Over the past 10 years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the leader in superhero movies. A key factor in that success has been quality villains — with the MCU rolling out classics such as Thanos, Loki, the Mandarin, and Baron Zemo. More so, we’ve seen seeds of likely future antagonists such as the Leader (2008’s The Incredible Hulk), the White Wolf (Avengers: Infinity War), Ares (Thor: Ragnarok), and Mac Gargan, aka the Scorpion (Spider-Man: Homecoming). That said, there remain dozens of untapped villains for Marvel to mine as it looks to Avengers 4, Captain Marvel, and beyond.
With more than a half a dozen MCU films already in the planning stages, we’ve come up with a handful of the best villains we’d like to see on the big screen. From Dr. Doom and Mephisto to the Kingpin and the Hood, here’s our list of Marvel villains with ties to the current MCU who could pose a serious threat to the Avengers, Spider-Man, Captain America, and the ever-growing cast of MCU heroes.
AVENGERS VS. ANNIHILUS
Beyond Thanos, there are dozens of cosmic threats facing the heroes of the Marvel Universe. Annilihus and his Arthrosian horde are one of the oldest and most powerful and could be the main villains in Avengers 4, according to a few fan theories. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and first introduced in the Fantastic Four Annual #4 in 1968, Annilihus evolved over millions of years in the Negative Zone, rising to power with the use of Tyannan technology and the creation of his Cosmic Control Rod.
Within the Negative Zone, Annihilus used the rod to harness and amplify the energy of the antimatter universe in order to rule it. The Cosmic Control Rod also allows the holder to slow the aging process and manipulate matter and energy. In Marvel comics, Annihilus has used the weapon to boost his strength, fly through space, and fire immensely powerful energy blasts.
Although he was an early villain facing the Fantastic Four, Annihilus has battled the Avengers, members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, and Thor. He even played a small role in the Kree-Skrull War, a plot point allegedly central to 2019's Captain Marvel.
Maybe the biggest and best Annilihus storyline was Marvel's Annihilation in 2004, which could tie nicely into the MCU since it includes the destruction of Xandar (which happened off-screen in Infinity War) and the rise of Richard Rider as the all-powerful Nova.
Alongside his Annihilation Wave, Annilihus could prove to be one of the fiercest foes the Avengers have ever faced — he’s plotted to destroy Earth, the Negative Zone, and the universe, so he may live forever.
AVENGERS VS. GALACTUS
Since Marvel decided to go big with Thanos — setting him up as the main villain in 2012's Avengers with a payoff six years later in Infinity War — Galactus and other cosmic villains of equal caliber have to be on the table for follow-ups, especially if Marvel wants to continue its winning streak.
With an insatiable hunger for planets, Galactus presents an interesting problem that could likely take the entire cadre of Marvel heroes to solve. With Disney buying up Fox properties, including the Fantastic Four, this could be an incredible way to introduce the Richards family into the already established MCU. Additionally, since every Fantastic Four movie ever made by Fox was garbage, starting from scratch in the MCU seems like a good plan.
Galactus is also one of the older Marvel villains in existence, having made his debut in Fantastic Four #48 and #49 in 1966. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby wanted to break the villain mold with Galactus, painting him as a godlike creature purely motivated by his hunger for worlds.
There are a ton of Galactus stories, including battles with Thor (Thor #160, #162, #168, #169), Thanos (Annihilation), and most of the Marvel Universe (Galactus: The Devourer) — it's almost too perfect.
AVENGERS VS. KANG THE CONQUEROR
To say Kang the Conqueror's origin is complicated is a massive understatement. A master of time travel, Nathaniel Richards was born in the year 3,000 on Earth-6311 but became interested in the 20th century after studying his heroic relative Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four. Richards trekked across multiple timelines in the Marvel Universe over the years, thus creating multiple versions of himself, including the Pharaoh Rama Tut, Immortus, the Scarlet Centurion, and Iron Lad of the Young Avengers.
That said, Kang’s original tussle with Iron Man, Wasp, Hank Pym, Thor, and Captain America in 1964's The Avengers #8 could make for an interesting entry point for the villain. With the Time Stone playing a pivotal role in Infinity War, and the strong possibility of time travel in Avengers 4, there’s no reason Kang and his mastery of time travel couldn’t be introduced in upcoming MCU films.
With the creation of Kang in 1963, Lee and Kirby again created a villain who, though seemingly evil, has relatable intentions in clashing with the Marvel heroes. He simply wants to save his own timeline.
Kang is more than a worthy adversary for any of the Marvel heroes, including the Avengers, not only because of his expert use of time travel but also his collection of weapons, armor, and fighting knowledge from the future, all available in an instant.
AVENGERS VS. DOCTOR DOOM
Although he’s appeared in more than one Fantastic Four movie, Doctor Doom has yet to be utilized to his full potential on the big screen. As one of Marvel’s best villains, Victor Von Doom’s reach extends far beyond the pages of the Fantastic Four, as he’s taken on Iron Man, the Avengers, Spider-Man, and most of the Marvel heroes at one time or another.
Introduced by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four #5 (1962), Victor Von Doom’s backstory has been explored in countless books, tracing his rise as a misfortunate youth in Latveria, a quick study of the mystic arts, Reed Richards’ academic archrival at Empire State University, and, finally, the leader of the small Eastern European nation.
Even without his armor — which allows Victor to fly, repel almost any attack, and fire powerful energy blasts — Doom is at his core a master of science and magic alike, putting him on equal footing with Marvel’s best sorcerers and mystics. In terms of power, Doom has put the smack down on foes such as the Hulk, Thanos, Odin, the Watcher, and even Galactus.
If the MCU is looking to dial things back from the cosmic trajectory they’re currently on, there’s no better Earth-born villain to challenge the Avengers.
CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. M.O.D.O.K.
As the villain to many of the MCU’s heroes, including Captain America, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, S.H.I.E.L.D., and Hulk, M.O.D.O.K. stands as one of the best unused characters thus far, as he could fit in with any number of MCU storylines.
M.O.D.O.K. was created as a foil to Captain America in 1967 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in the pages of Tales of Suspense #93 and #94. Later on, in Captain America #133, the villain's origin is explained as A.I.M. technician George Tarleton being turned into a hideous living computer with psionic abilities after surviving horrendous experiments. The results leave Tarleton with an enormous head and the need to create clones to support his decaying body.
Designed by the Scientist Supreme of A.I.M., Tarleton is designated M.O.D.O.C. (Mobile Organism Designed Only for Computing) in hopes he can discover the secrets of the cosmic cube. Soon, though, he turns on his creators, killing them all and adopting the moniker M.O.D.O.K. (Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing).
In addition to psionic and mind control powers, M.O.D.O.K. is the ultimate tactician and motors around in his hover chair equipped with a variety of weaponry.
After the debut of Arnim Zola as a living computer in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it would make sense to include M.O.D.O.K. as the main villain in any upcoming Captain America movies. Special effects have progressed enough to ensure that the A.I.M. scientist wouldn’t look schlocky. M.O.D.O.K. could also make a good antagonist against the Avengers or even Hulk, as he later served to torment Bruce Banner by turning Betty Ross into the Harpy and creating the Red Hulk in the comics.
CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. NUKE
Created by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli in the pages of Daredevil #232, Nuke’s story began during the Vietnam War as soldier Frank Simpson. Upon his return home, Simpson, traumatized by his time at war, volunteers for the super soldier program that created Captain America. Despite the program’s success, which gives him enhanced strength, a second heart, and heightened endurance, Nuke descends further into mental instability, leading him to flash back to Vietnam and believe he’s killing Viet Cong. He’s later upgraded with a cybernetic endoskeleton and plastic-like flesh, making him even less of the person he once was.
Damaged goods and addicted to super soldier pills, which give him boosts of adrenaline, Nuke is eventually hired to do black ops work for the government and the villainous Kingpin.
Since not every bad guy can be a world-ending threat, Nuke could provide a timely and relevant yet difficult challenge for Captain America, with his severe case of PTSD and blind nationalism.
SPIDER-MAN VS. THE KINGPIN
One of Spider-Man’s greatest villains, the Kingpin was introduced in 1967 by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. in The Amazing Spider-Man #50. Although he became Daredevil's arch-enemy in later years (as depicted in Netflix's recently canceled Daredevil), the New York City crime overlord has always hated Spider-Man and proved to be a recurring thorn in the webslinger's side for decades. In addition to fighting Peter Parker and Matt Murdock, Wilson Fisk has squared off against a host of Marvel heroes, including Captain America, the Punisher, Iron Man, and the X-Men.
Bullied as a child, Wilson Fisk began weight training and sparring, resulting in his bulky frame. He’s one of the strongest non-superhuman villains in the Marvel Universe, and using his brute strength, Fisk built up a gang and quickly rose through the ranks to become the head of the New York underworld.
The Kingpin could fit nicely into the world of Spider-Man: Homecoming because he’s often used as the mastermind behind the seemingly unending nefarious plans of the New York mob. In his first appearance, Kingpin makes his move to conquer New York after Peter Parker gives up the Spider-Man mantle.
In the Ultimate Universe (aka Earth-1610), Kingpin manages to unmask Spider-Man, holding the knowledge of Peter’s secret identity over his head. In that story arc, Kingpin even secures the rights to Spider-Man’s likeness, further tormenting the wall-crawler.
After seeing the Kingpin shine in the Marvel's Spider-Man video game earlier this year and with his next onscreen appearance in the highly anticipated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse film, it’s high time Fisk made the jump to the MCU.
DR. STRANGE VS. MEPHISTO
As Marvel's official version of the Devil, Mephisto is one of the best (worst?) villains in the Marvel Universe. Offering hellacious deals to the likes of Thor, Spider-Man, and Ghost Rider, he made his debut in the pages of Silver Surfer #3 (1968), tempting Norrin Radd with riches and women in exchange for his soul. Like the biblical version of the Devil, Mephisto quests for the souls of the living, making the possession of the Marvel superheroes his ultimate goal.
He’s also credited for creating Ghost Rider (Ghost Rider #68), allowing Johnny Blaze to sell his soul in exchange for becoming the cursed superhero.
In one of the most controversial Spider-Man stories, Mephisto makes a deal with Peter Parker to save Aunt May in exchange for Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage, claiming he’s disgusted by their happiness. That said, Mephisto could work best in the mystical world of Dr. Strange, who he’s battled countless times. More recently, Donny Cates pitted the two against each other in the Damnation storyline, in which several heroes, including Black Panther, Falcon, and Hawkeye are turned into Ghost Riders. Cates’ arc gives a good look at the decades-long struggle between the Sorcerer Supreme and Mephisto.
Armed with magical powers, superhuman strength, and the ability to project any illusion he likes, Mephisto is a master manipulator and one of Marvel’s most resilient villains; any time his physical form has been destroyed, the character has returned to his realm to reform.
As Dr. Strange’s cinematic universe has already been established to be full of magic and mysticism, it could prove to be fertile ground for the likes of the evil Mephisto.
DR. STRANGE VS. THE HOOD
A fairly new creation, Parker Robbins rose to supervillain status as the Hood in the pages of his own MAX series. In that 2002 comic by Brian K. Vaughan and artists Kyle Hotz and Eric Powell, Robbins kills a demon and steals his cloak and boots, giving him the power to walk in the air, turn invisible for a short time, and summon demonic powers, including super strength and speed.
The Hood uses his newfound powers to build a criminal syndicate to rival that of the Kingpin’s. In recent years, the Hood has been used as a central character to some of Marvel’s biggest events, including Dark Reign, Siege, and the Kingpin War, making him a major thorn in the side of the heroes.
Again, not every villain can and should provide a world-ending threat, so the use of the Hood against Dr. Strange could provide the hero with a thrilling game of high-stakes cat and mouse.