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Best X-men Villains

author
Danielle Fletcher
• Thursday, 14 January, 2021
• 14 min read

Many human organizations like the Friends of Humanity think that mutants should be eliminated or banned from living normal lives as their powers are too much of a threat. X- Villains like Apocalypse, Magneto, and Mister Sinister have also been wreaking havoc on the X-Men since 1963, Magneto being their first X-Men villain they’ve faced.

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Contents

Even some X-Men themselves have crossed the line to the dark side or even started out naughty, like Rogue, who was a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Wolverine and the X-Men can't even catch a break in their popular blockbuster films against the likes of the Hellfire Club, Lady Death strike, and the X-Men enemy Sabre tooth.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)The history of the X-Men is filled with telepaths, starting with Professor X and Jean Grey and continuing on to the likes of Emma Frost, Locke, and Cable. And there is: the Shadow King, a villain that exists entirely on the psychic plane and has periodically tormented the X-Men since the 1980s (specifically making targets out of Storm and Locke).

Though stillborn, Cassandra Nova was able to psychically recreate her body, and then masterminded the destruction of Kenosha and the death of millions of mutants, most assuredly earning her place on this list in sheer numbers on the board alone (though uniqueness certainly counts). Cassandra Nova appeared again during Joss When and John Cassady's run on Astonishing X-Men, wreaking havoc with Emma Frost as part of a post-hypnotic suggestion.

But what makes them perfectly positioned as X-Menvillains is the simple fact that many of their key members have been mutants, starting with longtime Black King Sebastian Shaw. Emma Frost has been a mainstay of the X-Men since Grant Morrison’s run, even spending many years as Cyclops’s paramour, making her one of the team’s de facto leaders.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)With pale skin and a diamond on his forehead, Mr. Sinister is undeniably physically distinctive. Though a relatively recent addition to the X-Men's rogues' gallery, having debuted in 1987, Mr. Sinister has quickly ascended the ranks to one of their most frequent and feared foes, as a geneticist fascinated with experimenting on mutants and himself.

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Mr. Sinister has since shown himself to be fascinated with the Summers and Grey families, attempted to kidnap Hope in 'Messiah Complex,' died and came back as a woman, and tried to transform San Francisco's population into replicas of himself. Specifically, that's the twisted (thanks to Mastermind and the Hellfire Club) version of Phoenix, the incredibly powerful cosmic entity connected to Jean Grey.

And that hate is embodied most directly in the Sentinels, massive robots originally introduced in 1965 and programmed to seek and destroy any and all mutants. A symbol of humanity's hatred and fear of mutants, Sentinels have come in many forms over the years, but have remained a persistent threat.

Apocalypse represents perhaps the greatest threat the X-Men have faced what could be greater than a villain who wants to wipe out all life on Earth and remake it in his own image? He's struck the X-Men and the world at large many times, with one of his most lasting crimes including transforming free-wheeling original X-Man Angel into the metal-winged Archangel, the horseman of Death.

Of course, doing things like ripping out Wolverine's adamantine skeleton or frequently attacking humanity on a massive scale is… less sympathetic. Not to be confused with a certain Dark Lord who likes jewelry, Sauron was once Dr Karl Los.

Transformed into a pterodactyl like humanoid, Sauron is an energy vampire who must absorb the life force of others. In his human form, if he absorbs a mutant's life force, he transforms into Sauron and that's where he usually runs afoul of the X-Men.

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He's just a rich guy who likes to build elaborate death traps and make money off using them to kill people. Introduced as a member of Mystique's incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Pro has the ability to mentally control fire, shaping it into whatever he wanted.

He may not be the kind of villain who's going to try and takeover the world, but he's entertaining and dangerous and that makes a lot of difference. In recent years, Toad has been played more than a butt of jokes than anything else and while that's not far from how he's always been treated, he deserves way more respect than he gets.

A powerful cyborg from the future, Ahab's whole job is to hunt down mutants and bring them to the camps. To do this, he uses captured mutants he controls known as Hounds, one of whom was Rachel Grey-Summers, an alternate future daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey.

Armed with powerful energy harpoons and his cybernetic enhancements, Ahab sees mutants as nothing more than fodder and will stop at nothing to put them in what he perceives as their right place- under his boot. Mojo was created to be a caricature of Hollywood producer types, all about ratings and trying to stay on top.

Mojo's dimension is run by the person who gets the best ratings and that's Mojo- his programs are the choice of the Converse's people, violent spectacles that play to the lowest common denominator. Over the years, Exodus would prove to be a daunting foe, leading Magneto's Acolytes and tackling some of the most powerful heroes around.

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Like most mutants, he's a Krakow now, on the island's Quiet Council, but he still has an unhealthy obsession with Magneto and there's no telling what schemes he might have. Nimrod units have found their way back in time and when they do, it's always a problem for whatever mutants it encounters.

When ever a Master Mold facility is built, the X-Men do their best to destroy it because every one holds the potential of creating Nimrod, the doom of the mutant race. First encountered by Professor X on the streets of Cairo before he founded the X-Men, the two men battled on the Astral Plane.

Shadow King would eventually abandon his body and reside completely on the Astral Plane, where his powers make him just about unstoppable. The Shadow King is one of the most dangerous opponents the team faces; his threat goes beyond the physical, and he's very hard to beat.

One of the biggest was Cassandra Nova, a new X-Men nemesis with a truly bizarre origin the very short story is that she's Professor X's twin sister, whom he fought in the womb, was stillborn but able to recreate her body, and then masterminded the destruction of Kenosha and the death of millions of mutants; most assuredly earning her place on this list in sheer numbers on the board alone (though uniqueness certainly counts). Cassandra Nova appeared again during Joss When and John Cassady's run on Astonishing X-Men, wreaking havoc with Emma Frost as part of a post-hypnotic suggestion.

But what makes them perfectly positioned as X-Menvillains is the simple fact that many of their key members have been mutants, starting with longtime Black King Sebastian Shaw. Emma Frost has been a mainstay of the X-Men since Grant Morrison’s run, even spending many years as Cyclops’s paramour, making her one of the team’s de facto leaders.

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(Image credit: Marvel Comics)With pale skin and a diamond on his forehead, Mr. Sinister is undeniably physically distinctive. Though a relatively recent addition to the X-Men's rogues' gallery, having debuted in 1987, Mr. Sinister has quickly ascended the ranks to one of their most frequent and feared foes, as a geneticist fascinated with experimenting on mutants and himself.

Mr. Sinister has since shown himself to be fascinated with the Summers and Grey families, attempted to kidnap Hope in 'Messiah Complex,' died and came back as a woman, and tried to transform San Francisco's population into replicas of himself. Specifically, that's the twisted (thanks to Mastermind and the Hellfire Club) version of Phoenix, the incredibly powerful cosmic entity connected to Jean Grey.

And that hate is embodied most directly in the Sentinels, massive robots originally introduced in 1965 and programmed to seek and destroy any and all mutants. A symbol of humanity's hatred and fear of mutants, Sentinels have come in many forms over the years, but have remained a persistent threat.

Apocalypse represents perhaps the greatest threat the X-Men have faced what could be greater than a villain who wants to wipe out all life on Earth and remake it in his own image? He's struck the X-Men and the world at large many times, with one of his most lasting crimes including transforming free-wheeling original X-Man Angel into the metal-winged Archangel, the horseman of Death.

Now, however, even mighty Apocalypse is part of Krakow's Quiet Council, working directly with Xavier and Magneto to govern mutant kind and appearing as a member of Excalibur. Of course, doing things like ripping out Wolverine's adamantine skeleton or frequently attacking humanity on a massive scale is… less sympathetic.

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The team manages to defeat some villains once and never have to deal with them again, while others have made themselves a constant thorn in the side of whoever’s actually on the X-Men roster at the time. There are dozens of the latter, which is what happens when a team has been on the front lines fighting for hundreds of issues and several decades worth of comic book storylines.

For this list, we’ve assembled a wide variety of X-Menvillains from across the decades to decide exactly which ones have been the biggest threat to Marvel’s merry band of mutants. We’re looking at their histories, their abilities, and the amount of damage they’ve done to both the X-Men and mutant kind from their creation to the present day to decide which are the most powerful, most dangerous villains of all.

St. John Allardyce started out as a journalist/novelist working in Southeast Asia, until he met Mystique and was recruited into her Brotherhood for his mutant abilities. First appearing in Uncanny X-Men #141 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Pro’s first job was to assassinate the anti-mutant proponent Senator Robert Kelly.

Near the end of his career he’d gone mostly hero, working for the government as a part of the Freedom Force before contracting the Legacy Virus, which would eventually save his life. The character was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and introduced in X-Men #4 during the story, “The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants”.

Gradually though, the character was mutated further, gaining the ability to extend his elastic tongue over two dozen feet, and use its incredible strength to crush people in its grasp. Toad is an example of a character that started out completely useless at first, but over time gained more and more abilities until he was actually a significant threat.

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Frederick J. Dukes first popped up onto the scene in the Marvel Universe in the Jack Kirby and Stan Lee written The X-Men #3 in 1964. He began as a circus sideshow performer under his code name “The Blob”, but was brought in to the X-Men fold by Cyclops, who asks him to join their team.

Ever a thorn in the team’s side, he’s drifted through numerous villains groups including various incarnations of the Brotherhood, and even the carnival he was once a part of! The Blob boasts a number of superpowers including superhuman strength, but his biggest advantage is his elastic, blubbery skin.

Mesmer made his first appearance in the world of the X-Men in Arnold Drake, Don Heck, and Werner Roth’s X-Men #49 in the story “Who Dares Defy…the Demi-Men”. In that story, the character was a subordinate of a robot copy of Magneto, and was organizing a massive group of mutants to rise together and overthrow humanity.

Karl Los was brought into the X-Men by Roy Thomas and Neal Adams in X-Men #59, revealing himself as the mutant Sauron in the following issue. Beginning to feel that he needed to do so to survive, Karl eventually went to medical school and became a geneticist and physician, but drained his clients in secret.

Sauron boasts a wide variety of abilities including flight and super strength, as well as being able to hypnotize anyone he comes into direct eye contact with. Billing himself as the world’s most expensive hitman, Arcade gets his jollies off creating massive amusement parks filled with deathtraps, dubbing them “Murder worlds”.

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The primary antagonist of the universe’s luckiest mutant, Mojo was created by Ann Docent and Art Adams in Long shot #3 back in 1985 while she was still pursuing her Master’s degree. Inspired by the work of writers such as Norm Chomsky and Walter Lippmann, she introduced the character that ruled the self-titled Converse.

A member of a race known as the Spineless Ones, Mojo used a series of television programs in which the characters fought to the death in order to keep his populace as docile slaves. Ultimately, after realizing how captivating the adventures of the X-Men could be, he made multiple attempts to attack the team -- he even turned them all into children once.

Her powers are complete control over her cellular structure, allowing her to change shape and size, and even mask her own scent and recover from any manner of bodily harm or generally deadly injuries. He popped up at a party held by the Hellfire Club, and was fooled by the villain Mastermind into believing that he saw Cyclops firing his optic beams into a crowd.

Later he would be responsible for trying to pass the Mutant Control Act, and updating Sentinels into more powerful versions through Project: Wide awake. As a flat scan, Senator Kelly certainly doesn’t have any powers, but that only shows how some of the X-Men most dangerous threats aren’t necessarily aliens from space or other mutants.

The only reason he’s not higher on this list is that ultimately the character started to see that mutants weren’t nearly as bad as he believed them to be, and his anti-mutant rhetoric cooled. Jason Wynyard started out as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, helping them to conquer the country of Santa Marco in South America until the X-Men sent them packing.

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With the help of Emma Frost, he twisted Jean’s mind into believing she was caught up in a romance with Wynyard in the Victorian Era. D’Ken German is a member of the Shi’AR people, and the brother to Linda, Xavier’s paramour and the eventual Queen.

He was originally first in line for the throne after his sister Death bird was exiled, and after being in control for some time, became obsessed with the M’Kraal Crystal, also known as the “Nexus of Realities”. This attempt to take over nearly fails, but ultimately with the help of the X-Men, the Streamers, and the Phoenix, D’Ken is taken out and Linda becomes Queen of the Shi’AR.

He doesn’t boast any special abilities other than being extremely physically fit and having the advanced tech of the Shi’AR people. Easily one of the most visually interesting characters on this list, Omega Red was invented by the genius minds of Jim Lee and John Byrne and first popped up in X-Men Vol.

First called Already Gregorivich Rossovich, his past is shrouded in mystery -- he was simply a serial killer that got caught by Banshee and turned over to the KGB. Code named Omega Red, Already was gifted with a wide array of powers: super strength, a healing factor, heightened agility and reflexes, and the ability to secrete pheromones which can kill any humans near him.

But while all of that’s impressive, what’s even more frightening is what he keeps in his arms: retractable metal tentacles made out of something called carbonation, the Soviet attempt at creating adamantine. Through those, Omega Red is capable of absorbing the energy of anyone caught in his grasp, draining their life force and adding it to his own.

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But what makes him such a threat is that he’s got no compunction, and won’t hesitate to put human lives at risk to achieve his goal. Of course, over the years Wolverine has grown in abilities while Sabre tooth’s effectiveness has weakened, meaning he’s not precisely the threat he was in the '70s or '80s, but he’s still a deadly villain that can’t be underestimated.

Sebastian Hiram Shaw popped up alongside the other members of the Hellfire Club in the 1980 comic Uncanny X-Men #129 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. By the age of 40 he was already a billionaire, and after getting engaged to fellow mutant Lourdes Channel, finds himself invited into the Hellfire Club.

His powers allow him to fight on an even keel with most members of the team, as he’s capable of absorbing energy directed at him and using it to alter his body and make it superhuman. He’s the sort of character that the X-Men can’t afford to forget about…lest they suddenly find themselves assaulted from all ends by his vast connections and impressive abilities.

Created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Emma Grace Frost made her debut in the 1980’s “Uncanny X-Men #129”. She began as a member of the Hellfire Club as the so-called White Queen, and spent the first few years of her existence as a thorn in the side of the X-Men.

What makes Emma Frost rank so high on this list aside from her impressive abilities is her experience fighting both against and as an X-Man means she knows the team in and out. But at the same time, Frost also spent much of the last two decades as a hero -- fighting with the good guys rather than against them, and although the character isn’t on the side of the angels currently, that doesn’t feel permanent.

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Strife is from the endlessly complex '90s era of X-Men comics, where continuity finally collapsed under its own weight and twisted in on itself like a delicious pretzel. Originally cloned by the Assani, this version of Nathan was kidnapped by Apocalypse and raised with the intent of becoming the next body he would inhabit.

However, after realizing he had kidnapped a clone, Apocalypse the body wasn’t fit to house his form, and instead evaporates after a battle with Scott, Jean, and a young Cable. Afterwards, Strife is filled with rage for being discarded by both his real parents and his adoptive one, and as a result puts all his effort into making Cable’s life a living hell.

Ever a pain, particularly to Cable and the original X-Force, Strife’s abilities and mastery over future tech makes him one of the biggest threats the team could ever face. The character posed a major threat to the X-Men for years after he managed to survive an attack by Krakow and reawakened after Scarlet Witch shut off the powers of most other existing mutants.

Revealed to have been a part of a secret second team of X-Men that failed to rescue the original five from the living island, his bitterness and rage from being forgotten caused him to go on a tear through the X-Men, until he eventually abandoned Earth in order to travel to Shi’AR to get revenge for his mother being slain by D’Ken. Surprisingly, Sinister isn’t actually a mutant, but has genetically altered his cell structure to give him an array of powers.

Having gifted himself with a much longer lifespan than normal humans, Essex has had time to put dozens of plans in place regarding experimenting with the mutant race. He’s particularly obsessed with the Summers clan, having gone so far as to create a clone of Jean Grey in Madeline Pryor in order to see what would come from Scott’s child.

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Most recently, she’s dismantled Jean’s attempt to create a mutant nation by framing her for the murder of a United Kingdom ambassador. The main part of one of the most legendary story arcs in the X-Men, Dark Phoenix is probably the strongest force on this list in terms of pure, absolute power.

Imbued with the Phoenix’s energy, Jean became a more effective force than ever with the X-Men …until she begins to experience mental assaults from the mutant Jason Wynyard. Between Jason and Emma Frost’s tampering, Jean briefly works with the Hellfire Club as the “Black Queen”, which lets the Phoenix indulge in dark impulses it never would’ve experienced before.

Eventually he was even forced to possess his father just to maintain his energy, and faced off against the X-Men in one last, climactic battle that resulted in his “death”. Though Kevin was unfortunately cursed with the constant need to consume energy, his power set kind of requires it: the dude can alter reality at will, ignoring the laws of physics.

Colossus transforms into his metal form and is forced to “kill” the character -- a real rarity at a time when superheroes avoided taking lives as much as they could. A creation of Scott Lob dell and Pascal Ferry, the character is essentially the ultimate evolution of the Sentinels, and the primary reason why that particular classic X-Villain isn’t on the list.

A strange fusion of Master Mold and Nimrod, Bastion is an android that’s essentially the ultimate invention for wiping out the mutant race. The character was created in the wake of the Onslaught event, as a part of the U.S. Government’s Operation: Zero Tolerance strike force.

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Easily one of the more iconic mutant villains the X-Men have ever faced, most people would think that the character has been around as long as long-time threats like Magneto or Mystique. Just the fact that he’s responsible for Angel constantly flipping between genuine decent guy and murderous assassin should be enough to show the adverse way he’s affected the team.

Onslaught is one of the newest members on this list, as he was first created by Scott Lob dell, Mark Said, and Andy Hubert in X-Men Vol. It took Reed and Sue’s son Franklin Richards creating an entire parallel universe and dumping The Fantastic Four and the Avengers in just to keep them from dying.

Magneto is one of the few villains belonging to any superhero’s rogues gallery that was introduced in the same issue as the heroes were, with his first appearance coming in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s The X-Men #1. There almost seems to be no limit to his abilities, as he’s capable of manipulating metals on a molecular structure, and can use electromagnetic waves to repel energy attacks.

He’s the first villain the group ever faced, and is immune to the telepathy of Xavier as well as other telepaths thanks to his specially designed, iconic helmet.

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