It's a great, big universe...1 of 12Space is a big place – and in the Marvel Universe, it’s full of diabolical evil. From one-man armies like Thanos and the Magus to devious races such as the Skrull, all the way to omnipotent forces of nature like the Phoenix Force, they are so big the Joss Whedonian term “big bad” seems insufficient.
With this August’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie (check out the latest trailer here), mainstream Marvel fans will get their first taste of Marvel cosmic – and as any devoted comics fan can tell you, there’s a lot more where that came from. These aren’t alternate dimensional demigods like Loki or Earth-born enemies like Korvac, but matter-of-fact extraterrestrial threats that could end our world – or any world – if they wanted to… if there weren’t heroes out there to stop them.
So step back, make some room, because Newsarama is ushering in the top 10 cosmic villains of the Marvel U. Normal villains like Green Goblin or Magneto might kill you, but these bad guys (and bad girls) can eliminate you from existence – and everyone you ever knew.
The Brood2 of 12Nasty. There’s no other way to put it – these parasitic aliens are arguably the creepiest of all Marvel villains, and that’s something. Created by Dave Cockrum and Chris Claremont to originally be henchmen for another villain, they grew quickly to become their own unique kind of threat to the X-Men, as well as Iron Man, Ghost Rider, Ms. Marvel.
Marvel’s Brood evolved many of the characteristics of the xenomorphs from the Alien movie franchise, but they’ve proven themselves even more sturdy with the power level of foes they’ve faced in comics. Virtually every X-Men has been impregnated and transformed to a Brood at one point – even Wolverine – in some visuals that are both awesome and grotesque.
In terms of individuality, for the most part the Brood blend together. It’s ironic that the most well-known individual Brood is Broo, who rebelled against his race and joined the X-Men. The next best thing is the Brood Queen – while not quite an individual person, is a ranking and similar to the queens of a nest of bees in terms of control. As a race and an empire they are among the universe’s biggest, even having a seat on the Galactic Council as seen in Infinity.
The Magus3 of 12Imagine the dark side of a messianic figure, and that’s a pretty bleak figure – and that’s the Magus. The Magus is the dark side of Adam Warlock – in some cases a splinter self, and in other cases merely an older Adam Warlock from the future who has gone corrupt. Either way you cut it, Magus at his worse eclipses in many ways Adam Warlock at his best.
Magus first appeared in Jim Starlin’s run on Strange Tales, guiding his younger self down the path that would lead to his dark transformation. Later, he gains ownership of the Infinity Gauntlet and mounts a one-man war against Warlock and other Earth heroes. The Magus also leads a religious empire named the Universal Church of Truth. That Church has been the thorn in side of many cosmic heroes, and was the central antagonist in The Thanos Imperative as part of the Cancerverse.
The severity of the Magus’ damage has always been limited by the intervention of Adam Warlock, but if and when that impediment is removed –or Magus gets the upper hand – worry be to those standing against him.
The Kree Empire4 of 12One of the many creations during Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s run on Fantastic Four, the Kree Empire is one of the largest forces in the known galaxy – and have used it to their advantage. Organized as a militaristic dictatorship and most always run by a Kree super-mind called the Supreme Intelligence, the Kree Empire have brought war to Earth – and virtually every other part of the galaxy – for decades, including the current arc of All-New Invaders.
As a full-fledged empire, the Kree have a bevy of notable warriors in their fold. The original Captain Marvel was a member of the military, as is the iconic Ronan the Accusser (who will make his big-screen debut in this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy). They also have numerous others like Korath the Pursuer and the super-group, Starforce.
The Kree Empire extends for nearly a thousand worlds, and was the inciting party in the centuries long Kree-Skull War which even drew Earth into the battle during “Operation: Galactic Storm.”
The Celestials5 of 12Although their actions might be deemed to be un-malicious, the Celestials have done more than enough to be considered threats to humankind and, in general, life as we know it. Created by Jack Kirby in his 1976 series Eternals, in some ways they are the defacto chief life forms in the universe and were dubbed “space gods” by Kirby at the time.
For the Marvel Universe, they’re best known for their infrequent visits to Earth to judge the progress of the lifeforms here – each time deciding between killing all life, forcibly evolving some creators, or leaving everything untouched. They are responsible for the creation of the mutant gene in humans, as well as creating both the Eternals and the Deviants. During one of their visits, the combined forces of humans’ mythological gods attempted to prevent a judgment by the Celestials, and their battle ended in a stalemate.
At an average height of 2000 feet, the Celestials are an awesome sight in their rare appearances in Marvel comics. Their powers are seemingly limitless, with everything from moving planets to creating (and destroying) universes. That being said, they’ve been killed once on a comics page – in a recent issue of Uncanny Avengers thanks to the Apocalypse Twins – but that doesn’t diminish their threat at all.
Venom6 of 12Think Venom is just another Earth-based Spider villain? You’re forgetting where it came from. The alien symbiote known to us as Venom was first seen in 1984’s Secret Wars, latching onto Peter Parker when he was in need of a replacement costume. With Peter, he was eventually transported back to Earth and became Venom with a multitude of hosts – but he’s cosmic, no doubt about it; and Marvel is about to play up that very soon.
In Marvel’s 2014 Free Comic Book Day issue, there was a Guardians of the Galaxy story which showed Agent Venom joining the team; in that, someone said Venom looked familiar. And on series writer Brian Michael Bendis’ tumblr, he stated that a future arc will show the team visiting the symbiote’s home planet. With all the trouble Venom has caused on his own on Earth (and with his children Carnage, Scream, Toxin, and others), imagine a whole race of them set loose in Marvel? They touched upon this once before with the Amazing Spider-Man story-arc “Planet of the Symbiote,” but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
But getting back to Venom himself, he’s been an epic thorn in the side of Spider-Man and is arguably one of the most significant new characters introduced in Marvel comics in the past thirty years. Through hosts like Eddie Brock, Mac Gargan, and others 9and even on its own), Venom is a grade-A threat to Earth and anywhere else a symbiote shows up.
The Beyonder7 of 12Although his origins have been retconned multiple times, no matter how you tell it the Beyonder is a bad dude. Created to be the ultimate adversary for the combined forces of Marvel’s heroes in 1984’s Secret Wars, the Beyonder has limitless powers and has only proven himself stoppable through complex logical tricks or by turning him against himself.
Possessing these massive powers (and a massively retro jheri curl), the Beyonder took Marvel’s heroes to the limit on four separate occasions: the two major event series Secret Wars and Secret Wars II, and also in the “Secret Wars 3” arc of Fantastic Four and in a star-studded issue of the miniseries New Avengers: The Illuminati. What happens when he shows up next? It’s up the Beyonder: he can make reality into anything he wants.
The Skrull Empire8 of 12When you tell Earth heroes there’s an alien invasion coming, the first they think of is the Skrulls. From the earliest days of the Marvel age in Fantastic Four #2 all the way to the massive 2008 event Secret Invasion, the technologically advanced aliens from Skrullos have the uncanny ability to shape-shift to impersonate anyone, as well as the technology to allow some of its warriors – known as Super Skrulls and War Skrulls – to emulate superhuman abilities such as that of the Fantastic Four.
In the aforementioned Secret Invasion, the Skrulls embarked on a years-long covert plan to infiltrate the human race with sleeper Skull agents in positions of power – both in government and literal power: superheroes. Although they were ultimately turned back, they caused a sizeable rift in the superhero community which was taken advantage of by Norman Osborn when he took control of the U.S. government’s authority on superheroes.
In the aftermath of Secret Invasion, the Skrull Empire has smaller numbers but still poses a sizeable threat. They were unlikely allies in Earth’s defense against the Builders in Infinity, but that doesn’t mean they’re our friends – only that they had mutual enemies as us.
Galactus9 of 12When most comic fans thing of cosmic bad guys, Galactus comes to mind. He’s not the first, he’s not the last – but he’s arguably the most memorable. Like many of the cosmic villains on this list, Galactus was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee as a villain that was above the mortal ideas of “good vs. evil,” but rather was out to survive; and the only way he could live is by dining on planets.
Intended initially to be a one-time character, Galactus quickly became a major part of the Marvel U – in earth-shattering events of Fantastic Four, as well as in Thor and in the creation, management and rebellion by his one-time herald the Silver Surfer.
Galactus was recently responsible for the nearly eating the entire Ultimate Marvel Earth whole, and was only stopped by shafting him into the Negative Zone. Considered left for dead, he was recently discovered by the Eternals with the intention to use him as a doomsday device against the Kree.
The Phoenix Force10 of 12Passion can be a good thing and a bad thing. And in the Marvel universe, the ultimate embodiment of that is the sinister, near-limitless being known as the Phoenix Force. As the nexus for all psionic energy, it’s drawn to beings of great power to join with them – such as Jean Grey. But their passion can sometime take too firm a hold, twisting the desires of their host into deadly consequences.
The Phoenix Force is responsible for the death of numerous planets, as well as twisting heroes such as Grey, Cyclops, Namor and others to kill loved ones around them – from the likes of Professor X, to most of the Wakandan nation.
In terms of power level, think big: when its power is fully actualized, it can transverse time and space due to its ability to create black holes. As the nexus for psionic energy, it has the ability to use it in all its forms: telekinesis, telepathy, as well as other abilities. Most importantly however, seems to be its namesake: it rises like a phoenix after every apparent death, even from deathblows from the likes of the Beyonder.
Thanos11 of 12Thanos was never intended to be an A-class villain; originally introduced as a one-off villain for Iron Man, it took 18 years and near that many twists of fate for him to end up with the Infinity Gauntlet in in 1991. But once he did, he never went back.
Born on the Saturnian moon of Titan, Thanos became fascinated with death as a child – something which grew inside him to become a twisted, pining love for the near-mythical cosmic force of death. Through twisted schemes as seen in Infinity Gauntlet and on through to Infinity, his goal is simple: the subjugation of the entire universe under his thumb, all in a steady procession to death.
Although Thanos on his own isn’t as powerful as most of his fellow villains on this list, he makes up for that in drive and deliberateness; gaining extra powers either as a consort to Death, as the possessor of the Infinityy Gauntlet, or through other technological means. Thanos wasn’t born with power; but he knows it’s out there, and he’s one of the few with the diabolical drive to get it – and use it to cause death to everyone in the universe.
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