There are plenty of bad guys to deal with in the Marvel universe, but the scariest are:
- The Beast
- Shadow King
- Demon Bear
- The One Below All
- Gorr the God Butcher
- Knull The Symbiote God
- The Void
No, this isn’t the furry blue guy from the X-men.
Worshipped by the cult ninja clan known as The Hand, the Beast is a demon of unknown origin. This dark entity pushes his followers toward nihilism and annihilation, filling his minions with supernatural power. Showing up in the Daredevil storyline “Land of the Blind”, the Beast is dark and sinister, capturing our hero, killing him, and bringing him back to life. If that sounds familiar, the same kind of powers brought Elektra back to life after villain Bullseye famously killed her.
This creepy guy looks like an overweight minion of Hades who literally speaks through his tongue. It’s kind of like Alien monster. The spook factor is real, especially with a band of demon worshipping ninja.
With the help of Daredevil’s newfound sidekick, Blindspot, this villain is ultimately slain with a magic sword (as you do with demons). In a burst of blinding light, our heroes send him back to the inferno where he belongs.
Speaking of inferno, Mephisto is one of Marvel’s most devilish characters. Based on Mephistopheles, the soul-collecting demon of the Faust legend, this villain in cunning, to say the least. Similar to the legend he was based off, Mephisto is a deal maker, the kind that generally ends up with your soul.
He originally showed up in Silver Surfer #3 (1968), torturing the honorable space hero with everything he could possibly desire. However, he would go on to interact with many different characters on a cosmic level. He’s tormented characters from Dr Doom to Thor, wreaking havoc across the universe and on earth. At one point, Dr Strange and Dr Doom even teamed up to save Dr Doom’s mother, releasing her soul of which he had captured.
Most famously, due to a sweet Nick Cage movie (kidding), Mephisto is known as the demon who gave Ghost Rider his powers. That is, with a slight side effect of owning his immortal soul and binding him to the fire demon Zarathos. As you probably might have guessed, Zarathos was made subservient to Mephisto as well. Not even other demons are safe from his manipulation.
The Shadow King
The Shadow King is a longstanding X-men villain and has a strange origin. He began as a powerful Egyptian telepath named Amahl Farouk, a nemesis of Professor Xavier. In fact, Farouk was one of the reasons Xavier started the X-men in the first place. The Shadow King, as Farouk referred to himself, was a crime lord over the Thieves Quarter in Cairo. Actually, he had a bit of a Kingpin look and flavor to him. This was the first evil mutant Xavier had ever encountered, one as powerful a psychic as himself.
As a side note: a child named Ororo Munroe picked his pocket here, later to join him as Storm.
The Shadow King is creepy as a psychic, but his powers may be much more than first thought. His ability to project himself into the astral plane and possess the minds of others are spooky on a cosmic level. He was later revealed to be much more than a mutant, an entity that has stalked the earth from its inception. That’s big-time ancient evil.
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You can probably guess why this one’s scary. But trust me, there’s more.
Created by a villain with a cursed knife, Demon Bear is a corrupted Apache bear spirit. He haunts the dreams of Danielle Moonstar of the New Mutants because he was made from her parents. In her nightmares, he tells her he killed her parents and she is next. In a way, he’s linked to her psionic ability to create illusions, except this illusion was more like a demon. Man, Marvel has some demons.
This villain loves to maul, just like a regular bear, but has some other uncanny abilities as well. Coming after the team of New Mutants in a hospital, the demon transports the mutant teens to the Badlands along with a cop and nurse. The two normal people just trying to do their noble jobs are transformed into Native American warriors under his control. It was here he was defeated by Magik’s Soulsword.
He showed up again against other Marvel characters, including Ghost Rider and Warpath. However, it was Psylocke who ultimately drove out the demon and saved the spirit bear within. Now, he hangs out with her as a companion. Aw, good bear.
The One Below All
Historically, Marvel has had many variations of the concept of Hell. There’s the Hel of Hela, the Asgardian afterlife, and there’s the realm of Mephisto, as was previously noted. Actually, there are many evil entities in charge of their own realms within this vast, cosmic landscape of the underworld. They’re known as Hell Lords.
But it wasn’t until a storyline called Immortal Hulk that we saw the granddaddy of all Hell Lords. The Devil, king of the inferno. This being is known as The One Below All, counterpart to Marvel’s ultimate God, The One Above All.
As you may know, Hulk isn’t the only gamma-radiated character in the Marvel universe. Characters such as Red Hulk, Abomination and Sasquatch were also created through these intense gamma experiments. Unlocking these monstrous forms became known as opening the green door, and often times, another persona manifested itself. This is the door that’s blown WIDE open in Immortal Hulk. We’re introduced to an ethereal, goateed, snake-headed entity who was locked behind the green door.
As it turns out, the forces that created the Hulk came from the Devil. Yikes.
Hopping out of the underworld and back onto Marvel’s surface plane, we still have evil dudes lurking around.
Because of the antihero Blade, we know vampires haunt the earth. Varnae is the father of the vampire race, beginning as a sorcerer in pre-cataclysm Atlantis. He was introduced in the 80’s and has terrorized heroes from Conan the Barbarian to Dr. Strange. He is both monstrous and magical, making him a threat in multiple ways. Not to mention, he kind of made all the vampires, including major villains such as Deacon Frost and Dracula.
10 feet tall and weighing nearly 500 pounds, Varnae looks like a combination of a Neanderthal, bigfoot and a monster bat. This is probably due to how ancient he is, coming from a prehistoric world. His dark magical experiments transformed him from a man to the creature we see. He has been worshipped by different cultures throughout time, wandering around the world.
Gorr the God Butcher
Now, to the horrors of outer space.
As funny as it sounds, Gorr is a villain to Thor. He started out a simple alien man, desperate to save his family from starvation and predators on a desolate planet. His people were nomads, living a hunter/gatherer lifestyle of prehistoric societies. As often happens, his people worshipped a pantheon of gods, superior beings that resembled them in appearance. After the tragic loss of his wife and son, Gorr comes across two deities, one armed in black and the other in gold. The two were at the end of an epic battle, and the golden-armored god lay mortally wounded.
This god reaches out to Gorr, begging him for help. Gorr lashes out in rage. Where was this god when he needed help? His prayers went unanswered and he has no sympathy. Picking up the strange All-Black Necrosword (a cosmic symbiote weapon of immense power) off the black-armored god, he ends the golden god himself.
Gorr is hopeless nihilism incarnate. He is wrath against an uncaring universe. To some degree, this anger is refreshing. Who hasn’t felt this way?
However, his hatred corrupts him to his core, transforming him into the very thing he hates: a god.
Wandering around the universe, Gorr absorbs the power of every god he comes into contact with, torturing and killing along his warpath. That is, until he meets the mighty Thor. The God Butcher storyline ranges across eons of time, as Gorr absorbs the ability to time travel, and ends in an epic conclusion against three periods of Thor’s life: young Thor, Avengers era Thor, and old King Thor.
Knull The Symbiote God
If Gorr could wreak havoc across the universe with a powerful symbiote weapon, imagine what the god of symbiotes could do.
Knull is as ancient as it gets. He is literally older than time itself, floating through the void before the creation of light and stars. In fact, he loathed the celestials (who seeded the universe with life) for disrupting his beautiful nothingness. He was so outraged he developed the previously mentioned All-Black Necrosword and decapitated one of the celestials. That’s power.
Fortunately, he was sealed away by his own creations, the Klyntar, in a planet of symbiotes. We come to find out characters such as Venom and Carnage were actually outliers, as most Klyntar were just protectors of the universe. Whadaya’ know. However, SHIELD had to go and do some black-ops tomfoolery with some symbiotes and released him on Earth. Isn’t that just like a shadowy intelligence agency? Good going, fellas.
His only weaknesses seem to be elemental forces, such as the power cosmic or Thor’s magic lighting. Being an entity of the black void, this makes sense. However, he’s near impossible to destroy outright. So, that can’t be good.
Three symbiote-based characters and I haven’t even included Venom. But, if I’m going to include a meager, Earth-based symbiote villain, it has to be Carnage.
Even before the symbiote bonded with him, Carnage was terrifying. Cletus Kasady was a serial killer, a madman. Unfortunately, he came into contact with Venom’s symbiote during a prison break. In attempt to free his form host, Eddie Brock, the Venom space goo found Cletus
When this piece of Venom attached itself to Cletus, his madness was amplified. This is what places Carnage on this list with such cosmic forces of terror. He might not be the symbiote god, but he’s one of the deadliest villains in Marvel. His shapeshifting symbiote generates knives and axes in chaotic form. He’s blood-red and completely unpredictable—a being of pure psychotic chaos. This is a super villain who only knows one thing, death.
He was so horrifying, he placed Venom on a road to redemption. Teaming up with Spiderman, his arch nemesis, Venom turned good guy to stop this greater evil. Don’t forget: Venom is a monster. He eats peoples’ heads.
The Void is an aspect of superhero the Sentry, who has a similar persona and powers to Superman.
While the Sentry is a golden boy savior of thousands of lives, apparently existing before the advent of the Fantastic Four and other Marvel superheroes, he has a dark side. As powerful a superhero as he is, the formula that transformed him offered a dark side. If the Sentry was a star, the Void was a black hole.
This menacing being of darkness is a powerful entity, strong enough to cause destruction on a cosmic level. He drove the Hulk to go on a rampage and killed millions in Manhattan on a whim. He’s even been cited as the Biblical plague that took the first sons of Egypt. So, the question is, did he possess the Sentry? Where did he come from?
Overall, this is a fascinating allegory to mental illness. As mighty and just and golden as the Sentry is on the outside, a powerful darkness lurks within. You could make the argument that holding this being at bay is heroic itself. If you know mental illness of any kind, this a powerful aspect to the character.
This supervillain is the Freddy Kreuger of the Marvel universe. A fiendish nemesis to Dr. Strange (among others), this demonic fellow rules his own Nightmare World.
This guy is creepy on multiple levels. Like Mephisto and other Hell Lords, he is among a number of Fear Lords within a dream realm. This realm is made of the combined psychic energy of humanity, tucked inside a greater Dream Dimension. Oddly enough, he has evil enemies as well, including the Lord of Madness named Dusk. I guess madness touches too close to his yummy negative psychic energy.
He’s such an insistent threat that Dr. Strange makes a regular habit of casting a protection spell before he sleeps. It’s like a literal boogey man is looking to cause havoc at any moment. His ability to terrorize the mind and entrap his victims in never-ending horror makes him uniquely scary.
Many of the entities of this list are reminiscent of Lovecraft’s eldritch horrors. If you’re unsure of what I mean, think Cthulhu —he’s the guy with the tentacles on his face that’s too cosmically powerfully to be understood by mortal minds. Well, Shuma-Gorath has a similar vibe…except more tentacles. He’s known to be one of the Great Old Ones. How’s that for Lovecraft?
Like a much more horrifying Knull the Symbiote God, Mr Gorath is older than time itself. With a single, massive eyeball surrounded by writhing tentacles, he may just be the scariest villain by appearance. It makes your skin crawl. Or mine, at least.
As with many villains on this list, this cosmic monster is primarily a villain to Dr. Strange. Poor guy gets all the worst baddies. I mean, a solid chunk of Spiderman’s villains are just assholes with technologically enhanced power suits. What gives?
Of course, Marvel readers know there’s a wide swath of cosmic beings who could wipe out Earth with a sneeze. And to a degree, yeah, that’s terrifying. However, I wanted to zero in on some real fear factors with this list. I’ll definitely give a shout out to Galactus and Dormamu for being gods of annihilation. They’re a bit overdone, but I would still soil myself if they appeared in real life.
There’s also Mistress Death, who’s like a lady Grim Reaper. Though she definitely enjoys death throughout the universe, she doesn’t seem that hardcore. Maybe I’ve seen the Grim Reaper thing too many times. She did inspire Thanos to wipe out half the universe… so that’s pretty terrifying.
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