Leaders have to juggle the weight of power and responsibility, sometimes on massive scales. A lot of the time, they dictate the future of those they lead. Teams, nations, planets and even interstellar empires, these leaders are responsible for the direction of those in their charge. In return, their power can sometimes come from those they lead. Where some leaders are appointed because of their power, some do not have power unless they are afforded it by their people. From benevolent visionaries to ruthless dictators, nearly every faction in the Marvel Universe answers to someone. At times, these leaders come together for the greater good in stories like Infinity, while in others they go to war against each other, as seen in arcs like "Annihilation."
A number of these authorities represent their people with dignity, while others would rather see their people and all territories under their heel. There are even those who lead with fanaticism and desperation for the means of self preservation. Earned, taken by force or inherited, heavy is the head that wears the crown and the power that comes with it. So, who leads their people to glory? Who leads their people to ruin? Regardless of their path, it always comes back to power. Leaders leverage their own standing, political powers and even their artifacts to assert dominance or protect their people. We're going to look at how the leaders of the Marvel Universe stack up against each other.
J'Son doesn't' have any real superpowers, since the people of his home planet Spartax are very similar to humans. J'Son's power used to come from his corrupt leadership of the Spartax Empire, harnessing their superior technology and their vast resources. He was eventually toppled by his son, Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord.
J'Son would go on to take the moniker of "Mister Knife" and rebuild an empire of crime. Without the limitations of leading people who believed him to be good, he could let loose. He sought out new power in cosmic artifacts such as the Black Vortex. He has yet to claim an object to do any real damage, but it is only a matter of time.
24 QUEEN VERANKE
Queen Veranke was a Skrull Queen who led her people in an invasion of Earth that was very nearly successful. While she has the stock shapeshifting powers that the entire Skrull race possesses, her real power lay in her desperation to spread her empire, and the lengths she was willing to go to for her people.
With their home planet destroyed, she hatched a brilliant scheme to infiltrate all of Earth's super-teams and organizations. The confusion left the planet in disarray and the turmoil almost saw her attain Earth.
23 NORMAN OSBORN
More commonly known as the Green Goblin, Norman Osborn was once the most powerful man in the United States. Ever the opportunist, Osborn stepped into the power vacuum left in the wake of Veranke's plot during "Secret Invasion."
Taking the Iron Patriot suit and forming dark versions of Earth's premier super-teams, Osborn solidified his hold on S.H.I.E.L.D. by using its resources to form H.A.M.M.E.R. Not only that, he even had control of The Sentry, the most powerful of all Avengers, claiming to be able to control the evil Void entity within him.
Medusa is Queen of the Inhumans; while she usually rules alongside her king, Black Bolt, she has led them on her own merit on several occasions. Rallying her people during the recent appearance of the terrigen mists, she shepherded her people through their resurgence.
With her husband incapacitated, Medusa led the Inhumans against the mutants during the events of Inhumans Vs. X-Men and proved to be a formidable and valiant ruler. Always willing to answer the call, she also led the Inhuman fleet to help seal the rift leading to the Cancerverse.
21 BLACK PANTHER
T'Challa is king to one of the most advanced nations on earth, Wakanda. His power comes from Vibranium and the technological aptitude of his people. Historically, most threats to Wakanda have been put down handily under his guidance.
Even when T'Challa was temporarily deposed, he became King of the Dead. This allowed him control of the undead during the final conflict in Secret Wars. He also wielded the Infinity Gauntlet, using it to go toe-to-toe with Dr. Doom, who had ascended to Godhood with the power of the Beyonders.
The king of Atlantis and a powerful mutant, Namor has been around for a very long time. Namor's enhanced physiology as both a mutant and an Atlantean make him an extremely strong combatant, able to command the denizens of the sea.
Namor, while largely negative towards the land-based factions, can usually be counted on to fight the good fight. He led Atlantis against AXIS forces in the greatest conflict of the 20th century, alongside Captain America. On one occasion, Namor even possessed the power of the Phoenix Force!
19 BROOD MOTHER
The Broodmother is the matriarch of a terrifying insectoid race from beyond the stars. However, it takes a while to birth a new legion of these creatures, as found out in Infinity when the leaders of the interstellar races discussed battling the Builders together.
The Broodmother has power in her numbers but she can also have her subjects impregnate any biological host. As long as there is biological life in the galaxy and the means for the Broodmother to impregnate them, her reign could be eternal.
Magneto is powerful in his own right, as his mastery of magnetic forces is unparalleled. However, as a leader, Magneto really comes into his own. His ability to influence other mutants with his message and dedication without the aid of any telepathy-based powers is impressive. He is both dangerous and charismatic in equal measure.
On occasion, the master of magnetism has lead entire nations, leading North America in the events of House of M, being the figurehead on the the nation of Genosha and in one possible timeline, leading the X-Men against the villainous Apocalypse.
Vampires have come a long way in the Marvel Universe, having actually originated in Atlantis of all places. Dracula is the current Lord of the Vampires, and while his reign has been long, it has not come without difficulty. Dracula has faced down everyone from Blade to Apocalypse and even an Asgardian-powered Hulk!
Dracula's immortality helps him out with his tenacity, but he's no slouch in battle. He also commands a number of supernatural followers; not just Vampires. This was something Deadpool once found out during a run-in with the Arch-Vampire.
Warbringer is the leader of the Chitauri. A warmongering chieftain whose hate for Thanos eclipses his hate for everything else, so you can imagine just how angry he is at Thanos. Hoping to restore his people's former glory after their servitude to the Mad Titan, he led his citizenry on a crusade to claim the Power Stone.
While he was eventually taken down by the young superheroes, The Champions, he managed to hold his own against the Nova Corps, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Raptors simultaneously on his quest for the Infinity Stone of Power.
A resident of the Negative Zone, King Blastaar is always looking for ways to consolidate power. He is a formidable being who is never too far from combat, owing to the warring factions that exist within the Negative Zone. He even made a move for the Inhuman throne at one point.
Blastaar isn't entirely unreasonable, though. After all, he joined with the cosmic heroes in both Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest to fight against universe-threatening forces. Hard-headed and extremely hard to kill, at one point, he used his unique physiology to fake his own death in order to infiltrate Ultron-Phalanx's stronghold.
Ronan the Accuser is a powerful authority both on Hala and in the Universe at large. With the help of his fellow Accusers, he makes sure that the will and safety of the Kree Empire is intact. Though his more practical means of solving issues often puts him at odds with The Supreme Intelligence of the Kree, he is dedicated to doing what is best for his people.
Ronan has been present in just about every major cosmic Marvel event, and he always makes an impact. His hammer has felled many villains, one of his most iconic panels being his removing of half of Ravenous' face with a single swing.
Gladiator is usually the head of the Shi'ar imperial guard; however, following the events of "War of Kings," he reluctantly takes the role of acting Emperor. He is an extremely powerful being, a Strontian, a people who are said to become even stronger once devoted to a cause or belief.
Indeed, he is utterly devoted to his empire, and Kallark (his real name) has put down a number of the strongest beings in the galaxy with his immense levels of power and resolve. Other abilities include heat vision -- said to be hotter than a star -- as well as the ability to fly at warp speeds.
12 SHADOW KING
It is not clear where the Shadow King came from, but it is thought that he was created by the first nightmare in the multiverse. He represents the worst parts of the human consciousness and has the ability to possess people when given a strong enough foothold in their mind.
Some of the most powerful telepaths in history have struggled against the horrors of the Shadow King, so great is his power. He opts to fight in the minds of others, and even if his host is destroyed, he lives on, lurking in the depths of humanity's dark thoughts. Through this, he is nigh-immortal.
Few villains strike fear into the hearts of the X-Men like Apocalypse. The ancient and powerful mutant is not only imbued with immense power, he is also adorned with armor given to him by the Celestials. With it, he is entrusted to ensure evolution takes its course by any means necessary.
En Sabah Nur has a dedicated following, helping him to build his vision of a world where only the fittest survive. To bolster his own immense strength, he is always heralded by his four horseman, individuals who are trusted to enact his will as Famine, Pestilence, War and Death.
10 DOCTOR DOOM
Ruler of the fictional nation of Latveria, Doom needs no introduction. His power, while limited to begin with, has grown immensely over the years. Not only is Victor Von Doom a master of science, he is also a keen sorcerer -- a heady mix that makes him perhaps Marvel's most dangerous villain!
Doom's power comes from his willingness to learn, as well as his ceaseless ambition. If Doom catches wind of a new power, he will learn all he can about it. His pursuit of power has led him to Godhood on more than one occasion, though it never lasts.
Gabriel Summers is the third, and longtime forgotten, Summers sibling. He is an unspeakably powerful mutant whose growth was accelerated by Shi'ar Tech. He briefly returned to Earth and joined a covert X-Men team, but unfortunately, the mission went awry. He blamed Xavier for his fortunes, and dispatched the X-Men with little effort before returning to space.
Vulcan returned to the Shi'ar empire and would eventually become its emperor, taking out the corrupt then-ruler with unrelenting ferocity. A bitter and vengeful person, he led the Shi'ar empire in bloody conquest until he was put down by Black Bolt of the Inhumans.
8 BLACK BOLT
The silent liege of the Inhumans, Black Bolt is a force to be reckoned with. He has managed to preserve his people for an incredibly long time, despite multiple hardships and displacements, and his power is respected by many god-level entities in the cosmic landscape.
With a single whisper, he can level entire cities, and when his power is unleashed, its destructive force is devastating. He has used the extent of his powers to put down some of the most powerful villains, too, including the aforementioned Vulcan, though it took him two attempts.
Annihilus commands the Annihilation Wave, a wave of gigantic insects that once brought the universe to its knees, devouring everything in its path. Obsessed with self-preservation, he seeks to eliminate all other life in the universe. His power comes from his sheer numbers and his Cosmic Control Rod, a powerful artifact he embeds in his armor.
Annihilus' power was greater than that of Quasar, the wielder of the Quantum Bands, who he dispatched easily. He was stopped by Nova, who tore out his innards to avenge Quasar. Annihilus has since been reborn in Larvae form and appears to do so whenever he is killed.
Ultron is at his scariest when leading an army of subordinates. So long as one Ultron unit remains, he can escape into other technology. His ability to process large amounts of information and use it to adapt to danger make him a hard foe to eradicate.
In the events of Annihilation: Conquest, Ultron uses his influence over technology to take control of the Phalanx. The Phalanx are a techno-organic race, capable of consuming biological life. With this, Ultron was able to take control of heroes such as Nova, Ronan and Gamora.
Worldmind is the embodiment of the Nova Force, and all of the advancements the Nova Corps have ever made. Following the destruction of Xandar, all of the power, knowledge and abilities of the Nova Corps were made manifest into the Worldmind.
The Worldmind is capable of deputizing anyone it imbues with its power. It was used by Nova to stop Annihilus, and it has the power to regenerate its user from death, given enough time. The Worldmind guides its user, as it once guided Xandar, using its incredible power to preserve the last vestiges of the Nova Corps.
Mephisto is the closest thing in the Marvel Universe to the devil. He is unstoppable in his own realm and although he can be defeated outside of it, he is still very dangerous. He commands otherworldly, horrific powers and deals in trickery and pacts, just like the Biblical devil!
Mephisto is responsible for the Ghost Rider, as he granted the first rider with the Spirit of Vengeance. He also takes those who are about to die, and offers them second chances with the caveat they they must serve him. He once trapped Agent Venom, X-23 and Red Hulk in one of his demonic pacts... but thanks to some ingenuity and combining their powers in the coolest way, they got better!
Odin is the father of the Mighty Thor and the All-Father of the 9 Realms. The All-Father possesses the power of the Odinforce, which grants him this immense power. He uses the Odinforce to maintain balance within the 9 realms and to protect those under him.
His power is such that he was able to have Mjonlir forged and he was able to imprison his brother, the God of Fear, beneath the sea in Midgard. He can regenerate from great amounts of damage and fatigue in a state called the Odinsleep, and is, without question, one of Marvel's strongest living deities.
2 KING HYPERION
King Hyperion is so powerful that even the collapse of his reality could not destroy him. This sinister incarnation of Hyperion traveled to another dimension's Earth and easily brought it under his rule. Defeating Earth's heroes, villains and even dangers from beyond in space, Hyperion's reign was as ruthless as it was absolute.
His thirst for conquest not fully slaked, he is seen across several storylines, such as "A Blink In Time," trying to consolidate power to take other realities and timelines. His parallels to DC's Superman are undeniable, as he even has a weakness based in a mineral, Argonite.
Thanos is the champion of death and the Mad Titan of... well, Titan! Extremely powerful in his own abilities, he has acted out schemes that have increased his control and influence ten... nay, a hundred-fold. His power has inspired entire races to follow his lead, and even willingly serve him from beneath his heel, like the Chitauri!
In his ongoing quest to impress Mistress Death, he has wielded the Infinity Gauntlet to terrifying effect. He even brought the universal entity of Eternity down with his wielding of the gauntlet, not to mention his other schemes giving him similar control over universe-sweeping powers. Death cannot stop him as he openly seeks to be one with it, his one true love.