In publication since 1939, Marvel comics (originally called Timely) has seen its ups and downs, from the wartime boom to the peacetime bust to the oddities of Silver Age and beyond. The secret to their success was to create characters that had flaws. Tony Stark had a heart issue that could kill him, Peter Parker was an isolated teenager, Matt Murdock was blind, Thor had daddy issues up the wazoo, the list goes on. This gave them a grounding in reality, and made them easier to identify with.
On the flipside, many of the villains had some positive characteristics. For instance, one of Spider-Man’s deadliest foes, Norman Osborn, truly loved his son Harry, something that has gotten glossed over in recent years. Many others were wrongly put upon by outside forces or their employers. Again, this made them easier to identify with and drew parallels with the heroes. And some were Nazi war criminals out to get the progressives. And there’s nothing wrong with beating up Nazis; sometimes you just need a villain, deadlines are looming and Nazi war criminals are easy targets.
And then you have the mistakes. The gag characters who inexplicably keep coming back, the one-off’s who never appeared again, the outdated attempts at jumping on the bandwagon of the time, those weird “hip with the kids, yo” stories that should never have seen the light of day. Over the course of most of a century, they’re going to happen and they don’t detract from the overall quality of the comics produced.
So here are the 15 weakest villains Marvel has ever produced.
No matter who you are, or how much rhythm you have or don’t have, there’s always one song that gets you up on the dance floor. It doesn't matter how many cameras are recording or how much your friends and loved ones beg you not to.
Antoine Desloin, AKA the Hypno-Hustler, has weaponized that feeling. With just his guitar, he can mesmerise listeners, and with his back-up band the Mercy Killers he can hypnotise massive crowds to do his bidding. In an alternate future, he was able to take control of a small army of riot police with nothing more than a boom box.
He’s basically that one guy at every party. You know the one.
Manuel Eleganto was once one of the finest matadors in Spain, beloved by women and envied by men, until his needless cruelty in the ring caused a riot. During his recovery in hospital, he vowed revenge on all mankind for stopping him from killing bulls.
His revenge involved moving to New York to pick a fight with Daredevil, who has never, ever, done anything to him, the great nation of Spain, or the ancient art of bullfighting. Predictably, he lost, since ninja skills trump waving a cape around. He can currently be found palling around with similar villains Man-Bull, Toro Rojo and Minotaur.
It’s been said white men can’t jump. Any of the THREE Stilt-Men would argue you don’t need to jump when you can dunk.
Driven by the dream of manlets the world over, Wilbur Day created a suit of power armour that included telescoping legs. He survived almost entirely because most heroes were afraid of knocking him off balance and killing him. The Punisher had no such qualms and blew him away. Some of his other adventures include the time he got mugged and lost his armour, or that one time his plan to attack the Avengers was foiled by construction workers. Later Stilt-Men followed his proud tradition of failure.
His wife is hot, though.
12 Asbestos Man
Ah, the sixties. When love was free, hair was unusual and asbestos was both plentiful and healthy. Doctors would recommend children with sinus issues take deep lungfuls of it, probably.
So of course it was used by everyone with a cape and a chip on their shoulder. Martian Manhunter once used asbestos paint to defeat a villain. Orson Kasloff took it a step further and made a suit of asbestos to menace the citizens of New York after his first attempt at crime neglected to factor in burglar alarms.
After his first appearance, he disappeared for about fifty years before returning as a cancer survivor wheeling around an oxygen tank in a desperate attempt to be taken seriously.
Being a mutant is rough. Hated and feared by the world at large, with government sanctioned kill-bots constantly prowling for you, at best you join a secretive paramilitary team or at worst you die in an off-panel massacre. And that’s without thinking about the powers you might get. You could pull a Wolverine and get functional immortality, or you might pull an Eye-Scream and get the uncanny ability to turn into any flavour of ice-cream.
31 flavours, and they all taste like failure.
In his sole appearance, he was turned into a sundae and given to Kitty Pryde as a birthday present.
10 Turner D. Century
When his parents died in a car wreck, young Clifford F. Michaels was adopted by Morgan McNeil Hardy, and raised to idolise the good old days, when men were men, women were wives, and the working class knew their place was comfortably underneath the boot-heel of their societal betters.
His plans mostly involved destroying the liberal stronghold of San Francisco, deep in the heart of Commiefornia and the root of all the world’s ills. He used a flying tandem bike, a flamethrower umbrella and an impeccable moustache to eliminate the backsliders and compromisers of the modern world before he got gunned down in a bar brawl.
9 White Rabbit
Have you ever read Alice in Wonderland? It’s a weird book, weird in ways the movie doesn’t really capture. Lorina Dodson read it, obsessively, ultimately dedicating her life to Lewis Carroll-themed supervillany. When she was 25, her 82-year-old husband “died happy,” leaving her an enormous fortune which she splurged on genetically modified bunnies, giant rabbit robots and rocket boots.
Her usual M.O. is either animal-themed robberies or just stealing shiny things that caught her attention. Despite her impressive arsenal and high intelligence, her obvious mental issues and incredibly poor judgement means she’ll forever be a Z-lister.
Originally operating as Paste-Pot Pete, Peter Petruski was a traitor who started his career trying to sell state secrets to the Soviets. He later used his glue gun and chemistry skills to battle almost every street-level hero, including Daredevil, Spider-Man and Luke Cage, but spends a lot of his time messing with the Fantastic Four as a member of the Frightful Four.
He is the first villain to ever be defeated by an empty building, when an attempt at raiding the abandoned Baxter Building ended with a robot receptionist trouncing him and kicking him out. He is probably best known for framing Spider-Man for the murder of Joey Z, a small-time hood.
7 The Slug
Imagine a morbidly obese, drug dealing Bill Clinton. That’s The Slug.
Ulysses Lugman’s failures as a Clinton impersonator probably inspired him to turn to drug dealing. He’s just a regular mobster, but is so fat he occasionally suffocates his subordinates in his folds as punishment, he gets around on a rascal scooter, and can barely move under his own power.
He’s a big guy, is what I’m saying.
He’s mostly an errand boy for other criminals, notably the Kingpin and The Hood. He has recently fallen on hard times, and now makes his living selling seedy footage of superheroes to gossip sites.
Simple cabbie Hubert Carpenter’s uncle was known to dabble in mad science. Deciding Hubert was wasting his potential, they did some experiments together, giving Hubert the proportionate strength, speed and agility of a walrus.
He uses these powers to steal stuff, because really, what else can you do with that? Do you know how difficult it is to make it in Seaworld? Those walruses are almost anorexic, you know.
He made his debut fighting Frog-Man, and recently managed to get some impressive superpowers when a prank involving a magic hammer went horribly wrong (or right, depending on your perspective).
5 Critical Mass
Marvel really hates fat people. They really do.
Arnie Gunderson was a classmate of Peter Parker (known to some as Spider-Man) who at some point developed the mutant power to blow stuff up. At least he can actually do something, unlike 90% of other fat characters, so that’s something.
He formed his own supervillain team, the Band of Baddies, kidnapped a kid and got beat up by both Spider-Man and Wolverine, before getting exploded by the kid he had previously kidnapped. He and half of his Band never appeared in anything again, and that’s all there is to say. He was a fat dude who could blow stuff up and got blow up himself by a kid. Riveting.
4 Egg Head
When he was caught trying to sell State atomic rocketry secrets on the open market, Dr Elihas Starr was named “Egghead” by the papers while awaiting trial. A mob boss offered to bust him out, if he could defeat Ant-Man somehow. He’s a scientific genius in varied fields, including biology, robotics, and nuclear physics. Clearly he’s going to bring some serious braincells to the table.
He tried to bribe ants. That was his brilliant plan. To fight the guy whose whole thing is talking to ants.
He later tried to convince Ant-Man that Spider-Man was trying to kill him, a plan that fell apart as soon as someone asked if Spidey was trying to kill him. He later died when his gun got gummed up by Hawkeye and exploded.
3 Pink Pearl
Yet another fat character (seriously, Marvel, what the hell?) Pearl Gross covers up her international terror attacks by posing as a member of a travelling freakshow.
Her first appearance featured a plot to frame Quebec for the assassination of the US president and Canadian prime minister. She later went straight, opening a male strip club, which was later destroyed in a superbattle when some superheroes were attending a bachelorette party. She then reverted to crime, joining the Femizons, a feminist supervillain team, to create a world where women rule.
She doesn’t appear to have any powers, but is so fat she once got stabbed in the chest without major injury.
Okay, let’s start at the beginning with this guy…
When Jean Grey gave birth to Cyclops’s child, the baby was exposed to a virus that had no cure in the present day. The child (Nathaniel) was sent to the future, where a cure allegedly existed. When he reached the future, his odds of survival were low, so he was cloned, just in case. Hilarity ensued when the clone was kidnapped by Apocalypse, immortal enemy of the X-Men, who raised the child as his own son and heir, thinking he was the “real” son of the Grey-Summers line. The two children grew up mortal enemies, despite their genetic duality.
Stryfe grew up spoiled and cruel, unleashed a bad AIDS metaphor and just confused the hell out of everyone until he died pointlessly in a huge explosion. He’s remembered mostly as one of the more confusing X-characters, which is saying something.
1 Lady Stilt-Man
You may remember I mentioned the Stilt-Men earlier - if not you should probably go see a doctor. Somehow, someone at Marvel thought a Lady version would be a good shake up, but decided to still call her Man. She later dropped the Lady, just calling herself Stilt-Man in homage to the original. Which raises some awkward questions.
She spends most of her time getting her head kicked in by superheroes, once getting defeated by the cunning removal of a manhole cover. She spent about ten minutes working with Misty Knight’s Heroes for Hire before defecting to the aptly-named Villains for Hire.
Someone up there must like her, because she keeps getting shoved out there.