The Most Powerful MCU Villains Ranked

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has no shortage of villains. Some of these figures are just everyday people like Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) in "Iron Man 2" or Dreykov (Ray Winstone) in "Black Widow." They are Earthbound human beings who get their power through money and influence rather than superpowers, but then there is the bevy of foes across the various movies and TV shows in this saga who have way more going on than normal human beings. Some of them aren't even human beings at all. Although they range from purple aliens to immortal crime lords, these are the most powerful villains in the MCU — the ones who can wipe out heroes and even whole planets without blinking. They're appropriately grandiose threats for the over-the-top superheroes who populate this universe.

Ranking the most powerful MCU foes certainly isn't easy, especially since their goals and personalities vary so greatly. It can feel weird trying to rate them against one another. However, it's also a fulfilling exercise that allows viewers to appreciate the various ways tension has been generated across these movies as well as the devastatingly imposing adversaries the superheroes have foiled over the years. The MCU isn't wanting for villains, and it's certainly not lacking in villains whose power will linger in your memory long after the credits have rolled.

12. Ronan the Accuser

Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), the first villain the Guardians of the Galaxy faces, gets a grand entrance. He's introduced rambling on about the horrors the people of the planet Xandar inflicted on his people, the Kree. This creature's first sequence isn't all talk and no action, though. Ronan declares his refusal to cooperate with a peace treaty between the Xandarians and Kree by slaughtering a member of the Nova Corps. From there, Ronan rarely appears without killing somebody, even Thanos's powerful right-hand man, the Other.

Ronan's penchant for murder is enough to make him a memorably powerful foe, but then he opts to wield the might of an Infinity Stone for his own plans at the start of "Guardians of the Galaxy's" third act. He does this to defy his master, Thanos (Josh Brolin), bellowing out a plan to viciously murder the purple alien once he's laid waste to Xandar. Pace's passionate line deliveries make it believable that Ronan could go toe-to-toe with Thanos as a formidable threat. Ronan doesn't get to convey that intimidating aura for long, as the Guardians of the Galaxy eventually defeat him. However, in the screentime he does have, Ronan the Accuser has no problem registering as a commanding cosmic threat. 

11. Ultron

With Ultron (James Spader), Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) wanted to create "a suit of armor around the world." What Stark with instead was a genocidal entity convinced that planet Earth would be better off if humanity were destroyed. It was bad enough that Ultron was so fixated on violence, but to make matters worse, he was a persistent foe. An artificial intelligence, Ultron proved difficult to defeat, as he could simply transfer his consciousness to a new robotic body if he were damaged.

Ultron used his durable nature to live long enough to nearly execute his plan to transform the city of Sokovia into a meteor to be dropped on Earth in a bid to wipe out all its inhabitants. Many comic book movie villains want to destroy the human race, but how many base their plans on the way the dinosaurs went out? One of the more tenacious foes the Avengers faced, Ultron was a chilling symbol of what happens when Stark's ambitions go unchecked.

10. Hela

Hela the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett), gets one of the most distinctive entrances in the history of Marvel Cinematic Universe villains. Sauntering on-screen, she approaches the formidable Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) as if they're nothing. Her every movement exudes grim confidence. As if all that weren't enough, Hela cements her status as a force to be reckoned with by shattering Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. With this astonishing move, it's apparent that Thor is about to face a villain like no other.

As seen by her ruthless attack on Asgard, Hela's might goes beyond just destroying hammers. She singlehandedly wipes out whole armies of Asgardian soldiers while a flashback sequence shows her slaughtering all of Valkyrie's comrades and her girlfriend. Then, there's her climactic fight with Thor in which she rips out the God of Thunder's eye. The Goddess of Death is not an adversary to take lightly and "Thor: Ragnarok" constantly reminds viewers that Hela is a foe for the ages. Even her defeat reinforces her power since it takes the full might of Surtur to take her down.

9. He Who Remains

At the end of "Loki's" first season, Loki and Sylvie (Sophie Di Martino) finally encounter the man they've been searching for. They arrive at the domicile of He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors), the figure responsible for creating the Time Variance Authority. He Who Remains is also tasked with keeping the primary timeline of reality clear. If he were to die or abandon his duties, chaos would unfold and various timelines would begin to collapse on one another.

Unlike most Marvel Cinematic Universe adversaries, He Who Remains is not much of a fighter. Once Sylvie decides to commit to her violent plan for revenge, she dispatches him with ease. The power of He Who Remains comes not from his physical strength but from the responsibilities he holds for the multiverse. Plus, there are all the potential powers in versions of He Who Remains audiences haven't even seen yet. Like all beings, He Who Remains has countless variants across alternate dimensions. One particularly notable alternate form is the formidable Kang the Conqueror, who is teased in the final moments of "Loki's" first season. Who needs a cavalcade of weapons when you're He Who Remains, a figure whose influence and might can stretch across countless dimensions?

8. Agatha Harkness

The incredibly catchy "WandaVision" tune "Agatha All Along" concisely sums up the various ways that the witch Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) stealthily used her magical prowess throughout the show. Her devious acts include brainwashing a random man name Ralph Bohner (Evan Peters) to pose as Pietro Maximoff, Wanda Maximoff's deceased brother, and killing her kids' dog, Sparky. Harkness controls much of this show without either Maximoff or the viewer knowing. The sort of powers that Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) is often terrified by is something that Harkness relishes using at every opportunity. 

Deceitful behavior isn't the only trick up Harkness's sleeve. She uses the powers of the Darkhold, a mystical book full of evil, and as seen in a flashback, she previously killed a coven of witches, including her mom. Of course, she's no match for Maximoff once the Avenger taps into her powers as the Scarlet Witch. Still, Harkness is an immensely powerful figure whose use of dark magic adds further chaos to the mayhem Maximoff inflicts on the town of Westview. You certainly don't need a peppy song to realize that, but the ditty works as a helpful reminder.

7. Gorr

The might of "Thor: Love and Thunder" antagonist Gorr (Christian Bale) is evident from his full name: Gorr the God Butcher. Armed with the cursed Necrosword, Gorr dedicates himself to wiping out the gods. This plan isn't just a nebulous ambition either. A quick shot in "Thor: Love and Thunder" makes it apparent that Gorr's quest for revenge spans multiple planets and results in the death of countless gods.

In "Thor: Love and Thunder," Gorr only becomes more powerful once he sets off to visit the cosmic wish-granting being Eternity. While many Marvel Cinematic Universe foes have failed at even coming close to realizing their nefarious plots, the same cannot be said for Gorr. While fighting Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Mighty Thor (Natalie Portman), Gorr uses his might to achieve the impossible and reach Eternity. Gorr's arc in "Love and Thunder" concludes with a note of sentimentality, as he chooses to use his wish to revive his daughter rather than slaughter all of the remaining gods. However, before that moment of redemption, Gorr is a tremendously impactful villain with godly blood on his hands and a successful track record of fully realizing his wicked plans.

6. Arishem

The Eternals can live for centuries and have powers that can move mountains, but even they have to answer to a higher power. These superheroes work for the Celestial lifeform Arishem, a gigantic being from the farthest reaches of the cosmos. Sersi (Gemma Chan) later finds out that Arishem created each of the Eternals. She and her cohorts are all synthetic lifeforms designed to wipe out planets to help birth new Celestials. Arishem wipes these horrific acts from the memories of Sersi and her comrades once their jobs are finished. 

Before "Eternals," the might of the Celestials was seen in films like "Guardians of the Galaxy." However, the terrifying presence of Arishem in "Eternals" makes the imposing nature of the Celestials even more apparent. This nature is crystallized in the closing scene of "Eternals," in which Arishem towers over Earth while confronting a handful of surviving Eternals that have defied his orders. In the large pantheon of enormously powerful cosmic foes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Arishem looms large.

5. Ego

Arishem isn't the only prominent Celestial in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There's also Ego (Kurt Russell), the father of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). This figure is an all-powerful creature that has created a planet around himself. This domicile appears to be friendly on the surface but contains plenty of skeletons from the past (literally) within. Ego is also prone to lengthy boasts about how he's capable of creating life and has been to countless planets across the galaxy. Always yearning to expand his reach even further, Ego has tremendous power at his disposal and isn't afraid to slaughter those who stand in his way.

Just the fact that Ego crafted an entire planet (one that occasionally bears his face) should provide an indicator of just how powerful this Celestial truly is. The staggering number of corpses he's left behind, including Quill's mother, also offers up a chilling reminder of how Ego isn't interested in using his magnificent powers to improve the cosmos. His ability to regenerate his human form no matter how many times it's blasted out of existence further solidifies Ego as a threat like no other.

4. Scarlet Witch

In the final moments of her last non-violent confrontation with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," Wanda Maximoff gives the Sorcerer Supreme an ultimatum: If he does not hand over America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) by sundown, he and anyone who protects her will not face the wrath of Maximoff. Instead, they will be confronted by the full might of the Scarlet Witch. Maximoff constantly uses her magical powers to destroy anyone who gets in her way and to inhabit the bodies of other versions of herself in alternate dimensions.

Nowhere is the overwhelming strength of Scarlet Witch made more apparent than when the character encounters the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Illuminati. Here, the likes of Black Bolt (Anson Mount), Mr. Fantastic (John Krasinski), and Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) are all decimated by the Scarlet Witch. Even Professor X (Patrick Stewart) gets his neck snapped after reaching out to try and talk some sense into Scarlet Witch. As seen when she destroyed Vision (Paul Bettany) to save the world in "Avengers: Infinity War," Maximoff has always been a powerful figure,  but "Multiverse of Madness" see's her taking her abilities to the next level by embracing the Scarlet Witch persona. In the process, she becomes one of the most formidable villains in multiple universes.

3. Loki

Many powerful Marvel Cinematic Universe villains are physically imposing. Loki is an interesting departure from that norm. Loki lacks a super muscular physique and resembles more of an average (albeit weaselly) man, but that's part of what makes him such an extraordinarily powerful foe. He's the last being you'd suspect to be the supervillain equivalent of a cockroach, an unkillable creature who keeps coming back.

Throughout his various Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances, Loki uses his wits to cheat death on countless occasions. By evading death, Loki has managed to exert power over others in the MCU as exemplified by his reign of terror on Earth in "The Avengers" or his time posing as King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) at the start of "Thor: Ragnarok." Even in hand-to-hand combat, he's still a powerful figure. The God of Mischief may not seem like a force to be reckoned with at first glance but just wait. Sooner or later, Loki's self-serving impulses and his ability to endure — no matter the challenge — will remind you why he's a villain to be feared.

2. Thanos

For many of his earliest Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances, it seemed like all Thanos did was sit around in a big golden chair. "Avengers: Infinity War" and its opening scene established Thanos as a threat to be taken very seriously. At the beginning of "Avengers: Infinity War," Thanos and his loyal Black Order minions wipe out a ship of Asgardians. The purple menace proceeds to clutch Thor by his hair to get Loki to reveal where an Infinity Stone is. After tossing the God of Thunder around like a ragdoll, Thanos then engages Hulk in a fight, a duel he manages to win despite the green giant's considerable strength.

Thanos wields his incredible might, enhanced by the powers of the various Infinity Stones he scores, to make life miserable for the superheroes. This reaches its apex at the end of "Infinity War" when Thanos technically loses once Wanda Maximoff sacrifices Vision. In the wake of this seemingly definitive defeat, Thanos uses the Time Stone to reverse time and beat Maximoff. It's not just that Thanos is physically imposing and can take on the likes of Thor and Hulk in a fight, he's also dangerously clever, using the Infinity Stones to his advantage.

1. Wenwu

As "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" opens, viewers are treated to a prologue set centuries earlier in which Wenwu (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) uses ten magical rings to destroy his enemies. Though the origin of these rings is shrouded in mystery, the way Wenwu uses them to devastate anyone unfortunate enough to cross his path is legendary. With the rings by his side, this crime lord expands his empire beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Wenwu reaps many benefits from the rings, including his ability to live for centuries without aging.

Even when Wenwu is unwittingly manipulated by monstrous forces, his power remains evident. Who else but Wenwu would have the strength to shatter a barrier that keeps an army of flying monsters enclosed? Wenwu's cunning intellect, a trait entirely divorced from the powers of the Ten Rings, makes him even more of a threat. Tony Leung Chiu-wai conveys an unmistakable aura of authority. His work grabs your attention, even when Wenwu is just talking at a dinner table. Wenwu may not be a god or hail from the stars like other Marvel Cinematic Universe baddies, but his lengthy legacy of destruction makes him the most powerful adversary in the saga.