Physical strength seems to be one of the most basic prerequisites for being involved in the fantastical world of comic book heroes and villains. While there are definitely some characters that don’t need monstrous strength to compete with their foes, there are many others that make use of at least some enhanced strength in conjunction with other skills. The MCU is no exception to that rule and plenty of its massive roster of characters possess enhanced strength to varying degrees. From Thor to Captain America, incredible strength can be a big help in saving civilians and battling supervillains. But heroes aren’t the only ones who benefit from super strength.
There are just as many supervillains with enhanced strength as there are villains. From cosmic beings with seemingly unlimited power to characters that are barely superhuman, strength allows many of the bad guys to keep being bad. Abomination needs incredible strength to be a match for the Incredible Hulk, Killmonger gained superhuman strength after he defeated T’Challa, and Hela’s strength was so great that she was able to destroy Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. We know that audiences love to compare powers between all of these characters, so without further ado, here are the most Physically Strong MCU Villains Ranked.
20 CALVIN ZABO
Though many people had written off Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D after its lackluster beginnings, it has improved dramatically since then. This improvement has a lot to do with the introduction of Inhumans on the show and a number of the core characters developing superhuman abilities one way or another. One of these characters was the villain/anti-hero Calvin Zabo. In the comics, Zabo is better known as Mister Hyde. He was created by Stan Lee and Don Heck and premiered in Journey into Mystery #99 in 1963. Originally he was a Thor villain, but he evolved into a villain to numerous other heroes including Daredevil and Spider-Man. Zabo derived his powers from a chemical concoction of his own design that transforms him into a massive Hulk-like monster that’s strong enough to tear open a steel bank vault and do battle with the early incarnation of Thor.
In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Zabo isn’t quite that strong, but he still developed superhuman powers by ingesting a formula he designed using his medical knowledge.
When he ingests this formula, he’s strong enough to toss men without problem and even challenge some Inhumans. However, once his formula was completed by Jemma Simmons, he fully transformed into a monster capable of smashing through reinforced glass, launching heavy lab equipment, and taking ICERs without slowing down.
19 ERIK "KILLMONGER" STEVENS
Righteously angry and intense, Killmonger is considered by many to be among best villains in the MCU. N’Jadaka, or Erik Killmonger in the comics was created by Don McGregor and Rich Buckler in Jungle Action #6. T’Challa has actually never defeated Killmonger in single combat. Erik Killmonger was born in Wakanda as N’Jadaka. He was taken as a slave by Ulysses Klaue during a Wakandan incursion. While he eventually escaped, he harbored a deep hatred for the royal family and wished to rule to prevent this tragedy from happening again. To that end, he’s staged numerous coups and is almost successful every time. Once, he actually succeeded and became the king of Wakanda and Black Panther.
In the MCU, Killmonger was born Erik Stevens and is actually T’Challa’s cousin who was raised in the United States. T’Chaka killed his brother, Erik’s father, to protect Zuri and then left Erik to be raised alone in the US. This turned Erik Stevens into the monster Killmonger as he trained and plotted how he would become the new king of Wakanda and, for a while, he succeeded. In addition to being an expert combatant and military tactician, Killmonger’s defeat of T’Challa in ritual combat allowed him to ingest the Heart-Shaped herb, giving him enhanced abilities comparable to the Black Panther’s. While empowered by this herb, T’Challa was able to trade blows with Captain America, wrestle a rhino to the ground, and forcibly turn a car with just his strength. Therefore, Killmonger must have similar strength.
18 CORVUS GLAIVE
The Black Order are always a force to be reckoned with, but Avengers: Infinity War made sure to nerf them so as to not take focus off of Thanos. In the Marvel comics, Corvus Glaive is a member of the Black Order, Thanos’s elite guard that serve his bidding. He was created by Johnathan Hickman in 2013 for his "Infinity" storyline. Glaive is very powerful in his own right, but his real power actually comes from his glaive. His weapon is so precious to him that it actually is his namesake. Not only is it a powerful weapon that can slice through any known substance in the galaxy, but as long as it’s in one piece, he’s immortal. He survived being obliterated by Hyperion because of his powerful connection with the glaive.
In the MCU, we didn’t get really get a sense of his power.
His glaive was able to easily slice through Vision and disrupt his ability to phase, but he was killed fairly easily by Vision when he was distracted fighting Steve Rogers. But despite being weaker than his comic book counterpart, Corvus Glaive was still a strong opponent. Not only was he able to toss Steve around in their fight, but he was able to trade blows with Vision (though a lot of that had to do with his glaive and Vision was weakened). However, if you’re able to fight Steve Rogers and Vision at the same time, you belong on this list.
17 ALDRICH KILLIAN
He was a part of one of the most surprising twists in the entire MCU. This character may be the character that’s the most drastically different from his comic book counterpart. Aldrich Killian debuted in comic books in 2005 and was created by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov. However, in the comics, he’s just a scientist who helps develop the Extremis virus. The character in Iron Man 3 actually shares much more with the character Mallen, a domestic terrorist that was given incredible superhuman powers via the Extremis virus. Mallen was introduced in the same storyline and was created by the same people. But he possessed vast superhuman strength, speed, fire and electricity generation, and a plethora of other powers when he infected himself with Extremis.
In Iron Man 3, Killian is the one who was subjected to Extremis and, like Mallen, he developed incredible superhuman abilities that allowed him to go toe to toe with Iron Man and actually overpower him when they fought. The Extremis virus granted Killian enough strength to rip apart Iron Man armors with his bare hands and this combined with his ability to heat up his skin allowed him to cut through the armors like butter. When they fought, Tony was almost always on the defensive because Killian’s powers almost negated the protection the Iron Man armor provided.
He may be one of the weaker villains to hail from one of the weakest MCU movies, but Whiplash, himself, is anything but weak. There have been many characters to don the title of Whiplash in the Marvel Universe, but first appearance of Whiplash was in 1968 in Tales of Suspense #98. Mark Scarlotti was the first version and he wears a protective costume and wields cybernetically controlled titanium whips. The version of Whiplash that aligns best with the MCU version is Anton Vanko, created in 2010 by Marc Guggenheim, Philipe Briones, and Marko Djurdjevic. This version of Whiplash developed a suit of armor, powered by an arc reactor, with electric whips that was very similar to the first version of Vanko’s armor in Iron Man 2.
He did this after someone in an Iron Man armor attacked his village.
In Iron Man 2, Whiplash is Ivan Vanko instead of Anton and, while he does begin with a small scale set of tech, he eventually upgrades to a much more advanced version of the Whiplash armor. The final version of his armor was powerful enough to take on both Iron Man and War Machine at the same time. The Whiplash armor was strong enough to toss both of them around and nearly subdue them with one arm (though Tony did show that his armor was strong enough to pull on Vanko’s).
15 IRON MONGER
Despite the brevity of the Iron Monger’s villainy, he’s always been an easily recognizable member in Iron Man’s rogues gallery. Obadiah Stane was created by Dennis O’Neil and Luke McDonnell in Iron Man #163 in 1982. He was a friend of Howard Stark whose troubled past to led him developing a strong affinity for psychological manipulation which he used to become a ruthless businessman with his own company: Stane International. He eventually gained access to plans for Iron Man’s armor and developed one of his own: the Iron Monger Armor, which he claimed was superior to the Iron Man armor in every way.
The MCU version of Obadiah Stane is similar to his comic book counterpart insofar as he’s a ruthless businessman who built a powerful suit of armor to take/maintain full control of Stark Industries. However, in the MCU, he masquerades as a friend of Tony’s and is actually a part of Stark Industries instead of owning a rival country. But the Iron Monger suit is very similar in that it’s a massive suit of armor that proved to be superior to Iron Man’s armor at the time. The Iron Monger armor doesn’t have many feats considering it was only in one battle, but it was able to effortlessly swat around Tony’s armor (though it was operating on a compromised power source) and could pick up a car above Stane’s head with ease.
Gamora’s adopted sister has sort of been the Loki of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. In the comics, Nebula actually has no familial relations to Thanos or Gamora. She’s actually a space pirate/mercenary that debuted in The Avengers #257 in 1985. She was created by Roger Stern and John Buscema; she stole the Sanctuary II, Thanos’s ship, in a bid to take over the Skrull empire. She actually doesn’t possess any enhanced attributes during her first few appearances; she’s just a very skilled fighter and brilliant strategist with great technology. However, in later appearances, she was given cybernetic enhancements.
In the MCU, Nebula is very much enhanced.
She’s one of the adopted children of Thanos and, in his cruel version of love, he enhanced her over and over again through cybernetic augmentations until she was transformed into a mostly cybernetic being. However, her enhancements make her very powerful and a dangerous warrior. She has proven to be a match for Gamora, “the most dangerous woman in the galaxy”, every time they fought, even overcoming her when they fought on Ego. Gamora is strong enough to lift the car-sized gun from a Ravager ship and fire it at Nebula’s crashed ship. Not only did Gamora lift it, but she handled the recoil from it. That’s impressive and if Nebula scales to that strength, she’s well deserving of a place on this list.
Everyone’s favorite sometimes villain Loki may be more well known for his tricks, but as a Frost Giant raised as an Asgardian, he is no slouch when it comes to physical strength. Loki, in his modern comic book incarnation, premiered in Journey into Mystery #85 in 1962. He was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as the half brother and, often times, arch enemy of Thor. He has been heavily involved in the Marvel Comics Universe since then; he was even responsible for the creation of the Avengers. He lives up to his name as the god of mischief, but that never meant that he was incapable in a fight. He may be a better sorcerer and tactician than warrior but he still possesses the physical attributes of a Frost Giant and is capable in a fight.
The MCU version of Loki is very similar to his character in the comics. He is quite fond of illusions, but does wield his signature knives in battle and is able to fight nearly on par with Thor more than once. His best feat of strength was when he fought Captain America in The Avengers. Cap, who has was able to duel with Ultron in Age of Ultron, wasn’t able to do much to actually harm Loki. Meanwhile, Loki was able to easily toss Cap around every time one of his hits landed. That on top of his ability to do battle with Thor puts him on this list.
He may not be the most well known character, but he made an impression on audiences by simply remembering a name. Korath was created by Mark Gruenwald and Greg Capullo as a cyber-geneticist and head scientist of the Pursuer project to make Kree super soldiers. Korath debuted in Quasar #32 in 1992 and during the Kree-Shi’ar war, he gave himself enhanced abilities by enhancing his body cybernetically. Using his augmentations, he gave himself superhuman physical attributes, the ability to locate people through their brainwaves, and he developed a pair of shock batons that were powerful enough to damage Eternals and even intangible beings.
Korath in the MCU doesn’t have his batons but he does seem to possess a high degree of physical strength.
As a Kree with numerous cybernetic enhancements, Korath had strength that allowed him to battle Drax on even footing. Keep in mind that Drax is strong enough to easily rip apart the sentry robots in the Kyln. He’s also strong enough to subdue Gamora with one hand and durable enough to survive Rocket crashing a Ravager ship into him and Ronan. This means his strength is comparable to Drax’s which means that he belongs on this list.
Just missing out on the top 10 is the Kree fanatic Ronan the Accuser. Ronan was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and first appeared in Fantastic Four #65 as an antagonist to the cosmic adventurers. From there, he’s made appearances in Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Silver Surfer, and featured heavily in the “Kree-Skrull War” and “Annihilation”. He’s a cosmic player that wears a powerful Kree exoskeleton and wields the Kree’s most powerful weapon, a hammer referred to as: “The Universal Weapon.” This weapon is capable of manipulating matter, absorbing and firing cosmic energy, teleportation, generating force fields, manipulating gravity, and many more things. On top of that, he’s an extremely well trained Kree soldier and possesses their natural superhuman strength.
In the MCU, Ronan appeared as the main antagonist in Guardians of the Galaxy. His universal weapon isn’t as powerful as it is in the comics, but Ronan himself is far stronger than his comic book counterpart. He defeated Drax the Destroyer with seemingly no effort. In fact, he took on the entire might of the Guardians with no problem and was only defeated via a dance battle and the power of friendship. A true testament to his strength was the fact that he was able to wield the Power Stone for a moment, a feat which ripped apart almost everyone else who tried instantly.
10 THE DESTROYER
This is another character/weapon that has been heavily nerfed by the MCU. The Destroyer is an enchanted armor made of a metal stronger than even Uru. In the Marvel Universe, it was created by Odin to do battle with the Celestials. In real life, it was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Journey into Mystery #118 in 1965. It is an incredibly powerful weapon that possesses enough strength to easily overpower Thor and the Hulk. The only thing that has actually severely damaged it was energy blasts from the Celestials and even then it was able to reform completely afterward.
The Destroyer is powerful enough to destroy planets, transmute matter, and disintegrate virtually anything.
The MCU version of the Destroyer is nowhere near this powerful, however. This incarnation was destroyed by Thor alone and the Warriors Three were able to do battle with it for a while. Despite this, it still possesses massive superhuman strength. It is capable to beating humans, Asgardians, and Frost Giants into a pulp with some effort. And though the Warriors Three were able to do battle with it, they were unable to inflict any real harm upon it. A weapon that’s strong enough to go toe to toe with Thor definitely belongs on this list.
He may not be Hela, but Kurse sure showed his mettle in Thor: The Dark World by embarassing the God of Thunder when they fought. Kurse was originally Algrim the Strong and premiered in Thor #347 in 1984. He was created by Walter Simonson and was originally nearly a match for Thor in combat. However, during the “Secret Wars” event, his strength was doubled by the Beyonder who sent him to battle Thor on Earth. When Thor faced him with his belt of strength (which doubles Thor’s strength believe it or not), the Beyonder doubled Kurse’s strength again. This made him into one of the most physically powerful beings in the galaxy; a force Thor just couldn’t match.
In the MCU, Kurse isn’t quite that powerful, but he’s still physically stronger than Thor and that’s an incredible feat in and of itself. Not only is he physically stronger than Thor, but Kurse thrashed him in their encounter. There wasn’t anything Thor could do when he fought him. Kurse was powerful enough to deflect Mjolnir when Thor called it and send Thor flying with a single punch. Kurse was able to beat Thor until he wasn’t able to fight back and was only defeated by Loki’s trickery. This fight is one of the blackest marks on Thor’s record.
He may have been nerfed for the MCU, but Ultron still proved more than a match for any individual Avenger by the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the comics, Ultron was created by Roy Thomas and John Bescema in Avengers #55 in 1968. In the Marvel Universe, Ultron was created by Hank Pym by using his own brain patterns and mapping it onto a powerful artificial construct. Ultron eventually developed his own intelligence and developed an Oedipus complex which served as the inciting incident for his evil turn. In the comics, Ultron constantly upgrades himself and is now capable of taking on the entirety of the Avengers by himself with his combination of strength, exotic weaponry, and ironclad planning.
In the MCU, Ultron was created in Avengers: Age of Ultron by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner.
He’s an artificial intelligence created with the assistance of the Mind Stone and developed a plan to wipe out the human race and replace it with robotic life. He started off as a relatively powerful android who fought on par with Iron Man. He eventually upgraded himself with Vibranium to the point where he was able to defeat both Vision and Thor in single combat.
The being that has nearly killed the Incredible Hulk on more than one occasion has to be high up on this list. The Abomination is a being of incredible strength and ferocity. Emil Blonsky was created in Tales to Astonish #90 in 1967 by Stan Lee and Gil Kane. He was created to be bigger and stronger than the Hulk and, to that effect, he bombarded himself with triple the amount of gamma rays that originally created the Hulk and became an Abomination that was able to beat the Hulk within an inch of his life during their first encounter.
In the MCU, Emil Blonsky debuted in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk as a soldier tasked with tracking down Bruce Banner. He was injected with an experimental version of Captain America’s Super Soldier Serum and then he further augmented himself by injecting Bruce’s gamma-infused blood into his body which transformed him into the amphibian Abomination. He then battled the Hulk in Harlem where he showed his incredible strength. For much of the fight, he proved to be physically superior to the Hulk; he was able to daze the Hulk on numerous occasions, knock him around, and take everything the Hulk could dish out without slowing down. Only Hulk’s desire to protect Betty allowed him to triumph in the end.
6 CULL OBSIDIAN
The physically strongest of the Black Order, Cull Obsidian (or Black Dwarf as he’s known in the comics) loyally serves Thanos as the muscle of his army. He’s a fairly new addition to the Marvel Universe as well, as he was introduced in Johnathan Hickman’s 2013 "Infinity" storyline that saw Thanos invade the Earth while the Avengers were off planet dealing with another threat, forcing the rest of Earth’s superheroes to repel the Mad Titan and his followers by themselves. Black Dwarf was sent to invade Wakanda but was beaten back by Black Panther and the Wakandan army.
In the MCU, Black Dwarf is actually known as Cull Obsidian and still serves as the physically strongest member of the Children of Thanos.
During Infinity War, he and his hammer/axe faced off against Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Wong, and Spider-Man in New York. However, his most telling bout came when he battled Bruce Banner in the Hulkbuster armor during the Battle of Wakanda. The Hulkbuster has proven strong enough to battle an enraged Hulk to a standstill during Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, during Infinity War, an upgraded version of this same armor was on the ropes against Cull Obsidian. It took Bruce’s ingenuity to defeat him instead of the Hulkbuster’s might. This shows that Cull Obsidian is at least comparable to the Hulk in terms of raw strength.
One would expect the goddess of death to be powerful and Hela would not be disappointing. Created in Journey into Mystery #102 in 1964 by the prolific duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Hela started out as a mysterious figure that represented death to Asgardians. She eventually developed into a fully realized antagonist who tried over and over to spread her influence over the dead to the souls that were sent to Valhalla upon their death. Her strength, vast mystical powers, command over the dead, and devious wit has driven both Thor and Odin to the brink in the past.
In the MCU, Hela made her appearance in Thor: Ragnarok and is significantly different from her comic book counterpart. In Ragnarok, she’s Thor’s banished sister and, while she’s still the goddess of death, her powerset is far different than it is in the comics. She is still incredibly powerful but doesn’t make much use of her mystical powers. Instead, she uses her incredible fighting prowess and weapon generation abilities to overwhelm her opponents. She takes on armies as a warm up and barely registers stab wounds. Hela is so powerful that she stopped Mjolnir in its tracks with no visible effort. She didn’t use magic or her death abilities, she just grabbed it and shattered it like it was a pebble. Her strength is so great that, more than once, she was able to easily overpower Thor, one of the physically strongest beings in the MCU.
The Mad Titan Thanos was created in 1973 by writer-artist Jim Starlin who drew inspiration from Jack Kirby’s work on DC’s New Gods. He premiered in Iron Man #55 and, from the beginning, Thanos’s cunning and obsession with Mistress Death has made him into a universal threat to all the Marvel heroes, even before he got his hands on the Infinity Gems (Stones in the MCU). However, his incredible mind doesn’t preclude Thanos’s raw strength. He’s a Titan mutated with a Deviant gene and further empowered by numerous other sources, giving him incredible raw physical attributes.
It also grants him other abilities such as matter manipulation, cosmic energy manipulation, and psionic powers.
In the MCU, Thanos doesn’t have quite as many abilities as his comic book counterpart, but he has been described as the most powerful being in the universe and that was before he got any of the Infinity Stones. He’s strong enough to go toe-to-toe with the Hulk and smart enough to outsmart anyone he encounters. When he fought Hulk in Avengers: Infinity War, he beat him into submission. He took a massive beating from Iron Man while holding back and only gained a tiny cut from that. He’s powerful enough to match up with any opponent and just toy with them.
Surtur is as close as the MCU has come to a demon in their movie universe. Surtur was created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and is based off of the Surtr found in Norse mythology. He has been a powerful force in the universe for millions of years and has battled both Thor and his father Odin numerous times. He’s even responsible for the death of Odin’s brothers long ago when Odin was a young Asgardian. He boasts the power to destroy Asgard which he has proven capable of doing more than once. With his massive Twilight Sword and powerful Eternal Flame, Surtur is one of the most powerful beings in Marvel Comics.
The same holds true for the MCU version of Surtur who actually did destroy Asgard. He was strong enough to defeat Hela, who had been unmatched in the film up to that point, with no real trouble. Surtur in the MCU withstood numerous strikes from her massive weapons and plunged his sword through her and into the core of Asgard, allowing him to destroy it. On top of that, he’s self-described as being as tall as a mountain and his claims seemed to be true.
Even if the MCU version of Ego were comic book accurate, he’d still be near the top of this list. In the comics, Ego was introduced in Thor #132 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Ego is literally a living planet said to have been born when a scientist merged with a planet during a supernova. From there, Ego has served as an antagonist to Thor, Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, and many other beings that interact with the cosmic universe. In the comics, Ego is known for his vast psionic abilities that allow him to manipulate matter and absorb living matter into his own. But, due to the fact that he’s a planet, he’s capable of moving incredibly heavy things and delivering truly punishing blows if he gets propulsion. And he has complete control over his own matter and can create things like tentacles.
In the MCU, Ego is actually considered a Celestial and is one of the oldest living beings in the universe.
He has incredible, often undefined, powers due to his Celestial heritage. The Collector has said that Celestials have incalculable strength and it showed when he battled the Guardians. He could do virtually anything he wanted to and there wasn’t much the Guardians could do to oppose him. It took Peter tapping into his own Celestial powers to oppose Ego. Dormammu only edges out Ego because Dormammu is considered powerful enough to threaten multiple universes and Ego doesn’t seem to possess the same threat level.
There’s not really much of a contest here. Dormammu is the ruler over a whole entire dimension and a conqueror of other ones. Dormammu was created in 1964 by the dynamic duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as a Doctor Strange villain. At first, he was only mentioned by Baron Karl Mordo who was sent on a mission to weaken the then Sorcerer Supreme, the Ancient One, in order to facilitate an invasion by Dormammu. Though the plan was foiled, Dormammu would go on to become one of Doctor Strange’s most unrelenting villains. He’s proven time and time again that he’s a being of immense power than Strange cannot beat through combat alone.
This is the very reason that Dormammu is on this list. His magical abilities give him what appear to be limitless power and he can use this power for a number of different effects, such as energy projection, possession, necromancy, and matter manipulation. But on top of that, he can change his size and use magic to augment his physical attributes. This means he can essentially be as strong as he wants to be. The MCU version of Dormammu appears to be just as powerful if not more so than the comic book version. In the MCU, Strange has absolutely no chance against Dormammu but in the comics, he can at least put up a fight. Either way, he’s a multiversal threat and it shows.