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IGN's top 100 villains
What do you think?
99. Fin Fang Foom
98. Mastermind (Jason Wyngarde)
97. Violator (Spawn)
95. Omega Red
93. Omni Man
91. The Adversary
88. Hunter Rose
86. The Governor
84. Doctor Light
83. Grigori Rasputin
82. Doctor Sivana
79. Mirror Master
78. Lady Deathstrike
76. Mister Mxyptlk
74. Saint of Killers
71. Thunderbolt Ross
70. William Stryker
67. Mr. Freeze
66. Herr Starr
65. Kang the Conqueror
64. Poison Ivy
63. The Leader
60. Amanda Waller
55. Sebastian Shaw
53. Kraven the Hunter
50. Cassandra Nova
45. Harley Quinn
42. Talia Al Ghul
40. Baron Zemo II
36. Vandal Savage
35. Gorilla Grodd
33. Cyborg Superman
31. Professor Zoom
30. General Zod
28. Doctor Octopus
27. Captain Cold
26. Kid Miracleman
16. Black Adam
14. Red Skull
13. Norman Osborn
Wilson Fisk has no powers. He has no immense global influence when compared to some of his rivals on this list. He barely ranks as a blip on the radar of some of the most powerful heroes. But the Kingpin of Crime is in many ways indicative of what makes Marvel characters so appealing. He's grounded. He's realistic. Most of all, in some ways, you can understand what made this man and what drives him to this day.
Fisk grew up poor and picked on. He never seemed the type to rise through the ranks of any organization let along the criminal underworld. Yet rise he did, eventually lording over New York City with an iron fist, using assassins like Elektra and Bullseye with ruthless efficiency. Over the years Fisk has attempted to back out of his dark role in the world, but is continuously dragged back. He's lost multiple families due to his connections and poor dealings over the years, and these tragic events only seek to remind readers that underneath his muscular exterior is the heart of a man who might have been good were it not for the brutal events in his life.
And now, despite first appearing in a Spider-Man comic book, Fisk is the darkness to Daredevil's light. In fact if he's not somehow involved in Matt Murdock's life or superhero antics, we feel like something is missing from his series. You'll see us say it again later on, but that's the truest sign of a brilliant villain, one that has benefited from years and years of excellent storytelling.
Quite honestly, the combined efforts of a half dozen villains on this list aren't likely to surpass what the Dark Phoenix accomplished in a brief moment. While most evildoers scheme and contemplate the destruction of the world, the Phoenix Force, through Jean Grey and in its most savage state, has simply acted and destroyed billions of lives.
As one of the most powerful entities on this list, the Dark Phoenix has immense telepathy and telekinetic abilities, but more importantly control over matter itself. This power level, combined with the classic nature of the original "Phoenix Saga" storyline, has largely prevented Marvel from revisiting the concept, despite teasing it in a limited capacity on numerous occasions through Jean Grey's resurrection or various mini-series that explored the nature of the Phoenix Force itself.
Despite having limited exposure when compared to many of the other villains in the upper ranks of our list, the Dark Phoenix is still one of the most accomplished and legendary. To this day, the Phoenix Saga is regarded as one of the best X-Men stories ever created. That accomplishment alone was a huge factor in our rankings.
The God of Mischief has been around far longer than Marvel Comics, but we can't help but love the incarnation that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby conjured up several decades ago. Since that time, Thor's half-brother has become a pivotal character in comic books, and is actually the villain that caused the creation of the Avengers. If that isn't an important event, we're not sure what is.
Important moments aside, Loki is a character that writers must simply love to write as he's been involved in some fantastic stories, the current run of Thor just being the latest of those. His hatred and jealousy of Thor runs so deep that Loki will stop at nothing, including the corruption and destruction of Asgard itself. Loki has even recently inhabited the body of Sif in order to deny the God of Thunder his love.
Loki has never been more important than he is now. As a member of Norman Osborn's villainous cabal, the Asgardian god is now in a position of influence, one that he is exploiting in numerous ways. Osborn's own agreement with Loki is to return Asgard to the heavens. An alliance with fellow Cabal member Victor Von Doom is yielding new control over Asgard. Manipulation of a sect of Avengers is even proving useful as a way to keep Osborn's personal interests under watch and influence.
There are many master manipulators, but this god has proven he has no equal. Marvel's Dark Reign may prove in the end to be the reign of one wicked Norse god.
Ra's Al Ghul
You'd expect an immortal, international terrorist to want many things, but perfecting the Earth isn't one of them. And yet that's been Ra's Al Ghul's goal during his many lifetimes. He tears down societies to have them rebuilt in a more ideal fashion, bent on crafting his version of a utopia. "The Demon's Head" has spent centuries slaving away at this vision, and even he has lost track of his exact age. Fueled by the life-giving Lazarus Pits, which have the side effect of driving a person mad, Ra's will likely haunt the DC Universe for centuries to come.
Though Ra's has taken on the entire Justice League of America in the past - and beaten them - his principle opponent throughout his decades of tales has been Batman. Ra's considers the Dark Knight to be his only worthy opponent, and in an ironic twist is actually the grandfather of Bruce Wayne's son, Damien. Best of all is that the Demon Head's ultimate goal, the betterment of the world, is one that speaks to Batman and strikes a bit close to home.
Ra's Al Ghul is easily one of the most unique villains ever crafted. By taking a desire that all of us have and warping it, he is truly a character we love to hate.
The DC Universe is packed with powerful entities that could destroy worlds at a time, but none are as feared or brilliantly executed as Darkseid, Lord of the war planet Apokolips. The evil god has had quite a legacy crafted for himself since being created by Jack Kirby. Not too shabby for a character that first appeared in a Jimmy Olsen book, eh?
Darkseid's motivations are rather simple - conquer and control all life by unlocking and solving the Anti-Life Equation, something DC fans saw him achieve in last summer's Final Crisis event. Though the storyline technically took the New God's life, it's hard to imagine the heroes of DC won't find themselves face to face with the ultimate embodiment of evil at some point down the road.
Perhaps the most appealing trait of Darkseid is his lack of interest in direct, physical confrontation. The being formerly known as Prince Uxas has immense strength, endurance and eye beams that can disintegrate, teleport or torture opponents, yet he chooses to manipulate events from the shadows, allowing his minions to act on his behalf. Darkseid's involvement with the New Gods, including his rivalry with the Highfather, the planet New Genesis and the diplomatic exchanges of sons Orion and Mister Miracle add multiple layers to a being that might otherwise be yet another generic worldwide threat. We're certainly glad DC wouldn't allow Kirby to kill off this fantastic villain as he originally planned. Decades of spectacular tales would have been left on the table otherwise.
Death. Eternity. The origins of the universe. These concepts and beings are fundamental to the existence of the Marvel Universe. Equal to these, however, is the next member of our Top Villains list - Galactus. Despite his rather garish appearance, the being formerly known as Galan lived before the birth of the modern cosmos, and is as fundamentally important to it as entities responsible for the creation and elimination of life. Galactus, in his destruction of planets, brings balance to the universe, just as life is given and taken every day on Earth.
It's this larger than life presence which makes Galactus one of the more important villains ever created, but it's his ties to Earth and its heroes that make him one of the greats. Through the creation of his heralds, destruction of the Skrull Empire and attempts to devour the Earth, this being is one of the greatest threats ever known to our beloved heroes. Most other villains pale in comparison.
Lastly, though it seems like something small, we can't overlook it. Galactus is one of the few villains on our list to really defy the definition of an evil-doer. He's compelled to destroy worlds because of one simple fact - he's hungry. Can't blame a guy for wanting a little snack… can you?
Superman is arguably the greatest superhero ever created. He is the personification of all that is good in our world, the one beacon of light when all else is dark. He is the one hero that cannot falter in the face of evil.
Such an entity of peace and justice needs an equivalent response. In Lex Luthor, the Man of Steel has that perfect match, and best of all, Luthor isn't just a simple creature of darkness (hello, Doomsday!). What makes Lex such a fantastic character becomes evident when you look at the world from his point of view. He's not necessarily trying to rule the world; in his eyes he's saving it. Think about that for a second - Luthor is trying to save the world from the unwieldy, crushing rule of an alien from Krypton. This man craves to be the world's savior, yearns to have "his" people worship the ground he walks on and refuses to see that birthright seized by another.
Like many villains on our roster, Luthor is a man physically outmatched by his foe. Rather he must conjure up ways to outsmart his opponent, relying on his resources to attempt to reshape the world to his satisfaction. One can only wonder what the world would be like if Lex actually applied his knowledge to making the world a truly better place rather than obsessing over one man. Would he be the great savior he claims to be? The mere fact that we ask that question is a sign of a well-written, deeply layered villain.
Victor Von Doom is, above all odds, a star in his own right. We don't know about the rest of you, but we consider him to be the fifth member of the Fantastic Four - a member of the series so integral that when he's not involved, we're decidedly less interested.
Doom boasts neither powers nor inherent abilities - a rarity for any being in his genre of comic books. Victim of a troubled past, Victor's mother was taken from him early in life. Seemingly since that time, Doom has sought to prove himself to his peers. Chief among those is Reed Richards, the one man who has proved equal and better to Victor's astonishing intellect. Doom's irrational obsession and animosity towards Mr. Fantastic and his family might be his only fault, the one obstacle keeping his from truly achieving his larger desires - the conquest of all his surveys. The Latverian monarch's ambition might be kept in check by the Fantastic Four and their friends, but if anything, his lust for power grows every day, becoming more and more brazen.
If his depth, characterization and legacy in the Marvel Universe weren't enough, Doom has one other accomplishment that few in the industry have managed - he's one of the inspirations for one of the most infamous characters in pop culture - Darth Vader.
There was never any doubt in our minds the enigmatic, psychopathic Clown Prince of Crime would yield the top spot amongst DC Comics' villains. The Joker is the definition of a scene-stealing, deliciously wicked character, one that is quite possibly more interesting than his superhero counterpart.
A year ago we argued Joker wasn't necessarily Batman's greatest enemy, a fact which would clearly make his high rank here a bit of a mystery. Over the past year, however, three high profile projects reminded us why this character is absolutely one of the best ever created and developed throughout the history of superhero comic books. The Dark Knight, Joker and Batman R.I.P. are not only three of the greatest Batman stories ever created, but perfect examples of why the Joker is the quintessential comic book villain. He exists because of his enemy, and without creatures like the Joker, there would be no Batman. More importantly, this villain is capable of reinventing himself in various iterations, whether it's the savage, sadistic one in R.I.P., the chaos agent in Knight or even the light-hearted comedian from the animated series some 15 years ago.
A great villain isn't just capable of wicked deeds or murder. Depth and layer matter. Heroes and villains are inextricably linked, and just as the sign of a great hero is a great villain, the opposite is true. The Joker must stand up to and alongside the Caped Crusader. This is one of the rare villains to possibly do even more than that. As his movie role last summer proved, he can even surpass one of the greatest heroes of all time. That takes a special something.
Like many characters of his era, Magneto did not immediately stand out as someone who would endure the test of time. His powers were relatively unimpressive, his motivations and depth were weak and his costume design… let's face it - the guy wears a bucket on his head. But the archenemy of Charles Xavier has proven over the decades that he's not only worthy of his infamous status, but worthy of a much greater accolade - being the greatest villain ever created. The Master of Magnetism doesn't just operate well along stereotypical bad guy parameters, but can actually sustain engaging, masterful storylines of his own.
As a Jewish child in Germany during the height of Adolf Hitler's reign, Max Eisenhardt discovered humanity was capable of the worst crimes and actions. What's remarkable is despite seeing genocide first hand and enduring the terror of concentration camps, Max has matured into exactly what took his family and loved ones from him. To protect his kind from the fate of a similar Holocaust, Eisenhardt persecutes any and all humans who dare cross his path.
Magneto has become bigger than his peers and virtually all of his enemies. It's the sign of a great character when his presence dominates a story and his absence creates a vacuum that cannot be filled by any other. Through his legendary role in Marvel Comics over the years as well as fantastic portrayals in film and animation, it's hard to argue that there has ever been a villain more complex, nuanced, sympathetic and yet irrevocably evil.