Marvel’s heroes have become the most popular superheroes of all time, riding the company’s wave of massive mainstream success to stardom. However, this hasn’t effected every Marvel hero the same, as there are plenty of villains from the House of Ideas who are more popular than them.
The best-known Marvel villains are total icons, ones who could headline comics, movies, TV shows, or video games just on name recognition alone. They’ve reached heights of popularity that many heroes could never reach.
10/10 Sabretooth Has Been Super Popular For Years
Sabretooth is Wolverine’s most brutal foe, something he’s ridden to stardom. Being the main villain of Wolverine, easily among Marvel’s most popular characters ever, is a big part of that. He’s also appeared in all kinds of outside media, from cartoons to movies to video games. Sabretooth is extremely well-known, and like many X-Men characters reached his zenith in the ’90s.
An ironic detail of Sabretooth’s existence is that he’s more popular than the character whose book he first appeared in, Iron Fist. Sabretooth has starred in several comics of his own and is usually an important character every time he shows up. There are even MCU characters that Sabretooth beats in popularity.
9/10 Mephisto Is The Most Popular Marvel Villain That Rarely Shows Up
Anyone who was In the sections of the Internet that commented on the MCU in 2020 and 2021 saw something that was pretty mystifying. Many MCU fans, most of whom have never read comics in their lives, started guessing that Mephisto was going to be the villain of whatever MCU property was being discussed. This is made doubly ironic by how little Mephisto actually appears in comics.
Mephisto is a very well-known villain, yet he hasn’t been a big deal in Marvel in a long time. Right now, Mephisto is more popular than ninety percent of Marvel heroes, as many have spent years guessing that he was going to be the next big MCU villain.
8/10 Kingpin Has Reached New Levels Of Stardom
Kingpin was introduced as a Spider-Man villain but found his greatest popularity as a foe of Daredevil. He’s appeared in nearly every popular Daredevil story, to the extent that most fans associate him completely with the protector of Hell’s Kitchen. In the comics, he’s been the greatest crime boss in New York, the mayor of New York City, and even the focus of his own event book, Devil’s Due.
He appeared in the mid-’00s Daredevil movie and the Netflix Daredevil show. He was also brought into the MCU in Hawkeye, with his fans very happy to see him. Kingpin is an iconic villain in the Marvel Universe, and fans have loved him for years.
7/10 Green Goblin’s War With Spider-Man Has Spanned Decades
Marvel has many ruthless villains, but few can match Green Goblin’s unending hate for Spider-Man. Norman Osborn is a huge part of Spider-Man’s life and has been for years. He’s the father of Peter Parker’s best friend Harry, was instrumental in the death of Gwen Stacy, and orchestrated the Clone Saga, cementing himself as a huge villain in Marvel history.
Green Goblin has followed the Wall-Crawler into outside media, as well. He’s been in movies, cartoons, video games, and more. Spider-Man without Green Goblin is nearly impossible to picture. The villain is wound up in the hero’s life.
6/10 Doctor Octopus Became An Icon Battling Spider-Man
Doctor Octopus cuts a huge swath through Spider-Man’s life. Like many big-name Spider-Man villains, he’s also been in numerous outside media sources, including as a villain in two Spider-Man movies. Doctor Octopus, to begin with, has a great name. It’s easy to remember and say the perfect nickname, and a great look based around his octopus arms.
Like many early Spider-Man villains, he used an animal concept combined with science. Since then, he’s been a part of many big Spider-Man stories, including the blockbuster Superior Spider-Man series. Doc Ock has reached levels of popularity that the majority of heroes will never reach.
5/10 Loki Is Arguably More Popular Than Most Of The Heroes He’s Fought
Marvel has given readers some amazing rivalries, with the one between Thor and Loki being extremely fruitful. Their battles have not only given fans great stories, but without Loki, the Avengers, the Wrecking Crew, Absorbing Man, and many other Marvel characters wouldn’t exist. He’s always been one of Marvel’s most iconic villains.
However, his popularity hit the stratosphere in the MCU era of the publisher. He’s headlined his own books, joined the Young Avengers, appeared in beloved movies, and has his own show on Disney+. Loki is easily at Thor’s level when it comes to popularity, and it’s arguable that he’s more popular.
4/10 Thanos Became A Household Name
Marvel villains have reached new levels of hype in the MCU era, with Thanos benefiting the most. Thanos was easily pop culture’s most popular villain in 2018 and 2019, with his appearances in Avengers Infinity War and Avengers Endgame making him a household name. In the comics, 1991’s Infinity Gauntlet made him into a fan-favorite villain, and he’s never looked back since.
Thanos is the villain everyone thinks of when they think of someone who can beat every hero. He’s such a deep character, with a brilliant design and a rich backstory. Thanos is a beloved villain in the Marvel Universe and has more than earned his place as one of the company’s top villains.
3/10 Apocalypse Is The X-Men’s Deadliest Big Bad
Apocalypse rose from humble origins in the comics, first appearing in X-Factor, to become the X-Men’s deadliest threat. Apocalypse really came to prominence in the ’90s, riding the success of The Age Of Apocalypse to dizzying highs. He’s appeared in cartoons, video games, and a movie, and has decades of name recognition even among casual fans.
Apocalypse’s growth in popularity has eclipsed so many of Marvel’s heroes. Even today, after a disappointing movie, fans want to see him again in the MCU. He’s always met with rabid approval when he shows up in the comics, to the extent that Marvel made him altruistic in the comics to take advantage of his popularity.
2/10 Magneto’s Popularity Is Amazing
Magneto is the recipient of Marvel’s greatest face turn. For years, he was the X-Men’s most important enemy, the diametric opposite of team founder Charles Xavier. While he started his existence as a cackling clichéd villain, he was built into the most fleshed-out villain in Marvel history. Fans started to empathize with him, and he gained dizzying popularity.
Marvel took advantage of this, eventually making him into hero so he can appear in more comics. Since 2010, Magneto’s been a member of the X-Men. This has allowed creators to give the fan-favorite character even more spotlight, making him part of the publisher’s most beloved team.
1/10 Doctor Doom Is The Perfect Villain
Some Marvel villains have won their battles, but few of them have deserved it like Doctor Doom. Doom has ridden a similar trajectory to Magneto: he’s a villain who started as a cliché and has been fleshed out to a massive extent. This has made him more and more popular, even easily eclipsing the heroes he was made to fight, the Fantastic Four.
While he doesn’t have the mass media appeal of someone like Thanos, as his movie appearances have been widely panned, he’s easily the most popular villain in the comics. Fans love Doctor Doom, as he manages to be both a villainous throwback and a modern antagonist.
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