Marvel has tons of characters to use in their films, and as such they have a massive pool of villains to choose when they bring more heroes to the big screen. While not all of them have well-received, there’s no denying that Marvel is on the right track, giving their villains proper upgrades to be in the movies. Over the years, Marvel, FOX, and Sony alike have all grabbed some fairly obscure characters to serve as main antagonists for their films. On paper, a lot of these villains didn’t seem powerful or deadly enough to take on live-action superheroes. However, several alterations were made for them to fit right in with their respective universes. With may of the iconic villains already having a shot at the big screen, it was time for some lesser-known characters to get their turn.
A lot of the villains that appeared practically needed an update before they were movie antagonists. They were not frequently major threats in the comics, and that likely wasn’t going to fly with modern audiences. Needless to say, a lot of more obscure Marvel villains became big threats as a result of their live-action debuts. That’s not to say that the villains were never threatening in the comics, just that they were normally not that scary to the hero or the reader. Marvel, FOX, and Sony have all taken some comic villains and made them a bit more menacing to fit with the movies. Join CBR as we count down 20 normally tame Marvel villains that were made much more dangerous on screen.
Spider-Man has a vast gallery of villains, but some of them are a bit more one-note than mainstays like Green Goblin, Doc Ock, and Venom. Sandman is one of those characters. Not accomplishing a whole lot in the comics, he was given a lot more to do in Spider-Man 3 as well as have a personal connection to Peter Parker’s past.
By the end of the film, the Sandman turns into a giant sand monster that proves too much for the spider. We get a shot of the villain continuously punching Peter, tearing his mask and nearly killing him before Harry Osborn comes to give him a hand.
19. IRON MONGER
Obadiah Stane was a pretty selfish guy in the comics, both manipulating Tony Stark’s love life and challenging Iron Man with his bodyguards, but he took it a whole new level in Iron Man. Stane orchestrated the attack on Stark and was indirectly a result of him being chained up in a cave.
Later on, he would double-cross the Ten Rings in order to manufacture his own version of the Iron Man suit. Not only did he stun Stark to take his plans, but he would use the Iron Monger suit to take out some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents while trying to murder Pepper for knowing too much.
18. ALDRICH KILLIAN
Aldrich Killian was involved with Extremis in the comics, but he had a major change of heart as well. In Iron Man 3, that was far from the case. Killian had it out for Tony Stark from the very beginning, employing many Extremis soldiers to kill Stark and anyone around him.
Killian also orchestrated a plot to capture the leader of the free world, leaving only Stark and Rhodey to save the day. During the final battle, Killian would’ve taken out Pepper, had she not also been infused with Extremis. Let’s also not forget that Killian was the one who shot a missile right at Stark’s house.
Ego the Living Planet is a powerful character, having the experience and strength to do some serious damage to the Marvel Universe. However, he was given some updates for his appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. On top of being Star-Lord’s father, Ego revealed to have caused the demise of all of his biological children.
He was also the one who put the tumor in Peter Quill’s mother — becoming someone that was worth fearing. The only way he was defeated was because Star-Lord also had access to the Celestial abilities, putting them at an equal playing field.
Ayesha is one of Marvel’s more obscure characters, being artificially created as the perfect lifeform. She gained sentience and decided to search for a mate and enlightenment. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Ayesha is in love with herself to a fault. Any sort of insult to her name, and she’ll take it out on the universe just to protect her pride.
Ayesha also proved to be extremely persistent, pulling out all the stops to make sure that the Guardians of the Galaxy met their end. She and the rest of the Sovereign even followed them to Ego’s planet, which is at the edge of the entire universe.
Darren Cross was a standard villain — his body was disfigured, he had a negative outlook on life, he became a villain… you know the rest. In Ant-Man, he’s not that interesting of a character, however he is quite mad to say the least. Not only does he experiment on sheep, knowing full well what will happen to them, but he also has a gun that can immediately turn anyone into a pile of goo.
During the climax, he went to Cassie Lang’s house and threatened Scott’s daughter, which is an extremely awful thing to do. He spent a lot of time trying to beat Scott before being destroyed by his own tech.
While not debuting in the comics, Kaecilius was no more than a glorified minion of Baron Mordo. With Mordo not yet being a villain in Doctor Strange, Kaecilius was brought in to serve as the bad guy. He was turned into the Ancient One’s best student who sought for more powers in the Dark Dimension.
Not only did he succeed in killing the Ancient One, but he gave himself up to Dormammu so that the Dark Dimension could merge with Earth. Kaecilius was much more threatening, and Strange had to use some clever thinking to win the day, knowing that he couldn’t win in a fight.
Vulture is a Spider-Man villain who has essentially been a laughing stock. An old man in a raggedy suit with wings, Vulture has never posed a serious threat to Peter. It says a lot, then, that he was much more frightening in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Not only was the costume a lot more menacing, but the twist near the end of the movie resulted in one of the most uncomfortable and scary scenes in any superhero movie. Let’s not forget that he used the Vulture suit to drop an entire building on Peter, effectively trying to end a 15-year old kid in battle.
Black Panther is a popular character, but his villains haven’t had a lot of time in the spotlight before the Black Panther movie released. Killmonger, in the comics, had a connection to the royal bloodline, but wasn’t quite as successful as he was in the film. He did take over the throne, but was noticeably weaker than T’Challa.
In the film, Killmonger practically demolished T’Challa as well as the priest, Zuri. He took over the throne and had a plan to go to war with the rest of the world, even taking out other Wakandans to keep the power of the throne. He also changed T’Challa’s outlook on life, which is something not many villains can do.
11. WINTER SOLDIER
Winter Soldier has never been a pushover. Programmed by HYDRA to carry out special missions, he was a fairly serious threat from the start. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, though, he was much more threatening. Cap and his friends had almost nowhere to hide from the Winter Soldier.
Not only did he manage to track down and relentlessly hunt Nick Fury (almost ending his life in the process), but he also would’ve dropped Captain America had it not been for memories of the past overwhelming him, thus sparing his best friend’s life. It’s a good thing that he became a hero, or the results would’ve been catastrophic.
The mantle of Baron Zemo has been passed to several characters in Marvel’s history, but they’re all quite outlandish and ready to fight Captain America. Zemo formed the Masters of Evil and has brought the Avengers to their wit’s end. However, Captain America: Civil War made Zemo much more dangerous by having him get the Avengers to tear each other apart.
Despite being captured in the end, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were divided, with half of the team being labeled as outlaws by the United Nations. We’ll probably never see him again, but his work was completed from start to finish.
9. SEBASTIAN SHAW
Sebastian Shaw has been a big X-Men villain for a while, but X-Men: First Class put him on an entirely new level. Having first appeared in World War II as a scientist, we see him performing experiments on numerous people, including a young Magneto without even flinching.
In the present day, he battles the newly-formed X-Men with the intent of ending them. Not only does he show of his powers by destroying one of the X-Men, but he would continuously go to war with them. Unfortunately for him, his savagery put Magneto on the path to become a powerful and respectable villain.
The Sentinels were designed with one purpose in mind: to end the mutants of the world. They did pose a threat to the X-Men time and time again, but their appearance in X-Men: Days of Future Past made them all the more frightening. With more adaptable designs, we witness the Sentinels battling and destroying the X-Men one by one.
They were so powerful that the only way to defeat them was to send Wolverine back to the past and prevent them from ever being created. Had they not done so, then the entire mutant population would’ve been destroyed by those destructive robots.
Col. William Stryker is known as the one responsible for the Weapon X program, effectively creating the Wolverine as a weapon of mass destruction. In the movies, he’s portrayed as much more dangerous. Not only does he create Wolverine, but he ruins the hero’s life, causing the death of the woman he loves on top of trying to get his brother to end him.
Stryker then appears in other X-Men prequels, where he would repeatedly kidnap mutants to try and make his own weapons. His descendant would later appear in Logan as the one trying to kidnap X-23, showing that someone so demented leaves a disturbing legacy.
6. THE LIZARD
The Lizard is another Spider-Man villain that is dangerous, but also a bit ridiculous. In The Amazing Spider-Man, he was turned into something a bit scary, as the film played with a Jekyll/Hyde dynamic. There were a few scenes where the Lizard actually scared the audience.
He repeatedly tried to end Spider-Man and terrorized the people of New York City, nearly turning them into lizards as well. The Lizard would eventually end Gwen Stacy’s father before being placed in prison. He did redeem himself later, but the damage done by the monster inside could never have been undone. Neither could his path of destruction.
Electro needed some changes before appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. His silly costume and personality would never have worked on the big screen. This time around, Electro caused a lot of problems, using his manic obsession with Spider-Man as fuel to become a much more dangerous villain.
Causing issues in Times Square, he placed a lot of people in danger at every turn. Even when he was placed in custody, he was strong enough to get out and directly challenge Spider-Man. He never managed to harm anyone major, but he brought more than his fair share of power to every fight, making him an immediate threat.
Whiplash is a character that went through a few revisions. The version used in Iron Man 2 is based on the Anton Vanko iteration of the character, who reverse engineered an Iron Man suit after someone wearing it ended his father’s life and framed Tony Stark. Whiplash went on a mission to destroy Stark from then on.
In the film, Whiplash was a bit more menacing, enacting a long-term plan that would destroy Stark once and for all. Building a team of remote-controlled robots, he was able to cause a lot of problems for Stark and Rhodey. Furthermore, he attacked race cars on a track with his whips just as an attempt to get rid of Tony.
3. RONAN THE ACCUSER
Ronan the Accuser has been a fairly big character in the comics. He has fought characters like the Fantastic Four and even Thanos’s Black Order. In Guardians of the Galaxy, he was a bit more powerful, though. With an obsession to eradicate the planet of Xandar, he not only denounces Thanos to his face, but wields an Infinity Stone.
He then plans a frontal assault on Xandar, rocketing his ship to the surface. All he has to do is touch the planet, and it’s destroyed. He took a shot from the Hadron Enforcer to his face without even staggering, and ended an innumerable amount of the Nova Corps in the process.
2. DARK ELVES
The Dark Elves weren’t big characters in the comics, despite some interesting design choices with Malekith the Accursed. In Thor: The Dark World, they were even less interesting, with no one remembering or caring who they were. However, they were a bit more powerful. Not only was their fleet strong enough to invade Asgard, but they also ended Frigga, Thor’s mother, and left the city defeated.
Kurse managed to be strong enough to take on Thor himself, and there seemed to be nothing the Asgardians could do to stop them. Malekith’s obsession with the Aether also made him extremely powerful, and a serious threat for the God of Thunder.
Blackheart was created by Mephisto to build something that was purely evil. While Blackheart displeased his father many times for how ineffective he was at corrupting others, he displeased Mephisto in the Ghost Rider film for different reasons. Blackheart tries to obtain a contract worth one thousand souls against his father’s will, which prompts Mephisto to send Ghost Rider against him.
Blackheart can drop people with a single touch, is unaffected by holy locations and objects, and feels nothing when subject to Ghost Rider’s stare, having no soul. He was nearly unbeatable, and required a different tactic to take down.
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