Marvel’s premier team of mutants has a rather impressive rogue’s gallery all their own. From celestial conquerors to violent freedom fighters, they have dealt with a number of rather impressive enemies. As such, today we will count down their ten best villains. Villains that have challenged individual X-Men, such as Wolverine of course, more often than the full team are not excluded from this list. Let’s begin!
A good first step for this list, and sort of a foreshadowing of what’s to come with this list. Much of what is included on this list is here more for character and aesthetic design as opposed to deeper reasons such as personality and character arc, at least until we get closer to the top.
Avalanche is a good example of this, as, beyond being a freedom fighter of sorts and his friendship with Pyro, there’s not much to Avalanche for me beyond a sweet costume and awesome powers. His ability to create seismic waves makes him a powerful foe. His end at the hands of the Red Skull is quite a shame, and I hate that he went down that way. A new Avalanche has appeared in the new X-Men: Gold, though not much is known about this one yet.
Also, did you know he was originally Greek? Like the Rhino, I always just pictured Avalanche with something of a Bronx accent. Just like Rhino, he’s actually from Europe. Go figure.
A hypnotic, energy absorbing, pteranodon energy vampire; that is just another really cool concept from the get-go. Doctor Karl Lykos is a guy who can turn into a freaking pteranodon with a tail (not a pterodactyl or a dinosaur, those are different things), and that’s just really cool.
Beyond that, he’s always proven a deadly foe of the X-Men, and he he’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s a classic X-Men foe and quite worthy of inclusion on this list.
- Lady Deathstrike
The daughter of a Japanese kamikaze pilot-turned-crime lord, Yuriko was raised to hate and to fight. She has clashed with Daredevil, Captain America, and, most notably, Wolverine.
Her design is quite awesome as well, with her cybernetic augmentations, her bushido-esque armor, and her massive finger-claws. I wasn’t a big fan of her presentation as a lover-scorned of Wolverine, but she has become more than that over the years. She is a dangerous foe and a worthy rogue of the X-Men.
- Silver Samurai
Another Japanese Wolverine-centric foe who started off in Daredevil comics, I’ve grown to love Keniuchio in recent years. He, like many villains I love, has a weird code of honor which drives him to make his decisions. He’s a powerful mutant with the ability to channel energy into his weapons to make them even deadlier.
I don’t know what that Transformers-esque abomination in The Wolverine was, but it didn’t diminish my love of the comic book incarnation of the Silver Samurai. His costume is quite cool too, with its gleaming armor and immaculate helmet. Silver Samurai is a powerful enemy and another X-Men classic.
- Mister Sinister
One of the X-Men’s most intelligent and powerful foes, Nathaniel Essex has a warped and malignant fascination with the human genome. As a result, he would naturally become obsessed with the mutant phenomenon, particularly in regards to Scott Summers and Jean Grey.
In my teenage years, I had a fascination with Apocalypse that naturally extended to his frequent ally, Mister Sinister. Though that interest has diminished over the years, it’s never disappeared completely. Sinister is a really cool foe, from his genius to his immense power that makes him a challenge even for the most potent X-Men lineup.
In my adult years I find that Sinister is probably more fleshed out than En Sabah Nur, but, well…
I won’t lie, this is mostly for the costume and never-ending cache of super powers. Apocalypse has been designed as this cosmic force of nature, eternally attempting to forward the wheel of evolution as mandated by the celestials what augmented his mutant superhuman abilities.
Like with Darkseid, I struggle to find foes who are destined to be evil that intriguing, but they can still be cool foes when used properly. Again like Darkseid, I still think Apocalypse is a threatening and fairly well-designed enemy that I can’t help but get excited over whenever he rears his ugly head.
- William Stryker and the Purifiers
Not too long ago, I read the Chris Claremont classic X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, and I was fascinated by the first appearance of the charismatic yet vicious man known as Reverend William Stryker. I was in awe of his hatred of abnormality, going so far as to kill his wife and malformed son to scourge such things from the Earth.
I love the evil bastard that is William Stryker because he and his followers are terrifyingly real. Religious zealoutry has been responsible for so many atrocities throughout history, and it shows no sign of stopping in the present day.
Stryker and the Purifiers are great foes of the X-Men because they are pure fear and hatred, but that mixture of fear and hatred is both believable and depressingly common. Recent activities by such organizations as the Westborough Baptist Church show that these organizations can still exist, and organizations like the X-Men must fight against them.
An unsurprising entry for anyone who saw my Top 10 Marvel Villains list, Victor Creed is a vicious monster whose bestial instincts have led to the deaths of many. He’s strong, has a healing factor as well as razor-sharp claws; Sabretooth is one of the deadliest enemies ever faced by any member of the X-Men.
He is notoriously locked in a eternal struggle with his opposite, Wolverine, and he represents an excellent foil for the restrained rage of James “Logan” Howlett.
Sabretooth is a terrifying foe who often gives in to his baser instincts which exist in us all. Though he was more recently an Avenger and an X-Man, I will always remember Sabretooth more for his exploits as a Brotherhood member and a vicious killer.
- The Juggernaut
I’ve always preferred the idea of Cain Marko as a hero. That’s the reason he didn’t show up on my Top 10 Marvel Villains List. He, like the Hulk and Wolverine, is a man with good intentions struggling with a monster within, in Marko’s case the demon Cyttorak who gave him his powers. He’s attempted to strike out on his own to be a hero, he has joined up with the X-Men, and he’s even been a Thunderbolt. He’s tried to make amends, but he keeps sliding back.
All this being said, the Juggernaut is a classic X-Men villain. His immense strength and unstoppability make him one of the most powerful X-Men rogues to ever challenge the team. He’s tussled with the Hulk and the Thing on many occasions, almost matching them strength for strength.
Though I still hope he is able to redeem himself, I am happy anytime the Marko shows up. Whether he be a hero or a villain, the Unstoppable Juggernaut is one of the coolest X-Men characters around.
Really, could it have been anyone else?
My love for the Master of Magnetism is well-advertised on this site. I absolutely love Eric Lensherr. He is one of the best Marvel characters ever created, and his zealousness as a freedom fighter is to be admired, even if his methods are at times ill-advised.
He will stop at nothing to defend his people. He will not stop fighting so long as there is a single mutant left on Earth to fight for, even if that mutant is simply him. He is not a villain in the generic sense; he is a man with a dream and a mission that has simply taken him down dark paths. God help any human or mutant that tries to separate him from his goal.
Also, he didn’t make the list, but could we all agree that the Living Monolith is really cool? I mean, look at him, plus that name…
Anyway, until next time, keep reading comics!