Plenty of supervillains have come and gone over the years, some even staying for decades and cropping up every time the writers need someone who isn't Magneto, Darkseid or Venom. Still, despite being complex and powerful enemies, they haven't quite made it to the status of household names.
Here are 10 great villains you probably haven't heard of...unless you're a hyper-avid comic book reader, in which case this list perhaps isn't for you. But hey, stick around anyway. You might be surprised.
10 Dark Beast
Dark Beast is like Beast, only darker; in terms of color, think more ‘Prussian Blue’ rather than ‘Azure Blue.’
Also, he’s pure evil.
This version of Hank McCoy hails from the Age of Apocalypse timeline, where the only career options were ‘shell-shocked freedom fighter’ and ‘dang-nasty evil.’ Dark Beast chose the latter option, as you can probably tell by his permanent slasher grin, and differs from his mainstream counterpart in two significant ways: an unlimited science budget and a complete lack of ethics. Spending his days conducting twisted genetic experiments, Dark Beast became one of the few to escape the collapsing Age of Apocalypse timeline, and has continued to be a constant pain to the various teams of X-Men throughout the last twenty years of publications, even taking the place of the real Beast for a time with the use of Azure Blue fur-dye and a lot of bluffing.
Given that the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse is probably going down the Age of Ultron route (i.e. the ‘age’ is more like a long weekend or so), it’s unlikely that we’ll ever be seeing Dark Beast on the big screen. Still, you know that Kelsey Grammer (or even Nicholas Hoult) would nail that maniacal grin.
Power Rangers: RPM tossed away the established Power Rangers formula in a myriad of ways. For one thing, the Rangers now acknowledge the ridiculousness of wearing
spandex self-replicating nano-material, dramatic transformation posing and fighting giant monsters with googly-eyed vehicles. However, even more so was the setting: a Terminator-inspired wasteland where humanity has been reduced to a final bastion living inside the domed city of Corinth, with most of the human population wiped out by an army of robots.
The one responsible: Venjix, a computer virus that infected almost every system in the world in short order and totally isn’t Skynet, you guys, seriously, come on. It’s not.
Still, in terms of sheer body-count, Venjix is easily the most successful villain of the entire franchise. It’s still a kids’ show, so we never see an episode where the Rangers leave the city and poke around a devastated town full of bloated corpses. Regardless, the implication is clear: the only humans left are the ones inside Corinth, and what we see of the outside world is deserted ruins. Venjix practically won before the series even started; the only thing that kills him in the end is the fact that he went stomping around in an actual robot body and totally forgot to make a backup in case someone dropped a tower on his head. Which then happened. But compared to Rita and Lord Zedd’s kill-count of ‘no one we ever saw,’ it wasn’t a bad run.
8 Ord of the Breakworld
Ord appeared in two X-Men arcs, and even then he was only the main villain for one of them. That didn’t stop him from demolishing the entire team in their very first encounter, however.
An alien from the Breakworld, a brutish society based around gladiatorial combat and survival of the strongest, Ord was sent to Earth to put a stop to the mutant threat, which was predicted to destroy his home planet. His first encounter with the X-Men saw him brutally take down Wolverine, Beast, Emma Frost, Cyclops and Shadowcat in a matter of seconds, only being driven off when faced with the mightiest hero of all: Lockheed the Adorable X-Dragon.
Despite his face being burned and disfigured, Ord continued in his quest to create the mutant "cure," which he hoped would eliminate the threat to his home-world once and for all. The greatest irony was that to do this, Ord revived Colossus as a Guinea pig, who would not only deliver him a massive beat-down but also be the exact individual prophesied to destroy the Breakworld.
Ord never became a conventional hero — up until his final appearance he was still smushing human heads in his fist — but he did meet his end by plunging into the heart of a radioactive core and saving Colossus from committing unwilling genocide. There are worse ways to go out than saving your planet.
Spider-Man’s gallery of villains had always been absurdly thematic: basically, a lot of them are animals. Doctor Octopus, Scorpion, Rhino, Puma, Vulture, Lizard, Chameleon...and even the ones that aren’t animalistic tend to have an air of absurdity. Mysterio might be a worthy foe, but he also wears a fishbowl on his head.
Not so with Morlun, who was utterly unlike anything Spider-Man had ever faced before. He had no animal theme, he wasn’t a mouthy maniac like Hobgoblin, he had no personal connections like Venom…Morlun was a well-dressed, dimension-jumping vampire who wanted Spidey’s spider-energy, plain and simple. Possessing immense strength, limitless endurance, energy-draining via touch and the power to track any person he’s ever made contact with to the ends of the Earth, Morlun appeared from nowhere and gave Spider-Man the fight of his life. When Spidey refused to fight, Morlun started attacking civilians to draw him out. He was impossible to beat through any normal means, and was only weakened when Peter gave himself a shot of extra radiation, which the interdimensional vampire couldn’t stomach.
Morlun’s lack of personal connection, along with his off-kilter motivations of consuming ‘totemic’ energy, might have kept him out of adaptations until now, but if he ever did make it to the big screen (or any screen), he would easily be recognized as one of the web-slinger’s greatest enemies.
6 Kid Amazo
The original Amazo is best known as an enemy of the Justice League who practically is the Justice League. Created by Doctor Ivo, he managed to replicate the power of the entire league and become a persistent and powerful villain, despite rarely having any motivations of his own.
Many years later, his new and improved ‘son’ would take up the mantle. At first believing himself to be a human named Frank Halloran, he eventually learned the truth and became Kid Amazo, a complete screw-up of a superhero whose constant mental battles eventually drove him insane.
Kid Amazo was an improvement on the original due to being able to copy mental templates, essentially giving himself multiple minds. Unlike the original Amazo, who could mostly just copy powers, this new version could mimic personalities and feel relationships, which he mostly used to predict the strategies that could be used against him. In the end, Frank’s story was short and tragic: utterly isolated, unable to be a true hero and constantly dogged by multiple personalities, he was driven to supervillainy and became a practically-unstoppable foe. Only by purposefully arguing among themselves were the Justice League able to defeat him, with Kid Amazo exploding under the mental pressure. So yeah, an immensely powerful and human-like android was beaten by sass talk.
5 Scourge of the Underworld
With so many writers working on comic books and with so many issues to churn out, a shared universe can become crowded fairly quickly. In particular, the Marvel universe of the 1980s was teeming with gimmicky, one-shot villains who weren’t explicitly killed at the ends of their stories and just kind of hung around, taking up space.
The Scourge of the Underworld was the answer. Depicted as an extremist vigilante, his sole purpose was to assassinate minor supervillains like a more successful and less developed version of the Punisher. That was literally all there was to his character; the Scourge would disguise himself, approach a villain, shoot them and disappear into the night. His most successful venture was sneaking into a meeting of villains who were trying to decide what to do about this vigilante who kept killing all of them. And then, of course, Scourge killed all of them, ending with his customary catchphrase: “Justice is served!” Given that he was posing as the bartender, he presumably had to resist the urge to add “badum-tsss!”
The Scourge was eventually assassinated himself, having fulfilled his narrative purpose, and will presumably stay dead until the editorial team once again decides that they need to bump off a few extraneous villains.
4 The Void
The Sentry, despite appearing to be your standard superhero, has always been a bizarre stumbling block for Marvel. Beginning his narrative life as a gag character with the power of ‘one million exploding suns’ (you know, like the imaginary superhero you created when you were four and realized was dumb when you turned five), he showed some interesting traits before having his powers ramped up to the nines and being slavishly praised by everyone in the known universe to the point where readers got sick of him overnight.
The Void was Sentry’s evil side, a perfect dark counterpart to the most powerful hero in existence who would destroy precisely as many people as Sentry could save. His characterization fluctuates depending on the writer, sometimes being a separate entity spawned by the Sentry’s inner darkness, and other times being the Sentry himself, unable to control the demon inside. Either way, Void possesses unfathomable power, enough to defeat any and all of Earth’s heroes and generally undo any of his alter-ego’s good works.
The only way to truly defeat the Void is for the Sentry to simply do nothing, give up his heroics and not add any more fuel to the fire. Or sometimes, the Void is separate and can just be punched into submission. He's...not a very consistently-written character.
3 Vulcan/Gabriel Summers
You know Cyclops. He’s the one with the eye lasers. Less popular is his brother, Havok, though he’s still managed to make it into multiple adaptations and is a well-established X-Men character. Coming in third is Gabriel Summers/Vulcan, the youngest brother and unrevealed until many years later.
Originally part of the "lost" team of X-Men who all supposedly died on Krakoa, Vulcan returns years later, fairly ticked off after spending years floating in space and hungry for revenge against Xavier, kind of like most X-Men villains. After killing Banshee and being a general pain in the neck for the X-Men, Vulcan heads off into space and becomes a pain in the neck for the Shi’ar Empire instead, eventually raising a rebellion and becoming the new (and tyrannical) Emperor. This would make him one of the more successful villains in the X-Men rogues gallery- most never got the the point of conquering their very own intergalactic empire- though as time goes on, Vulcan acts as less of a true villain and more a corrupted anti-hero. Given his upbringing, it's sort of easy to understand where he's coming from.
You may think Vulcan is overpowered…and he probably is. Still, at least they took him off-world, where his ability to do pretty much anything with energy was put to good use toppling an intergalactic empire rather than getting into endless beam-wars with his less powerful brothers.
Taskmaster hasn’t quite made it into any big screen productions just yet, but given his partnership/rivalry with Deadpool in the comics, it can’t be ruled out just yet. A villain with a photographic memory, Taskmaster is able to replicate any skill he has ever witnessed, giving him a plethora of skills. He’s superhumanly accurate, skilled in martial arts, knowledgeable on a wide variety of subjects, has mastered every form of weapon and can predict an opponent’s movements, since he knows pretty much everything about them from a combat standpoint. Unfortunately, these incredible skills come with a fair amount of memory loss, due to it all being too much for his still-human brain.
Over the years, Taskmaster has repeatedly clashed with various heroes, with very few being able to genuinely defeat him; the only reliable way is to do so is unpredictably, which Deadpool excels at. He later transitions into an anti-hero, often being hired by organisations such as S.H.I.E.L.D. due to his unique skill-set.
So in short, the guy is superhumanly skilled at everything, carries around a boatload of weapons, is a bad guy capable of working for the good guys and is conveniently forgetful. He’s practically Deadpool with a different color scheme and without quite so much fourth-wall awareness.
1 King Tut
When it comes to genuine dedication to a villainous theme, there’s none finer than King Tut. Created specifically for the 1960s Batman series (oh yes), he was a simple professor of Egyptology until being hit on the head and waking up believing himself to be King Tutankhamun, the greatest Pharaoh to ever live and obsessed with making the Batman a dancing mind slave. Armed with his obesity, a myriad of Ancient Egypt-themed gadgets and constant struggles against clear and severely crippling emotional issues, King Tut gathers a cabal of questionable followers to defeat the Dynamic Duo and take over Gotham. For very good reasons, we're sure.
You have to give the guy some credit, though; despite not looking even vaguely Egyptian and possessing the fighting skills of your average plastic bag, King Tut still manages to outsmart Batman and Robin on more than one occasion. But then this is Adam West and Burt Ward we’re talking about, whose versions of the dynamic duo are less ‘Batfleck’ and more ‘Hong Kong Phooey’ when it comes to crime-fighting.
As terrifying and nigh-invincible as King Tut was, he also holds the distinction of giving us this cinematic gem:
King Tut would later make the jump to comics, where he would terrorize Gotham once more with his portly appearance and powers of 'knowing stuff about Egypt.'
Any more underrated villains we missed? Let us know in the comments!