped out half the life in the entire universe—including the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and other heroes—with a single wave of his hand. Then, when the Avengers went to stop him, he effortlessly killed all of them as well. Thankfully, his daughter Nebula went turncoat and used the Gauntlet to restore the universe to the way it was.

Thanos also has one of the more intriguing supervillain motivations – he’s so psychotic that he’s actually in love with the personification of Death. All the death and destruction that he causes is in a twisted bid to win her affection. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t work. Maybe try some chocolates and roses next time, Thanos.

2) Loki

Thor’s brother, the God of Mischief, has the honor of inadvertently bringing the Avengers together for the first time. When he tried to set the Hulk and Thor against each other, Iron Man, Wasp, and Ant-Man caught wind of the scheme. Loki ended up creating the team that would foil his every scheme over the years.

While he isn’t the sort of villain who can go toe-to-toe with the Avengers in a fight, his talent for manipulation, misdirection, and magic mean he’s one of their deadliest foes. One of his most evil moments came when he got his ally Norman Osborn to destroy Asgard, killing the God of War, Ares, in the process.

Loki has changed a lot over the years. He was Lady Loki, Kid Loki, and he’s currently somewhere between good and evil as an agent of Asgard. However, you can be sure that he will return to plaguing the Avengers again at some point. Especially considering Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal has made him one of the most popular supervillains around.

1) Ultron

Marvel movie fans might be miffed at our number one pick. How could the one-off villain Ultron beat the original threat of Loki and the might of Thanos? Well, in the comics, Ultron is one of the Avengers’ most persistent and perennial enemies. The mad robot is probably the most constant thorn in the side of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

Ultron was accidentally unleashed on the world by Hank Pym AKA Ant-Man, when he sought to create the first true artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, Ultron rebelled and decided that humanity was a plague on the world and needed to be destroyed. Though he doesn’t have the god-like powers of others, Ultron is the slipperiest villain of them all because, by nature of his being an A.I., he’s nigh impossible to kill. Destroy one of his Adamantium bodies and he can just download himself into another.

Another thing that makes Ultron the ultimate Avengers villain is that he represents their failures coming back to bite them. With a fierce, Oedipal-like hatred for his father Pym, Ultron is the most personal long-running foe of the Avengers.