The most powerful MCU villains, ranked

Thanos

Ever since the MCU was founded in 2008 with Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, our favorite cinematic heroes have faced over 30 supervillains spanning 27 films and 17 series. While every antagonist can be terrifying in their own right, there are some that inspire true fear in others and earn recognition for their ruthlessness, brutality, and cunning. Many MCU villains are extraterrestrials, other-worldly conquerers, or super-powered beings that act as powerful rivals their adversaries. Others are human — ordinary and underprivileged — and rely on instincts and resilience to compete with gifted individuals.

After Tony Stark faced off against his business partner, Obadiah Stane, in the first Iron Man movie, even more power-hungry and greed-driven villains have surfaced of varying shapes and sizes. Many have fought our heroes over common desires like greed, power, and global domination. Regardless of their motives, all villains are uniquely powerful, but only a handful can be the most powerful of all. Here are the best MCU villains, ranked according to power — physical or otherwise.

10. Kilgrave (Jessica Jones)

On the surface, Kilgrave may not look powerful. As a scrawny, six-foot nothing with no physically imposing features and severe mommy issues, Kilgrave is far from intimidating. However, the term “powerful” can refer to much more than just brute strength. Mind manipulation is just as threatening as bulging muscles in its own degenerative manner.

First appearing in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Kilgrave can coerce others using mere words, an ability that proved harrowing for Jessica and led to countless civilian casualties. While Kilgrave did have limitations, he could still easily incite pandemonium, making him a terrifying villain that made us wonder if Jessica would every truly be able to beat him.

9. Kingpin (Daredevil, Hawkeye)

Wilson Fisk, appropriately named “Kingpin,” runs the underground operations in the dark underbelly of Hell’s Kitchen. As a self-proclaimed crime lord, Kingpin seeks to seize control over New York City using his mafia connections to build an empire. Fisk appeared in Marvel’s Daredevil as its main antagonist and continuously fought against Matt Murdock for absolute control over the many criminal gangs and inspire the rise of rule by fear.

Fisk is a burly, seemingly overweight man, but the majority of his body mass is comprised of muscle, not fat. These physical advantages enable Kingpin to excel in hand-to-hand combat despite his enormous size decreasing his agility. Ruling over New York with an iron grip, Kingpin blends cruelty and charm to overpower others both physically and mentally.

8. Ebony Maw (Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame)

As a member of the Black Order and the adoptive son of Thanos, Ebony Maw is a deeply loyal servant to the Mad Titan. Maw was gifted with powers of telekinesis and assisted Thanos in his search for the Infinity Stones. Knowing how strong Doctor Strange is, it really is a credit to Maw’s power that he was able to overwhelm and capture Strange without exhausting himself. It should also be noted that without the help of the Infinity Stones, Ebony Maw could kill Thanos instantly, making him infinitely more powerful on a base level.

Ebony Maw appeared in Avengers: Infinity War and met his demise in Avengers: Endgame, but continuously served Thanos throughout. Another bonus for Maw is that sidekicks aren’t usually as powerful as he was depicted, which is a refreshing take on supporting roles.

7. Mysterio (Spider-Man: Far From Home)

Jake Gyllenhaal made his Marvel debut as Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Illusionist Quentin Beck seemed harmless at first, but as soon as he turned against Spider-Man, Mysterio discovered that his powers could be used for selfish gain. Using holographic projectors, Mysterio both outsmarted and outmanned Spider-Man on several occasions, using his worst fears and loose grip on reality against him.

Granted, once Mysterio’s illusions have been taken down, he isn’t too difficult to compete against in hand-to-hand combat, particularly against more muscle-bound foes with experience in close-range fighting. Contrary to popular belief, Mysterio does not possess superpowers, but he is gifted special effects artist, thereby enabling him to generate holograms. As far as purely human supervillains go, Mysterio is a self-made villain and a powerful one at that, especially when you factor in the lengths he went to divulge Spider-Man’s identity, which ended up changing Peter Parker’s life forever.

6. Loki (The Thor films, The Avengers, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame)

The God of Mischief possesses strength, durability, and longevity that is far superior to that of humans. Loki has been named the most powerful sorcerer in all of Asgard — and for good reason — due to the extent of his magical abilities, which include astral projection, shape-shifting, hypnosis, and molecular rearrangement as just the tip of the iceberg.

Debuting in Thor (2011), Tom Hiddleston’s Loki has been considered more powerful than Doctor Strange and therefore all of the other mortal heroes. As proven in the MCU, particularly The Avengers and Thor: Ragnarok, Loki is strong enough to overpower the likes of Captain America, Tony Stark (without the armor) and battle against Valkyrie.

5. Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)

Ultron, being a man-made machine, may have an unfair advantage against humans, who have limitations. Just to list some of Ultron’s most favorable traits, he is made of the strongest metals on earth, thereby practically indestructible, has the intelligence of Hank Pym, Tony Stark, and Reed Richards combined, and is able to control all technology (which, in the present day, makes the possibilities endless). 

Like some other villains, Ultron combines brains and brawn, manipulating others more powerful than himself and using his technological influence to mastermind and control all aspects of electronics and computer-operated systems. Ultron can feed off of the information provided by the internet, hack security cameras, shut down any and all forms of technology, and puppeteer it to do his bidding. Just like Kilgrave, we wondered if the heroes would be able to stop this guy, and we low-key hope they never have to deal with him again.

4. Ego (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)

As a Celestial, Ego is considered a more powerful being than any other. Not only is Ego the amalgamation of cosmic energy that forms a planet the size of the Earth’s moon, but he has the ability to create stargates (portals through space) and expand his Celestial form to consume and destroy any obstacle in his path. Not much has been revealed regarding the extent of Ego’s powers in the MCU, but his comic counterpart can equal the power of a well-fed Galactus.

Furthermore, as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Ego can be defeated by destroying his core, which has been done, but it has also been proven that Ego can reform at a later date, making it possible that he survived the encounter with the Guardians. Ego seemingly has no restrictions, especially since he can fabricate anything in the universe if he so wanted.

3. Hela (Thor: Ragnarok)

First and foremost, Hela destroyed Mjölnir, which is an impressive feat in itself. As explained in Thor: Ragnarok when chronicling Valkyrie’s origin, Hela possesses tremendous levels of superhuman strength, enabling her to single-handedly wipe out all of the Valkyrie but one, who barely survived. In the comics, Hela is the only immortal Asgardian, which was disproven by the events of Ragnarok, but we may not have seen the last of Cate Blanchett’s Hela just yet.

When fighting against her brothers Thor and Loki, she came out on top several times, only succumbing to the summoning of Surtur (cheating, if you ask us). As Loki has demonstrated when fighting Valkyrie, taking down just one Valkyrie is no easy task, let alone an entire race of them. Hela is the Goddess of Death, all-powerful and eternal, but also a merciless executioner. Besides her strength, Hela has impressive durability, taking a direct hit from Thor’s lightning and showing no signs of injury or slowing down. Should she ever return to the MCU, we’ll be trembling in our boots for our main man Thor.

2. Thanos (Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame)

Thanos, the Mad Titan, has proven — without a shadow of a doubt — that he has many superior qualities. In both Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, he is strong enough to crush the Tesseract and overpower the Hulk, fast enough to block photon blasts, and durable enough to take direct hits from Iron Man’s Mark 50 suit and withstand a powerful hit from fully-charged Thor with Stormbreaker.

Obviously, all of this is to say that Thanos has the advantage of the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity Stones. Without those, his powers are drastically reduced. Besides the obvious, Thanos is immensely strong and resistant to injury, invulnerable to nearly all types of poison, disease, and telepathic attacks. Thanos has very few weaknesses, but clearly, if you strip him of his Infinity Stones and use his strengths against him, he can be knocked down a few notches.

1. Dormammu (Doctor Strange)

Dormammu appears only briefly in Doctor Strange, but we still get an explicit display of power, especially against Stephen Strange. Opposing the likes of the Sorcerer Supreme, Dormammu is an immensely powerful mystical being capable of maintaining massive levels of magic.

Dormammu is beatable but immortal, capable of dissipating his physical form and adopting one of pure energy. It has even been claimed that he can destroy the Celestials (such as Ego), burning them in the Flames of the Faltine. In hindsight, Dormammu may only be inferior to Galactus, the Eater of Worlds, who has yet to appear in the MCU and therefore cannot yet be included in this ranking.