He may be the best there is at what he does, but even the best gets taken down a notch from time to time.
While Wolverine is one of the toughest, fiercest fighters in the Marvel Universe, he is not the most powerful. There are plenty of people out there who have faced off against the X-Man and always come out on top.
Sometimes, they simply have the upper hand. They might not be quite as strong, so they make up with that with careful planning. Some of them are simply so powerful that Wolverine wouldn’t realistically stand a chance. With all of the villains on the list, though, Wolverine has simply never defeated them on his own, and when they have fought one-on-one, Logan has never come out on top.
Join us as we look through various comic incarnations over the character’s nearly fifty-year history to determine the villains who have always given Wolverine a run for his money.
Here are the 15 Villains Wolverine Has NEVER Defeated.
15 Doctor Octopus
Otto Octavius, better known as Doctor Octopus and “Doc Ock,” is well-known as one of the most deadly enemies of the amazing Spider-Man. However, given that this is Marvel, that doesn’t mean he’s always tussled with Spider-Man exclusively.
Doc Ock has gone up against a ton of Marvel heroes, be it on his own, with the Sinister Six, or even during his tenure as the Superior Spider-Man. One of the key elements here, though, is that Ock has often outsmarted and defeated Spider-Man, whereas Wolverine and Spider-Man have often proven to be equal— there’s rarely a clear winner between the two of them.
Since the character’s first appearance, Wolverine has rushed into battle, which is something that Doc Ock never does. He calculates the odds, which is what makes the scientifically-inclined Spidey such a worthy adversary. When facing off against Wolverine, who’s much more instinctual, Octavius has always proven to come out on top.
Introduced in one of the most classic (among many classic) stories of the Chris Claremont X-Men era, Proteus will always have the distinction of being the first villain to utterly humiliate Wolverine.
At this point, Wolverine is the team rebel, he doesn’t like to take orders and he doesn’t play by the rules, which obviously is the thing that helps make him the fan favorite in the first place. He’s the quintessential tough guy. Proteus, on the other hand, is one of the most powerful mutants ever. Hopping from body to body, he has the ability to manipulate reality itself.
When he first encounters the X-Men, his bending of both the matter around them, as well as the heroes’ own bodies, leaves Wolverine shaken to his core. Cyclops has to goad Wolverine into fighting him just to clear the other X-Man’s head.
He never fully recovers from that encounter throughout the story, and Proteus is ultimately killed by the otherwise pacifistic Colossus when he understands that there is no other way to bring the villain down.
As another one of Spider-Man’s most deadly enemies— though there hasn’t actually been a villainous incarnation of Venom for some time— Venom is everything fans wanted out of ‘90s comics.
He’s a cool, tough, powerful, and rebellious monster. Like all the best villains, he never considers himself to be one, even before he becomes rebranded as the “Lethal Protector.” Venom and Spider-Man wind up teaming up several times throughout the ‘90s, though their relationship is always antagonistic, essentially making Venom the Wolverine to Spider-Man’s Cyclops.
When this villain-turned-antihero faces off against Wolverine, though, he comes out on top. In fact, not only has he defeated Wolverine, it didn’t even really turn out to be much of a fight. In addition, the symbiote has dominated Wolverine and taken him over as a host as well.
One of the least known characters on this list has also had one of the cleanest victories. Though many have defeated Wolverine, Jahf— guardian of the M’Kraan Crystal— manages to knock Logan into orbit with a single punch. Sometimes that’s the way it goes, though. Sometimes the most minor characters wind up having the greatest impact.
Jahf might be small and might appear to be entirely non-threatening, but he stands up to even the most powerful of X-Men, which is why his defeat of Wolverine is so quick. He manages to withstand even the full power of the Phoenix before being ultimately taken down by Banshee after being weakened.
Although Jahf has been barely seen since that intimidating initial appearance, he has appeared in both the Age of Apocalypse and Rise and Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire story lines. It’s hard to tell if he’ll ever make another appearance in the near future, or if a rematch with Wolverine would be in the cards if he did.
Mysterio is one of those Marvel villains that just never seems to be taken that seriously. After all, he wears a green unitard with a purple cape and a dome on his head that is endlessly compared to a fishbowl.
These things make sense for his character, though. Former special effects master Quentin Beck is all about theatricality. His less-than-threatening appearance and the fact that he doesn’t get taken seriously are often things he uses to his own advantage.
When he does gain the upper hand, the impact is often devastating. At one point, he drives Daredevil insane and instigates the death of Karen Page.
Then there’s the time when he tricks Wolverine into killing all of the other X-Men, kicking off the now legendary Old Man Logan storyline. This is a crushing defeat on every level. Even though it’s an alternate universe, Old Man Logan is now a part of the main Marvel continuity and carries this baggage with him even still.
Logan is known for his powerful senses, so Mysterio’s ability to overcome that might make him the best in the business.
One singular psionic being created from the combined consciousness of Professor X and Magneto, Onslaught is an incredibly powerful being that causes major problems for not only the X-Men but for the Marvel Universe as a whole in his self-titled crossover event throughout the mid-‘90s.
Given that it takes the combined forces of the X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four to stand up to Onslaught, it’s a little bit obvious that this is not something Wolverine can simply take care of on his own.
Onslaught has simply proven himself too powerful for the X-Men to defeat on their own. Wolverine helps both his own team and the Avengers in bringing Onslaught down— even stealing Hawkeye’s costume— but the psionic villain is too powerful for Wolverine to face off against on his own and has proven that in each of their encounters to date.
Bastion first crosses paths with the X-Men as the head of Operation Zero Tolerance, an anti-mutant hate group/strike force seeking government funding. In a completely unsurprising turn of events, he eventually takes over the Sentinel program.
However, in a much more surprising twist, it’s revealed that Bastion has never been human at all. His “parents” are the Sentinel Master Mold and the future Sentinel known as Nimrod. This highly advanced future tech, along with his unwavering vendetta against mutants as a whole, give him the edge over even a fighter as advanced as Wolverine.
He has never been defeated by Wolverine one-on-one, with one major exception that might make people question Bastion’s inclusion on this list: at one point he is beheaded by Wolverine.
When that happens, however, Wolverine is brainwashed as Apocalypse’s Horseman of Death. Given that Wolverine is under mind control and only acting out the will of Apocalypse, it’s not really him doing that, as he’s not in control of his actions.
8 Mister Sinister
As one of the X-Men’s most fascinating villains, Sinister is a Darwinist obsessed with studying mutants and even creating mutants of his own. A Victorian scientist originally named Nathaniel Essex, he experiments on himself to both prolong his lifespan and provide for himself a wide array of mutant powers.
Interestingly enough, out of all the scientists obsessed with experimenting on mutants, Sinister is one of the only ones with no real fascination for Wolverine in particular. His fixation lies with the Summers family, instead. In fact, he’s often been depicted as being impervious to Wolverine’s claws, with his only real weakness being Cyclops’ optic blasts.
Though he has attacked the X-Men many times with Wolverine as a member, Sinister has rarely gone after Logan in particular. This has prevented a knock-down, drag-out fight between the two characters.
However, given how much of a threat he constantly poses to the X-Men as a group, there’s no question that he’ll always give Wolverine a run for his money in a one-on-one fight.
7 The Reavers
Wolverine has, of course, taken out many of the Reavers individually. When the X-Men first encounter the Hellfire Club, Wolverine takes down Donald Pierce, aka Cyborg.
He has faced off several times against his ex-lover Lady Deathstrike. Given her adamantium upgrades and personal connection with/vendetta against Logan, she alone has proven to be a more than worthy adversary on many occasions. There have been many fights between them that he has barely walked away from.
The Reavers as a whole are too much for Wolverine to take down on his own. When facing off against them, he usually has to resort to other means than simply rushing in head-first as he always does.
The Reavers infamously capture Wolverine at one point and crucify him, leaving him for dead. Even in the film Logan, the former X-Man cannot take them all down, and dies in a futile attempt to try and do so-- although he’s in a severely weakened state throughout the entire feature.
Possibly the most powerful mutant of all-time, Apocalypse is simply unstoppable. His powers are virtually endless. It takes everything for the X-Men to combine their strength to beat him back. He’s the first mutant, born with immense power that has only grown over the course of thousands of years.
Even when he is killed, he reincarnates. He has destroyed the lives of many X-Men, most famously Warren Worthington III, transforming him from Angel into Archangel by turning him into his Horseman of Death.
He later brainwashes Wolverine to use as his Horseman as well. Wolverine is in a feral state at this time, having had the adamantium forcibly ripped from his skeleton, which Apocalypse then reapplies.
Even when Wolverine regains his mind, he cannot face off against Apocalypse alone. The villain has always simply been too powerful for an encounter like that and has proven it on many different occasions.
5 Mister X
Mister X is a villain introduced in the early 2000s. He’s not only telepathic, he’s also a total psycho obsessed with death and being the best killer of all time. In fact, he’s so obsessed with being the best that he tries to force Wolverine to sign the title of “Best there is at what he does” over to him.
He also-- similarly to Batman’s enemy Victor Zsasz-- carves a scar into his skin for every murder he commits. He’s already covered in hundreds by the time he first meets Wolverine. Because of his instability, it’s easy at first not to see him as a threat to someone with Wolverine’s discipline and skill.
However, when they fight, Mister X comes out on top. Even when he goads Wolverine into a berserker rage, he still holds his own against the completely feral X-Man. Even Logan notes that Mister X’s technique is absolutely flawless.
When Wolverine does eventually fight through the intense torture and is about to kill Mister X, the villain’s bodyguard intervenes, leaving Wolverine without a clean victory.
4 William Stryker
Fans will immediately recognize William Stryker as Wolverine’s chief antagonist in the X-Men film series. Stryker is introduced in X2 as the head of the Weapon X program responsible for creating Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton.
However, his comic book counterpart is very different. While he shares the film version’s prejudices and militaristic nature, he’s not actually a military man, instead leading a group of anti-mutant extremists known as the Purifiers. Because of this, he has no ties to Wolverine’s origin, although there have been attempts to hint at a possible shared past after the character was introduced into the film series.
Stryker in the comics is an evangelical Christian. He has a military background, but he’s not really a fighter. He attacks mutants by using his public platform to spread fear and paranoia.
His interactions with Wolverine have been brief, and he mostly doesn’t see him as being any more or less special than any other mutant. During Decimation, Wolverine orders Archangel to take Stryker out and Archangel does this by slicing Stryker in half at the waist.
3 Dark Phoenix
The Phoenix is one of the most powerful entities in the entire universe. When it latches onto Jean Grey, it unleashes her full power and mixes that with its own, driving her to cause intense destruction.
Under the influence of the Phoenix, Jean kills thousands at least, probably even whole worlds. When she is put on trial for her crimes and sentenced with death by the Shi’ar Empire, it’s Jean’s own sacrifice that destroys both herself and the Phoenix, and also saves the lives of her friends.
The Phoenix is too powerful for any one person to face off against on their own. When it returns to Earth, it’s such a clear threat that it even sparks a war between the Avengers and the X-Men.
Wolverine, for all his deep feelings for Jean, cannot stand up to her when she becomes the Dark Phoenix. This entity is simply too powerful for him to stand up to, despite what X-Men: The Last Stand might lead you to believe.
2 Omega Red
Omega Red is the Soviet answer to Captain America. He’s a super soldier with just as much pride in his country and his ideals. He’s incredibly strong, he’s got impenetrable armor and his adamantium tentacles drain the energy from anything they come into contact with.
The more you fight him, the stronger he gets. He has a history with Wolverine. There’s intensely bad blood between them, going all the way back to Logan’s Weapon X days. However, Omega Red has never managed to defeat Wolverine one-on-one. There’s always been someone else there to help finish the villain off.
Admittedly, that’s largely due to the fact that Omega Red’s weakness is intense cold. That’s not something Wolverine can readily generate on his own, but teammates like Iceman and Storm can easily offer a helping hand in that regard.
Omega Red has bested Wolverine before, and their fights are never something that Logan easily walks away from.
While he’s not always a villain, there’s no denying that Magneto is the chief antagonist of the X-Men. He’s been there from the very first issue, and even if they fight for similar causes, their ideals are too different to ever keep them from clashing for very long.
Wolverine has been a part of many efforts to take Magneto down, but he’s never done it on his own. In fact, when they face off against only each other, Magneto walks away with one of the most devastating victories in comics history. Being the master of magnetism, able to control metal, he simply rips the adamantium from Wolverine’s skeleton and leaves the X-Man for dead.
Wolverine delivers what appears to be a killing blow to Magneto in New X-Men, but it is later revealed to not be him after all. In Ultimate X-Men, Wolverine stabs Magneto, but is flung through the air for doing so.
Magneto ultimately defeated by Professor X after Quicksilver swoops in to remove his father’s helmet.
Can you think of any other villains who Wolverine has never defeated? Sound off in the comment section!