At one point or another within the Marvel Universe, Thanos has been nearly unmatched in his power and abilities whether from the Cosmic Cube, the Infinity Gauntlet and its gems, or the Heart of the Universe. True, he’s a chilling villain, consumed by his quest for power and obsession with Death, but ultimately his motivations were rooted in his need for love, a very human need.
In that sense, he is immensely weaker than most supervillains because of his emotional capacity, even acting as a hero sometimes in order to return the universe to its previous state and avoid the immense loneliness of ultimate power. Thanos is a romantic; he’d give it all up for Death’s acceptance in a heartbeat, but when he’s scorned, he acts like a big baby, nursing his ego and insulting her instead. Although he is truly a formidable foe of every being in the universe, there are other villains who incite more fear, due to their pure evil nature or unwavering commitment to destruction.
These are a few of the Marvel villains who’ve proved to be much scarier than Thanos due to their appearances, actions, and ultimate goals during their reign of terror. Here are 15 Marvel Villains Much Scarier Than Thanos.
15. Kang the Conquerer
Although Kang has no superpowers himself, per se, his command of time makes him dangerous beyond reason. He is a master of science and technology, employing terrifying apocalyptic weapons and robotic minions to accomplish his goals. In multiple instances, he traveled both backward and forward in time, enslaving the Egyptians as Pharoah Rama-Tut, conquering Other Earth during the 40th-Century, and even invading other dimensions.
As a result of his continuous time travel, Kang disrupted numerous timelines, creating multiple divergences and, therefore, equally destructive alternate future and past selves. At one point, he even gathered his alternate selves together to form the Council of Kangs, replacing redundant selves with robot clones to rule his various empires, only to slay them all in an ultimate act of self-destruction. Because of his time traveling abilities, he remains one of the scarier Marvel villains, for even when heroes like the Avengers or Fantastic Four seemed to foil or destroy him, another Kang would simply time-travel or send a robot to take his place.
14. Amatsu-Mikaboshi/Chaos King
Called the God of Evil, Amatsu-Mikaboshi is a terrifying demonic entity from the Japanese Land of the Dead. He has an insatiable lust for power, continuously destroying the pantheons of humankind, including the Greek gods of Olympia. Upon destroying Zeus, one of the most powerful immortal gods in existence, he actually uses Zeus’ body to storm heaven and absorb the powers of the Shinto gods and their equals. Every time he destroys a being, gods included, he absorbs their power, in addition to being able to animate their corpses and enslave their souls.
Eventually, he absorbs over 99% of the multiverse, gaining so much power he becomes the embodiment of chaos as the Chaos King, which is a threat to every being in existence, Thanos and Galactus included. Mikaboshi’s main goal is the complete annihilation of all things and a return to the void of darkness where he reigns supreme. There is absolutely no redeeming quality about him as he is more supernatural force than being, with his natural form being not much more than dark energy, which he can manipulate into appearing however he likes. Basically, he’s pure evil.
13. Red Skull
Appointed to the Nazis by Hitler himself, Red Skull was head of terror and espionage for the Germans in WWII. With Hitler’s initial support, the Red Skull had unlimited access to technologically advanced weapons developed by the Nazis. He helped develop experimental doomsday war machines that were intended to destroy the world if the Allies won the war, but were secretly his own plan for world domination. Seeing as even Hitler came to fear him, as he murdered his way to the top, Red Skull is one BAMF.
Aside from his Nazi ideologies and scary appearance, Red Skull is a troubling villain because of his political ambition and obsession with destroying humanity, and in particular, Captain America. When he acquires the Cosmic Cube, he manipulates reality and can transform his enemies, even switching bodies with a clone of Steve Rogers. He gains control of several criminal gangs, The Watchdogs and the Scourge of the Underworld, and manipulates his way into the position of Secretary of State. Having been unable to destroy America and the allies before, Red Skull attempts to destroy them from the inside out by unleashing a very real kind of threat; his chemical weapon, the Dust of Death.
12. The Mandarin
Most of Mandarin’s strength and power comes from his encounter with and mastery of technology, namely that of the alien race Makluan and the ten rings that powered their ships. Although not as powerful as the Infinity Gems in Thanos’ possession, each ring is capable of similar powers involving manipulation of molecules and energy, psychic ability, and control of light and elements. When combined, the rings give Mandarin superhuman abilities, allowing him to teleport and control minds. With the rings, Mandarin conquered Chinese villages and intended to conquer China as well as the entire world. He also utilizes a Makluan headband that allows him to control his consciousness and transfer his intellect into the rings while obtaining a new body.
The Mandarin’s strength is at its peak when he discovers the Heart of Darkness artifact, which drives him mad with supernatural power and causes him to denounce technology and revert China to medieval times. Ultimately, he’s a scary guy because of his multiple attempts at initiating a world war, namely between China, Russia, and the US; a scenario that doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore.
11. Marquis of Death
The Marquis of Death is arguably one of the most powerful Marvel villains, potentially even more so than Thanos. He has an unrivaled mastery of time and space and is capable of jumping universes instantaneously and teleporting himself or others wherever he pleases. Without a thought, he destroys Doctor Doom’s Latveria along with his former apprentice, sending him into a time-rift. He has also traveled across the Multiverse, wiping out every universe he comes in contact with, including the Earth-1 Dimension Away, where he kills everyone by causing the sun to go supernova.
Scarier still, the Marquis of Death has telepathy abilities that allow him to torture both his protege Dr. Doom, by showing him his perfect life and then taking it away, along with members of the Fantastic Four, by making them relive the deaths of those close to them. He was even capable of turning alternate versions of the Fantastic Four against Mister Fantastic in order to save their own worlds. Ultimately, he is so powerful that he can teleport heroes, villains, and Gods (including Galactus), and bend them to his own will.
Intensely paranoid about death due to his insect-like DNA and shorter life expectancy, Annihilus remains one of the most dangerous Marvel villains. He will destroy any living being that threatens his existence or dominate them with his Cosmic Control Rod. The rod not only extends his lifespan but can reconstruct matter, boost his strength, and fire bursts of energy with catastrophic results. Annihilus has immense powers, such as flying at the speed of a category five hurricane and spawning clones of himself upon his death. At one point, he also gains control of Quasar’s Quantum Bands, hoping to increase his abilities and find the Power Cosmic.
Annihilus is another conqueror villain who wants nothing more than to be the strongest, most powerful being in the universe. As such, he has invaded the Microverse, sending drones to conquer in his name in addition to attempting to merge the Negative Zone, with the Earth Universe, nearly destroying both in the process. During his continual search for the Power Cosmic, which would allow him to become one with the universe and do pretty much anything he wanted, he invaded the positive matter universe with his insanely scary warship armada.
9. Gorr the God-Butcher
Gorr the God-Butcher’s brutality is pretty self-explanatory; his end goal is to destroy all gods in the universe and he starts accomplishing it one by one. Impatience eventually sets in and he forces Shadrak, the alien god of bombs, to give him the knowledge to create a device that will wipe out all the gods at once. He also creates an army of darkness to aid in his destruction of deities, called the Black Berserkers.
Not one to stop killing gods at any point, Gorr uses gods’ blood to time travel and increase his power, enslaving the gods he doesn’t kill outright. Ultimately, the enslaved gods become instruments of their own demise, creating Gorr’s god-destroying doomsday device with the heart of an Elder God powering it. Any villain that is powerful enough to take down multiple gods is pretty damn scary, especially when that’s his sole purpose in life and he doesn’t even bother with puny humans or superheroes. Equally impressive and terrifying is that Gorr actually takes on and defeats three incarnations of Thor at once before triggering his god-bomb, causing even more gods to die.
8. Null the Living Darkness
Aside from his creepy multi-eyed, non-corporeal appearance, Null the Living Darkness was a force to be reckoned with. His creation was the result of an ancient angelic race’s collective suicide and their subsequent grudge against humanity. As a demon, he had unlimited abilities to manipulate supernatural forces, which he used to frighten the wits out of the town of Christiansboro, Virginia. Through nightmares and illusions, Null terrorized and possessed people, even commanding an army of zombies. How’s that for a horror movie?
Scarier still was his choice to take control of another telepathic being, Over-Mind, which he used to possess the President of the United States and control the minds of other world leaders in order to increase his psychic powers. Upon achieving world domination, Null tried to start a nuclear war, drawing ever more power from the consciousness and dark energy of others. Essentially, Null is everyone’s worse fears imagined in a purple cloud of tentacle-y ancient alien death.
When the offspring of Venom’s symbiote merged with known serial killer Cletus Kasady, Carnage was born. As the symbiote grew more attached to Kasady, it became harder to separate the two, with the symbiote eventually becoming part of his blood. Carnage increased and amplified Kasady’s psychosis, causing him to continue his random killing sprees. Even when the two were separated by death, the symbiote’s bond with Kasady was so great that he reanimated him, after which they proceeded to kill everyone in sight.
Although he has some of the powers and superhuman abilities of both Spider-Man and Venom, Carnage is more powerful than both combined. He can even increase his mass by feeding on other aliens, which is not something that Thanos is capable of (thankfully). Like other villains on this list, Carnage took over a town, albeit with copies of his symbiote, even possessing some members of the Avengers and Fantastic Four who tried to get in his way.
6. Doctor Doom
Doctor Doom has made himself the leader of a country (Latveria), the Emperor of Earth, and even a god at one point. His super intelligence, magical abilities, and grasp of technology have allowed him to best superheroes and villains alike. He has stolen the powers of Silver Surfer, Kilgrave, Galactus, The Beyonder, and Scarlet Witch to make himself more powerful, and in some cases omnipotent. When he drained The Beyonder’s powers, he could have actually destroyed the universe with a mere dream. He was later able to destroy the Beyonder by creating a bomb of Molecule Man, although it destroyed all but a dozen universes in the process.
Then, when he stole Kilgrave’s mind control powers, he made Earth prosper despite its inhabitants not having free will, which is a scary thought. One of his greatest feats, however, was besting his master, the Marquis of Death, after disguising himself as his new apprentice and defeating him as revenge. At one point he was even in possession of not one, but two Infinity Gauntlets as well as an army of lobotomized versions of himself. How’s that for unmatched cosmic power?
Galactus is the oldest living entity in the universe and the sole survivor of a previous universe where he had once been mortal. He’s the third force in the universe, between Eternity and Death, with practically limitless god-like power. His sole purpose is to satiate his seemingly constant hunger for energy by consuming planets and the sentient beings that exist upon them. There’s almost nothing more terrifying than the thought of a being that can eat an entire planet or destroy a fleet of starships with a single gesture.
When Annihilus was trying to conquer the universe, Galactus unleashed what came to be called the “Galactus event,” an omnidirectional burst of energy that destroyed the majority of the Annihilation Wave, stopping Annihilus from using him as a weapon. With his incredible, incomprehensible power, Thanos even put him on par with Odin, Zeus, The Stranger, and the Celestials in Thanos Annual #1.
A unique combination of the telepathic abilities of Professor X and the electromagnetic manipulation of Magneto, Onslaught was born from the darkness within both incredibly powerful mutants. Originally dedicated to the unification of humans and mutants, Onslaught created a Sentinel army, reprogramming them to obey him and seal off Manhattan in order to store enough psionic energy to impose a collective intellect. He captured X-Man and the young Franklin Richards in order to harvest their psionic powers and absorb them into his own. He also attempted to lead the mutants into war against humans and tried to eliminate humanity with the creation of a second sun.
Onslaught became pure psionic energy after an attack by the Hulk, whom he separated from his human side. The attack rendered him immune to physical harm and a completely separate entity from Professor X. With his combination of Magneto and Professor X’s powers, Onslaught was able to astral travel/project and create pocket universes at will. Basically, it took the combined powers of the X-Men to take him down, which is nothing to shake a stick at. An all out mutant v. human war would have had disastrous consequences, especially if their powers were allowed to go unchecked.
Although originally Magus was supposed to be Thanos’ antithesis, the process left him insane– no longer a champion of life. Instead, he made himself a god, creating his own doctrine, the Universal Church of Truth; an intolerant religious cult that waged a holy war across his intergalactic empire. At one point, his former self, Adam Warlock, comes into possession of the Infinity Gauntlet, which revitalizes the evil within him in the form of Magus. Like Thanos, he also acquires several Cosmic Cube-like devices enabling him to warp reality and place it under his control.
When he possessed the Cosmic Cube-like containment units, he was able to let certain beings (like Thanos) become aware of his plans, essentially taunting them with the knowledge. His power became so great that he was able to render Eternity, a cosmic entity, catatonic and create evil doppelgangers of Earth’s allies. He even made a Thanos duplicate to serve as his own ally. He was then able to fool the heroes of Earth, and when the complete power of the Infinity Gauntlet was restored, he proved almost impossible to overpower.
2. Phoenix Force
The Phoenix Force is perhaps one of the most powerful cosmic entities: an immortal composed of limitless existence and energy. Phoenix, along with Eternity, is responsible for Galactus’ creation; it has the power to allow or deny the existence of things in addition to cutting out or rebuilding a part of the universe that doesn’t work. In its natural state, it is neither hero nor villain, simply existing as it was meant to. However, starting with the threat of the M’Kraan Crystal, the Phoenix Force began taking on hosts, which allowed it to be weakened by human emotion, ultimately corrupting it and becoming Dark Phoenix in the form of Jean Grey.
As Dark Phoenix, the Phoenix Force became evil, thirsting for power and destruction. It absorbed all the energy from a star, causing it to go supernova and kill off an entire planet. In other words, it became even more of a threat to the universe in its dark form, since it could create black holes at will and manipulate time and existence itself with a mere thought. Thanos could certainly extinguish stars, but even his powers, which were mainly acquired. They are not inherent and aren’t nearly as powerful and far-reaching as that of the Phoenix Force.
Known as the first mutant, Apocalypse’s evil ways extend throughout history. Genocide is no big deal to him; he’s been responsible for some of the greatest conflicts on Earth. He has bested Dracula, Kang the Conquerer (as Rama-Tut), Phoenix, and even Thor, who was unable to pierce his armor. He is arguably one of the strongest and most feared mutants, an immortal capable of absorbing other mutants’ powers, healing himself, and even changing his molecular structure to look as he chooses.
His goal is always to weed out the weak, leaving only the strong such as himself. He controls the Four Horsemen–Death, Famine, War, and Conquest– and even recruited the Bruce Banner-less Hulk as his War horseman at one point. However, even the Horsemen weren’t enough for his twisted mind, and he abandoned them in favor of his Dark Riders, composed of altered Inhuman royalty. Although Thanos has access to different power sources, i.e. the Infinity Gauntlet, Apocalypse was able to utilize the power and technology of the Celestials, beings far more superior than either villain individually.
Thanos will appear in Avengers: Infinity War, opening in theaters May 4, 2018.