Marvel’s greatest heroes have had a profound effect on their universe, but they aren’t the only ones. Marvel’s villains have shaped the Marvel Universe as well, and it can be argued that they’ve done more to affect its circumstances. Villains have started organizations that have shaped the world, they’ve made sweeping changes to reality, and destroyed entire worlds.
Marvel’s heroes are the champions of the status quo, with villains often being catalysts for change. Of course, the changes they try to bring are detrimental to the majority, sparking the greatest battles in comics.
10/10 The Red Skull Created Hydra
There are few Marvel villains more important than the Red Skull. His existence during World War II spurred the US to create the Super Soldier Serum, turning Steve Rogers into the iconic hero, Captain America. During the war, Hydra was Red Skull’s baby and the organization survived the war, granting Red Skull unprecedented reach.
Through Hydra, Red Skull waged a shadow war with the free world, mostly fighting SHIELD. Red Skull was able to affect the world subtly and overtly, infiltrating other organizations. He was the first person to use the Cosmic Cube and his manipulation of Kobik eventually led to Hydra Cap, who briefly took over the US.
9/10 Ultron Destroyed Nearly All Of Humanity
Ultron has always been a grave threat to the Marvel Universe. The adamantium-clad android has challenged the Avengers and killed millions. At one point, he took over the Phalanx and went on a rampage through the universe. When heroes halted that rampage he beamed his consciousness back to Earth, where he took over an old Ultron unit and disappeared.
He reappeared with an army of Ultron drones and destroyed the governments and armies of the world in a day, including SHIELD and much of the heroic community. It didn’t take long for him to exterminate the vast majority of life on Earth, forcing Earth’s heroes to tamper with time several times in order to stop his horrific rampage.
8/10 Annihilus And The Annihilation Wave Destroyed Countless Worlds
Annihilus was always a savage villain and a monstrous threat to the world, but he was contained in the Negative Zone. However, he was eventually able to break free and using the Cosmic Control Rod brought his legions with him. The Annihilation Wave moved throughout space, devouring worlds and civilizations and changing the face of the Marvel Universe.
Heroes like Silver Surfer, Nova, and the Guardians of the Galaxy joined Ronan the Accuser and the Super Skrull to battle the Wave. Annihilus’s threat brought them together and back into prominence. The Wave’s threat also brought in the Fantastic Four to oppose it, forming the team who helped fight the Builders when they decided to destroy the universe.
7/10 Apocalypse Has Played A Huge Role In Earth’s Past, Present, And Future
Apocalypse’s mutant powers blossomed in the days of ancient Egypt. He found Celestial technology that enhanced him to godlike levels and eventually founded Okkara, a living mutant continent. Okkara was attacked by the demonic hordes of Amenth, with Apocalypse and the mutants of Okkara holding the demon army back before splitting in half, with one half going to Amenth to fight the demons on their home turf.
Since then, Apocalypse has been trying to create a world where only the strong survive. Over the years, he’s ruled several alternate realities and futures, including the dark tomorrow where Cable grew up, and was a member of the Krakoan Quiet Council. Amenth and the mutants of Arakko came back to Earth, with Apocalypse leading the Krakoans to victory before returning to Amenth with his family.
6/10 Galactus Has Been Destroying Worlds For Eons
Galactus has been eating worlds for billions of years and has the highest kill count of any Marvel villain. He’s existed since before the current iteration of the universe was born. As the World Devourer, his actions have literally reshaped the universe. He’s destroyed countless species and civilizations and his attack on Earth made Silver Surfer a hero, as he rebelled against his master.
Galactus destroyed the Skrull homeworld, a move that broke the alien empire’s power and led to their secret invasion of Earth. Galactus’s actions over the years have had an incalculable effect on the universe, changing things forever.
5/10 Scarlet Witch Rewrote The Earth’s History And Then Depowered The Mutant Race
Scarlet Witch has done unforgivable things over the years. After learning about the fate of her lost children, she snapped and attacked the Avengers, killing several of her teammates and ending the first iteration of the team. Magneto took her to Genosha to help heal her fractured psyche, but that backfired when Quicksilver learned the Avengers and X-Men were coming to kill her.
Taking control of Magneto and Xavier, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch used her reality-altering powers to create an entirely new world, one where mutants were the most powerful beings on Earth. The heroes realized what was going on and fought against it. She depowered the mutant race as she undid her work, changing the balance of power in the Marvel Universe for years.
4/10 Thanos Attained The Infinity Gauntlet And Wrought Havoc On The Universe
Infinity Gauntlet changed Marvel forever. The story brought Thanos back into the limelight, made him a big deal, and gave him the Infinity Gauntlet. This would prove to be the Titan’s most iconic story. With the godlike power of the Gauntlet on his side, Thanos set out to keep his word to Mistress Death and went about killing half the universe.
Unlike in the movies, his Snap did more than blink people out of existence. It wreaked havoc on worlds across the universe, causing earthquakes, storms, and supernovae. Thanos lost the Gauntlet but went on to make multiple attacks on the universe, trying to kill as many beings as he could each time.
3/10 Mephisto Made Many Bargains
Mephisto has spent years trying to trick the pure-hearted out of their souls. The demon enjoys pretending to be Satan while running his own hellish dimension. Mephisto has battled against every major hero in the Marvel Universe and his mystic bargains have twisted the fates of many worlds. While he prefers trickery, he has godlike powers and can alter the fabric of reality itself.
This is how Mephisto did away with Spider-Man’s marriage to Mary Jane Watson. Using his reality-altering power, he switched their histories with another timeline’s where they’d never married and MJ had never learned Peter’s secret. This was a huge change that had major repercussions for Spider-Man’s life.
2/10 Legion Accidentally Killed Xavier And Caused The Age Of Apocalypse
Few of Marvel’s alternate universes are as influential as The Age Of Apocalypse. This terrible timeline is where Apocalypse took over the Americas, slaughtering most of the human population, and was only opposed by Magneto and his X-Men. All of this was caused by Xavier’s son Legion. He decided that the only way for his father to be happy was for Magneto to die, and traveled back in time to achieve this goal.
Bishop, Storm, Psylocke, and Iceman were pulled back in history with Legion. They did what they could to stop him from killing Magneto, but unfortunately, he accidentally killed his father. Without Xavier and the X-Men, Apocalypse was able to take over the US, and history was changed.
1/10 Doctor Doom Saved The Multiverse And Remade It Into Battleworld
Marvel’s villains rarely win but Doctor Doom pulled it off. While the Illuminati were destroying alternate Earths to battle the Incursions, Doom brought together a new Cabal and worked from behind the scenes. Using the power of the Beyonders and Molecule Man, he assembled pieces of multiversal Earths and created Battleworld.
Recasting himself as God Emperor, Doom used his power to change literally everyone’s memories, convincing them he was the savior of the Multiverse. The surviving 616 heroes, led by Reed Richards, were able to retain their minds and defeat him. He ceded his power to Reed, allowing the hero to rebuild the universe and restore Marvel’s status quo. Doom both saved and changed the universe, however temporarily.
NEXT: First Marvel Villains To Travel Through Time