Friday, June 5, 2009

Top-Ten Most Enduring Villains

Today is Friday, which means it's time for another top-ten. This time I will explore the ten most prominent and enduring Marvel villains of the silver age.

10. The Mandarin

Here is the difference between Marvel comics in the sixties, and DC comics in the sixties. If this character had debuted at DC, his origin would be that he was a white guy who was hit by a space laser that not only turned him asian but granted him ten completely unrelated and arbitrary powers. Also, his name would probably be Chip Chop Chang, and he'd speak with that awful vaudeville chinese accent.

Instead, we have a much less racist Chinese villain with a cool gimmick that justifies his random collection of abilities and puts him on the same level as Iron Man. The Mandarin makes this list for that reason, but also because he's been a mainstay of Marvel comics for over 40 years, even appearing in a slightly skewed form in the hugely successful Iron Man film. He's part Kung Fu grandmaster, part mad scientist, all super villain.

He also once held the Unicorn as his "body slave." Poor Unicorn.

9. The Kingpin

I'm not gonna spend a lot of time on Kingpin, because this weekend will see part 2 of my article on Daredevil villains, at which point I'll great pretty in depth with fatty, here. Actually, that's not fat. It's muscle. Enough muscle to bench press an engine block or two. Enough muscle to crush a human skull in his bear hands. Enough muscle to harass Spider-Man until you're bored and then change your mind and go after Daredevil. Enough muscle to completely dismantle a superhero's whole life.

Many remember Kingpin as he was portrayed by Michael Clark Duncan in a little film called "Daredevil" that no one liked. I prefer to think of him as he was in "The Trial of the Incredible Hulk," as portrayed by John Rhys Davies, in which he was obsessed with television and rode around in a hovercraft. He had a VHS of some guys kicking Daredevil in the stomach that was going to make millions! MILLIONS!!!

Kingpin makes the list for being Marvel's premier crime boss for its entire modern history, even if his role has somewhat diminished recently.

8. Ultron
There is nothing funny about Ultron. Ultron has been badass for pretty much his whole life, from his humble beginnings as a Dalek to his days as the merciless destroyer of an entire country, Ultron has haunted the Avengers throughout their entire history. The mere mention of his name strikes fear in the hearts of those with hearts, because all he cares for is logic and cold, awful steel. Ultron is man's fear of technology given form.

Even though his most recent exploits consist of boringly trying to conquer space and getting a sex-change, Ultron remains an unstoppable whirlwind of cybernetic death who should be feared. He also once led the Masters of Evil, so if everything else wasn't enough, that proves how awesome he is. He makes this list because no one in the Marvel universe doesn't shit in his spandex at the mention of the name "Ultron."

7. The Red Skull

Who are the classic villains of modern history if not the Nazis? Nobody likes a Nazi except another Nazi, and probably not even then. The Red Skull appeals to the same values that his nemesis Captain America embodies, just on the opposite side of the coin. This is a man who willfully presents himself as the preening visage of death itself. He even troubled Captain America from beyond the grave. I love anything to which the phrase "from beyond the grave" can be applied. He wielded the Cosmic Cube, and his failure to conquer the world even with that unlimited power at his disposal proved what we already knew: that even ultimate power means nothing in the face of determination and an honest sense of justice. The Red Skull is a perfect villain because much like Creed for music lovers, he gives everyone everywhere something to hate

6. Loki
Loki is a classic villain in that he's been a villain for literally thousands of years. Loki inadvertently united the Avengers, thus ensuring that there would always be a whole gang of guys around ready to kick his prancing ass at every opportunity. Though he is often portrayed as effete and fey, Loki can also be quite vicious. He's had numerous children, most of whom are wolves or serpents or rulers of infernal realms of cosmic damnation.

I would also say that more of Marvel's villains have gotten their powers by accidentally hanging out around Loki than by any other method. The lesson we get from this is that if you see a guy who looks like a spokesman for Sprite running around in a pointy hat, stand close to him. Maybe even pick on him. Chances are that he will inadvertently grant you strange and wonderful powers. At the very least you will get a magic crowbar or gigantic hands.

Recently Loki turned himself into a girl, and, unlike when Ultron did it, it is actually badass because he's shown off his Machiavellian side like never before. The dude actually went back in time to his own childhood to engineer the events that led to his Godhood. Hello, time loop!

He still has the pointy hat, though, so if you're trying to find a way to getting beaten up by Thor, standing by his brother/sister here is still a viable option.

5. Galactus
Man, I don't even know where to start with Galactus. Sure, he's got pants now, but when he started out he was just another hundred foot guy in a kilt. I guess, at that size, what did he have to be ashamed of? Who was gonna tell him? Anyway, they say that Galactus appears to everyone who sees him in a familiar form, so humans see him as human, gelatinous cubes see him as a gelatinous cube, etc., but I'm almost positive that that's a convention of more modern thought on this character. I prefer the idea that it's jsut coincidence that when first came to earth, he just happened to have an arabic "G" on his chest.

Supposedly created when Stan Lee posed to Jack Kirby the unfathomable question, "What if the Fantastic Four met God?" Galactus is honestly one of Marvel's most novel concepts. Not truly evil, nor good, Galactus is simply a force of nature with a hunger to be reckoned with. Over the years, the only things that have really deterred him from eating the Earth are a spell by Dr. Strange that forced his awareness of every death for which he had ever been responsible, and the Ultimate Nullifier, a device so powerful that it not only kills its target, but changes history so that the target NEVER EXISTED. I guess I would be fucking afraid of that, too.

4. The Skrulls
Truth be told, I would rather have put Kang on this list than these little weirdos, but they have been so important in the last several years of Marvel comics that they made the jump all the way to number 4 on this list. Not bad for a bunch of little moon men who were once defeated by being hypnotized into thinking they were cows.

3. The Green Goblin
The most prominent villain in the Marvel universe aside from maybe the Skrulls in the last several years is Norman Osborne, who made his rep as the Green Goblin, arch-foe of Spider-Man. The Green Goblin has always been badass, and I am actually enjoying the current storyline in which he has become probably the most powerful man in the world. Although he no longer dresses like an extra from the Labrynth, I will always remember Norman Osborne for his early years as a costumed criminal moreso than his current turn as a Lex Luthor-like figure. I do appreciate, however, the fact that he is responsible for the return of actual supervillains to the Marvel universe after the last several years of hero vs. hero slapfighting.

2. Magneto
Magneto is such a great villain because he is so defensible, if not even relatable. Probably one of Marvel Comics's most recognizable and important villains, Magneto has filled many roles throughout his career, even leading the X-Men for a time.

There's one thing about Magneto that makes him really impressive, though, and that is that he is seriously like 97 years old. The healing power of magnets, ladies and gentlemen. Magneto must be following the Jack Lalanne method to be as ripped as he is at his age. He was a teenager in Auschwitz, and still doesn't look a day over 40 tops. I actually thought that Ian McKellen was an awesome choice to play him in the films for this reason. Not only is Sir Ian an extremely accomplished actor who managed to strongly balance the heart of his pathos alongside his unbridled arrogance, but he actually looked believable as someone that old.

Magneto is awesome even if he is a senior citizen.

1. Doctor Doom
Is this a surprise to anyone? Like, at all? Dr. Doom is the premier badass in all of Marveldom. He is the smartest man alive, the second greatest wizard, and the only guy in modern times who actually has time travel. This man is so badass he scarred up his own face because he couldn't wait to look scary as hell in that metal grill. If you are not at least a little afraid of Dr. Doom, you are stupid. Mr. Fantastic's college roommate built a machine that could summon the spirit of his dead mother when he was still at university. It ran for two minutes and thirty seven seconds before exploding and turning him into the supreme overlord of cool.

No, he does not shoot lightning. No, that is not a humanitarian award on his face. Yes, he will eat a human heart with his bare hands just to impress you.

He tricked the devil himself into releasing the spirit of his dearly departed mother only to turn the whole thing into a bid for power. He scarificed the only person he ever cared about besides himself JUST TO GET A LITTLE BETTER AT MAGIC. On a scale of evil wizards, 1 being Criss Angel and 10 being Venger from the Dungeons and Dragons animated series, Dr. Doom is a 32.


  1. Oooooh. Really good list. I would have put Magneto as numero uno, but that's me being an X-fan.

  2. It was pretty close, but Dr. Doom is more committed to being a badass.

  3. I'm so creating a villain called Chip Chop Chang and five bucks says the ensuing chaos covered on FOX news shoots the book to the top of the sales charts...