These X-Villains are the worst of the worst.
Every hero needs a villain or two. The best out there can be judged by the strength of their opposition. In terms of the X-Men, there aren’t many franchises that can hold a candle to their rogue’s gallery of evil-doers. Chief among them are several that stand head and shoulders over the rest. They aren’t interested in robbing banks or ransoming an heiress. They threaten them physically, philosophically, and fundamentally. Here are the 7 most dangerous X-Men villains of all time.
The original villain of the X-Men ranks this low simply due to his present condition as an antihero rather than a full-on villain. Matter of fact, while he is guilty of questionable behavior in recent history, he hasn’t been ‘bad’ since before he was being impersonated by Xorn in the early 2000s. Magneto, by no means, is harmless or anything close to being a pushover, however, over the years he’s become increasingly more reasonable.
He’s at his most dangerous, even to his comrades, when he feels the rights of mutants are being threatened. Otherwise, we’re dealing with a kinder, gentler, Master of Magnetism. At this point, the real threat isn’t Magneto but the difference in philosophy he’s famous for. That will always be what divides the mutant race and ultimately threatens to undermine Xavier’s dream of peaceful human/mutant coexistence. He also has a pension for changing his mind. His proximity to the X-Men makes him all the more troublesome.
6. Hellfire Club
The only organization to make the list, The Hellfire Club has never been a direct threat to the X-Men but it serves as an institution that seeks to undermine them. On several occasions, they have seduced members of the X-Men to join their ranks. Not to mention, their hand in creating one of the most dangerous entities in X-Men history, The Dark Phoenix.
At the end of the day, the Hellfire Club couldn’t care less about the X-Men or their dreams. But they will and have used their infinitely deep pockets, and formidable powers to achieve their goals. The threat doesn’t lie so much in what they have done, but what they are capable of doing. Their weapons are wealth, power, and sex. They are corruption in the flesh.
5. Mister Sinister
Dr. Nathaniel Essex is originally from London, England, and more specifically the Victorian era of the 1800s. It’s during this time he became one of the world’s foremost authorities in biochemistry and genetics. He is one of the first human scientists to recognize the rise of mutants. Completely devoid of a moral center, Essex cared little for the well-being of those around him, that goes for the homeless that he experimented on. And this is before he began his career as a full-fledged villain.
It wasn’t until he came into contact with Apocalypse did he achieve his full potential and began going by the name ‘Sinister’, being called as much by his dying wife. Apocalypse used his Celestial technology to finally transform Essex into the Mister Sinister we know today. Due to the transformation and experimentation on himself, Sinister is essentially immortal, can spontaneously heal, shapeshift and twist his body at will, possess a degree of mental abilities, and project energy. The most dastardly part of Sinister is never knowing if he’s been dispatched or not. He’s cloned himself so many times, it’s nearly impossible to be sure he’s defeated.
What makes Mister Sinister one of the X-Men’s greatest threats is his will, intelligence, and lack of morality. Unlike most of this list, he can be reasoned with and for the most part, keeps his side of an agreement. However, what he obtains from any deal is typically mountains more valuable than whoever he’s bargaining with. Quite often, those he deals with don’t know what they are getting into. Mister Sinister’s machinations can be found at the center of several X-Men tragedies including the creation of Jean Grey’s clone, Madelyn Pryor (Cable’s mother), the Mutant Massacre, and perhaps the groundwork for what would eventually be known as the Legacy Virus.
4. Cassandra Nova
Originally a formless entity from the Astral Plane, Cassandra Nova was drawn to the forming mind that would eventually become the most powerful telepath on Earth, Professor Charles Francis Xavier. She was able to create something of a clone body within the womb of Xavier’s mother. After being killed by the unborn Professor, she eventually reconstituted herself. After having contact with Xavier, Cassandra gained access to a host of psionic abilities that in many ways surpassed Xavier himself, including telepathy, telekinesis, molecular manipulation, and precognition among many others. She can also exist as a ghost-like apparition for a prolonged amount of time.
Upon regaining her form, decades later, Cassandra’s sole interest and drive centered around the eradication of everything the Xavier loved. In her mind, that became the entirety of the mutant race and along with his goal of seeing it prosper peacefully alongside the rest of humanity. She was the force behind the single greatest loss of mutant life, possibly only second to M-Day. After taking control of a forgotten Sentinel production facility, she sent thousands of them to Genosha, which at the time was mutant controlled and densely populated. It’s said more than 16 million lives were lost during the unprovoked attack.
Most recently, Cassandra again utilized a type of nano-Sentinel to infect the minds of people, mutant and human alike, with hate, mostly, if not entirely directed towards mutants. Like similar entities such as the Shadow King, due to the nature of her being, her defeat is never a certainty. Her return after death is always a dreaded possibility.
3. The Sentinels
The mutant-hunting robots debuted way back in 1965 in X-Men #14. Traditionally they are up to three-stories tall (with an exception or two) and have been a thorn in the sides of the X-Men almost since the beginning. They were originally created by Bolivar Trask as a governmental response to the mutant threat. There haven’t been many iterations of the X-Men where the automatons haven’t been present in some fashion. Outside of the classic models, there have been several models worth highlighting;
Nimrod- a hyper-advanced Sentinel from the distant future.
The Prime Sentinel- function similarly to that of a virus which infects hosts with Nano-tech that transforms normal humans into cyborgs.
Master Mold- a giant among giants that manufactures the large variety and is armed with an advanced artificial intelligence.
Bastion- a powerful amalgamation of Nimrod and Master Mold in human-form.
Among those on this list, there is no compromising or negotiating with them. They are programmed to either apprehend or eliminate mutants and don’t allow things such as morality or law to interfere. This is most evident in stories such as Days of Future Past where their directive of protecting human life from mutants eventually evolved to protecting humans from themselves (because humans are mutants). Cassandra Nova may have been the architect behind the 16 million-strong massacre of Genosha, it was the Sentinels that carried it out.
En Saba Nor is credited with possibly being the first mutant on Earth. He came to power in ancient Egypt and was adopted into a warrior clan that took him in after he was discarded by his parents due to his appearance. It was with them he grew to live by the motto ‘survival of the fittest.’ This outlook served him well as it eventually endeared him to the Celestials. Through them, he obtained his prolonged life and access to the technology he’s wielded to subjugate and destroy those he deemed unworthy.
Apocalypse is one of the biggest threats, not just to the X-Men, but the entire world. If left to his own devices, we’ve seen him dominate large chunks of the planet. The first time was in Cable’s distant future where the world is little more than a wasteland, ruled by Apocalypse and his zealots. The second example came by way of the Age of Apocalypse where he took control of North America and the notion of a truly ‘good person’ was a fairy tale. Unlike Mister Sinister who is devoid of a moral center, Cassandra Nova who is driven by hatred, and the Sentinels who are just following their programming; Apocalypse is dangerous because he believes he is right, and what he does is beyond good and evil.
1. William Stryker
William Stryker debuted in Chris Claremont’s ‘God Love, Man Kills’ in 1982. Ex-military and religious nut-job, he believed it was his holy duty to remove mutants from the face of the earth. Stryker is the embodiment of everything the X-Men fight against. Much of what drove him can be found in basically every other major villain they have faced to this point. As driven as any Sentinel, even more hateful than Cassandra Nova, equally immoral as Mister Sinister, and just like Apocalypse, he believed he was in the right. That every crime he committed or inspired against mutant-kind was justified and his divine obligation.
What makes Stryker more problematic than most is that he impressed his beliefs upon others by the drove. He masked his vile rhetoric in religious doctrine. He is the creator of the quasi-religious hate group, the Purifiers; para-military zealots who make the ‘Friends of Humanity’ look like an afterschool math club. Even after his death, the Purifiers grew in size and influence carrying on his hate-filled messages, breeding more. His followers don’t need to have adamantium implanted in their bodies or be modified by alien technology. In many ways, he represents humanity’s struggle with the notion of being replaced. He’s their paranoia, fears, and hatred personified. Stryker has become more than a villain, he’s a disease disguised as an idea. And we all know, ideas never die.