Marvel Comics has one of the greatest stables of characters in pop culture. From the beginning, its heroes and villains alike have been fueled by the desire to get the better of each other. Rivalry is the basis of some of Marvel’s greatest friendships and deadliest personal struggles.
Rivalry is a surprisingly nuanced idea. It can help tell a story about the best parts of a villain or a hero’s darker side. While Marvel’s superhumans often face world-ending threats they also have to balance their personal relationships. For good or ill, few relationships are more intense than a good rivalry. From arch-enemies to wayward siblings, the Marvel Universe houses a profound collection of figures with too much in common to ever really get along.
10/10 Namor And Black Panther Have Grown To Hate Each Other
Thanks to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Black Panther and Namor have shifted from allies to enemies. Each the leader of their own nation-state, the two rulers have a lot in common. However, their shared values are precisely what has caused them to clash.
As in-universe geopolitics have changed, Namor and Black Panther have found themselves continually at odds. This came to a head when Namor drowned Wakanda in a tidal wave during Avengers Vs. X-Men and was made worse when T’Challa cast Namor into a dimensional rift during “Time Runs Out,” making this one of Marvel’s most bitter rivalries.
9/10 Hulk And Thing Sympathize Between Punches
Contemporary readers might not think of the Thing as quite being in the Hulk’s weight class but that hasn’t stopped Ol’ Blue Eyes from developing a serious rivalry with the Jade Giant. Ever since Silver Age readers wanted the two to test their strength against each other, the Thing and the Hulk have been fighting frenemies.
While the Hulk is certainly stronger than the Thing, Ben Grimm uses his tenacity to match Hulk’s strength. The result is an almost endless series of block-leveling battles. Though they may fight, the two heroes still respect each other, as they’re two of the only people who know what it’s like to be branded a monster.
8/10 Wolverine And Sabretooth Hate Each Other
Wolverine hates Sabretooth. Sabretooth hates Wolverine. The rivalry between these two is simple, each man detests the other for who he is. Between their shared history as Team X operatives and their continual battlefield confrontations, Victor Creed and Logan have nothing but enmity for each other.
Sabretooth and Wolverine see each other as flawed mirrors of themselves: Wolverine sees an animal without honor, Sabretooth sees a weakling bound by society. The two mutants have ripped out each others’ guts, left each other to die in the woods, and, in Sabretooth’s case, attacked his enemy’s loved ones. Between these two, there is no love lost.
7/10 Captain America And The Red Skull Are Ideological Opposites
Some characters have a rivalry based on their history, but the one between Steve Rogers and the Red Skull is primarily ideological. The first supervillain Captain America ever faced, the Red Skull’s fanatical fascism makes him the perfect philosophical foil to the Sentinel of Liberty.
As Captain America has evolved for the modern world, so has the Red Skull. Cap needs to continually adapt to Johann Schmidt’s new oppressive tactics. Just as Captain America sees the best in people, the Red Skull calls on humanity’s deepest insecurities and prejudices, locking the hero and villain in an endless battle for people’s hearts.
6/10 Cyclops And Wolverine Have Come To Respect Each Other
The straight-laced leader of the X-Men and the team’s shaggy loner have each grown a lot since their introductions, but Cyclops and Wolverine’s relationship is built on their rivalry’s back. When Wolverine first joined the team, he instantly clashed with Cyclops’ methods of leadership and soon became his romantic rival for the affections of Jean Grey.
Fifty years of publishing later, Cyclops has loosened up and Wolverine has grown somewhat more responsible. The two X-Men have built a mutual respect, each knowing the other is capable of many things their other teammates are not. While the two might occasionally jockey for the team’s leadership, their rivalry has evolved into a knowing appreciation for the other.
5/10 The Thing And The Human Torch Love To Prank Each Other
Unlike many other superhero teams, the Fantastic Four has primarily contained the same four characters since the team’s creation. This has allowed the team to develop more complex relationships than almost any other comic book family, and the Human and the Thing have a very complicated rivalry as a result.
Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm have a playful relationship, with the two often pranking each other. The Thing affectionately calls the Torch “Matchstick” while the appellations given to Grimm by the Torch are too many to count. A fun rivalry composed of pranks and jokes, it’s one of Marvel’s most wholesome friendships.
4/10 Daredevil And Kingpin Are Sworn Enemies
Daredevil is a selfless lawyer dedicated to bringing justice to the powerless. The Kingpin is a power-hungry businessman who will stop at nothing to control New York City. The exceedingly human Matt Murdock and his equally realistic enemy Wilson Fisk are strong-willed men whose personal quests have set them against each other time and again.
For Daredevil and the Kingpin, though, what was once business is now personal. Fisk has sent ninjas, assassins, and supervillains after both of his enemy’s identities, while Daredevil has also taken things too far. He’s used everything in his toolkit from knowledge of the law to breaking and entering to take down his foe. Driven by more than their own ideals, Daredevil and the Kingpin are each other’s mortal enemies.
3/10 Thor And Loki Are Brawling Brothers
Thor and Loki give the phrase “sibling rivalry” new meaning. As a child, Loki was jealous of his popular, handsome, strong half-brother, while Thor often viewed his younger brother with a kind of condescension. As Thor grew into his title as the Prince of Asgard, Loki began to scheme against him, sending enemies after his brother and banishing him from the Golden Realm.
Perhaps more than any other classic hero-villain pairing, Thor and Loki’s rivalry has evolved. Loki is more of an antihero now and Thor has dabbled in darkness. Their interactions, though, remain close to their initial form, with the trickster Loki always trying to manipulate his more-or-less noble brother.
2/10 Doctor Doom Has Always Hated Reed Richards
While Doctor Doom loathes the entirety of the Fantastic Four, there is no person alive he hates more than Reed Richards. Before he was Mister Fantastic, Richards was a college student with Doom at Empire State University. After they met, Doom was driven to prove himself smarter than Richards, leading to the accident that scarred his face.
Since then, Doom and Richards have continually matched wits. Though their early encounters saw them seeking to thwart each other, modern takes on the characters have shown them both to be more nuanced as individuals and leaders. Regardless of their evolutions, though, Von Doom despises that fool Richards and Richards rewards the Latverian ruler by giving him a small measure of his contempt.
1/10 Spider-Man And The Green Goblin Are Critical Parts Of Each Other’s Lives
Spider-Man has one of the most impressive rogues’ galleries in Marvel Comics. While there are many contenders for second place, few dispute the idea that Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, is Spidey’s number-one foe. The father of Peter Parker’s best friend, a ruthless businessman, and a cackling bomb-thrower, the Green Goblin has menaced Peter Parker in a multiplicity of ways.
From movie adaptations to ill-conceived events, the Goblin and Spider-Man’s relationship remains one of the defining factors for each character. The two know each other intimately, both as civilians and as costumed enemies, and have a connection that almost dominates their lives.
NEXT: 10 Times Spider-Man Broke His Own Rules