Magic is one of the most powerful forces in Marvel Comics. It has been shown to be superior to the abilities of mutants, the technology of the science heroes, and even the mighty Power Cosmic. Magic also has the added bonus of being open to anyone with the aptitude and dedication to learning it. You don’t need the aid of the X-Gene or Galactus to use magic in Marvel.
All of the wannabe Harry Potters shouldn’t get too excited, as the true secrets of magic are heavily guarded, all in order to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. This hasn’t stopped many evil individuals from learning the ways of magic, and becoming powerful sorcerers. Magic has a cost, but a true villain would have no problem selling his or her soul for a little more power.
With evil sorcerers running amok in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the time has come to identify the most powerful of the wicked witches and wizards of the superhero world. From the God of mischief, to the Lord of Latveria, here are Marvel’s 15 Most Powerful Magic-Using Villains!
When Odin found a Frost Giant baby in the fortress of one of his fallen foes, he felt duty bound to raise the child among his own offspring. The child grew up to be Loki, the God of mischief. Loki would become a prominent villain in the Marvel Universe. In fact, it was in response to Loki’s machinations that The Avengers were first formed.
Loki was trained by some of the finest sorcerers in Asgard. He possesses a wide-range of magical abilities that are amplified by his divine nature. Loki mainly uses illusion-based magic, of which he is the undisputed master. True to his role as the God of mischief, Loki can glamour any object to make it look like something else. While his magic is based around deception, that doesn’t mean Loki is a slouch in the physical department. Due to being a Frost Giant, Loki possesses superhuman strength and durability.
If he is so powerful, then why is Loki so low on this list? Despite being an Asgardian God, Loki tends to end up on the losing side of things on a regular basis. Loki is constantly being beaten and outmanoeuvred by other heroes, including Thor, the X-Men, and the Avengers. While most people love the scene in The Avengers when Loki gets beaten up by the Hulk, it doesn’t change the fact that the villain of the movie was taken out in a few seconds of combat.
If Rosemary’s Baby has taught us anything, it’s that the Devil loves coming to Earth and impregnating women. When this happened in Marvel Comics, the resulting offspring naturally joined the ranks of the superheroes & villains.
Satana is one of two children fathered by Satan (the other being Daimon Hellstrom, who would become a hero). She embraced her demonic heritage, and after training in Hell for a while, she returned to the Earth as a succubus. Satana would go on to make sporadic appearances with Doctor Strange and The Thunderbolts.
Being a succubus, Satana has the ability to drain the life energy from men. She can re-purpose this energy into magical effects, like the ability to conjure fire from Hell itself. She can also drain blood energy from weapons that were used to take a life. Satana was also trained in witchcraft by some of the most learned warlocks of Hell.
Being the Devil’s daughter comes with its own risks. During an issue of Deadpool Team-Up, Satana has her soul stolen by other demons, who want to marry her in order to inherit Hell from her father. In desperation, Satana marries Deadpool instead. After enhancing Deadpool’s katanas so that they can harm supernatural beings, Satana convinces Deadpool to murder her other suitors. In the end, she divorces him. After all, living in Hell must suck, but it’s way better than being married to Deadpool.
13. Madelyne Pryor
After Jean Grey was believed to have been killed during the “Dark Phoenix Saga”, the X-Men were left devastated by her death. No one was hurt more than Cyclops, who had long been the love of Jean’s life. He rebounded quickly, when he met a woman named Madelyne Pryor, who just happened to look exactly like Jean. When Jean Grey returned, Cyclops spurned Madelyne, and left her a woman scorned. It was revealed to her that she was actually a clone of Jean Grey created by Mr. Sinister, who was desperate for a Summers/Grey child to be born. With Jean Grey’s return, she was no longer needed.
Madelyne Pryor made a deal with the demon known as N’astirh. He grants her tremendous magical power, in exchange for her aid in his invasion of Earth. Madelyne became known as the Goblin Queen, and has been a recurring enemy of the X-Men ever since.
Due to being a clone of Jean Grey, Madelyne possesses the same high level ability of telepathy and telekinesis as she does. When Madelyne was transformed into the Goblin Queen, these powers were greatly enhanced by magic. Madelyne could warp reality itself within a small area, and could manipulate the thoughts of others with her new mind-control powers.
12. Baron Mordo
When the Ancient One was choosing potential successors for the title of “Sorcerer Supreme”, the first criteria was how awesome their name is. This is the only explanation for why Karl Amadeus Mordo was chosen as an apprentice, as he has “clearly evil” written all over him.
Both Stephen Strange and Karl Mordo were chosen to be the students of the Ancient One. Rather than having to compete for the title of Sorcerer Supreme, Mordo thought it would be easier to just kill the Ancient One, and usurp the position. Stephen Strange learned of the plot, and warned the Ancient One before any damage could be done. Mordo was cast out, and he would become known as Baron Mordo; a long-running enemy of Dr. Strange.
Due to both Mordo and Strange being trained by the same person, they both share similar magical styles. While Dr. Strange is the more powerful of the two, Mordo is willing to use dark magic to further his goals. He will often bind demons to his will, and can manipulate others into doing his dirty work through the use of illusions.
With the prominence of Dark Elves in Norse Mythology (better known as the Svartálfar), it is surprising that they did not show up during the early days of the Thor comics. The leader of the Dark Elves, Malekith, was not introduced until the 1980s. He has long been an enemy of Thor and Asgard, and has attempted to destroy both on numerous occasions. Malekith would come to prominence when he was used as the villain in Thor: The Dark World.
Due to his dark elf heritage, Malekith has a natural connection to magic. He can shape-shift his body into any form, and can teleport across great distances. His magical nature grants him great physical durability and Wolverine levels of healing, allowing him to face Thor on the battlefield.
Much like the faeries of myth, Malekith is weak to iron, and it can prevent him from using his magic. This is kind of a big deal when you mainly fight Asgardians, as they use a lot of iron weapons & armour. It’s kind of like how Superman has an enemy called the Kryptonite Man (although he can always just pass him off to Batman or the Flash, or put on a radiation suit).
While Reality TV might seem like a modern affront to decency and good taste, its creation and rise was predicted a long time ago. The lesser known Rocky Horror Picture Show sequel known as Shock Treatment had a premise based around reality shows back in the 1980s. The late ’90s Ron Howard comedy, EDtv, also predicted the creation of the genre.
The X-Men also predicted a more violent Reality TV show in the 1980s. The magic-using alien known as Mojo runs an inter-dimensional TV show, where super powered beings must fight for survival. He has kidnapped the X-Men on numerous occasions, and forced them to take part in his twisted shows.
Much like how a Dungeons & Dragons style God derives power from their number of worshippers, Mojo’s magic becomes stronger as his shows gain more viewers. It is due to this that his power is theoretically unlimited in scope. While his magic grants Mojo some basic superpowers (like super strength and force bolts), his most powerful ability is his “death touch”. His mere presence causes decay, and he drains the life energy from living beings through physical contact. If left on Earth for long enough, Mojo could destroy the planet.
9. Morgan Le Fay
It is a lot easier to use historical or mythological figures as comic book characters. They are less likely to sue you for unsanctioned image use than real life celebrities.
Morgan Le Fay is an enchantress from the legends of King Arthur. She was also re-purposed by Stan Lee into being a villain of the Avenger known as Black Knight. Morgan Le Fay has been a recurring villain of The Avengers for a long time now. She rarely ever engages them in person, and can use her magic to manipulate events from across time and space. When the Dark Avengers were formed by Norman Osborn, Morgan was their first opponent. She summoned an army of demons into the present day, in order to kill Doctor Doom (her former student). Every time one of the Dark Avengers killed her, Morgan used her time-travel magic to bring herself back to life. It took Doctor Doom sending her back in time to the stone age for Morgan Le Fay to finally be stopped.
As can be seen from her encounter with the Dark Avengers, Morgan Le Fay’s greatest use of magic is her ability to control time and reality. If someone lacks the ability to alter time at a greater level, then they do not stand a chance of victory. This is a small taste of her power, as Morgan Le Fay can summon demons, control minds, and witness events happening anywhere in time and space.
8. The Enchantress
Is it possible to be both an arch-nemesis and friends with benefits? The Enchantress has been trying to find this out for years now, as she spends half her time trying to kill Thor… and the other half trying to sleep with him.
The Enchantress (real name, Amora) is one of the few Asgardians who is not based upon any real myth, rather, she was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pages of Thor. Amora is one of the most powerful magic-users in all of Asgard. She was tasked by Odin to kill Thor’s human girlfriend, Jane Foster (due to Thor breaking Asgard’s strict “no ho’s in different area codes” law). Amora would be thwarted by Thor, and she was banished to Earth by Odin. She would go on to join the Masters of Evil, and be Thor’s evil equivalent.
Due to her unearthly beauty, The Enchantress focuses on the magic of seduction. Her ability to control the minds of men is unequalled. A single kiss can turn most men into her slave. She also has a range of other magical abilities, but she rarely uses them. All The Enchantress needs to do is kiss a few superheros, and she will have all the strength she needs.
The purpose of the X-Men as a group is to fight for the dream of Professor Charles Xavier. This dream is for the peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants. Despite this, the X-Men fight an awful lot of witches and wizards.
Unlike most of the groups in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the X-Men have a great line-up of villains. One of the most popular is the Hellfire Club – a group of rich mutants who use their genetic abilities in the pursuit of power. It helps that most of their members dress like they hang out in S&M themed clubs. Enter Selene, the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, who mixes her mutant abilities with her considerable magic powers.
Selene’s powers are tied to mental abilities. She is a psychic vampire, and can drain the life force from living beings. This also allows her to mind-control those upon whom she feeds. Selene can use the energy to give herself superhuman strength. It also allows her to amplify her mental abilities, granting her powerful Telepathy and Telekinesis.
Spiral is a servant of Mojo, and a longtime enemy of the X-Men. She is known both for her vast power, and the fact that she has six arms, each one usually holding a deadly weapon.
One of Spiral’s biggest contributions to the X-Men mythos is that she is the main reason that Psylocke is an Asian woman. When Psylocke was first introduced, she was a white woman from Britain. After travelling through the Siege Perilous, the X-Men were scattered across the globe. When Psylocke returned, her mind was in the body of a Japanese woman named Kwannon. This was due to a deal worked out between Shinobi Shaw, the Mandarin, and Spiral. Kwannon would later return… in the original Psylocke’s body, meaning the X-Men briefly had two Psylockes on the team.
With the aid of her six arms, Spiral is a powerful sorceress with a wide range of powers. She has single handedly defeated the X-Men on many occasions. Spiral was one of the few people considered to become the next Sorcerer Supreme, after Doctor Strange abandoned the mantle after the events of “World War Hulk”.
Spiral would later make an appearance in several of Capcom’s fighting games. She was playable in X-Men: Children of the Atom, and Marvel vs. Capcom 2. The fact that she has six arms works to her advantage, and she is one of the best characters in both games.
When the Skrulls invaded during the “Secret Invasion” event of 2008, it was up to the heroes and villains of Earth to mount a counter-attack. The Gods of Earth decided that they weren’t going to sit back and allow their followers to be taken over, so a team of deities was formed, whose purpose was to wage war upon the Gods of the Skurlls. The “God Squad” was led by Hercules, but not all of its members were so willing to go.
Amatsu-Mikaboshi is based upon a demon from Japanese mythology. He attempted to take over both Asgard and Olympus, and was imprisoned for his crimes. He was later forced upon the God Squad, even though they admitted that having an evil shapeshifter on the team would be helpful when facing other evil shapeshifters.
As a godlike being whose sphere of influence includes shapeshifting, Amatsu-Mikaboshi has the ability to transform into anything. His preferred form is a colossal creature made from darkness. Due to existing before existence, Amatsu-Mikaboshi also has control over the void, and can create a darkness that even the gods themselves fear.
4. The Dire Wraiths
The Skrulls weren’t the first alien race to try and take over Earth through the use of subterfuge. The Dire Wraiths were a race that used magic and technology to assume the forms of the native species, and slowly set off a chain of events that would allow them to take over the world. If it weren’t for the arrival of Rom the Spaceknight (who possessed a device that could reveal the true form of the Dire Wraiths), then Earth would have been left.
In the Marvel Universe, if a planet has denizens capable of defeating the world devouring Galactus, then they are considered a world to be feared. Earth has been saved in the past due to the reluctance of species to mess around with the people who defeated Galactus.
The Dire Wraiths did the same thing, although they didn’t just chase Galactus off… they almost killed him.
When Rom led Galactus to the world of the Dire Wraiths, they summoned a storm of acid to destroy his equipment. When he tried to eat their planet the old fashioned way, the Dire Wraiths conjured creatures of darkness from their own black sun, and set them upon Galactus. He fled from the battle, and was forced to admit defeat.
3. Kulan Gath
Marvel Comics once purchased the rights to create comics based upon Conan the Barbarian. It was in the pages of the Conan comic that an evil sorcerer named Kulan Gath was introduced. Magic-users are a common foe in works featuring Conan. They are normally used to show a contrast between a weakling that relies on sorcery, and a big musclebound man with a sword.
Little did fans suspect that Kulan Gath would make his way into the main Marvel universe. Kulan Gath transferred his life essence into a medallion, in order to survive after death. The medallion would be found in modern day New York, and the mugger that donned it was transformed into the wizard. Kulan Gath was reborn, and he transformed Manhatten into a city that resembled the ancient lands of his birth. Kulan Gath managed to kill most of the major Marvel superheroes (including Spider-Man), and it took the time-travelling Sentinel known as Nimrod to prevent the whole thing from happening in the first place.
Kulan Gath possesses magic that allows him to escape death, and to alter reality itself. He controlled the citizens of Manhatten into doing his bidding, and could create city-wide illusions to enforce his rule. He came very close to taking over the world, perhaps more so than anyone else on this list.
Doctor Strange only faced one-off villains during his initial run. As he became more popular, the fans wanted to see him face a more deadly foe, one that would not be so quickly dealt with. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko rose to the task, and began dropping hints of a powerful sorcerer from another dimension. His name was Dormammu, and the day was coming when he would face Doctor Strange.
Dormammu is a sorcerer from the Dark Dimension. He had taken over that dimension, and his next target is ours. The only thing standing in his way is Doctor Strange, as his magic can counter Dormammu’s. The two of them have been battling for years, and Dormammu has come close to victory on many occasions.
As the archenemy of Doctor Strange, it is only natural that Dormammu be an incredibly powerful sorcerer. Doctor Strange himself admits that Dormammu is closest to him in magical ability, and that he must remain at full strength at all times in order to be ready to face him.
When Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds was released in 2011, Dormammu was one of the playable characters in the game. This was odd, as Doctor Strange was not present in the game (although he would later show up in the Ultimate edition of the game).
1. Doctor Doom
The title of “Sorcerer Supreme” is held by Stephen Strange. He has the intelligence, wisdom, and the good nature to hold the role as the protector of our dimension from mystical threats. It is vitally important that Stephen Strange keep this role. He cannot retire until the death of Doctor Doom. If something happened to Stephen Strange, then the title of Sorcerer Supreme would most likely pass to Doom, and all of the world would be in grave danger.
Victor Von Doom is the son of a Romani witch. He would later be instructed in the ways of magic by Tibetan monks, and Morgan Le Fay. His power has been shown to be greater than those of his peers, and he has occasionally eschewed technology in favour of a purely magical approach.
Doctor Doom is best known for his use of technology (especially his suit of armour, and his army of Doombots). Beneath the metal, he is a man possessed with incredible arcane knowledge. While he prefers to use his technology to solve problems, Doom will turn to his vast magical power when cornered, and can unleash the hordes of Hell upon his opponents if pressed. Doctor Doom’s sorcery is just one of many reasons that he is the most powerful supervillain in all of Marvel Comics.