Superman is one of the most iconic superheroes ever created. DC’s Man of Steel helped to create the archetype of a superhero, a modern incarnation of the ancient hero myth, and establish its popularity in the world of American comic books. Superman is also famous for being one of the most overpowered heroes, able to defeat some of the most powerful villains, or sometimes heroes, in the DC Universe. He is most famously pitted against Batman, clashing with the Dark Knight in some of the most famous fights in comic book history, and on the big screen in Batman v Superman earlier this year.
Drawing the majority of his powers from earth’s yellow sun, the Kryptonian hero’s powers of near-invincibility, heat and x-ray vision, flight, super strength, super speed, ice breath, and many others are well-known. The key to fighting the seemingly invulnerable Superman lies in exploiting his weaknesses, which are not limited to Kryptonite. There’s also psychic/telekinetic powers, high-pitched targeted sound, luring or transporting him to a solar system with a red sun, and perhaps most prominent of all, magic. We’ve seen Superman take on some of DC’s most powerful villains, from Lex Luthor to Darkseid. But what about villains from the Marvel Universe?
To be able to defeat Superman in one-on-one combat may seem like a tall order, but there are more than a few villains and heroes in the Marvel Universe that could fit the bill. With that, here are 12 supervillains from the Marvel Universe that we think have a shot at taking down the Man of Steel.
Amora, or Enchantress, is one of the most powerful users of magic in the Marvel Universe and one of Thor’s greatest enemies. She is an immortal Asgardian extremely skilled and experienced in the use of sorcery, and possesses vast energy projection abilities, including the power to manipulate ambient magical energy into bolts and shields, and cast conjuration, illusion, transmutation, sleep induction, and time-disruption spells.
While Superman’s super speed would be a problem for Enchantress, she could just as easily create a magical shield around herself, curse him, or use her interdimensional travel and teleportation. Superman would be especially vulnerable to her ability to cast mind-shattering illusions. She can also match the Man of Steel in flight with her powers of levitation.
Though she does have some combat feats to her name, Enchantress’s main advantage would be her trademark mind manipulation - she was once able to exert such strong psychic influence over a city that they turned against the Avengers. Even assuming Superman may be immune to her powers of seduction (unless she manages to land one of her magical kisses on him), her proven prowess in mind control and telepathy would be more than enough to pose a challenge to the Justice League’s most prominent member.
11 Silver Surfer
The Silver Surfer is often compared to Superman in terms of strength and endurance, but though he may be physically weaker than the iconic hero, Surfer possesses several powers that would give him an advantage in battle. To start, Silver Surfer wields the Power Cosmic granted to him by the god-like entity Galactus. Though it’s only a fraction of the amount Galactus has and the exact abilities this gives him vary, he has been shown channeling energy through his hands as a violent concussive force powerful enough to destroy a planet or create black holes.
Like the Man of Steel, Surfer also has super senses able to sense objects light years away; he would be able to see Superman coming. He can travel faster than the speed of light, a feat which not even Superman is able to perform, and even travel through time. Surfer can use the black holes he creates to amplify his Power Cosmic with as-yet-unknown upper limits.
One big advantage Silver Surfer would have against Superman is his speed: he thinks, moves and reacts within nano-seconds. He has also been shown to take a punch from the Hulk standing and can survive the depths of space, travel between dimensions, and phase through solid matter. Overall, the Silver Surfer could prove Superman’s equal or perhaps even superior if it came to a fight.
10 Dark Phoenix
Jean Grey’s assumption of the power of the Phoenix Force made her the strongest mutant in the X-men series up until that point, but her corruption and fall from grace made her all the more powerful, with psychic powers and telekinesis far beyond the limits of any other mutant. Dark Phoenix doesn’t have super strength in the same way as Superman but using her powers she is able to lift an indeterminate amount of weight (probably in the thousands of tons).
After being exposed to what should have been lethal amounts of radiation, Jean Grey emerged as “Phoenix,” a physical manifestation of the cosmic Phoenix Force. Following her corruption, Dark Phoenix devoured the energy of the D’Bari star, causing a supernova and wiping out an entire alien civilization. A council of intergalactic powers, including the Kree and the Skrull, concluded that Dark Phoenix was a more serious threat than even Galactus.
Though some fans may argue over the retconned storyline and whether or not Dark Phoenix is actually Jean Grey or a copy made by the Phoenix Force itself, one thing is for sure: Dark Phoenix vs the Man of Steel would be a fight to see.
These days when most people think of Loki, they think of his Marvel Cinematic Universe counterpart masterfully played by Tom Hiddleston. But while Loki may be the most memorable villain in the MCU, his original comic book incarnation is worlds ahead in the power department.
Loki was worshiped as a god and thought to be mythological by most mortals. In terms of superhuman strength, Superman has a decisive edge over Loki, but there’s a question if the fight would even get to that stage. Superman is sometimes called the Big Blue Boy Scout because of his strict moral code, whereas Loki is quite literally a trickster god. Superman will doubtlessly choose the moral high road, while Loki is a master manipulator and strategist who will fight dirty, using illusion, hypnosis, and manipulation to subdue Supes at every turn.
Loki’s ability to resist almost all forms of conventional injury, including the ability to reattach severed body parts, would enable him to resist most of Superman’s attacks. Loki’s magical prowess would also be a tough fight for the Man of Steel. All of these factors combined would make Loki a worthy opponent for Superman.
When it comes to Marvel villains, few have had such a successful career as the iconic Ultron. The artificial intelligence has a genius-level intellect it obtained from its creator Dr. Hank Pym, also known as Ant-Man of the Avengers. He was recently made a household name by James Spader in the film The Avengers: Age of Ultron, but his original comic book incarnation was a force to be reckoned with. In both versions, Ultron upgraded himself several times before attacking the members of the Avengers and plotting the extinction of humanity.
Ultron is notoriously hard to kill, especially when the outer shell of his upgraded form is made out of the indestructible alloy Adamantium. His speed and strength may not be on par with Superman, but he has the power of flight and energy blasts, and as a machine, with Adamantium armor his durability and his endurance are virtually unlimited. Ultron’s intelligence is constantly evolving and would allow him to easily out-maneuver Superman. His ability to control technology remotely and upload himself into new forms when destroyed would also give the Kryptonian a run for his money.
Born in ancient Aqaba five thousand years before the X-men, Apocalypse was the first being on Earth to possess the mutant X-gene. Since then, he has walked the earth being worshiped as a deity by many civilizations, and the immortal mutant has earned a reputation as not only one of the strongest mutants to ever live but one of the most powerful villains in the entire Marvel Universe.
Apocalypse arguably has more superhuman abilities than any other mutant, further augmented by merging with Celestial technology. He has complete control over the molecules of his body, enabling to shape-shift into any form he likes, regenerate from fatal injury rapidly, enhance his size and physical strength, and even transform his limbs into weapons. He is immune to disease and can withstand even the most hostile environments. Apocalypse can give himself almost any superpower and has shown to have telepathy and telekinesis.
In battle, Superman’s blows would likely cause Apocalypse to reform his molecules, making the fight seemingly endless. Aside from these powers and his immortality and scientific genius, the dreaded enemy of the X-men would be able to give Superman a serious beat-down.
Supes vs Mags - a showdown of two characters with the most versatile powers in their respective universes. The Alpha-mutant Magneto has stopped armies, moved mountains, raised whole islands from the ocean, and manipulated the magnetic fields of entire planets. Magneto is not a match for Superman’s strength or speed, and in a direct brawl, would stand no chance. But Mags has many different possible routes to win due to his magnetokinesis.
Magneto is able to construct complex machinery or armor in seconds, and he would have a chance against Superman, especially if he reinforced the metallic fibers of his armor with magnetic fields, which gives it durability approaching that of Adamantium. Magneto is capable of protecting himself with an electromagnetic field that has withstood the impact of multiple nuclear weapons and withstood blows from the Avengers and the X-Men.
Magneto would also have a huge advantage if he was able to affect Superman’s Bio-Electric Aura, which would let him stretch it or destroy it, taking away Superman’s invulnerability. Combine this with say, a high-density metal projectile to the chest, and Magneto would have a chance at victory. Overall, facing Magneto as the “Man of Steel” seems like a bad idea (sorry, we had to).
Ah yes, we’ve finally arrived at the Devourer of Worlds himself. The sole survivor of a universe that existed before the big bang, Galactus spends his time traversing the stars maintaining his existence by eating planets that sustain life. Of course, to include him on this list is something of a stretch; Galactus is not really a villain, but more like a force of nature that heroes in the Marvel Universe periodically have to endure, like a hurricane or an earthquake.
Galactus wields the Power Cosmic, which essentially makes him an alien god. He can use it have nearly any effect he wishes, including restructuring molecules, transmuting matter, altering his size, teleportation across space, creating force fields, opening interdimensional portals, universal cosmic awareness, the manipulation of memories and emotions, and even creating life and resurrecting the dead. He has performed such feats as recreating devoured worlds down to every detail, transported entire galaxies, and defeated other cosmic entities. Galactus easily overpowered the Fantastic Four on multiple occasions.
Most likely the near-omnipotent Galactus could warp reality to his advantage. Creating a planetoid made of Kryptonite or destroying Earth’s sun are both distinct possibilities. With his enormous size and strength and powerful telepathy, Galactus would be more than a match for Superman.
Often considered the most powerful Marvel Universe supervillain, Thanos has slain more cosmic beings in his quest for the Infinity Stones than we can count. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is clearly setting him up as the ultimate baddie, and it’s easy to see why: the Mad Titan’s mission is to gather the Infinity Stones to place them in the Infinity Gauntlet and obtain ultimate power, solely for the purpose of eliminating all life in the universe. And all this because he is infatuated with Mistress Death. When he obtained the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos literally snapped his fingers and blinked half of all sentient life in the universe out of existence just to try to impress her.
However, Thanos likely doesn’t need the Infinity Gauntlet to defeat Superman - his baseline power is already enough to make him a worthy opponent. As the strongest and most powerful Titan Eternal, Thanos’s strength is unmatched in the Marvel Universe. Thanos was able to easily repel attacks by the Silver Surfer, the Hulk, and even a Power Gem-wielding Thor. Thanos can shatter whole planets with the force of his blows, and can enhance himself with cosmic energy when needed. His durability is such that he is practically invulnerable.
In a fight with Superman, Thanos would be more than a match. Perhaps the most dangerous thing about Thanos is his mind - he is a master strategist and scientific genius, a magic user, telepathic, immortal, and a matter manipulator, all of which give him a big advantage in a fight against the Man of Steel.
The Beyonder is unique within the Marvel Universe, in that he himself is a universe. You heard that right. The immensely powerful interdimensional entity is no mere mutant or alien deity, but is himself an entire universe known as the “Beyond-Realm” in human form. As such, he is virtually omnipotent. Within his own realm the Beyonder was all of reality and upon discovering the multiverse, was surprised to see that beings in our universe were small parts of a greater whole.
The Beyonder was able to kidnap the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe and make them fight to the death for his amusement, as well as effortlessly change, kill, and resurrect being at will. The Beyonder is also omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Superman may be powerful, but it’s hard to go up against what is, in essence, a god. It may seem unfair to pit Supes against someone like him. However, the Beyonder is also not invincible. He is still naive to the functioning of many other universes besides his own, not to mention that he has had some of his god-like powers stolen by more enterprising minds, such as the number one slot on our list.
Sentry is an outstandingly powerful being. Often called the Superman of the Marvel Universe, he even wears an ‘S’ symbol on his belt. He is said to have the power of one million exploding suns. Sentry gained his powers from a special version of the Super-Soldier Serum with its effects magnified a hundred thousand times over, creating a phase-shift in his molecules, causing him to be out of sync with reality and resulting in a transcendent state of consciousness. Most of his powers seem to come from his ability to manipulate matter and energy, which means he could theoretically simulate almost any superpower.
Sentry brings new meaning to the term “overpowered." At his peak, the press referred to Sentry as “the Golden Guardian,” saving hundreds of lives on a daily basis. S.H.I.E.L.D. intel rated him as Power Level 10+ and Mr. Fantastic classed him as an Omega-Level Threat. He is both faster and stronger than Superman, moving at several times the speed of light and being able to lift a Celestial. He defeated Galactus and the Hulk with relative ease. His energy blasts can destroy planets. He also easily defeated Thor and reduced Asgard to rubble. His telepathic abilities surpass that of Professor Xavier, the strongest telepath on Earth. Iron Man’s scanners concluded he has no physical weaknesses in his body. His senses are even more powerful than Superman’s - he can hear the heartbeat of a butterfly in Africa while in New York.
Because of his severe psychological problems and the existence of the Void, a dark and destructive force made of Sentry’s negative aspects that constantly tries to control him, Sentry can be called both a hero and villain. Sentry has been responsible for many deaths in the Marvel Universe. As the Void, he murdered over one million people in Manhattan, decapitated Captain America, ripped Loki, Ares, and Carnage in two, and at one point or another defeated/murdered Molecule Man, Venom, Magneto, Doctor Doom, Ms. Marvel, Namor, and many more. Sentry once tried to kill himself by flying straight into the sun in order to prevent himself from turning into the Void, but guess what...it didn’t work.
Sentry’s feats of extraordinary power are countless. He even appears to be able to bring the dead back to life, including himself. Sentry could definitely take on and defeat the Man of Steel in a fight, and it would be a battle the likes of which has never been seen.
1 Doctor Doom
Doctor Doom is hands down the most dangerous supervillain in the Marvel Universe. Though he has no superpowers to speak of, Victor Von Doom has magical prowess combined with the most powerful scientific mind in the world. As a child, Doom lost his mother to the demon Mephisto and his father to the tyranny of King Vladimir of Latveria. By the time he was a teenager, he was a scientific genius and skilled in sorcery. After the famous laboratory accident which caused his disfigurement, he conquered Latveria and became its new monarch, establishing a society where no citizen wants for anything and he is absolute ruler.
Doom’s most powerful weapon is his intellect, which is unparalleled in the comic book world. His more impressive feats include inventing a working time machine, curing Ben Grimm of his condition as the Thing when even Richards could not, and constructing an army of Doombots imbued with his personality with such advanced A.I. that each believes himself to be the real Doom. The Good Doctor was even able to steal the powers of both the Beyonder and the Silver Surfer, becoming virtually omnipotent both times. He has a will so strong even the Purple Man couldn’t control his mind, and he was able to beat Daredevil in hand-to-hand combat.
Doom has virtually unlimited funds and resources as the head of a sovereign country. He is also a master tactician, and would no doubt be using all of these considerable resources to gather intelligence on the Man of Steel. Even putting aside the possibility that Doom could synthesize and weaponize Kryptonite, his magical powers are on par with Dr. Strange, and Superman would be very vulnerable to Doom’s particular combination of technological and magical attacks. He may even be able to invent a machine to steal Superman’s powers for himself.
The most brilliant and villainous figure in the Marvel Universe would be a match for Superman any day, if only because his endless cunning makes it seemingly impossible for Doom to lose.