All the Marvel Big Bads, Ranked By Badness

marvel villains ranked kaecilius

13. Kaecilius – Doctor Strange

Personality: 15/20

Plan: 7/20

Total: 22/40

Mads Mikkelsen’s turn as the apprentice gone to the dark side (“You were supposed to be the Chosen One!”) is thrilling to watch because he makes a Hannibal Lecter-sized meal of every scene he’s in. He’s got chops, he’s a competent and demanding combatant…and his plan to destroy the world should have been written in crayon. Seriously? Seize an untold amount of power, hobble an ancient group of protectors, and then hand over power to…a neon magic mushroom trip that feeds off your life energy for eternity? Even someone starving for immortality has to recognize that the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze on that one.

And where’s Dormammu on this list? It’s not. It’s whatever the evil version of a Deus Ex Machina is. Diabolus Ex Machina, maybe. Rolling in at the last minute to be invincible except for the one vulnerability Strange can use. Plus, branding it a “villain” isn’t fair. It’s just trying to eat worlds and live its life until Strange gets in the way. Too bad we don’t get to know it more.

marvel villains ranked justin hammer

12. Justin Hammer – Iron Man 2

Personality: 14/20

Plan: 10/20

Total: 24/40

It may seem unfair to rank Hammer higher on the list than the dude who outwitted him, but Sam Rockwell boosts him up the chain with an extra dose of self tanning spray. His plan is on par with Cross’s (build weapons and sell them!), and Rockwell brings a dancing, cringing levity to the overstuffed movie. He was a funhouse mirror of Tony Stark’s bravado; the guy who holds his second place trophy higher in the air than the champion. He’s a joy to watch who probably would have gotten away with it if he hadn’t needed a mad genius to get him across the finish line.

marvel villains ranked red skull

11. Red Skull – Captain America: The First Avenger

Personality: 13/20

Plan: 14/20

Total: 27/40

Like a Nazi, but somehow worse. Hugo Weaving sneers wonderfully through the creepy red prosthetic to give life to an old comic book character that magnified the Nazi mission, stole an ancient artifact that grants untold powers (without ever having to battle Indiana Jones), and utilized Hitler’s resources until double-crossing him. Hitler! Double-crossing Hitler. If we hadn’t injected a scrawny kid with experimental serum, we’d all be hailing Hydra right now.

marvel villains ranked killian

10. Aldrich Killian – Iron Man 3

Personality: 14/20

Plan: 14/20

Total: 28/40

Tony Stark has a habit of accumulating people from his past who want to kill him because he mocked them, dismissed them, or indirectly killed their family members. Enter Guy Pearce’s portrayal of clever sophisticate trying to perfect his own super soldier formula. He’s a smarter version of Justin Hammer, and while Hammer was playing checkers, Killian was playing three-dimensional, holographic chess. His plan involved hiding in plain sight behind the fabricated terrorist, The Mandarin (who also won’t appear on this ranking because Trevor Slattery was just an actor trying to keep his SAG health insurance). He also has the Vice President of the United States in his pocket and plans to assassinate the POTUS in order to become the de facto leader. Hell of a calculus at work, all brought down by an army of Iron Men and a super-powered Pepper Potts.

marvel villains ranked ronan

9. Ronan the Accuser – Guardians of the Galaxy

Personality: 17/20

Plan: 12/20

Total: 29/40

Oh, Lee Pace. You are a national treasure. His intergalactic zealot is a master class in delivering a singularly-focused villain without squashing him into one dimension. He’s sharp and threatening, but it’s also easy to see why he has dedicated followers, drawn to his magnetism and power. That’s why his status as an errand boy for Thanos is irritating. Ronan’s plan is straightforward: destroying Xandar would pack a whopping death toll and show of his power, and it’s noteworthy that he keeps the Infinity Stone for himself (because screw Thanos). It takes an entire team, an advanced military, and a dance-off to bring him down. A dance-off that Ronan surely would have won if it were legit.

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War Zemo (Daniel Brühl) Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2016

8. Helmut Zemo – Captain America: Civil War

Personality: 15/20

Plan: 16/20

Total: 31/40

As slick and dangerous as his Inglourious Basterds character, Daniel Brühl does a lot with a little in this movie. After all, he’s barely in it. That’s the ingenuity of his plan: a multi-layered plot that pits the Avengers against each other with only a slight nudge in the right direction, the code words to control the Winter Soldier, and an American government lusting for control. Like other villains, revenge is his key motivator, but it doesn’t seem to cloud his judgement or abilities of manipulation. That revenge offers us some empathy with his character, understanding the cost cast on normal people by a world of heroes and villains who can tear a city from the earth. His infiltration of the prison and interrogation of Bucky Barnes is excellent. It’s also proof that (come on, Thanos), if you get other people to fight on your behalf, you gotta get involved at least a little.

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