Every MCU villain serves a purpose, but not all of them are inherently evil. For example, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki may appear irredeemable, but when you consider his upbringing — namely the rejection and abandonment — and his feelings of inferiority to Thor, the outbursts of homicidal rage are more understandable – let’s choose to ignore the fact that Loki tried to enslave Earth. Other villains are completely unforgivable in their heinous deeds, whether it be attempting to annihilate mankind or seeking to conquer every planet, these baddies are the rotten apples in the bunch.
There are some pretty diabolical villains in the MCU, which has begun to touch on some darker themes in the past five years or so. Previously, Marvel villains were terrorists, war criminals, and greedy dictators, generally targeting the masses, whereas more recent villains are targeting one specific individual while having an ulterior motive to cause global mayhem. Some villains are forgettable — even if they do harbor sinister intentions — while others are so utterly despicable that they establish a ruthless reputation for themselves. Here are the worst of the worst, not according to physical strength or intelligence but purely based on the wicked extent of their actions.
10. Malekith (Thor: The Dark World)
The cruel and malevolent leader of the Dark Elves, Malekith led the hateful and vindictive race in a war against Asgardians. In an attempt to revert the universe to a state of complete darkness and ruin, Malekith stole an ancient relic, known as the Aether – which we now know to be the Reality Stone of the Infinity Stones. In the end, Malekith was banished back to Svartalfheim, otherwise known as The Dark World, from whence he came. He was crushed by his own warship and killed. However, Malekith and his life-long conquest make the tenth spot because his intent to take advantage of the Convergence, a cosmic event in which the Nine Realms are aligned — to unleashed the power of the Aether at last — is pretty ruthless. Looking to plunge the entire universe into primordial darkness is a horrific pursuit, but Malekith sadly had little development and limited screen time, so he ranks lowest.
9. Red Skull (Captain America)
Red Skull, otherwise known as Johann Schmidt, is the former head of HYDRA—a terrorist organization bent on world domination — and confidant of Adolph Hitler during World War II. In the beginning, Red Skull sought to possess the Tesseract, which he believed would aid in his objective to control the world. He was challenged by Captain America, the superior soldier, who destroyed the HYDRA facilities and banished Red Skull to Vormir, where he became a Stonekeeper — a guardian of the Soul Stone — in eternal purgatory. After Thanos sacrificed Gamora to claim the Soul Stone, Red Skull was relieved of his duties as Stonekeeper and free to pursue his own objectives once more. First and foremost, Red Skull is a Nazi German, one of the most diabolical citizenships to ever inhabit the Earth. In the real world, we know all about the horrific acts performed by the Nazis and Red Skull —in the MCU — is an active participant in those war crimes. His intentions to enslave the world under the Nazi order are just as reprehensible as German dictator Adolph Hitler himself. Essentially, Red Skull is a cinematic rendition of Hitler for the MCU.
8. Green Goblin (Spider-Man/Spider-Man:No Way Home)
CEO of Oscorp, Norman Osborn, experimented on himself which enhanced his performance and granted him superhuman strength and durability; he later adopted the moniker Green Goblin. Although not as hell-bent on enslaving humanity as some of the others, Green Goblin murdered May Parker — Peter Parker’s aunt — in Spider-Man: No Way Home and shocked the entire Marvel fanbase. That was pretty unforgivable. Even months later, we’re still raging about it. On the surface, the only crimes that Green Goblin ever committed was being too greedy and allowing his alternate ego to overtake his mind. However, even without his dissociative personality disorder (DPD), Norman has murdered countless innocents in the pursuit of nothing but sheer chaos. His other identity, which manifested in the sadistic psychopath known as Green Goblin, compels Norman to do unspeakable things, including mass homicide. An argument can be made that Norman isn’t always in control of his own actions, therefore he cannot be held accountable for them, but his recklessness and foolishness have cost thousands of lives, even if he isn’t always aware of it.
7. General Dreykov (Black Widow)
Perhaps a surprising entry, but General Dreykov — the main antagonist of the Black Widow solo film — is completely barbaric and compassionless. As a member of the Soviet Armed Forces, General Dreykov was the overseer of the Red Room, a secret Soviet training program that kidnapped young girls and trained them to become mindless assassins known as Black Widows. In addition, General Dreykov turns his own daughter into Taskmaster after she survives a near-death experience, using a mind-controlling chip to keep her under his command. Eventually, General Dreykov was killed by Yelena Belova, Natasha Romanoff’s adoptive sister, during an escape attempt from the Red Room Academy. One huge reason as to why Dreykov makes the list comes when Romanoff comes face-to-face with him during the Black Widow climax; he delivers a lengthy and misguided spiel that reveals his motives, referring to girls as a “natural resource” that the world “has too much of” and can be manipulated to do his bidding. If that isn’t evil, then nothing is.
6. Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner as part of the Peacekeeping program, Ultron is an Artificial Intelligence whose primary directive to protect Earth was corrupted. He became sentient and homicidal, deeming humanity as the biggest threat to Earth’s existence and seeking to commit extinction-level genocide so that he and his Ultron Sentries would be the only “living” beings left. Assisted by Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, whom he misled by acting as a father figure, Ultron began preparations to unleash a super weapon capable of wiping out the entire Earth population. Ultron’s body was destroyed by Vision after a battle with the Avengers, including the Maximoff twins. Nevermind the attempt to destroy JARVIS, another beloved character, but Ultron and his vendetta against Earth — combined with the unlawful misguiding of the Maximoff twins and the attack on Sokovia, killing thousands — rank so highly due to the casualties, including the death of Pietro Maximoff, which left Wanda inconsolable and without any family connections. Not only did he break apart fraternal twins, but Ultron killed Sokovians without any reasons beyond a twisted thirst for his own version of “peace” — as per his initial programming.
5. Kilgrave (Jessica Jones)
Honestly, if it weren’t for a handful of more malignant characters (unbelievably), Kilgrave would have snagged the top spot. Kevin Thompson is evil personified; even his tragic upbringing can’t ever justify his choices, which seem to be purely instinctive and impulsive rather than being driven by a specific cause. Kilgrave was experimented on by his parents and subsequently developed mind-controlling powers, which he used for personal gain. These powers led to him becoming sadistic and remorseless. When he encountered Jessica Jones, a drunken PI and resident superhero, he enslaved her mind and kept her as a personal sex slave for months, raping her on several occasions. If that wasn’t enough, Kilgrave kidnapped Hope Shlottman, a young athlete and student, who eventually committed suicide after being used as ransom against Jones. But wait, it gets worse. Aside from being a serial rapist and acting only with selfish intent, Kilgrave often kills or torments merely for amusement – or if someone gets in his way. He murdered both of his parents, tormented Jones, threatened her family and killed/manipulated bystanders to further his own schemes. Nothing more needs to be said. As much as David Tennant is the sweetest man on Earth, Kilgrave is not. Case closed.
4. Dormammu (Doctor Strange)
Now we move on to the more God-like beings among us. As seen in Doctor Strange, Dormammu, an inter-dimensional entity, wields apocalyptic-level supernatural powers and rules over the Dark Dimension, a source of infinite power and eternal life. Dormammu seeks to conquer every universe of the Multiverse, as well as Earth. To further his plans to conquer Earth, Dormammu joined forces with Kaecilius, a rogue member of the Masters of the Mystic Arts who became mistrusting of the Ancient One’s ideals and turned against her. When Doctor Strange confronts Dormammu, he traps the entity in an eternal time-loop using the Eye of Agamotto and bargains with him to recall his followers and cease his assault on Earth. On a base level, Dormammu yields such unrealistically destructive abilities that it makes him more of an A-hole than anything else; he obviously targets planets just because he can – not for any specific reason. Any villains that commit atrocities just because they can — not because they have an end goal in mind — are undoubtedly the worst of the worst.
3. Thanos (Avengers: Infinity War/Avengers: Endgame)
The genocidal warlord and Mad Titan, Thanos, sought to eradicate half of all life as he believed that such a massive population would inevitably use up all of Earth’s resources and perish. To achieve this goal, Thanos set about hunting down the Infinity Stones as the combined forces of all the stones would grant him limitless power. Blinded by his ferocious crusade, Thanos lost the loyalty of his daughters — Gamora and Nebula — and knowingly sacrificed Gamora to retrieve the Soul Stone. Already, trading your daughter’s life for ultimate cosmic power is seriously evil, to say the least. Eventually, Thanos destroyed any being who stood in his way, including Loki, whom many Marvel fans adored. From then on, we all had a personal vendetta against Thanos regardless of where he fell on the “evil” scale. It goes without saying, but Thanos also caused the Snap, achieving his goal to wipe out half the population, which included family members and loved ones. In Avengers: Endgame, Thanos was the indirect cause of Tony Stark’s death – another fan favorite. At this point, he may be the most hated character in all of Marvel history. Thanos is evil incarnate — even more than Kilgrave — and ruthless as all hell.
2. Hela (Thor: Ragnarok)
Even though she may be one of the most evil MCU villains, Hela is also the coolest, which redeems her somewhat. Plus, Cate Blanchett. Enough said. The Goddess of Death and former Executioner of Asgard, Hela is the older sister of Thor and Loki, making her the daughter of Odin. Hela planned to rule Asgard and create an Asgardian empire. When the Asgardians refused to bow to Hela and accept her as their new ruler, she sought to massacre Odin’s armies and enslave the Asgardians. Hela met her demise when Loki released Surtur, who caused Ragnarök and killed Hela. She argues that her ambition “outgrew” Odin’s and resulted in his banishing her. For starters, Hela massacred the Valkyrie, a loyal race of warriors who served Odin and Asgard, leaving only Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie as a sole survivor – by sheer chance. Even though Hela has a clear motive, she still ranks highly as a raging, volatile, and barbaric deity who kills or maims anyone who stands in her way, regardless of their status or relation to her. She is power-hungry and essentially cares about Fenris, her wolf companion, above all others. She can be merciless and cruel, acting as a dictator and blinded by a thirst for dominion. Hela abuses her powers in several ways, preparing to kill even her own brethren to get what she wants.
1. Ego (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Ego, the man of the hour, is indisputably wicked in every way. He was a Celestial, a primordial and powerful being and a “Living Planet” with a humanoid extension of himself that was revealed to be Peter Quill’s biological father. Ego sought to give his life meaning, eventually planning an omnicide known as the Expansion, which would wipe out all life in the universe and leave only himself. Ego saw himself as unbeatable and superior to all other life forms. Eventually having thousands to millions of children, Ego sought out another Celestial to complete the Expansion; any child that failed to be born Celestial would be killed. He hired Yondu to transport these children from all different planets, including Peter Quill. Ego’s innate desire to remake the universe revealed his true colors to Quill, who become an unwitting accomplice. Eventually, he was defeated by the Guardians of the Galaxy. Ego not only killed thousands of innocent children, but he also murdered Peter’s mother, Meredith Quill. Ego wholeheartedly believed himself to be the only thing that mattered in the universe, hence his fitting name from a massive “ego.” He suffered a massive God complex, but Ego is the most evil MCU villain for one huge reason: the only excuse he can ever muster to explain his deeds is because he couldn’t find another being to compete with his superiority. Now that is pretty messed up.