Magneto, Dr. Doom, Kraven the Hunter — clearly Marvel is home to some of the all-time great villains. These are not such characters. We’ve collected here the absolute worst antagonists in the Marvel universe (although not necessarily in the dating universe). Some are clumsy hate-mongers that appear regularly in the saga of a teen who shoots webs, some ruin a perfectly good Luke Cage story. Here are the nine worst Marvel villains according to a very scientific poll of “which one bums me out the most”.
Inspired by the underground comic scene but still fitting into the Marvel mold, the original Howard the Duck comics were a weird stew. Dr. Bong is a mixture of both qualities — his name feels like a Lucille Bluth wink to the pot smoking crowd. But his story is about being a sheltered comics-reading nerd who ends up forcing Beverly to marry him, making him a very Marvel kind of creep. I like the concept of Dr. Bong, but he’s not very well thought out — almost as if to make him less serious they made him less complex. And is Dr. Doom aware someone is stealing his style?
The Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime
The circus of crime is about as simple as it gets. They’re a circus. And they commit crimes. The ringleader hypnotizes people with his hat while his men fight in increasingly circus-y ways. In a universe where gamma radiated men fight battles against people who would give their very heart and soul for freedom, whenever the circus of crime appears you just sigh and wonder what you did as a reader to be punished with these randos.
Carnage looks like an extreme version of Venom, a character who was invented to be an extreme version of Spider-Man. And while Venom is great, Carnage is like watching Poochie get Mike Tyson’s face tattoo. We get it — he’s edgy. What makes Carnage all the worse is that the goon’s personality is that of a southern white supremacist. As recently as the December 2014 issue of AXIS, Carnage gave his life and asked Spider-Man to build a statue of him holding the Confederate Flag. Charming.
The Stilleto is a Luke Cage villain who appeared way back in Luke Cage: Hero For Hire #16 — and everything leading up to Stilleto’s appearance in the comic was unbelievable. Claire Temple, Luke Cage’s girlfriend at that point, was kidnapped by Rackham, the toad-like warden who gave Luke Cage his powers. Luke Cage risks everything to get her back, going so far as to reveal the secret that he’s an escaped convict. Then, during a fight with Rackham’s goons, some idiot named Stilleto shows up shooting knives from his arms. I don’t know why he was there, especially since his BS vigilante vibe would make more sense in a Punisher comic. Stilleto — your very existence is awkward!
As the leader of The Hellfire Club in the classic John Byrne/Chris Claremont Uncanny X-Men run, Sebastian Shaw hypnotizes Jean Grey to be a sexual queen of sorts in the Dark Phoenix Saga. Also, he’s a sweaty man who dresses pretentiously. Sebastian Shaw is the creep waiting outside your window, and for some reason no one in the X-Men ever calls him out. How a character this unpleasant could be introduced alongside the amazing Emma Frost, I’ll never know.
The Arcade is a nerd who fights people by putting them into games, including the time he trapped the X-Men in a giant pinball machine. There’s nothing wrong with skinny nerds who try to outhink the mostly brawny heroes, but Arcade’s interests are so weird and specific — pinball!? — that watching him commit acts of evil is like going on a bad date where you just know the date is very passionate about whatever they’re talking about, but ugh, who cares.
The Beyonder is a relic of the much hated ’70s/’80s Marvel Editor, Jim Shooter (the guy who wrote a homophobic issue of The Hulk and drove Steve Gerber from Howard the Duck). The Beyonder made his star appearance in the original ’80s Secret Wars when he kidnapped the Marvel heroes and forced them to fight on Battleworld. In Secret Wars II, the Beyonder came to Earth and just generally enjoyed a lot of power in his human form. He was a spoiled uncomfortable brat with the powers of God, and I feel the way about him that I feel about Donald Trump — couldn’t someone who deserves the job more do this? Marvel Comics: The Untold Story writer Sean Howe went as far as to theorize that this character was based on Shooter’s desires, making the character not just awful but also kind of uncomfortable.
A lot of digital ink has deservedly been spilled on Marcus, and more can be read here, but the gist is — Marcus is a man who hypnotized Ms. Marvel into having sex with him so she could give birth to him through limbo. In the end they leave arm in arm in love and the Avengers seems to not see anything weird about a woman giving birth and then leaving with her rapist baby adult as her lover. In the end the editor of Marvel apologized for the story as Chris Claremont, who wrote many of Ms. Marvel’s best adventures, had to do damage control in the story. For being disgusting, upsetting and having a bad name, Marcus might be the absolute worst villain in the Marvel Universe.
Are there any garbage villains I missed? Anyone who doesn’t deserve to be on this list? Any fans of The Stilleto out there? Let us know and let me know what you think on Twitter at @AlexFirer!