There might be an untold amount of villains running round the Marvel universe, but only one can lay claim as the most successful villain of them all.
In the many decades since Marvel Comics’ inception, the company has produced more characters than fans know what to do with. Whether it be the iconic teams of the Avengers or the X-Men, the pop culture phenomenon that is Spider-Man or the less in the spotlight but equally as loved Daredevil or Fantastic Four, these heroes are nothing without their respective Marvel villains to combat and overcome on a daily basis.
But with all the schemes, plots, and plans concocted by these super villains that stretch from petty crimes to world-ending disasters, who actually is the most successful Marvel villain of all? It might seem like a no brainer to go the easy route and claim that Thanos or Galactus is the biggest and most successful villains, but three other candidates are in the running that might make fans think differently as to what “successful” actually means.
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Hailing from three distinct corners of the Marvel universe and more or less acting as the main big bad for their respective heroes, Daredevil’s Kingpin, Fantastic Four’s Doctor Doom, and Spider-Man’s Doctor Octopus are iconic villains on their own, but only one can lay claim as Marvel’s most successful baddie. As alluded to above, the easy guesses as to who truly is the most successful villain might be giant cosmic threats like Thanos, Kang the Conqueror, or Galactus, but upon further inspection, these types of over-powered villains very rarely accomplish the goals they set for themselves (Galactus has never once followed through eating Earth), and even if they do, their accomplishments are usually thwarted by the good guys shortly afterward. But in the cases of Kingpin, Doctor Octopus, and Doctor Doom their ideas of success are usually a little more grounded and manageable, allowing them a clear path in taking the crown as Marvel’s most successful villain.
Wilson Fisk, The Kingpin of Crime
Being the Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk has had a successful criminal career based on the accomplishments gained from his firm and unrelenting grip on the organized crime business of New York City. Ever the thorn in Daredevil’s side, Kingpin has broken his adversary more times than you can count, and not only did he become the mayor of the city (a power grab feat that is a huge factor in his success story), but he also still finds ways to successfully act as a criminal on the side through any number of shady dealings and his still valid connections to the underworld.
Acting as a sort of composite character to DC Comics’ villainous genius, Lex Luthor, and the similarly structured crime lord, Penguin, Kingpin matches their success stories in a sense that even if there is no current plan to destroy Daredevil, contract world-renowned assassins, Elektra and Bullseye, out to do his bidding or casually commit a felony just because he can, Kingpin’s success is dictated by the fact that he always has something benefitting him in the background. Like Lex and Penguin, he has multiple scenarios in play at any given time, so when it might look like he’s lost, he’s really just winning in a totally different, often less obvious way, a fact that ensures that he is never more than one step away from another successful attempt at being an all-around bad dude.
Doctor Octopus, The Mad Scientist
Next up is Doctor Otto Octavius aka Doctor Octopus, a successful and iconic Spider-Man villain. Being an extremely successful and accomplished scientist regardless of moral standing, Doc Ock is a villain who’s evil plans are as meticulous as they are ambitious, so much so that he’s usually pretty well ahead of ol’ web-head in his various villainous schemes, only ever tripping up when his enormous brain loses out to his equally as enormous ego. Successful as an intellectual and an inventor to boot, Doc Ock’s villainy knows no bounds when he puts his mind to it, yet one particular event in his criminal career truly solidifies him as one of the most successful Marvel villains of all time.
Always after the newest and most efficient way to destroy his life-long foe, Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus actually succeeded in his number one goal of killing and replacing him to become the fan-favorite character of The Superior Spider-Man. After swapping bodies with his nemesis and effectively wiping Peter Parker out of existence after his own body was slowly degrading from years of supervillain related abuse, Doc Ock takes on the mantle of Spider-Man and after acting a bit evil in the early stages of his new role, eventually realized that with great power, great responsibility indeed follows, and successfully transitioned into being a hero for a time before fully sacrificing himself to help the original Spider-Man return to his rightful role. Furthermore, and in what is perhaps the most important success story following Otto’s time in spandex, is something that’s a little less obvious – and healthy – than most: the guy dodged a whole slew of health-related concerns being the overweight and physically inept villain he was, only to trade up for a brand new, physically fit body that puts him on the same playing field as his spidery counterpart, a success that not many villains can brag about.
Doctor Doom, The Benevolent Ruler
So while Kingpin has succeeded in nearly every aspect of his war on Daredevil and has successfully kept his stranglehold on crime and politics alike, and Doc Ock has achieved his ultimate goal of killing and replacing Spider-Man only to give in to the heroics of it all, it’s Victor Von Doom aka Doctor Doom that is hands down the most successful Marvel villain, bar none. Not only has this guy quite literally become a God in the continuity-shattering event known as Secret Wars, but also Doom literally owns and rules over his very own country of Latveria, complete with loyal subjects and a robot army of Doombots that carry out any and all of his sadistic commands.
Additionally, Doom has also briefly held the role of Iron Man, a similar success story as Doc Ock, turning from bad guy to good guy on the long journey of his successful villainy only to predictably return to being a rotten human shortly after. To top it all off, Doom is one of the smartest people on the planet as he has had great success in the realm of invention, science, and magic, and even manages to dodge the numerous international crimes he’s committed over the years by claiming diplomatic immunity as dictator of Latveria, a sticking point that any criminal or supervillain would love to hold in their back pocket for when things go sideways. Based on these facts alone, it’s clear that Doctor Doom is Marvel’s most successful villain.
Between the street-smart Kingpin, the scientifically inclined Doctor Octopus, and the benevolent Doctor Doom, Marvel Comics has a lot of villains to pull from when considering which is the most successful Marvel villain ever, with Doom taking the cake as the most successful. And although these three candidates aren’t the biggest cosmic threats, it can’t be denied that their successes have kept them at the top of their villainous game for years past – and more likely – many more years to come.
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