For as long as there have been superheroes, there have been supervillains to oppose them. No matter what point in the Marvel timeline you travel to, there are going to be villains. From 1960 to 2099 and beyond, the battle of good versus evil rages. Figureheads emerge for both, as superheroes are held in highest regard and notorious supervillains add unspeakable infamy to their legacies. Villains in particular, have some of the most interesting developments as time goes on. A number of these villains have the tenacity and natural abilities to stand the test of time, a select few become icons and their mantles are passed on. Time is unkind to others; they lack the dominance they once had and are almost forgotten entirely.
In the far future, heroes can be driven to villainy too. An alignment-defining event, trauma or simply greed can push someone across the line to villainy. Superheroes can become cruel and disenfranchised as time goes on, no one truly knows what the future holds. Friends betray friends and disagreements turn to divides in the not-so-distant future. Marvel explores time travel and alternate futures in a lot of its stories. Stories such as "Old Man Logan" in the pages of Wolverine and "Thanos Wins" from Thanos give us glimpses of these potential futures for villains. We're going to look at 10 villains who benefited from longevity and 10 who became victims to the ravages of time.
20 COOLER: BULLSEYE
Bullseye is cool in most time periods, as he possesses a unique and deadly threat whenever he appears. The pinpoint accurate assassin likes to make a deadly impact and has been a thorn in Daredevil's side for years. Despite his costume being a tad silly, he is still preceded by his lethal and well-deserved reputation. Bullseye is also extremely hard to put down due to his adamantium-reinforced bones.
In the events of Old Man Hawkeye, we are presented with a much older Bullseye of the future. This Bullseye looks like he's gone through a lot of hardship, with his right hand and his left eye replaced with cybernetic upgrades. This makes what was already an efficient killer a much more terrifying villain. To top it all off, he dresses like a wild west lawman, which is objectively great.
19 NOT AS COOL: ICEMAN
We know Iceman as the plucky, lighthearted original X-Men member. Bobby Drake is also an Omega-level mutant, though his potential has only begun to be explored. Ever the ray of sunshine, he takes it upon himself to lift the spirits of the team and his personality always shines through.
This is why it was so shocking to see that the future version of Iceman first encountered during "Battle of the Atom" is a hulking, mindless snow-giant. This version of Bobby is curiously unable to form sentences. It's later revealed that this isn't Iceman, but a rogue, sentient construct made by the future Bobby. The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants used it in their initial ploy to trick the present-day X-Men, which was a huge relief for younger Bobby, as he did not enjoy the prospect of a future where he was a mindless snow-brute!
18 COOLER: ELECTRO 2099
Present-day Electro has enjoyed a mixed bag of success. At times, Electro is a legitimate threat while at others, he's easily dispatched by Spider-Man. Pair that with the fact that, although his costume is instantly recognizable, it is also a little goofy.
Fast-forward to 2099 and the Electro that occupies this time is far cooler. Ditching the yellow and green spandex, he looks more like a skeleton animated by electricity. While that sounds silly on paper, Electro 2099 looks like something you'd find on the cover art of a Judas Priest album. Electro 2099 is actually an android who, after being deemed superfluous, was tortured for science until his obedience chip fried. Understandably, he is an angry, angry android.
17 NOT AS COOL: KING THANOS
A large number of things are scary about Thanos: his affinity for death, his ambition and his overwhelming power, to name a few. The Mad Titan is one of the coolest, most fearsome supervillains to ever exist in the Marvel Universe; not only a threat to the universe he resides in, but to reality itself.
In the distant future, however, "King Thanos" is a lot less cool. Maybe it's because he's wiped nearly everyone else out, so no one is around to challenge him... or maybe it's something else. While defeating everyone is impressive, Thanos is at his best when he has a goal. King Thanos meets his end by his own hand after pulling his present-day self to the future, surmising he will finally impress Mistress Death by defeating himself. It doesn't go his way, though, and he ends up on his knees, begging his younger self -- a sad end for the phenom.
16 COOLER: MASTER MOLD
Sentinels have long been an enemy of the X-Men and mutantkind, one of the the most formidable types of all being Master Mold. Having the ability to create other sentinels and pass on any upgrades it receives to its newer creations, it has become a terrifying foe. In some instances, it has even turned on humans and mutants alike.
During the events of "Second Coming," the Master Mold from a future timeline displayed in "Days of Future Past" sends Nimrod sentinels into the present day through a temporal portal. Being from a future where sentinels are atop the food chain, Master Mold can dispense models that are capable of immense destruction. It takes X-Force venturing into the future to stop Master Mold, but Cable is lost in the battle.
15 NOT AS COOL: SCORPION 2099
The Scorpion we know from the present is sometimes pretty cool. Although Mac Gargan tragically cannot remove his metal scorpion suit, that just makes him all the more intimidating. Mac even played host to the Venom symbiote for a time as part of the Dark Avengers. He is also one of Spider-Man's more famous and recognizable villains.
Jump to 2099 and Scorpion isn't particularly cool at all. He is more of a scorpion than the original as his DNA is spliced with that of an actual scorpion. What makes this uncool? It was entirely an accident. A bully by nature, Kron Stone of 2099 was tormenting a number of lab creatures when he decided it would be fun to toy with a gene splicer. The product of an easily avoidable accident, Kron got just what he deserved.
14 COOLER: MOLLY HAYES
Molly Hayes is the Runaways' resident super-strong mutant. Full of infectiously likable energy and refreshingly perceptive, Molly has always had the foundations of a great hero. Though using her powers gives her temporary but instant fatigue, she always steps up.
In "Battle of the Atom," however, Molly from the future is part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. It's disappointing to see the young mutant turn to villainy after watching the first mutant president be struck down. Regardless, future Molly is an absolute powerhouse. Molly is no longer held back by fatigue, likely something she grew out of as her powers developed with time. Dressing like a rogue mechanic and managing to give Colossus a rare beat-down, she's certainly not running anymore.
13 NOT AS COOL: BEETLE
Never a large threat to any superhero in particular and more of a nuisance, Abner Jenkins found himself a better calling on the right side of the law, surprisingly. Upgrading his suit and taking on the moniker of Mach, Abner would find himself reforming via the Thunderbolts program, and eventually becoming a S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison.
In one potential future, depicted in Old Man Hawkeye, Abner joins his fellow Thunderbolts in betraying the heroes of the earth as part of Red Skull's coup. Abner meets his eventual end when he is hunted by Hawkeye for his role in the betrayal. An old, overweight Abner dons his original Beetle costume for one final stand, lamenting his actions before the final confrontation.
12 COOLER: GALACTUS, BUTCHER OF WORLDS
Galactus is an overwhelming and looming threat to all planets in the universe. What makes him even cooler is that he is a universal constant; a cosmic necessary evil. He doesn't eat planets for fun, he eats them because he has to, in order to ensure the natural order of the universe. So, how could Galactus get any cooler?
Millennia into the future, when Earth is dead, Galactus returns to consume the planet that once gave him so much trouble. A nostalgic and old King Thor remains, determined to protect Midgard. During their conflict, King Thor harnesses the power of the All-Black Necrosword, last used by Gorr the God-Butcher, to defeat Galactus. As Galactus retreats and feeds on Mars, the All-Black Necrosword that was believed destroyed in his previous battle, manifests inside of him and changes Galactus into Galactus, Butcher of Worlds.
11 NOT AS COOL: ATLAS
Erik Josten, better known as ATLAS, has had a complicated relationship with supervillainy. At times, Josten has been a supervillain and at times when his powers have failed him, he's been a regular villain. Adept at crime at both superhuman and street-level tiers, Atlas has also been a hero through the Thunderbolts and even of his own accord at times.
Part of the plot that saw the Thunderbolts turn on the rest of the superhero community in the events leading up to Old Man Hawkeye, Erik is far from his prime. Atlas is revealed to be working for his old ally Baron Zemo and ends Black Knight with his own sword. Bitter and less remorseful than Beetle, Atlas engages in one final fight with Hawkeye and is put down permanently.
10 COOLER: STRYFE
Marvel is no stranger to clones in its comics. Clones, duplicates, life-model decoys -- you name it, they've appeared at some point. Spider-Man, in particular, has had a storied history in dealing with impostors and replicas. Now, imagine someone from the future cloned Cable of the X-Men and that clone took the not-so-subtle villainous alias, Stryfe. Well, that actually happened!
Cable is a powerful mutant in his own right, but a large portion of his power is used to keep the techno-organic virus in his arm from overtaking his entire body. Stryfe, however, is not infected by a techno-organic virus, so he enjoys the full array of Cable's powers. The stupendously powerful villain once managed to kill a future version of Deadpool by ripping him to pieces. Gruesome.
9 NOT AS COOL: BISHOP
Bishop is an odd one. At times he's a stand-up guy and at others he's unwilling to listen to constructive feedback and wants to destroy children. Though technically not a villain in the future, when it comes to the future as a topic, it can cause the villain side to jump out of poor Lucas.
In the present-day, Bishop is a useful and reliable member of the X-Men. He even became a pseudo-detective on mutant affairs for the police alongside fellow X-Men alumni, Sage. However, when he believes something could possibly lead to the terrible future he came from, he will do anything to prevent it. This includes falsely blaming Gambit for the downfall of mutantkind and trying to destroy Hope Summers, hunting her through time.
8 COOLER: BROTHERHOOD BEAST
The Henry McCoy of the present is an X-Men original and mentor to those who came after. His unwavering belief in Xavier's dream even had him travel to the past and retrieve his past self and teammates in a bid to show Cyclops how far he'd fallen. In one possible future, however, mutantkind makes enough progress to elect the first mutant leader of the free world. That mutant is Dazzler and she is immediately taken out. Classic X-Men!
This proved to be the last straw for Beast of this timeline as he helps form a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and uses his technological know-how to travel to the present and deceive the X-Men proper. This older, semi-horned Beast's image betrays his underlying sinister motives. He's the perfect foil for time-travel intrigue.
7 NOT AS COOL: TASKMASTER
Taskmaster of the present is a fan-favorite mercenary-for-hire. He possesses the unique ability to replicate other people's fighting styles, alongside his general aptitude with weapons. Much like Deadpool, he often dances the line between extremely deadly and comic-relief. He was even a welcome addition to Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.
In the "Age of Ultron" story-line, Taskmaster of the future is a shadow of his former self. Banding together with the surviving heroes, he is sent on a mission alongside Red Hulk to retrieve Ultron parts for the rebellion. It looks as though he gives in to cowardice and tries to run off on his own with his salvaged Ultron parts. We'll never know if he truly was running away, as Red Hulk punched through him as he tried to explain himself. Not a very fitting end for someone so formidable.
6 COOLER: MULTIPLE MAN
Current Jamie Madrox is a controversial character within the X-Men. His fellow mutants find him a little annoying and he has the tendency to perish. There was even an X-Factor story arc dedicated to him passing away a lot. He (usually) means well, though, and his time as leader of X-Factor was a joy to read.
In the landscape of "Old Man Hawkeye," Jamie isn't really around anymore. Instead, his duplicated have gone AWOL and act as a makeshift, corrupt police force. On their own, they're not too remarkable but they eventually become infected with a symbiote. Just when you thought a ravenous symbiote couldn't get any more terrifying, here comes one attached to a multiplying host. Clint Barton can attest to how much of a pain they are to deal with.
5 NOT AS COOL: DOOM 2099
Doctor Doom is one of the coolest villains of all time. He’s imposing, nefarious and powerful on every conceivable level. His plots and schemes complex and often terrifying, Doom has also tasted success, and even godhood, on more than one occasion. Victor's real danger lies in his potential, as he is able to adapt and assimilate new magics and technologies and bend them to his will.
In the 2099 future, however, Doom’s lost a bit of his grandeur. While it is heavily implied Doom 2099 is still the original Victor, thanks to an impressive show of survival and tenacity, he lacks the progress we’d expect of Doom. Given all the time leading up to 2099, we’d have expected him to have Earth, even multiple planets, under his heel. He’s still very much a threat, just not as big a one as you’d think by 2099.
4 COOLER: APOCALYPSE
Apocalypse has the unique advantage of being immortal. This has allowed En Sabah Nur to occupy nearly all of civilization’s history. His affinity for the “Survival of the fittest” mentality has put him at odds with humans and mutants on several occasions. Accompanied by his Four Horsemen, Apocalypse is a potent and revered threat to all.
As time goes on, Apocalypse becomes more and more of a threat, eventually enslaving humanity and mutants who resist his rule. Consolidating all of his power and eventually proving he is the fittest to rule is Apocalypse’ ultimate destiny. The future En Sabah Nur has come a long way since being dispatched by Thor and Jarnbjorn, way back in the pages of Uncanny Avengers.
3 NOT AS COOL: BROTHERHOOD XORN
Having a star reside inside your head is both a cool and terrifying prospect. That’s the reality for Xorn, though he handles it with grace and has great respect for the power the star grants him. Xorn rarely uses his powers, though, preferring the path of least resistance.
When the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from the future return in “Battle of the Atom” to trick the present-day X-Men, Xorn is among them. What begins as an exciting chance to see Xorn in action is undermined by the reveal that it isn’t Xorn at all, just Jean Grey wearing the helmet. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see the original in the Brotherhood roster, as seeing him unleash his power is a rare treat.
2 COOLER: MAESTRO
We know Bruce Banner to be the present-day Incredible Hulk. One of the very first Avengers, Bruce is incredibly smart but often has trouble controlling his rage. Though he has sometimes been an antagonist, as seen in stories like "World War Hulk" or "Fear Itself," historically, he's still a good guy.
One hundred years into a possible future, when the Earth has been ravaged by nuclear war, things are very different for Bruce. The radiation from all of the nuclear payloads has driven him mad and enhanced his powers greatly. Despite his madness and his bitterness towards mankind, Bruce retains his intellect and uses it in conjunction with his powers to rule Earth with a giant green fist. Now known as Maestro, Bruce is potentially one of the most powerful villains on Earth ever... well, before he is defeated by his younger self.
1 NOT AS COOL: DEATHLOK
There are a few version of Deathlok, but we're going to talk about the Deathlok that appears in Uncanny X-Force. From a future where nearly every superhero has been made into a Deathlok cyborg, this incarnation follows him back in time to help Fantomex protect The World from the horrifying half-hero, half-machines.
Deathlok Prime himself began as a killer, but his sentience allowed him freedom and a sort of autonomy of thought. In the present-time, Deathlok Prime decided to stay with the X-Men, becoming a friend and even a faculty member! Though cold and analytical in his teachings to the students, he has expressed care for them. He shows sympathy to young Evan, aka Genesis, in his struggle with potentially becoming Apocalypse one day.