Since the first Iron Man movie hit the big screen in 2008 there has been a big surge in the popularity of superheroes, especially Marvel. This list will look at the top 10 villains and heroes counting down to the best of both. Before jumping into the list just know that this list is subjective and you might see it differently. There are also going to be some spoilers so read at your own risk! Please let me know in the comments who your top 10 list would be.
Let’s start with the villains:
Thanos made his first appearance in The Invincible Ironman #55. He is one of the most powerful villains in the Marvel universe and has clashed with heroes such as The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Fantastic Four, and X-Men. He is a genius-level tactician with superhuman speed, strength, stamina, durability and longevity. He is the penultimate villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and comes in at number 10 on this list because he killed Tony Stark and will never be forgiven for that.
Hela is the Asgardian goddess of death and is based on the Norse goddess Hel. As the ruler of Hel and Niflheim, Hela is a main frequent foe of Thor. Her first appearance is in Journey into Mystery #102. Her powers include necromancy, black magic, superhuman strength, stamina and durability. In Thor: Ragnarök Thor and Loki find out they have a long-lost sister, who is also the goddess of death, that they don’t know about because Odin erased her from Asgards history. She destroys Thor’s hammer quite easily, which gave her the number nine spot on this list.
Magneto is a villain that is most commonly associated with the X-men. His first appearance is in The X-Men #1. He is a mutant- which is a fictional subspecies of humans born with superhuman abilities – that can control and generate magnetic fields. He also has a helmet that protects him from telepathic attacks. Magneto cannot be considered a full villain though as he is friends with Professor X and has often teamed up with him and the X-Men to help stop a bigger adversary. His back story also adds another level to Magneto that makes it impossible to dislike him fully.
Galactus is a formally mortal man who is now a cosmic entity who originally consumed planets to sustain his life force. He appears first in Fantastic Four #48. In his first depiction, he appears as a god who feeds by draining living planets of their energy and operates without regard to the mortality and judgment of human beings. He is the first and oldest living entity in the universe and has powers that are referred to as Power Cosmic which includes cosmic awareness, telepathy, telekinesis, creation of life, manipulating souls and a whole host more. Which probably makes him one of the most overpowered villains in the Marvel universe.
6-Adrian Toomes (Vulture)
Adrian Toomes makes this list because of the back story behind it. This is a villain that you feel empathy for. He appears first in The Amazing Spider-Man #2. His abilities include being a genius electrical engineer which he made an electromagnetic tailored body-harness that grants flight and enhances physical attributes. Of course, he has a bigger back story in the comics but many might know him from Spider-Man: Homecoming movie where he was laid off because of Tony Stark and felt like he and his men were done out of their jobs. As far as villains go, he is not the worst as he has redeeming qualities, such as not giving up Spider-Man’s identity.
The creation of Ultron differs in the comics and the movie adaptation. In Avengers: Age of Ultron it was a combination of Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and Thor that created Ultron but in the comics, it was Hank Pym. His first appearance was in The Avengers #54. He is an Artificial Intelligence with genius-level intellect and while his abilities depend on the robotic body he harbours, it generally includes flight, energy blasts, and superhuman strength. Ultron’s goal to destroy humanity brings him up against the Avengers who manage to beat him each time. While he is a villain his hilarious one-liners in the movie are partially why he made it to this list.
Venom is a villain that is commonly associated with Spider-man. He is a sentient alien symbiote with a liquid-like form, who survives by bonding with his host, usually a human. His first appearance is in The Amazing Spider-Man #300. While he is a Marvel villain he is also a bit of an anti-hero working both with and against superheroes. He is one of Spider-Man’s most enduring villains; he quickly established himself as Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis, with many regarding him as a dark reflection of spider-man. He is shown as the hero in his 2018 cinematic debut of Venom. A fun fact about him is that he is undetectable by Spider-Man’s ‘Spider-senses’.
3- Eric Killmonger
Eric Killmonger is one of the primary villains of Black Panther and his first appearance is in Jungle Action Vol.2. His back story in the comic and the Black Panther movie is the same with his hatred for the king T’Chaka and then T’Challa, fuelling his need to avenge his father who was murdered. He is one of the best villains because the cause he is fighting for is one that resonates with a lot of people. It is more than just him being evil. It shows his backstory in such a stark way that you honestly feel for him. Which is why he gets into the top three on this list.
2- Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes)
James Buchanan Barnes’s first appearance is in Captain America Comic #1 and is originally introduced as a sidekick to Captain America. He gains his villain status when he returns as the brainwashed assassin Winter Soldier. As the Winter Soldier, his abilities superhuman strength enhanced reaction time and energy projection. He is the main villain in Captain America: Winter Soldier and is a villain you just can’t hate when you know his backstory and history with Steve Rogers.
He has one of the most interesting ARC’s as he goes from hero to villain to vagabond- and he is without a doubt at the core of Captain America’s evolution
Loki’s first appearance is in Journey into Mystery #85 and is based on the Norse deity of the same name, also known as ‘The God of Mischief.” He is the adopted sibling of Thor and is portrayed as both a supervillain and anti-hero. While he is most often depicted as male, there have been occasions where he is genderfluid. The most popular depiction of Loki is in the MCU. Tom Hiddleston portrays him in the movies and it is why many love him so much. There is also the fact that regardless of whether he is a supervillain or not, he truly loves his brother and would do anything to save him. Loki has more emotional depth than any other villain so it is easy to see why he would be in first place on this list.
Now onto the top 10 heroes, again, this list is subjective so not everyone will agree with it!
Storms first appearance is in Giant-size X-Men #1. She is a descendent from a long line of African Witch-priestesses and is a member of the subspecies of human known as mutants. She can control the weather and atmosphere and is considered one of the most powerful mutants on the planet. She is the heart and soul of the X-Men and is the one that keeps the team together through all their ups and downs. It is also interesting to note that she was the Queen of Wakanda which might make her one of the most important female heroes in the Marvel universe.
Unlike the Avengers who fight against threats such as Thanos, Daredevil is more interested in saving people from criminals that are seeking to hurt or destroy their everyday lives. He first appears in Daredevil #1. Left blind from an accident as a child, Matt Murdock was also left with superhuman abilities such as superhuman senses, echo locative radar sense as well as being a skilled acrobat, martial artist, and stick fighter. Being one of the first heroes with a disability he represents people in society that are not often represented. It is for that reason he’s number nine on this list.
Thor’s first appearance is in Journey into Mystery #83 and was based on the Norse deity of the same name. He possesses an enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, which grants him the ability to fly and manipulate the weather along with having other superhuman abilities. Thor has been essential to a lot of the bigger storylines. His character undergoes an extreme change when he is unable to lift Mjolnir and when he loses his arm in battle. Throughout it all though, his core remains the same.
Hawkeyes first appearance is in Tales of Suspense #57 where he appears as a villain. It isn’t until later that he joins the Avengers. He decided to become a hero after seeing Iron Man in action but after a misunderstanding within his first outing, he is accused of theft and believed to be a criminal.
While many joke that it is pointless that he is part of the Avengers, Hawkeye plays an important role as he is a regular guy that is surrounded by powered people. He never loses sight of the fact that they are meant to be helping out the little people which is why he makes it into this top 10.
6- Black Panther
Black Panther makes his debut in Fantastic Four #52. He is the king and protector of the African nation, Wakanda. Along with possessing enhanced abilities T’Challa also relies on his proficiency in science, rigorous physical training, hand-to-hand combat skills, and access to wealth and advanced Wakandan technology to combat his enemies. He is the first hero of African descent to play a superhero which makes him an important character in the Marvel universe. The success of the Black Panther movie has put more of an emphasis on this character that everyone has grown to love.
Throughout the years Natasha Romanoff has always been mostly a sidekick character but each time she is mentioned it leaves fans wanting to know about her and her backstory rather than the main hero in the comic. Her first appearance is in Tales of Suspense #52. Although as a spy she often takes on an alias, she is very upfront about who she is. With Natasha, what you see is what you get. It adds a layer of intrigue to a character with so many identities being so comfortable in their own skin.
Doctor Strange is the name of several comic book titles featuring Doctor Stephen Strange. He is a powerful sorcerer and master of the mystic arts. He is considered quite arrogant and defends earth from outside threats from the New York Sanctum even though he remains aloof to the New York superhero community. It is the movie Doctor Strange from 2016 that catapulted this character into fame as his personality seemed to be very Tony Stark-esque. There is no doubt that he can be considered one of the more powerful heroes on this list.
What makes Captain America so great is that he chose to become enhanced to help others. He has an ethical code and a sense of patriotism that always leads him to do what is right instead of what is easy. He first appeared in Captain America #1. There is no denying he has made mistakes (like when he chose Bucky over Tony) but at his core, he is good and just wants to help as many as possible no matter what the sacrifice which makes him the ultimate example of a hero. His MCU performance might be the most accurate portrayal of a character in the Marvel Universe.
Iron Man made his debut in Tales of Suspense #39. He is a wealthy American business magnate, playboy, and ingenious scientist. It was Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of Iron Man that catapulted this hero into the stardom. The movie version became so important to the universe that the comic book version also became a bigger deal. Tony Stark is a man that you hate to love as on the surface he is a selfish, millionaire that cares for nothing other than himself but the movies flesh out the character so much that by the time Endgame premiered he was so well-loved that there was not one dry eye in the cinemas. It is for this reason he has the number two spot on this list.
Spider-Man might be the most popular superhero there is. He first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15. Peter Parker is a smart, shy guy from Queens that gets bitten by a radioactive spider which gives him powers. But what makes Spider-Man stand out from the rest of the superheroes on this list? One of the reasons is that he is relatable. As his superhero alias he is quick-witted and funny, he cracks jokes while beating the bad guys and when he teams up with other superheroes the jokes are endless, making him an enjoyable character. Another reason is, his powers are pretty cool. He has super strength, healing, and agility along with enhanced senses and genius intellect which is how he was able to make his web-shooters and webbing.
Probably what draws a lot of people to this character though is his resilience. His life sometimes seems to be one tragedy after another but they have never changed him or stopped him as Spider-Man. One of the biggest tragedies he faces is when he partially caused the love of his life’s death. In trying to save Gwen he accidentally snaps her neck. He responds resiliently to his involvement in her death and acknowledges his limitations and it does not stop him from trying to save others. He never stops being a hero which is why he will always be number one on my list.
You can find these comics online and film versions at Disney+
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