Look, narrow victories are the name of the game in the Marvel Universe. It’d be pretty boring if every comic book ended with our heroes winning in a cakewalk. That’s why Marvel’s most famous battles feature two iconic, evenly matched rivals. Think Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, Captain America and the Red Skull, and even She-Hulk and Titania. These stories work because the fights are close. There’s tension, and real uncertainty about whether or not the hero will be able to overcome whatever bad guy she or he is squaring off against.
But every now and then, the fight is a little less evenly matched, and a super villain gets a well-deserved beatdown that leaves him in a state of absolute humiliation. We’ve already put together a list of the most one-sided battles in comic book history, but here are 15 times Marvel’s villains found themselves really and truly humiliated.
15. Thor VS Loki
Thor and Loki have tussled to a standstill plenty of times over the past, oh, five thousand years or so. But only one of those fights resulted in Thor breaking Loki’s arm with about as much effort as you put into ringing a doorbell. During Walter Simonson’s legendary run on Marvel’s Thor in the 1980s, Loki put Thor through the ringer in just about every way a god can. Loki had Thor kidnapped, hypnotized and even turned into a frog. After all that, a broken arm doesn’t really like justice, but it was still a long time in coming and the sublime casualness Thor used to do it was icing on the cake. It was one of the final moments in Simonson’s run and after everything Loki had put Thor through during Simonson’s stint, it felt extremely well deserved. It wouldn’t be the last time Loki was humiliated for his tricks either, as you’ll see soon enough.
14. The NYPD VS Thanos
This isn’t the only time we’ll see Thanos on this list, but it is the only time we’ll see the New York City Police Department. While they’re tasked with keeping the peace in the city that never sleeps, they don’t usually get the glory of bagging an honest-to-goodness super villain, let alone a nigh omnipotent intergalactic Titan. But never let it be said that the NYPD can’t be trusted to do their job when the fate of the universe is on the line. After Spider-Man softens Thanos and his Thanoscopter (don’t ask) up a little, the police cuff him and …put him in jail? It’s not entirely clear that Thanos falls within the NYPD’s jurisdiction but let’s not quibble over red tape here. The point is, Thanos suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of a bunch of cops, because if you come at the Big Apple you better come correct.
13. Daredevil VS Bullseye
Daredevil and Bullseye square off all the time and Daredevil hasn’t always been on the winning end of those fights, but during Brian Michael Bendis’ run, Bullseye tried to break into Daredevil’s home to attack his then-girlfriend and promptly got his butt handed to him in an astonishingly brutal manner. For a few brief, chilling panels, the Man Without Fear becomes the Man Without Mercy, as Daredevil beats Bullseye within an inch of his life, viciously berates him as a “total nothing” and “pathetic”, tells Bullseye that his parents never loved him, tells Bullseye that he would kill him except he didn’t think it’d be worth the effort, and then uses a broken rock to carve Bullseye’s own insignia into the dude’s forehead for good measure. It’s hard to feel too sorry for a homicidal maniac and serial killer, but given the physical and verbal smackdown Daredevil hands Bullseye here, you almost can’t help it. It’s just that savage.
12. Spider-Man VS Kingpin
Spider-Man has a long history of embarrassing his costumed villains, whether he’s webbing up the Vulture’s eyes, de-pantsing Doctor Octopus or just cutting Mysterio down to size with an endless stream of goofball putdowns. One thing Spidey’s usually not into is viciously beating his bad guys into a horrifying pulp, but even he has a breaking point and man oh man, did the Kingpin find it. After Peter Parker discovered Kingpin had put out a hit on him that ended up accidentally wounding Aunt May instead, he confronts Wilson Fisk in broad daylight to give him a piece of his mind. Kingpin, ever the silver-tongued wordsmith, starts flapping his mouth about his own greatness, only for Peter to decisively shut it for him in what undoubtedly became the biggest L of Fisk’s entire career. What ensued was just pure carnage that left Fisk a giant, bleeding, bruised husk of a man and a chilling object lesson for any other bad guys who think about going after Spider-Man’s family.
11. Ant Man VS The Blob
Ultimatum was an awful, boring, sadistic story that just about everybody involved with wishes had never happened, and that goes double for the Brotherhood of Evil Mutant’s resident despicable tub of lard, the Blob. After a flood knocks out New York City and kills off a lot of our heroes, Hank Pym — aka Ant-Man or aka Giant Man, depending on the day — finds the Blob eating the remains of his partner, the Wasp. Yes, it was a truly awful moment in Marvel Comics history, bested only by the very next panel, in which Pym grows into Giant Man and bites the Blob’s head clean off. It was a great scene for Marvel Comics fans who like their heroes to be a little bit cannibalistic, and absolutely no one else. This was somehow not even the grossest, most stupid death in Ultimatum, but the less said about what Dormmamu did to Doctor Strange, the better.
10. Hawkeye VS The Collector
The Collector is an ageless Elder of the Universe infused with the Power Cosmic. You probably remember him as the flamboyantly eye-browed Benicio Del Toro in Guardians of the Galaxy. Hawkeye is a guy from Iowa who’s handy with a bow and arrow. You definitely remember him as Jeremy Renner. But when The Collector took out the rest of the Avengers with ease during the Avengers’ famed “Korvac Saga” in the 1970s, it was up to Hawkeye to defeat the Collector, rescue the Avengers and save the universe all by himself. That would be no mean feat for any character in the Marvel Universe, but it’s an especially tall order for a guy using technology from the third century. Fortunately for the universe at large, it took Hawkeye all of five minutes, thanks to a barrage of cleverly timed trick arrows that rendered the immensely powerful Collector helpless. A few minutes later, the Collector was killed by an unseen assassin before the Avengers’ horrified eyes, but they couldn’t have been all that surprised. The dude couldn’t even take Hawkeye in a fair fight.
9. Black Panther and Storm VS the Skrulls
When the alien shapeshifting race known as the Skrulls invaded Wakanda, they expected its king and queen — the Black Panther and his then-wife Storm, from the X-Men — to just surrender. And that’s exactly what T’Challa and Ororo did, at first, which was the first step in their almost hilariously labyrinthine plan that eventually led to the utterly humiliating defeat of the entire Skrull army. After conning the Skrulls into accidentally kidnapping and torturing their own alien agents, the Wakandan army sprung a surprise attack against the Skrull interlopers, killing them in their own spaceship and using their blood to write a message on the wall: “THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU INVADE WAKANDA.” Bear in mind, this all happened after the Skrulls had sent their top warriors into battle, where the Black Panther killed them as quickly as you change your mind. Another reminder, as if we needed it, that Black Panther and Storm are low key two of the most fearsome heroes in the Marvel Universe.
8. Luke Cage VS The Purple Man
Zebediah Killgrave, the Purple Man, has the disconcerting ability to make people do whatever he wants them to do just by talking to them. You’re probably familiar with him from David Tennant’s spooky performance on Netflix’s Jessica Jones series. So when he broke out of jail and told Luke Cage to go “kill the Avengers and then kill yourself”, things looked pretty grim …for about ten seconds. It was then revealed that, unbeknownst to him, Killgrave had been drugged in jail, so his powers weren’t working. That left Cage — who was itching for some revenge after Killgrave had hypnotized and tortured Cage’s wife Jessica Jones — free to beat the Purple Man very nearly to death and may have gone all the way if he hadn’t been stopped by Captain America. After the truly horrifying manipulation and sadism Killgrave has engaged in with his powers, he’d more than earned a brutal thrashing. The only way it could have been more satisfying was if it had come from Jessica herself.
7. Wolverine VS Sabretooth
These two have a history that goes way, way, waaay back and have probably gone at it tooth and nail more times than almost anyone else in Marvel Comics history. Their origin stories are wrapped up in each other, but even that doesn’t quite explain Sabretooth’s morbid fascination with Wolverine, or why he seeks Logan out every year on his birthday to make his life miserable. Sabretooth has viciously tortured Wolverine, killed his friends and lovers, The fights were always savage but, since they’re both mutants with world class healing factors, it seemed like their rivalry was destined to exist in an eternal stalemate. That is, until Wolverine came across a sword that could nullify healing factors. He used it to make brutally short work of Sabretooth, decapitating him in a four-second fight. These are comics so, of course, Sabretooth didn’t stay dead (he was brought back from hell by a cult of magical ninjas, as you probably guessed), but it was still about as devastating as villain defeats get.
6. Franklin Richards VS Mephisto
Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman’s oldest son Franklin is an omega level mutant, meaning his full powers are unchecked and quasi-godlike. So when Mephisto, Marvel’s ultra powerful Satan figure, hatched his plan to kidnap and torture the Fantastic Four in hell forever, he made sure to place Franklin, who just a five-year-old at the time, in suspended animation first. It worked for a few minutes, with Mephisto sadistically tormenting Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. And that’s how things would have gone for the rest of eternity, except Doctor Strange got wind of Mephisto’s plan and used a spell to wake Franklin up. From there, the 5-year-old kid made extremely short work of one of Marvel’s most powerful super villains, incinerating him with a thought while calling him a “bad man”, which was an understatement but got the point across. Hell of a loss.
5. Professor X VS Magneto
Magneto’s helmet keeps Professor Xavier and his psychic powers at bay, which is a big part of how the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants was able to bring America to its knees as part of Magneto’s master plan in the first Ultimate X-Men arc. Things were looking pretty grim when Magneto had the President cowering naked on the White House lawn while the X-Men themselves were battling an army of Sentinels to a standstill. But the tables turned when Magneto’s turncoat mutant speedster son Quicksilver stripped his father of his helmet. Magneto barely has time to stammer “dear god” before Professor X jumped into his head to give Magneto a supremely satisfying mental thrashing that left Magneto a kindly old chess aficionado with no memory of his villainous life. He eventually recovered his memories and, as you might expect, was none too pleased. Frankly, he should have been thankful Professor X didn’t mind control him into walking into the ocean.
4. Colossus VS Ord
Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men is full of great moments, but few are more delectable than Colossus giving the alien super warrior Ord the beatdown of his life. Ord had proved himself capable of defeating the combined might of the X-Men all by his lonesome in the past, but that was before Colossus had rejoined the team, and that made all the difference. Colossus and Ord had a bit of a history, as Ord had experimented on Colossus’ body to help create a mutant “cure.” Experimenting on someone without their consent will do things to a guy, and Colossus was ready for some payback. “Do you think because you are made of steel that you can stand against me?” Ord asks, smirking. “Not steel,” Colossus responds. “Rage. I am made of rage!” And with that, Colossus tosses Ord around the room like a sack of marbles. It was a rarely unhinged moment from the generally reserved X-Man and put a formidable villain in a state of utter helplessness.
3. Hulk VS Loki
Whedon’s moment from Astonishing X-Men described above was really closely echoed to delicious effect towards the end of his first Avengers movie. After leading his alien army into New York City where they were all more or less trounced by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Loki is set on his heels and looking for a way to make lemonade out of a surplus of super powered lemons. Things go from bad to a whole lot worse for Loki when the Hulk shows up, and the trickster god fires back by pontificating about his own power and majesty. The Hulk couldn’t have been less interested. We all know what comes next, as Loki finds himself pretty quickly demoted from god of Asgard to rag doll to “puny god.” As surprisingly easy main boss battles go, this one ruled. A good reminder to anyone wanting to invade earth: if you don’t have a Hulk, you don’t have a chance.
2. Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers VS Thanos
Yes, Thanos makes this list twice, on account of him being a absurdly powerful villain who nevertheless can’t win for losing. Thanos is Marvel’s biggest bad, its Sauron, its Hades. It’d be embarrassing for him to get beat by anyone, but getting trounced by a team of superhero pets who’ve put aside their differences to stop him from collecting the Infinity Gems and taking control of the multiverse? He probably should just hang up his spandex and call it a day. Earth’s Mightiest Pets include the Inhumans’ teleporting dog Lockjaw; a frog named Throg who has a splinter of Thor’s hammer and, so, a fraction of Thor’s power; Shadowcat’s tiny fire breathing dragon Lockheed; the Falcon’s self-righteous, telepathic pet bird Redwing; a spritely, bouncing tomcat named Hairball; and Aunt May’s diminutive pooch Ms. Lion, whose only power is his courageous heart. Together, the team stranded the mad Titan Thanos in a different dimension and collected all of the Infinity Gems to give to a baffled Reed Richards for safe keeping. Who’s a good boy?
1. Squirrel Girl VS Doctor Doom
This list wouldn’t be complete without one of the most infamous beat downs in Marvel’s history, in which the dreaded Doctor Doom takes a shellacking for the ages from Squirrel Girl. Iron Man had already showed up to put a stop to Doom’s evil plans, but Doom got the drop on him and seemed poised to claim victory. But Doom hadn’t counted on Squirrel Girl — most people don’t — and that proved to be his downfall. She used her psychic link to New York’s squirrels to overrun Doom with the furry rodents, rendering him helpless. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, he shouts “Confound these wretched rodents! For every one I fling away, a dozen more vex me!” For what it’s worth, Squirrel Girl has actually beaten most of Marvel’s heaviest hitters at one point or another during her astonishingly successful career as a superhero, including Wolverine, Deadpool and, you guessed it, Thanos. We’ll see if he fares any better against the Avengers onscreen in 2018 with Avengers: Infinity War.