Marvel revolutionized supervillains as surely as they did superheroes. Like the heroes, Marvel’s creators made villains more realistic, creating antagonists that were as memorable and as multi-faceted as their heroic foes. A big factor in the popularity of many Marvel villains is their designs. Comics are a visual medium, and the look of the villains is as important as their personalities.
Marvel villains look amazing, with the best of them having designs that every fan loves. Marvel villains work on multiple levels, which is why they’re so beloved, and their designs are a major factor in why many of them have become as popular as they are.
10/10 Galactus Set A New Standard
Many Marvel villains have reshaped their universe, but few as literally as Galactus. The World Devourer has spent eons destroying planets, and his first appearance in Fantastic Four #48 was possibly the first big Marvel event. Galactus was designed by Jack Kirby, whose gonzo imagination helped design the Silver Age Marvel Universe.
Galactus’s design makes no sense in the best possible way. His helmet is iconic and unique and sets off his look perfectly. The purple and blue coloration is visually striking, with the strange textures of his suit drawing the eye. Galactus showed off the mad creativity that Jack Kirby was capable of.
9/10 Thanos’s Costume Is Somehow Intimidating
Thanos is amazing in so many ways, from his backstory to his personality to his powers. However, what really sets Thanos off is his look. Thanos looks intimidating, especially after his costume’s colors changed to the current purple and gold. Writer/artist Jim Starlin’s iconic costume design really hit its stride when he finalized its colors, giving the Mad Titan the look he’d need to conquer the universe.
The great thing about Thanos’s design is that it definitely shouldn’t work. The shoulder pads are ostentatious, the codpiece is weird, and his skullcap headpiece just seems like a strange touch. However, the costume works for Thanos, giving him an intimidating look.
8/10 Apocalypse Was Perfect From The Beginning
Apocalypse is the X-Men’s most dangerous villain. Since his first appearance in X-Factor #6, drawn by Jackson Guice, he had an intimidating look. He quickly became a monster villain, but his design would really take off later in X-Factor’s run when drawn by comic legend Walt Simonson. Simonson took a design that was good and shot it into the stratosphere.
Apocalypse is a villain whose early look is so good that it doesn’t really need to be changed. The purple and grey titan’s armor looked futuristic and powerful. His sheer size played into that, as he dwarfed every hero he fought. His look has changed several times, but the one that everyone thinks of is the armored masterpiece of his early years.
7/10 Mister Sinister Needed A Few Changes To Reach His Best Look
With Sins Of Sinister on its way, Mister Sinister is having his biggest push in years. Sinister is a villain whose look has rarely changed. His costume, with its wonderful and unique cape, has been a staple of the character, but his look didn’t really take off until the Krakoa Era. He debuted with the long hair and a nicely trimmed beard, similar to AoA Sinister, and it’s the best he ever looked.
Sinister’s costume has always looked great, but his hair situation is much better than before. His old crew cut was fine, but it was boring. His new hair and beard, combined with a campier attitude, have made him more popular than ever, taking a design that was great and making it sensational.
6/10 Kang’s Look Shouldn’t Work, But It Does
Artist Jack Kirby is an expert in taking designs that shouldn’t work and making them sing. That’s his Kang the Conqueror in a nutshell. As Marvel’s premiere time traveler, Kang’s look could have gone anywhere, but Kirby decided on something that was unlike anything else readers had seen at the time. His helmet is too big and feels like a stop sign. His tunic is baggy, and he has thigh-high boots.
Kang’s design shouldn’t work at all, but Kirby was able to take all the disparate elements and put them together brilliantly. Kang’s costume has basically stayed the same, but the proportions of it have been shrunk from Kirby’s design. Kirby’s version, even with its strange design choices and large proportions, still works, and many prefer it compared to what came after.
5/10 Ultron’s Faceplate Is Chilling
Ultron is an iconic Avengers villain for a lot of reasons, and his design is a big part of that. Ultron is a frightening foe, one whose entire existence is all about destroying humanity. His design might not seem like anything special, with his body going through very few changes over the years, but his faceplate and head is what truly makes him a chilling foe.
There’s something completely inhuman about Ultron’s face that makes him so scary. There’s no expression there, just a cold visage that promises death. His antennae are also a part of that, yet another reminder that this isn’t a typical humaniform head. It all works together to truly separate Ultron from the humans he faces.
4/10 Sabretooth’s Jim Lee-Designed Costume Became His Most Recognizable Look
Sabretooth is Wolverine’s most brutal foe, battling the ol’Canucklehead and the X-Men many times. His debut look lasted from his debut in Iron Fist #14 in 1977 until 1992, when Jim Lee redesigned it for X-Men (Vol. 2) #6. The coloration was changed to brown and orange, and he was given a Gambit-esque headsock, as they’ve been called.
Sabretooth’s first look is good, but Lee’s costume has become the villain’s most iconic. Not everything from Lee’s design would be used later, as the first appearance of the costume had more black and elbow spikes. However, it’s proven to be a wonderful design, one that has defined Sabretooth for years.
3/10 The Dark Phoenix Design Somehow Improves On An Already Perfect Design
Jean Grey’s Phoenix costume is perfect. Her only other design that rivals it is the Jim Lee ’90s design. It’s a perfect costume, but there’s actually a better version, and that’s the Dark Phoenix one. The green is replaced by a deep dark red, contrasting nicely with the gold. It’s become an intimidating visual for X-Men fans and is a legendary costume.
Dark Phoenix is the X-Men’s most legendary enemy, and this costume’s simple, elegant design bears that out. There have been other Dark Phoenixes over the years, with a variety of costumes, but this is the one they all are patterned after. Even people who have never read “The Dark Phoenix Saga” hold this costume in esteem.
2/10 Doctor Doom’s Armor Combines Medieval Majesty And Technological Terror
Marvel most ruthless villains don’t have anything on Doctor Doom. Designed by Jack Kirby, Doctor Doom’s design went through some modifications during the King’s tenure on Fantastic Four, eventually becoming the costume every fan knows and loves. Doom’s design is straight-up brilliant. It captures the regal majesty of the monarchy, with its burnished iron look giving it a medieval knight aesthetic.
The green cloak and tunic are the icing on the cake. While other armored Marvel heroes and villains go all in on a modern look, Doom’s hearkens back to an older time. However, there’s still the sense of technological power to it, mixing ancient and modern expertly.
1/10 Magneto’s Villainous Costume Was A Staple For Him For Decades
The X-Men’s most powerful Omega mutants can shake the world, something Magneto almost did several times as a villain. Yet another Jack Kirby design, Magneto’s purple and red costume has gone through very few changes over the years and was his primary costume until the 2012 relaunch of Uncanny X-Men after Avengers Vs. X-Men.
Magneto’s purple and red is a classic, with a perfect helmet. The most iconic aspect of his design is his helmet, of course. From the tiny horned design above the eyes to the T shape that shows off his face, it’s the one part of the design that Magneto reaches across all of his different costumes.
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