Marvel’s heroes are the company’s major appeal, but the villains are frequently just as good. Marvel has several great villains who have posed challenges to the heroes in ways that have kept their storylines fascinating for decades. Many of these villains have crossed over into other genres and are as well known to mainstream audiences as they are to comic book readers.
Some of these villains have clearly outstayed their welcome over the years. Their greatest days are frequently behind them, yet they are continually repeated because of what they symbolize to the heroes against whom they struggle. However, at this point, they are only stealing the attention from other villains who are more deserving of it.
Carnage is one of Spider-most Man’s deadly enemies, but he has an issue with the Martian Manhunter. Carnage is a strong villain, but his very ordinary weakness, fire, makes him so easy to defeat that fans wonder why Spider-Man has such a difficult time dealing with him. The Wall-Crawler may just summon Human Torch and be finished with it.
Symbiotes are back in vogue at Marvel, but they’re all rather simple to deal with. Carnage lacks the intelligence to be anything more than a low-level bad guy, but he’s usually touted as a huge issue, which is absurd.
Magneto hasn’t been a true villain in a long time, but he’d outgrown it long before he joined the X-Men. Magneto has become more sympathetic over time, and every time he was reintroduced as a villain, it didn’t make sense. While his abilities were powerful, every hero understood how to cope with them, and fans expected more from him than merely being a bad guy.
Magneto’s prime as a villain was before he was a well-written, three-dimensional character in the Silver Age. He makes more sense as a heroic figure, and his previous appearances as a villain were based on a version of the character that no one loved. Everyone moans whenever he turns bad.
Kang: The Conqueror
Kang the Conqueror is a fantastic villain in many respects, but he’s rarely employed effectively, which is the issue. Kang and his multiple personas have been wreaking havoc on Marvel’s chronology for a long time, but it’s difficult to find anything he’s done that has lasted. He’s never murdered any heroes, and all of his plots have been successfully thwarted.
Kang has the reputation of being one of the Avengers’ most memorable villains, yet far too many people dismiss him as a time-traveling Doctor Doom. While there have been some fantastic Kang stories, they are considerably fewer and farther between than most people realize.
Thanos has a well-deserved reputation as one of Marvel’s greatest antagonists. However, since the beginning of his MCU counterpart, Marvel has used him much too frequently, watering down the character. While there is plenty to admire in the villain, most of his recent appearances have been as the all-powerful world-beating evil, sacrificing all of the complexity creator Jim Starlin invested in the character.
His latest performance in Eternals is his greatest in years, but Marvel has gone to the Thanos well so frequently without it really mattering that a lot of fans don’t really care anymore. Thanos is a fantastic character, but if you only read his stories from the last decade, you’d never know.
Galactus is one of the most powerful cosmic entities, but he hasn’t done anything noteworthy in so long that it’s easy to forget how iconic he is. Galactus’ finest story is still his first, with “The Trial Of Galactus” from the John Byrne Fantastic Four years coming in a close second. Aside from that, he’s more of a boogeyman, a terrifying monster who never accomplishes anything to earn his reputation.
As Marvel moved away from the kinds of cosmic stories that Galactus made sense in, the character’s popularity plummeted. In a long time, he hasn’t earned his title as the supreme cosmic predator.