Female supervillains: both comics and movies have had their fair share of them, but which are truly great?
When it comes to this category in comics and in films, we immediately think of the bevy of Marvel supervillains who have lived on the pages and movie screens of various franchises over the years. They’ve stood in opposition to iconic heroes like Wolverine, Thor, Spider-Man, Professor Xavier, and so many more; grappled with troubling origins as they rose to power; teamed up with male villains and somehow bested them at every turn; and, best of all, these female supervillains have reminded us that women can be just as tough and formidable a foe as any male villain.
So, which Marvel supervillains made our list? Keep scrolling to find out.
Emma Frost has vacillated between being a central X-Men villain to one who moves in the shadows, assisting other mutant baddies in their rise to power. Her unique position as a villainous mover and shaker, if you will, makes her one of the most eternally fascinating and great Marvel villains to have ever been created. Sure, she comes from a fractured, wealthy family (don’t forget her equally villainous sisters Adrienne and Cordelia), but her mutant abilities, which include increased telepathic abilities and a defensive mutation wherein she can turn her skin into diamonds as a protective shield, make her complex and formidable. Add to this an incredible status of power thanks to being a high-ranking member of the Hellfire Club and her constant opposition to the X-Men and their allies, and Emma is truly a Marvel villain for the ages.
Jean Grey‘s place in the X-Men universe is special, hallowed even, and her time spent succumbing to the darker side of her powers makes her an especially interesting villain. Jean has always been especially sensitive and malleable because of her mutation that makes her an Omega-Level Mutant, which gives her powers including telepathic defense, telekinesis, telepathic shields, telepathic manipulation, psychic blasts, astral projection, mental paralysis, and so much more. (Seriously, she’s powerful AF.) So, when Jean is under the influence of the Phoenix Force as manipulated by the villain Mastermind, she becomes truly dangerous and destructive in a way that makes her temporary transformation into a supervillain especially notable. Plus, her existence as a short-term villain proves that you don’t need to be dedicated to a life of evil in order to leave a lasting impact in the comics.
When you’re decreed from birth to be a goddess who presides over the dead, it’s damn near inevitable that you’re gonna be a villain. Enter Hela, the evil Asgardian who has spent her entire time in the Marvel comics, as well as the MCU, being nothing but a persistent thorn in Thor’s side. Even though the comics indicate she is Loki’s daughter and the MCU rewrote her backstory so that she is Odin’s eldest child and only daughter instead, Hela has always been power-hungry and bloodthirsty in a way that would even make Thanos quake a little. Possessed with an Asgardian anatomy that allows her superpowers in the areas of strength, durability, and longevity of life, as well as the power to control life and death, Hela is a powerful female villain and a truly unstoppable force.
Nebula‘s complicated backstory, as coupled with her unrelenting commitment to besting her adopted sister Gamora, sticking it to her adopted father Thanos (or her alleged grandfather, if you know her from the comics), and reclaiming her agency all definitely make her one of the greatest Marvel supervillains in existence.
The comics depict Nebula as a standard issue villain (an average citizen turned evil after her entire life is blown up, literally and figuratively), but the MCU helped expand on her story. As seen in the Guardians of the Galaxy series, she is ferocious, with superhuman strength and durability that has made her a formidable assassin. She’s a lone wolf, fixated on — sometimes quite literally — taking an eye for an eye from those she is related to and those who get in her way. Basically, don’t mess with Nebula unless you want to get hurt, okay?
Not to be confused with DC’s Enchantress, Marvel’s version, also known as Amora, has led a very colorful and villainous life. An Asgardian by birth, Amora was first seen in 1964 in Journey Into Mystery #103. Possessing abilities like energy projection, teleportation, transmutation, and energy shields, along with the traditional powers of enhanced strength, speed, durability, and the like, this Silver Age villain has gone up against Thor, teamed up with notorious baddies like Baron Zemo and the Mandarin, and used her feminine wiles to lure men in and use them for her own plans. This is especially interesting because it’s potentially emblematic of the Second Wave of Feminism sweeping through pop culture during Amora’s heyday in comics.
We love a good X-Men villain and when it comes to finding a worthy opponent for Wolverine, only Lady Deathstrike will do. Her talon-like nails could strike fear into the heart of any hero, but it’s the combination of these powers along with her strength, speed, agility, and durability in battle (thanks to allowing herself to be transformed into a cyborg) that make her one of the greatest, most memorable Marvel villains in modern history.
Not only is Scream the only female symbiote offspring of Venom (one of six, to be exact), but she is the leader of the pack, and deservedly so. In the body of Donna Diego, Scream’s narrative arc and resulting powers from merging with the symbiote are fascinating.
Unlike a great many other female villains who are born with superpowers and choose to harness them for their evil deeds, Diego was purposefully engineered into Scream and then unleashed upon the world. She’s just as erratic, brutal, and exacting as her male symbiote counterparts. She possesses similar powers to Venom, including wall-crawling, ESP, and super strength, making her formidable, too. But the fact that she frequently becomes the leader of the pack indicates her worthiness of holding a privileged position as one of the great female supervillains.
The Femme Fatales
Okay, so this may be a bit of a cheat, but if we get to celebrate heroic Marvel groups like The Avengers, The New Mutants, and The Fantastic Four, then we need to give some serious props to The Femme Fatales. It’s rare to see a team of villainous women come together for the specific purpose of doing an evil deed and making enemies out of Marvel’s favorite superheroes, including Spider-Man and Wolverine.
The group — comprised of villains Viper, Sapphire, Mindblast, Bloodlust, Snake Whip, and Knockout — have origins with nefarious organizations (like HYDRA and the Band of Baddies) and bring to the table powers like martial arts mastery, toxin immunity, life force absorption, telepathy, telekinesis, and super strength. They move and fight as a unit and act mercilessly. Their team is, oddly enough, pretty inspiring, and the fact that they’re frequently in-demand (see: the Femizons attempted recruitment of the group) make them a truly great supervillain collective.
Who doesn’t love a centuries-old psychic vampire? Selene is one of the oldest and most powerful villains around, with the ability to absorb the life force of her victims so that she can remain young and strong. Telepathy, pyrokinesis, telekinesis, sorcery: any superpower you can think of that would make an X-Men character an unstoppable force, Selene can do it. And even though she is a part of the X-Men universe, she has crossed over into other Marvel worlds, going up against favorite heroes like Iron Man and the Hulk.