From the Dastardly to the Downright Evil1 of 12The “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Universe will mark major changes for the X-Men – and for all of Mutantkind. With the Terrigen mists that give Inhumans their powers sterilizing and killing mutants, the X-Men will find themselves in a tough spot.
These dire straits will blur the lines between the X-Men and their enemies, leading Magneto, one of the X-Men’s greatest foes and recent ally, to assemble a team of former mutant criminals to do the X-Men’s dirty work in a new volume of Uncanny X-Men.
It can be difficult to narrow down a list of the greatest X-Men villains. After all, given that they're hated and feared by the world at large, the majority of the population of the Marvel Universe can effectively be considered an X-Men villain.
But they've got some great characters among their list of enemies, and we've polled our staffers and devised our picks for the top 10 greatest X-Men villains of all time.
Also, check out our other "greatest villains" lists at the following links:
MYSTIQUE2 of 12Let's face it: Shapeshifting - the ability to physically transform yourself into practically anyone - is just a cool power. If that were all Mystique had going for her, she'd still be a pretty cool villain.
Luckily for comic book readers, she actually is a multifaceted character who's played both sides of the good/evil spectrum since her debut in 1978, but is best known as a mutant terrorist who led the iconic Brotherhood of Evil Mutants lineup featuring Avalanche, Pyro, Destiny and the Blob.
Mystique has become a major presence in the X-Men’s film universe thanks to a winning performance by fan-favorite actress Jennifer Lawrence, who will next appear in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. She’s also a member of Magneto’s team of reformed evil mutants in the upcoming new volume of Uncanny X-Men.
SHADOW KING3 of 12The history of the X-Men is filled with telepaths, starting with Professor X and Jean Grey and continuing on to the likes of Emma Frost, Psylocke and Cable.
Though all of those characters are (mostly) on the side of good, there's bound to be a flipside to all that psychic energy. And there is: The Shadow King, a villain that exists entirely on the psychic plane and has periodically tormented the X-Men since the 1980s (specifically making targets out of Storm and Psylocke).
With the ability to control unwilling bodies, The Shadow King has possessed numerous X-Men characters in the past, and in one instance, all of the fictionally important Muir Island in the aptly titled "Muir Island Saga."
JUGGERNAUT4 of 12Like several characters on this list, Juggernaut has been both an X-Men team member and an X-Men villain. But given his powers superhuman strength and unstoppable momentum given to him by an otherworldly demon named Cyttorak he certainly shines as a bad guy.
Stepbrother to Charles Xavier, the not entirely subtly named Cain Marko has caused problems for the X-Men since nearly the beginning, first debuting in 1965's X-Men #12. The only thing that's keeping him from ranking higher in this list is the fact that he's really become more of a Marvel Universe as a whole type of character, recently seen as one of "The Worthy" in Fear Itself and as a member of the Thunderbolts.
Juggernaut has transcended the world of comic books in an appropriately big way, appearing in TV shows and 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand film, along with inspiring the "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" Internet meme (which itself was referenced in The Last Stand).
Though Colossus briefly hosted the power of Cyttorak, Cain Marko is once again the demon’s avatar.
CASSANDRA NOVA5 of 12Grant Morrison's New X-Men run of the early-to-mid 2000s was, like so many of his comic books, filled with big ideas.
One of the biggest was Cassandra Nova, a new X-Men nemesis with a truly bizarre origin the very short story is that she's Professor X's twin sister, whom he fought in the womb, was stillborn but able to recreate her body, and then masterminded the destruction of Genosha and the death of millions of mutants; most assuredly earning her place on this list in sheer numbers on the board alone (though uniqueness certainly counts).
Cassandra Nova appeared again during Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's run on Astonishing X-Men, wreaking havoc with Emma Frost as part of a post-hypnotic suggestion.
HELLFIRE CLUB6 of 12Though intrinsically tied to the X-Men's history, the Hellfire Club could conceivably have plagued any Marvel hero. They're an organization of influential, affluent members of society who act in secret to bend the world to their will.
But what makes them perfectly positioned as X-Men villains is the simple fact that many of their key members have been mutants, starting with longtime Black King Sebastian Shaw. Emma Frost has been a mainstay of the X-Men since Grant Morrison’s run, even spending many years as Cyclops’s paramour, making her one of the team’s de fact leaders.
The Hellfire Club has played a part in many major X-Men stories, notably helping to turn Jean Grey into Dark Phoenix during "The Dark Phoenix Saga." Most recently, a decidedly different (and youthful) Hellfire Club caused trouble for the Jean Grey School in Wolverine and the X-Men.
MR. SINISTER7 of 12With pale skin and a bindi-like diamond on his forehead, Mr. Sinister is undeniably physically distinctive. Though a relatively recent addition to the X-Men's rogues' gallery, having debuted in 1987, Mr. Sinister has quickly ascended the ranks to one of their most frequent and feared foes, as a geneticist fascinated with experimenting on mutants and himself.
Even before making a proper debut, Mr. Sinister made his presence felt in a major way via the 1986 storyline "Mutant Masscare," where he deployed his Marauders to wipeout the Morlocks, a group of mutants living underground since they couldn't integrate with humans.
Mr. Sinister has since shown himself to be fascinated with the Summers and Grey families, attempted to kidnap Hope in "Messiah Complex," died and came back as a woman, and tried to transform San Francisco's population into replicas of himself. He's... eccentric.
DARK PHOENIX8 of 12"The Dark Phoenix Saga" is one of the most revered X-Men stories in history, and at the center of it is, duh, Dark Phoenix. Specifically, that's the twisted (thanks to Mastermind and the Hellfire Club) version of Phoenix, the incredibly powerful cosmic entity connected to Jean Grey.
In the 1980 story, Dark Phoenix attacked her X-Men teammates, and consumed a star's energy, which had the unfortunate side effect of killing billions of alien life forms. Eventually, Dark Phoenix's "Jean" side won out, and she sacrificed herself before even more destruction could be caused.
It's since been revealed that it wasn't actually Jean Grey committing the Dark Phoenix's deeds, but that doesn't lessen the impact of the story. In Avengers vs X-Men, however, Cyclops had his own run as the Dark Phoenix (and it was definitely him), when he killed Professor Xavier.
SENTINELS9 of 12It can be said that the X-Men's greatest villain might be "hate." As mutants, they've continually encountered prejudice from the world at large simply for being different - the central metaphor that's carried X-Men comic books for years.
And that hate is embodied most directly in the Sentinels, massive robots originally introduced in 1965 and programmed to seek and destroy any and all mutants. A symbol of humanity's hatred and fear of mutants, Sentinels have come in many forms over the years, but have remained a persistent threat.
In the bleak future seen in "Days of Future Past," Sentinels have evolved further, seen in the form of the nearly indestructible, shapeshifting Nimrod. (Yes, that's his name. It means "Great Hunter" in its Hebrew roots! Education!). They finally made their big-screen debut in the film of the same name in May 2014.
APOCALYPSE10 of 12Commonly known as the "first mutant," Apocalypse has an origin story that goes a ways back. Like, way back to ancient Egypt.
Apocalypse represents perhaps the greatest threat the X-Men have faced what could be greater than a villain who wants to wipe out all life on Earth and remake it in his own image? He's struck the X-Men and the world at large many times, with one of his most lasting crimes including transforming free-wheeling original X-Man Angel into the metal-winged Archangel, the horseman of Death.
In the still-popular '90s story "Age of Apocalypse," readers got a glimpse at what the Marvel Universe would be like if Apocalypse won and Professor Xavier never formed the X-Men turns out, it's a pretty scary place – a place that was recently revisited by Secret Wars.
Apocalypse will also appear as the titular menace - of 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac.
MAGNETO11 of 12Was there ever any doubt?
Magneto is not only the most famous X-Men villain by far, but one of the most complex in comic book history. A Holocaust survivor, Magneto has seen first-hand what hatred and fear of those who are different can cause, and has determined that he won't let it happen.
So in that regard, Magneto really isn't a black-and-white "villain" like many of the characters on this list. His motivations are understandable; even sympathetic. Of course, doing things like ripping out Wolverine's adamantium skeleton or frequently attacking humanity on a massive scale is… less sympathetic.
Featured in practically every adaptation of the X-Men (most recently a stirring portrayal by Michael Fassbender in X-Men: First Class, Days of Future Past, and the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse), Magneto will next lead a team of reformed mutant villains to do the X-Men’s dirty work in a new volume of Uncanny X-Men.
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