Who came first: the superhero or the villain? The jury might still be out on that, but there should be absolutely no doubt that for every hero, there are even more villains to challenge him or her. All of comics’ greatest superheroes have their own legendary rogues galleries, whether it be Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, or the Fantastic Four. Many of these villains are human, such as Lex Luthor and Green Goblin. Other villains are somewhere in the middle, such as the Joker, who continues to defy explanation from era to era — which explains why Geoff Johns suggested in his Justice League run that there might be as many as THREE Jokers running around and giving the Dark Knight a hard time.
But then there’s an even more unfathomable stable of supervillains: the cosmic gods that make up the often cruel multiverses of both Marvel and DC Comics. In fact, with gods like Galactus, Thanos, Darkseid, and Apocalypse, it’s a miracle Earth even made it to the age of heroes. Comic Book Resources has selected the 15 most overpowered cosmic villains of all time, from Kirby’s New Gods to, well, Kirby’s Galactus! These cosmic badasses are listed in no particular order:
Galactus is arguably the most powerful being in the Marvel universe. In fact, he’s older than even this universe, a survivor of a past universe that was destroyed to make way for this one. Yes, his origin is fairly complicated, but his mission is pretty easy to understand: Galactus is a devourer of worlds, feeding off the planets of the universe to power himself.
In his original introduction in Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #48 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, he’s presented as a god of unfathomable power. He can do pretty much everything you would imagine a god can do, including discharging and absorbing great amounts of energy — which comes in handy when it’s time to eat a planet — and he’s basically immortal.
Thanos is perhaps the most high-profile villain on this list at the moment, thanks to his upcoming role in Avengers: Infinity War, which will see the Mad Titan raise hell on Earth with his completed Infinity Gauntlet. Like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most of Thanos’ original story involves acquiring the Infinity Gems in order to gain ultimate power. In fact, so evil was Thanos at one point that even the physical manifestation of Death fell in love with him.
While the Infinity Gauntlet bestows tremendous power to Thanos, he is still very formidable without it. He has super-intelligence and super strength to start. The Mad Titan is invulnerable to almost everything in the known universe and, because he’s an Eternal, is virtually immortal. You know he’s the real deal because it’s going to take both the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy to bring him down in the MCU.
The Anti-Monitor was created at the very birth of the DC multiverse, in the anti-matter universe. His existence, along with his good counterpart, The Monitor, is the ultimate example of good and evil in DC continuity. The two godly forces warred for millions of years after their creation during a Big Bang-like event, which eventually led to the events of the seminal Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
Since he’s a being made of anti-matter, the Anti-Monitor can absorb vast amounts of positive matter in order to become more powerful. He eventually devours countless positive-matter universes in order to go back to the moment of creation and stop the positive-matter multiverse from ever being created. The Anti-Monitor may be the most overpowered villain on this list.
Like the Anti-Monitor, Parallax’s origin is epic, having been born at the dawn of time. In fact, Parallax is the demonic physical embodiment of fear, which, as you know, makes him one of the Green Lantern Corps’ main adversaries. This cosmic being can basically manipulate whole civilizations into destroying themselves through fear. While some of the other villains on this list can certainly devour whole worlds, Parallax can simply wreck you through a single emotion. That’s tremendous power.
Parallax has been able to possess many superheroes over the years, including (and most famously) Hal Jordan, Superman, Wonder Woman, and many others. With Hal under his influence, he’s able to defeat the Green Lantern Corps. and the Guardians, and almost succeeds in rewriting time. Imagine what Parallax could do with a whole Justice League at his disposal.
11. DARK PHOENIX
When Jean Grey fused with an ancient cosmic energy during a desperate rescue mission, she became the being known as Phoenix. Her already formidable telepathic abilities grew exponentially to almost godly levels. She can create stargates that allow her to go anywhere in the universe she pleases, emit a tremendous amount of energy in the form of cosmic fire, and can even resurrect after death. Simply put, the Phoenix is nearly unstoppable.
Unfortunately, she’s unable to control her powers and eventually becomes the Dark Phoenix. As a villain, she easily defeats the X-Men, devours a star, which causes it to go supernova and destroy an entire planet. Ultimately, the only thing that can truly stop Dark Phoenix is herself. In a moment of clarity, Jean Grey sacrifices herself in order to save her friends.
Here’s a name you’ll probably hear in the DC Extended Universe in the not so distant future — perhaps even in the Justice League movie, which is out in November. Darkseid is the ruler of the fiery city planet Apokolips. He rules over a downtrodden people and commands an army of Parademons — those creatures in the “Knightmare” sequences in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice — and his ultra-powerful bodyguards known as the Furies. Needless to say, Darkseid is ruthless in his methods.
Darkseid’s ultimate goal is to erase free will from the DC multiverse in order to make it bow to his control. His most devastating powers come from a cosmic force known as the Omega Effect. This energy allows him to basically erase living beings from existence with his Omega Beams. That’s a ridiculous amount of power.
The creation of the Magus is pretty bizarre. Two cosmic beings known as Lord Chaos and Master Order created this villain by taking an alternate version of Adam Warlock, himself a genetically engineered vision of the perfect human being, and bestowing him with vast knowledge of the universe. He was meant to be the counterpart to the Mad Titan Thanos, but his very creation drove him mad and turned him into a villain.
Eventually, Magus escaped his creators and took over the universe, establishing the religious empire known as the Universal Church of Truth. Magus has all of the powers you might expect, including the ability to deliver devastating bolts of cosmic energy. In fact, when he finally came face to face with the good Adam Warlock, it took a soul gem to finally defeat Magus.
Nekron is not only a very powerful villain, he’s also super creepy. Nekron is the physical embodiment of death itself and is the ruler of the Land of the Unliving, which is exactly what it sounds like. In his most famous storyline, “Blackest Night,” Nekron brings about the zombie apocalypse in the DC Universe by creating the black power rings, which allow the dead to rise again.
He is also able to use the black power rings to assimilate Superman, Wonder Woman, and others into his army of the undead. Now THIS is a DCEU movie we want to watch! This villain’s ultimate goal is to destroy Life itself, specifically its physical avatar, which is known as The Entity. It really doesn’t get any more epic than the embodiment of death warring with the embodiment of life!
Ego, the Living Planet is another Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation. First introduced in Thor Vol. 1 #132, Ego is a sentient planet with great power. While you may recognize Ego best as a planet with the face of a man, this being actually has full control of his own matter and surface, which means that he can make himself appear like a paradise planet or an uninhabitable hellscape. He can also travel across the galaxy at hyper speed (faster than the speed of light).
This living planet can also defend himself with the psionic energy he generates in order to project giant blasts at his enemies. He can even destroy whole worlds this way. In order to recharge, he can devour stars or feed off the life force of a large group of living beings. Ego most recently appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
While nowhere near as popular as Darkseid, Steppenwolf will be the main villain of the upcoming Justice League movie. In fact, Zack Snyder set up the villain in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s suggested that the invasion that Batman sees in his “Knightmares” are in fact visions of Steppenwolf’s invasion of Earth with an army of Parademons. Steppenwolf is a New God, like Darkseid, and he leads the tyrant’s army.
Steppenwolf is, of course, immortal and has superhuman strength. He is also a master swordsman and wields an electro-axe. Steppenwolf also rides a hover bike, so he’s a pretty cool customer. His biggest storyline most recently was leading the charge to successfully conquer the world and kill its main heroes, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, on Earth 2. This story is undoubtedly the inspiration for Snyder’s movie.
5. THE BEYONDER
The Beyonder is best known as the omnipotent villain who kidnapped the Marvel Universe and forced its heroes and villains to fight each other on a planet called Battleworld. This dude is actually made up of an entire multiverse known as the Beyond Realm, which is bigger than anyone can possibly imagine. In fact, for a time, the Beyonder was thought to be the most powerful entity in the Marvel Universe.
Beyonder can manipulate all of reality and can basically will anything he wants to happen, such as taking over a planet with a single thought or destroying an entire multiverse. There’s really no limit to what this god can do. If the MCU is looking for a new major villain for its future Phases, it could do much worse than Beyonder and his Battleworld.
4. DOCTOR MANHATTAN
Doctor Manhattan is not an all-out villain. Instead, he’s generally oblivious to human life, becoming more and more distant from Earth as time goes by. While he was born a man, a lab accident turned him into an omnipotent being able to manipulate matter and reality, as well as teleport. He can duplicate himself, as demonstrated in the very uncomfortable sex scene with Silk Spectre in Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Doctor Manhattan is immortal and impervious to virtually everything. Still, his greatest power is his ability to exist simultaneously in the past, present, and future, which actually makes him even more jaded about helping people. Currently, he’s being set up as a villain in DC Rebirth. Geoff Johns recently suggested in his book DC Universe: Rebirth that Doctor Manhattan might be responsible for erasing 10 years from the DC timeline and creating the New 52 universe.
Sometimes it feels like Apocalypse, Thanos, and Darkseid are all different versions of the same bad guy: the omnipotent god bent on world domination/destruction who must be defeated by a group of Earth’s heroes. In terms of Apocalypse, he’s one of the arch-nemeses of the X-Men. Also known as En Sabah Nur, Apocalypse is the world’s first mutant and therefore one of its most powerful. It’s unfortunate that he uses that power for evil.
Apocalypse can do practically everything a god can do, but his coolest power is the ability to restructure his body and abilities at will, meaning that he can pretty much transform himself into whatever mutant he wants. He can even use his blood to heal other mutants and return mutants their powers or boost them. Apocalypse made his big screen debut in 2016 in X-Men: Apocalypse. He was played by Oscar Isaac.
Krona is one of the oldest beings in the DC multiverse. In fact, his people, the Oans, would eventually evolve into the god-like Guardians of the Universe. Krona actually makes our point that it’s a miracle that the DC multiverse even made it to the age of heroes. After all, it’s sort of the rogue Oan’s fault that the multiverse was created in the first place.
Obsessed with seeing the moment of creation — which was forbidden by the other Oans — Krona built a machine to see the first moment in history that malfunctioned and caused the universe to shatter into several universes. Like his brethren, Krona has all the powers of an immortal god. Although he was punished by the Oans, forced to wander the galaxy as cosmic energy for all eternity, he was later revived by Nekron as the villainous Entropy.
Last but definitely not least is Trigon, who is perhaps the most powerful demon in all of the DC multiverse. While he is undoubtedly best known as the father of Teen Titan Raven, his evil exploits are nothing short of infamous and terrifying. Trigon is so powerful that he’d already conquered and destroyed planets by the time he was a toddler. He also held supreme dominion over his dimension of origin.
Trigon might also be the only villain on this list to have a church that worships him: the Church of Blood. While Trigon has indeed tried to take over the world, beat the hell out of the Teen Titans and the Justice League, and can manipulate matter and reality, his most interesting moments usually involve trying to sway Raven to his side. It never quite works out, though.
Did we miss any overpowered cosmic gods? Let us know in the comments!
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