The highly anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron has just been unleashed on the general public to general critical acclaim and box office busting figures. It's predicted that it will see the biggest box office opening of all time.
With the Avengers’ rich comic book history captivating readers for decades, Marvel had to up the ante with its Cinematic Universe, accomplishing the immensely difficult task of delivering fantastic films with well-defined, memorable characters. Their stories intertwined seamlessly, creating movie magic by assembling the greatest cast of comic book super heroes to ever grace the silver screen.
For every great hero, however, there must be an equally great villain. It is this duality in comic books, movies and fiction in general that is needed to truly create a work of art. With such a powerful group consisting of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, their foes needed to be as dastardly as their counterparts were heroic.
Alien species with technological prowess; villainous super groups led by wicked mad men; powerful, cosmic beings capable of domination and destruction. These are the greatest villains that took the Avengers to their limits.
The following are the best, most memorable villains from the rich, coloured comic book history of the Avengers.
10 The Kree and the Skrulls
Two intergalactic alien species that absolutely loathe each other, the Kree and Skrull War has transcended their respective planets and threatened to spill over to the Earth. Not on the Avengers watch!
The Skrulls in particular have been a bigger threat to the super group, kicking off the "Secret Invasion" storyline in which these green-faced aliens launch their ultimate strike against Earth and its Avengers, using their shape-shifting abilities to infiltrate human society and take control of what they thought was their promised-land.
Meanwhile, the Kree planned on eradicating humanity because of its advanced state of evolution being seen as a threat to their empire. They wanted to test one of their weapons on Earth and its inhabitants.
These two species have had a profound effect on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Their ongoing war has resulted in countless lives lost, with casualties on all sides. Even a founding member of the Avengers, Wasp, lost her life during the Secret Invasion.
9 Norman Osborn
Primarily known as Spiderman’s arch nemesis Green Goblin, Norman Osborn has become a much bigger threat in the Marvel universe, gaining the attention of the mighty Avengers.
After Osborn helped repel the aforementioned Skrull Secret invasion, Tony Stark gave him a chance to redeem himself by letting him take charge of the Thunderbolts, a superhero team consisting of reformed villains. Too bad he never really turned to the good side, as Osborn took members of the Thunderbolts and dressed them up as the Dark Avengers while turning the original Avengers into a group of outlaws. Osborn himself became the Iron Patriot, sporting a red, white & blue Iron Man suit.
He threatened superheroes and their families. He deputised his henchmen into corrupt cops through his law enforcement agency known as H.A.M.M.E.R. Osborn’s ultimate goal is to take down the superhero group, whether it be by enticing the general populace to riot and protest against the Avengers, or by using his evil organisations to fight Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
8 The Masters of Evil
What do you need to fight a super group consisting of the greatest heroes the world has ever seen? A super group of devious villains, of course!
The Masters of Evil have caused quite the trouble for the Avengers time and time again. The group is an evil mirror image of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, representing the worst of the worst, enduring multiple incarnations and revolving members. Led by Baron Zemo, the likes of Radioactive Man, Moonstone, The Enchantress and even Dr. Octopus and Ultron have all been massive thorns on the Avenger’s side.
Most notably, in the “Under Siege” storyline, the Masters of Evil entered the Avengers’ mansion and began their attack. They tortured poor Jarvis, Tony Stark’s butler, and began picking off the Avengers one at a time. It was a personal attack that left the mansion in ruins and the Avengers broken but not defeated, as Thor and Captain America barely saved the day.
While he may not be the most troublesome of villains when it comes to fighting the Avengers, the Taskmaster makes it on the list for one simple reason: every single henchman, Hydra agent, goon, soldier and enforcer the Avengers have faced have all graduated from the Taskmaster’s academy of how to be a bad guy.
Every single person the Avengers have beaten up has been trained by this evil tactician. He is a proficient fighter, able to replicate any fighting style after having studied it. He is unable to remember any personal memories, making him a perfect mercenary with no ideals that is guided by monetary gain.
6 Baron Zemo
This father-son duo has long been a threat to Captain America and the Avengers.
Baron Heinrich Zemo is a former Hydra scientist who battled Captain America during World War II. In the comics, Zemo launched the drone plane that “killed” Bucky Barnes – who later became the Winter Soldier – and sent Captain America into the freezing waters of the North Atlantic, where he remained frozen for decades before being discovered by the Avengers. He also created the villainous super group the Masters of Evil as a counterpart to the Avengers.
His son, Baron Helmut Zemo, continued his father’s legacy when he found out about Captain America’s return. He vowed vengeance, leading the Masters of Evil during the "Under Siege" storyline that nearly broke the Avengers. Years later, he led the Thunderbolts, the group of supposedly reformed villains.
Korvac killed the Avengers. That is all.
Alright, so a little more details. Michael Korvac is a computer programmer from an alternate Earth that is attacked by an alien species known as the Badoon. In order to be spared, Korvac betrays the human race and helps the aliens in their conquest. Of course, the Badoon don’t take kindly to traitors and punish Korvac by making him a cyborg.
Korvac eventually gains cosmic powers, which he uses to destroy the Badoon. He abuses his new-found power by trying to conquer the cosmos, facing off against the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes got in his way… and they were obliterated. He killed every single one of them, save for Thor.
Korvac’s end came by his own hands when Thor killed his lover Carina. This made Korvac realize the error of his ways, leading him to take his own life in order to resurrect all the fallen heroes from the dead.
4 Kang the Conqueror
The next entry wears his nickname well, as he defeated the Avengers and actually conquered the Earth. The time-traveling Kang is a relentless genius with no actual superpowers. Instead, his intellect and access to futuristic technology make him a force to be reckoned with.
Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have engaged Kang in many epic battles, always coming out victorious and repelling his invasions. This was true until the "Kang’s Dynasty" storyline, in which Kang invaded the planet, took down the world’s greatest armies and took over the Earth. Many Avengers were captured and held in prisons. Others worked as freedom fighters to try and fight back against Kang’s evil empire. The Conqueror's fall came at the hands of the mysterious villain Master of the World, whose alien technology led the Avengers in supressing Kang’s forces.
Kang the Conqueror is a complicated villain because of his code of honour. He’s helped the Avengers – reluctantly – almost as many times as he’s tried to defeat them. At the end of the day, he’s one of the greatest Avengers villains because he did the unthinkable and defeated the Avengers.
The Mad Titan is arguably the strongest supervillain the Avengers have ever encountered. He obliterates half the universe to draw attention to the one being he lusts for: Mistress Death, the physical embodiment of death itself.
Thanos is a hulking mutant behemoth with immense physical strength and amazing psychic powers. When paired with the Infinity Gauntlet and its six gems, he is the strongest being alive. He sought to destroy all life in the universe to impress his non-reciprocating lover. This is the story of the "Infinity Saga", one of the most important and epic comic book storylines.
He killed the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. All of the Avengers were decimated, including Captain America. It was his own hubris that led to his downfall, as Adam Warlock undid all the chaos and death Thanos left in his wake.
Following the new Avengers movie, Phase 3 is building up to a two-part, big screen adaptation of the "Infinity Saga" storyline in Avengers: The Infinity War. Here’s hoping they can do the Mad Titan justice.
There is only one goal: eliminate humanity and let cold metal reign supreme. Such is the word of Ultron.
The mad invention of Han Pym in the comics and Tony Stark in the movies, this metallic being and his legion of robots possess one of the highest kill counts in comic book history. Designed to be an AI peacekeeping program, Ultron rebelled against his creator and vowed to bring about the end of humanity.
He’s battled against multiple incarnations of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, striking terror into humans and super humans alike with his horrifying and twisted visage. Capable of doing unimaginable damage, Ultron is always able to bring himself back from extinction: he’s an unstoppable foe with bountiful intelligence and the ability to self-repair and propagate. Catch him in theaters soon!
Who else could be number one besides the very same villain whose devious actions led to the formation of the Avengers, both in the comics and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
The God of Mischief and adopted brother of Thor, Loki is a masterful super villain who prefers to use his cunning and tricks over his fists. He’s been a thorn in the Avengers side from the very beginning, ever since he messed with the Hulk’s mind, putting him under a spell in order to fight Thor. This caught the attention of many-a super heroes and caused the Avengers to form. In the movies, his attack on the Earth with the Chitauri army led to the Avengers assembling to defeat their Asgardian foe.
Although his sad backstory of an adopted child playing second fiddle to the golden boy may lend him some sympathy, that doesn’t take away from his status as the greatest Avenger villain. Instead, this dichotomy in his relationship with the Avengers – in particular his brother Thor – makes him that much more memorable as fans can almost hear themselves rooting for him. If that doesn’t deserve the top spot on the list, nothing does!