Every hero needs a villain, and in many ways, a hero is only as good as their villain. Why would you connect to a hero who is never challenged? Who never faces an uphill battle against someone who is their equal? The short answer is, you wouldn't. A great villain defines the hero and in is in part defined by the hero as well. They are a reflection of the hero's values and morals, but flipped on their side. Sometimes a villain has the same motivations as a hero, but goes about reaching their goals in a less than lawful manner. Whatever the case may be, a great villain needs to be one thing above all else: dangerous.
What makes a villain dangerous? First, there's the motivation. Anyone who is motivated enough to carry something out, no matter how terrible it might be, is going to do it. Next is ruthlessness. A villain may have the motivation to get things done, but it's how they go about reaching their goals that makes them dangerous. They won't let anything or anyone stand in their way for long. Finally, there are the physical attributes: strength, superpowers, and any other physical trait that makes someone a threat. All of these values combined together make a great villain. Some villains don't even need the physical strength to make them dangerous. They are still a threat even from behind a desk. The MCU television series have seen their fair share of great villains, and these are the 20 most dangerous.
20 MARIAH DILLARD
At the beginning of Luke Cage, Mariah Dillard didn't appear to be much of a threat. she was mostly playing second fiddle to Cottonmouth, who appeared to have been set up as the main antagonist of season one. However, in one stunning sequence, everything changed, and suddenly Mariah Dillard was on top.
Mariah proves herself to be as dangerous as her cousin, but ultimately sees her end behind bars. However, before she reaches that point, she shows all of Harlem why there is reason to fear her. She may not be physically strong, but her ruthless mentality and vengeful spirit make her someone to be reckoned with.
19 BILLY RUSSO
As a former marine and CEO of a private security firm, Billy Russo knows a thing or two about how to be a soldier, making him a perfect adversary for Frank Castle. Unlike Castle, who keeps his face hidden and does his best to keep a low profile, Russo stays firmly in the spotlight. He wants people to know who he is.
Russo is charming and a savvy businessman, but he hasn't forgotten his roots as a soldier. He has shown that he is a master strategist when it comes to military operations. On top of all that, Russo is entirely concerned with his own well-being, even going as far as to sell out his old commanding officer to save his own life.
18 MARY WALKER
Mary Walker straddles the line between hero and villain in season two of Iron Fist. While she did end up betraying Davos in the end, she is someone that could end up being dangerous if she is allowed to continue working as an assassin. Mary Walker is highly trained soldier who, depending on which of her personalities has control, can be incredibly dangerous.
The personality known as Mary may be a fairly normal person, but the second personality, the one Mary refers to simply as Walker, will carry out orders with a ruthless efficiency. What makes Mary Walker so dangerous is her unpredictable nature. Though she seems to have control at the end of Iron Fist season two, there's no telling what she may be capable of.
17 THE PRIDE
Wilson Fisk may control most of New York, but on the west coast, the Pride takes the role of the powerful criminal organization. Beyond the power held by this group of people due to their wealth and status, they are also part of a sacrificial branch of the church of Gibborim. Together, the Pride sacrifices innocent people in order to revive the head of the church, Jonah.
What makes the Pride so dangerous is that they present themselves as philanthropists, working through their charitable organization, also called PRIDE (Promoting Resilience, Independence, Dedication & Excellence). While they think what they are doing is good for the world, they are actually being manipulated by Jonah.
16 RUBY HALE
Even though she is just a teenager, Ruby Hale has shown that she can be incredibly dangerous. Why? Because she is fueled by the one thing that can make any teenager a huge threat: parental approval. Ruby has worked so hard to impress her mother, that she has essentially become a world class assassin.
Ruby was also a master manipulator, able to talk her way out of any situation. On top of her physical skills and cunning, Ruby also gained the power of gravity manipulation after being infused with Gravitonium. She wielded this power without mercy, and it made her a much more threatening person than she at first appeared.
15 DOTTIE UNDERWOOD
The most dangerous aspect of Dottie Underwood is how unassuming and naive she appears to be. However, underneath the girl next door exterior lies an extremely efficient and ruthless assassin. Dottie Underwood is a master of martial arts, acrobatics, and espionage, making her a huge threat throughout Agent Carter.
Dottie Underwood is also not just any run of the mill assassin. She was trained in the same program that would eventually train Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow. The Red Room, as it is known, is shown to utilize highly aggressive and even lethal training techniques. Dottie may look unassuming, but she's not just some greenhorn from Iowa.
While he may not possess the kind of strength granted by something like the iron fist, Bakuto has something much more dangerous at his disposal: the power of persuasion. Due to his longevity, Bakuto could have been recruiting new members to the hand for millennia by promising that they would change the world for the better.
This argument worked on Colleen Wing, and almost convinced Danny Rand to give up his fight against the organization, but it was eventually revealed that Bakuto meant to change the world through nefarious means. He is an incredibly skilled martial artist and swordsman, and presents a huge challenge to Danny and Colleen, who was forced to fight against the man who trained her.
John McIver, also known as Bushmaster, appeared as a new threat in the second season of Luke Cage. Like many antagonists before him, Bushmaster was motivated not by destroying the hero, but by fulfilling his own desires at any cost. Bushmaster straddles the line between villain and anti-hero, but his motivations are less than virtuous.
Bushmaster, like many heroes and villains, has been wronged in the past. He lost his family and seeks revenge for what happened to them. However, he is a great threat to those who have wronged them, due to his immense strength and fighting prowess. He even manages to knock out Luke Cage, positioning himself as the most powerful man in Harlem.
Of all the villains Daredevil has faced in the past, his greatest nemesis may be Benjamin Poindexter, also known as Bullseye. Introduced in Daredevil during season three, Bullseye is an incredibly formidable foe. His inherent talent for marksmanship, along with his prowess in physical combat, make him more than a match for Matt Murdock.
However, what makes this variation of Bullseye so dangerous is his borderline personality disorder. This version of the character has absolutely no conscience or remorse for his actions., He is an outright, ruthless mercenary who is willing to do anything to complete his mission, and has no qualms about taking down anyone in his way.
He's one of the only people to ever nearly best Daredevil in single combat, and he made his mark as an enemy who must be taken seriously at all costs. Nobu Yoshioka, the representative of Murakami's branch of the Hand, made himself known as not just a ruthless businessman, but a cunning and skilled ninja warrior.
Nobu had been resurrected several times, and no one was sure how long he had been alive. During his time as one of the major crime bosses in Hell's Kitchen, Nobu made himself known as a clam and quiet man, instilling fear in those around him while barely lifting a finger.
10 ABSORBING MAN
Carl Creel, also known as the Absorbing Man, was one of the prime antagonists in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Creel, who was originally a boxer (and actually fought Battlin' Jack Murdock, Matt Murdock's father), was granted his powers through a HYDRA experiment run by Wolfgang Von Strucker. Creel had turned his body into steel, wood, asphalt, and even the same material as the Obelisk.
Creel became very powerful in his ability to take on the properties of any material he touched, but this power came at a cost. When he combined himself with more Gravitonium in an attempt to rid himself of voices in his head, he was quickly absorbed by Glenn Talbot, thus putting an end to the Absorbing Man.
For some villains, there is no greater motivator than the feeling of not getting what they deserve. This is especially true for Davos, whose jealousy at the fact that Danny Rand was chosen as the Iron Fist drove him to work against Rand. Davos eventually gained the power of the iron fist, only to have it taken from him by Colleen Wing.
Davos is a dangerous villain, because like Danny he is driven by duty. He never forgave Rand for leaving K'un-Lun, and solidified his contempt for him when he saw that Rand was unwilling to take down members of the Hand. Davos may have ended up in police custody at the end of Iron Fist's second season, but the world may not be done with him yet.
J.T. James, also known as the villain, Hellfire, may not be one of the top tier villains in the MCU, but he is definitely powerful. After being expelled from Afterlife, he was given his inhuman powers by Hive to help in the fight against the Inhumans. Eventually, though Hellfire was defeated by Ghost Rider and put into S.H.I.E.L.D custody.
Hellfire's powers are similar to Gambit's, in that he is able to charge up common items with explosive force. His weapon of choice is a chain, not unlike Ghost Rider. Hellfire was also a demolitions expert, making him even more dangerous. A man who knows how to blow something up properly and can do it himself is not someone to be messed with.
7 ALEXANDRA REID
Alexandra Reid, played with a brilliantly low key menace by Sigourney Weaver, was set up to the the antagonist in The Defenders. Her mysterious past and longevity made her a worthy foe, but it was her pure cunning and leadership that allowed her to match wits against the newly formed team of heroes.
While Reid never fought much, she was not one to be threatened by physical violence. The only time she ever appeared to show any sign of fear was when Elektra finally betrayed her and put an end to her leadership of the Hand. Before that, Alexandra Reid was the architect of all of the Hand's master plans, and commanded respect and loyalty from the other members of the Hand.
6 ELEKTRA (BLACK SKY)
Before Elektra was taken down by Nobu, she was a morally gray character. She was willing to do the things that Matt Murdock would not do as Daredevil, and it was her sole mission to stop the Hand from carrying out their plans. Unfortunately, she became part of those plans when she was resurrected as the Black Sky.
After her return to the world of the living, Elektra was trained by Alexandra Reid to be the Hand's ultimate weapon. Elektra retained her memory of how to fight effectively, which was fortunate for Reid. Unfortunately for Reid, Elektra had become unforgiving and cunning in her resurrection as Black Sky, and she did not hesitate to take her out and inherit the position of leader of the Hand.
5 MADAME GAO
Madame Gao had always been seen as mysterious by the other crime bosses in Hell's Kitchen. After all, she was an elderly Chinese woman who seemed like she had no place in that world. However, Gao proved herself to be incredibly powerful, showing superhuman strength and longevity. On top of that, she was able to speak almost any language and was a master tactician.
Madame Gao used her power and centuries of wisdom to run her criminal empire and strengthen the Hand at the same time. On top of her strength and longevity, Madame Gao could also use Chi manipulation to expel force from her hands, similar to the power of the iron fist.
4 THE SUPERIOR
Anton Ivanov, also known to his followers as the Superior, has had many incarnations throughout his time on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and all of them have been a danger to the world. He began his life as the leader of the Watchdogs, however after his head was separated from his body by Aida, he became so much more.
Ivanov was able to control life model decoys of himself to help protect the Framework. However, he also too kit upon himself to create a world where the Inhumans were hated and feared. Eventually recruited by Hydra, Superior continued his control of robotic sleeper mechs and eventually attached his head to a robotic body.
Hive is more than just a banished Inhuman. He is the basis for the entire organization of HYDRA. HYDRA had worked for centuries to bring Hive back to Earth after he was banished to the planet Maveth. Hive is incredibly dangerous in his ability to possess bodies and mentally control other Inhumans.
Hive, like any great villain, thought he was doing something great by turning everyone in the world into an Inhuman, believing that this process would bring peace. However, he could only survive by ending the lives of the people he possessed. Being able to hide in any body he chose and access that person's memories made Hive even more dangerous, and a harder foe to defeat.
There may not be another villain as iconic as Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, in Daredevil lore. Sure, Matt Murdock has faced off against people like Bullseye and even the Punisher, but behind it all, the mastermind moving the chess pieces, is Wilson Fisk. He is cold, calculated, and willing to do anything to hold on to power.
Fisk started his life as kid who was bullied for being overweight. However, taking lessons from his father (and his mother), he learned how to ruthlessly control those around him, meaning that he didn't even have to be in the public eye, or have people say his name, to know that he was not someone who should be trifled with. On top of all of that, Fisk's size and strength give him an edge in physical combat.
Also known as the Purple Man, Kilgrave may be the most dangerous villain to ever appear in any of the MCU television and Netflix series. All Kilgrave has to do is say something to you, and there is no escape. You are now under his control until he lets you go, or tells you to do something worse.
Kilgrave utilized his powers to take control of the superpowered individuals Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, using their abilities to his advantage. He kept Jessica Jones under his spell for so long that she began to question what actions were hers and what were commanded by Kilgrave. He may not have physical strength, but the power to have anyone do anything you say is frightening enough.