As much as we may like to sometimes think that we’re non-judgmental people, that’s just not true. Sure, we may not accept our judgments as facts, but the second we look at someone, we start forming an opinion in our head. We look at their clothes, their hair, facial expressions, shoes etc. and a story swirls to life inside of our brain. But the age-old adage, don’t judge a book by its cover, is important to remember in times like these. What we see is only skin deep or in the case of comic books, costume deep. Villains, or even heroes for that matter, can wear the most tacky costume we've ever seen and their true potential power level could be hidden underneath that gaudy mask or unitard.
In a perfect world, the heroes and villains we look up to would be equally powerful as they were fashionable. Just think of a hero like Superman. Yes, his underwear are on the outside of his costume, but that iconic costume bursts off the page in a torrent of patriotic color and, as we've seen in recent history, the big blue tights don't have that same pop without them. It’s the perfect counterpart to his legendary strength. However, not all men, aliens, cyborgs, or any other host of creatures you may find inside of a comic book are created equal. Sometimes it’s hard to see the incredible power that lies behind the questionable costume. So, here are 15 Marvel villains that may look lackluster but pack a serious punch.
Any and all comic heads know that Galactus is undoubtedly one of the strongest characters in the Marvel Universe. Although not always portrayed as a villain, we’re including him in this list as he’s done some fairly villainous things. No one dares make fun of his costume now, lest they incite his wrath, but let’s step back in time.
Imagine seeing that highly saturated purple and blue garb for the first time once again. Is he an oversized children’s entertainer? Is this the latest in intergalactic fashion? Surprise, surprise when we find out that funky outfit actually houses the entirety of the Power Cosmic -- one of the most powerful energy forces in the entire universe.
With a face only a mother could love, M.O.D.O.K, aka Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing, doesn’t have the looks of a deadly villain. His spindly little legs and arms that poke out from his rocket powered booster seat probably can’t squish a fly. His oversized head, which houses an incredibly powerful brain, is more comical that fear inducing.
Despite his hilariously disproportioned body, M.O.D.O.K has vast psionic powers due to undergoing a mutagenic process that enhances his brain to superhuman levels. He can calculate probabilities to the point of near precognition, cast powerful illusions, mentally take control of individuals and can focus his mental power into a blast of devastating psionic energy. Laugh at your own risk.
13 GODKILLER SUPER SKRULL
Godkiller Super Skrull kind of looks like a hulked-out grandmother. She doesn’t have the typical muscular build of most female villains and her auburn hair, pulled into a tight bun, suggests she can bake a wicked apple pie. However, she is a genetically modified Super-Skrull designed with the sole purpose of destroying Thor, the God of Thunder.
She is made to mimic the powers of the titans Thundra, Titania, Volcana and Battleaxe. What does this mean? To be brief, she’s freaking scary strong. Superhumanly strong, able to convert her body into plasma form and is a fiercely powerful hand to hand combatant. Looks be darned; this lady is not to be trifled with.
12 THE LIVING ERASER
An alien equipped with powerful technology from Dimension Z has the potential to look devastating and dangerous. Unfortunately, The Living Eraser’s debut in Tales to Astonish #49 showcases a ghastly purple outfit, janky metal helmet and a jowly green face reminiscent of a Bull Mastiff. Not exactly the face of terror.
However, with a swipe of his puke green hand, The Living Eraser can make anyone disappear. Not entirely though. The circuit he wears on his hand teleports them to Dimension Z where they become a prisoner. Still, for such a silly looking alien, the consequences of messing with him can be severe.
In Spectacular Spiderman #97, we weren’t sure if we were looking at a villain, a die-hard cosplayer of 101 Dalmatians or a man trying to replicate a Hershey’s Cookie and Cream chocolate bar. Polka dots are synonymous with happy tidings, like the wrapping paper on a birthday present. No, pale white skin with black polka dots isn’t something that would instil fear in the heart of heroes.
However, these spots aren’t just design. They are portals, or space warps, to another dimension. Spot can manipulate these portals in any way he chooses and uses them to instantly move himself or a part of his body over any distance he chooses. He surrounds his enemies with these portals to assault them from any angle he wants.
The biggest mystery surrounding Mysterio is why he’s chosen a fishbowl and green checkered spandex as his costume. Surely, with a little bit of planning and some elbow grease he could have fabricated something with a little more oomph. Seriously, every time he pops up on-screen we expect to see some goldfish swimming in circles around his head.
But then we remember just how dangerous the master of illusions really is. For example, a combination of questionable substances and special effects had Daredevil thinking he was literally in Hell. Even worse is when he creates an illusion which has Wolverine go on a rampage and wipe out all of his friends. These are more than just your basic parlour tricks.
9 EGO THE LIVING PLANET
Appearing for the first time in The Mighty Thor #132, Ego is the man in the moon gone bad. Yes, the concept of a scientist merging with a planet is intriguing, but this planet/giant floating head looks like it has every possible skin condition known to man and/or alien. Bulbous growths extend from the surface of the planet and he looks like he’s never used a proper exfoliant in his life.
However, this villain has complete control over the composition of his surface and can shape the terrain to it’s will. Furthermore, Ego can generate psionic energies that rival that of Galactus. Not the kind of planet you’d want to visit for a vacation.
8 KANG THE CONQUEROR
Kang the Conqueror shows, once again, that the purple and green color scheme only really works for the Hulk. This genius time traveller/engineer has access to technology from any time period, which begs the question: why is he wearing purple leggings and a baggy green tunic?
Okay, so that’s not exactly what he’s wearing. It’s actually an incredibly high-tech set of battle armor that greatly enhances his strength, endurance and is capable of energy, hologram and force-field projection. His genius intellect, ability to time travel and access to any and all technology makes him a far more formidable villain than his garb suggests.
Nothing screams dangerous like light skin-tight rhino costume, right? Rhino like powers are cool, but the rhino costume leaves something to be desired. A matte gray suit that bonds to the user’s skin is just kind of… blah looking. But don’t tell this big, dumb brute that. A combination of mutagenic and radiation treatments, plus the rhino battle suit makes this villain one of the hardest hitters Spider-Man has ever encountered.
Rhino possesses extreme superhuman strength, heightened speed and stamina and the suit offers him incredible durability. Enough to withstand high-caliber bullets, explosions and anti-tank weaponry. He’s not exactly an adept hand to hand combatant but his ability to crush and destroy anything in his path more than makes up for it.
6 SUGAR MAN
When it comes to unseemly villains, Sugar Man takes the cake. His giant, grotesquely hairy face, four arms, spindly little legs and lizard-like tongue make him look more like a sideshow freak than a villain. He’s not the strongest villain on this list by a long shot but is much more capable than his looks suggest.
His skills in genetics were enough to land him a job as head of Apocalypse’s slave camp in the Seattle Core. Genetics aside Sugar Man is a capable hand to hand combatant holding his own against the Valkyrie, Dani Moonstar. His most powerful ability is also his most cowardly: when in extreme danger, Sugar Man can shrink his body to near microscopic size in order to escape his foes.
When we think of stilts we don’t think of a dangerous supervillain. We think of the circus or maybe a clown walking around at a children’s birthday party. Stilt-Man looks like the Tin Man with a superiority complex. But in reality, this sky-high chrome domed supervillain packs a serious punch.
Equipped with just his homemade battle suit and no superpowers he almost beat Thor. Yes, that Thor. A literal god was almost taken out by a man in a very tall metal suit. He even scored a victory against Spider-Man and was very close to crushing the web-slinger under his shiny, metal heel.
The bestial hair of the mystic entity Zom is a good start for a villain. But pan up from his feet and we arrive at a bright pair of purple, very short tights. Pan up further and we reach his head which looks like someone transplanted a giant toe onto the body of a sasquatch. The weirdest part is that single, curly lock of brown hair perched atop his bulbous, pink head.
It’s mind boggling to think that this weirdo is one of the most powerful and destructive forces in the Marvel Universe. Zom far exceeds the Faltines Umar and Dormammu in terms of mystical power. It took the power of The Living Tribunal to actually subdue him.
As one of the most powerful, if not the greatest, of all mutant telepaths on Earth, you’d expect Gamesmaster to have a little more visual impact. But we suppose he is the modest type which is why he dons a drab gray jumpsuit and mustard yellow cybernetic implants. You don’t have to be flashy when you have access to omnipathy -- a form of telepathic power that allows him to be continually linked to all other minds.
He can create incredibly realistic illusions in the minds of others, take control of sentient beings’ minds, alter or completely remove memories, travel to the Astral Plane and communicate/read the minds of nearly anyone he chooses. Don’t take his garb for granted -- he’s a mutant of the highest order.
2 MULTIPLE MAN
Is it a member of the Backstreet Boys? A failed concept character for the movie Grease? Nope, it’s Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man. While mostly known as a hero he did start off on the wrong side of the Fantastic Four, and with a design that could see him slip into any number of '80s movies, his mutant power of creating perfect copies of himself comes with a lot more power than one might expect.
Each duplicate has the exact same power as Jamie, with the ability to have independent thought and action. The original Jamie Madrox can absorb the duplicates back into himself, absorbing all the memories, knowledge and skills of the duplicate.
There’s no confusion in the name here. This is literally a cow. A cow with a cape. In 1675, Bessie was a humble domesticated cow until she became the victim of Dracula. This fate encounter transforms her into Hellcow; perhaps the world’s first vampiric cow with all the powers of her blood sucking brethren.
She can fly, has a thirst for human blood, can infect others with the vampiric germ, shape shift into a gaseous form and is virtually immortal. Additionally, her bovine physical abilities are boosted even further, granting her superbovine strength and agility. Good luck re-domesticating this fantastical beast.