The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of characters. At this point, we've added so many classic comic book characters that it’s a shock that there are any left. But who are the most powerful? By arbitrary distinctions of power level and ability, who are the ones to fear, and who are the ones to avoid going toe-to-toe with? Read on, and we'll talk about it.
Honorable Mention 1: Malekith the Accursed
I know, I know, he isn't the most memorable or best-written MCU villain, but he is indeed one of the most powerful.
Malekith is a Dark Elf who hails from the land of Svartlfheim. He usually fights Thor, but has messed around with other heroes in the past, most recently Iron Man and Angela. As a Dark Elf, he has advanced speed, strength, stamina, durability, agility, and reflexes. Also, the elf has some serious regeneration powers, even recovering from an apparent death at the hands of Kurse. Oh, and he also does magic. Tons of magic. He is all down in magic town.
Like all Dark Elves, Malekith's one weakness is iron. So, he could have the hell kicked out of him with a mid-century frying pan. But, hey, we aren't all perfect. No, not all of us are sensitive to a base metal, but I'm allergic to cats, and that's kind of the same thing.
Power Level: Unless you charge him with a skillet, he will eff you up.
Honorable Mention 2: Star-Lord
I know, weird call. But Star-Lord is one of the few MCU characters who are actually MORE powerful than their Marvel Comics counterparts.
This is due to the fact that Star-Lord is half Celestial, thanks to his dad being Ego the Living Planet. His universal connection and untapped potential grant him an untold amount of power. And all of that is wrapped up in a music-loving, Eighties-obsessed dork.
Marvel Comics’ Star-Lord has changed drastically over the years. The original Star-Lord was a human born during a cosmic phenomenon. He gained the rank of Star-Lord while on a NASA test flight. That was later retconned completely, and Peter became the son of a human woman and a crashed alien. The alien being J'Son, ruler of the Spartax empire. Peter grew up, went to NASA, and was eventually kidnapped by Yondu and the Ravagers. From that point on, he became much more in line with the Star Lord we all know.
Power Level: One hell of a Cherry Bomb.
15. The Vision
The Vision is among the most powerful of the Avengers. As an android designed by the vicious intellect of Ultron, Vision has shocking mental and physical capabilities.
His intangibility powers, coupled with the ability to become diamond hard and unleash powerful blasts of energy, make him a shockingly strong opponent. His energy blast was able to cleave straight through the Stark Tech War Machine armor in Civil War. And cutting through Stark Tech like a hot knife through butter is no small thing. Plus, Mjolnir considers Vision worthy, meaning that he could wield the hammer if he so willed.
It takes a special kind of character to be able to out-think an opponent and punch straight through his skull, and The Vision is that kind of character. Intangibility is one of those powers that's actually terrifying if you give it even five seconds of thought. It makes you unstoppable. No barrier you can't get through, no defense you can't shrug off.
Power Level: Un-friggin-stoppable.
Smart, vicious, and completely terrifying, Ultron has always been one of my favorite Avengers villains.
While the MCU version was a bit more human than I personally would have liked, he was still smart and strong. Ultron is ultimately the best depiction of the most frightening concept in all of AI theory: The Singularity. Simply put, the Singularity is the idea that once computers figure out how to upgrade themselves better than we can, machine intelligence will blow past human intelligence.
Not only can Ultron upgrade himself, he can also build his own robot children, like The Vision. Ultron is also just straight-up terrifying. That robot jack o'lantern look is among the most iconic supervillain designs of all time.
Ultron is fast, strong, and durable. At times, he’s also capable of flight. He can shoot powerful laser blasts, and is able to transfer his consciousness from body to body.
Power Level: Exterminate!
13. Ronan the Accuser
I like Ronan. He’s easily the most underrated aspect of the first Guardians of the Galaxy flick. He's an intimidating villain in his own right, and with his big-ass murder hammer, he's even scarier.
Comic book Ronan is even more well-developed. Dude once tried to use Ego the Living Planet as a weapon. That is some hardcore improvisation, right there. Ronan usually operates on behalf of the Kree Supreme Intelligence, as a big head in a bigger jar that controls the Kree race. Ronan is an Accuser. The Accuser, in fact. This means that he works as an envoy for the Kree's best interests. Usually, those best interests are pursued by using a big space hammer to beat someone's brains out. Ronan is good at this.
He isn't always a villain, though. He sides with the Kree, and when the Kree want good things, so does he. He will diverge from the Kree's best wishes, but only rarely.
Power Level: SPACE HAMMER.
12. Scarlet Witch
Wanda Maximoff is the great untapped power source of the MCU.
She's already been shown to be seriously powerful. So powerful, in fact, that her unchecked power was one of the things that scared the worlds' governments into putting together the Sokovia Accords. Her untapped wells of superpower were further explored in Captain America: Civil War as an important resource for Captain America's side in the conflict. And her Marvel Comics counterpart is no different. Marvel Comics’ Scarlet Witch has rebuilt reality from scratch before.
She also made children. Not had children. Made them. With her mind. She generated two children from pure thought and superpower, and they are now living, breathing people (kind of; it’s complicated). Originally, Scarlet Witch was said to have the mutant power of hexing. Eventually, that became an actual connection to magic as tapped through the demon Chthon. Also, she's not a mutant anymore; she's an experiment of the High Evolutionary. Apparently. Comics are weird.
Power Level: Varies between minorly inconveniencing and remaking reality.
11. The Hulk
The madder he gets, the stronger he gets.
The Hulk is powerful as all get out, and he does not mess around. The Hulk has been a threat to the entire Marvel Universe a couple of times, and has rampaged and wiped the floor with people like Spider-Man and the Avengers multiple times. The MCU’s Hulk is also quite a beast and he’s punched out hordes of robots and aliens and taken down a fellow irradiated monstrosity in the form of the Abomination. Hulk is nearly undefeated. And Thor: Ragnarok seems determined to pit Hulk against numerous aliens, mythological beings, and Surtur himself. If history is any indication, he will come out on top.
Hulk is a weapon to be pointed at the enemy and then let loose. And then get out of the way and pray for safety. I'm super pumped to see Thor team up with a weapon-wielding, gladiator Hulk. Planet Hulk was good as heck and seeing that, blended with some more Asgardian stuff, in a movie is going to be quite a treat.
Power Level: Smash.
While he has yet to make an actual appearance in the MCU, Surtur is scheduled to show up in Thor: Ragnarok, and I am BEYOND EXCITED.
Surtur is a huge menacing fire demon with a big fire sword, and he wants to end the world. That’s everything I like about Thor comics, wrapped up in one dude. Seriously, if you haven't already read Walt Simonson's all-time great Thor run, you really need to. The Surtur Saga, otherwise known by the much better title Ragnarok and Roll, is maybe my favorite Thor story ever. It's really darn good.
In it, Surtur storms Asgard in an attempt to obtain the Twilight Sword, with which he will end the world and usher in Ragnarok. Eventually, the only ones left to stop him are Thor, Odin, and Loki. And what ensues is an all-timer of a battle. The fact that three of the most powerful Marvel characters ever have to work together, and still barely beat him, tells you all you need to know.
Power Level: Nightmare fuel.
9. Doctor Strange
The Sorcerer Supreme, ladies and gentlemen!
Doctor Stephen Strange is skilled and armed in various forms of mystical combat. He is THE magic guy in the Marvel Universe, and has retained that role in the MCU. And the MCU’s Doctor Strange is even more powerful, due to his ownership of the Time Stone, aka the Eye of Agamotto, which gives him control over the flow of time. Strange regularly beats down other magic foes, including Dormammu, Baron Mordo, and Shuma Gorath, without too much trouble. He also fought The Orb once. It was pretty great.
Marvel Comics’ Doctor Strange has been severely depowered of late, as has all magic in the Marvel Universe, thanks to the magic murdering spree of the Empirikul. However, he's been slowly building his might back up to MCU Doc Strange levels. Admittedly, some magic knives and an axe aren't anything to sneeze at when compared to complete mastery of time itself.
Power Level: Just what the doctor ordered.
8. The Ancient One
Magic is tough to categorize, power level wise. It can be interpreted as nearly infinite power or as simple parlor tricks, depending on how you view things.
But the Ancient One has always been a figure of unimaginable power. He’s almost universally feared and respected by other magic users in the universe. The MCU’s Ancient One is a bit more courteous and friendly than the Marvel Comics version, who is harsh and embittered and cold. If you learn from him, you’ll have to endure a lot. He doesn’t mess around.
The MCU edition is a bit lighter on the stick and easier with the carrots, but not by much. She’ll still whip you into shape; she just won't try to kill you throughout the whole encounter. She still might, though. No matter which Ancient One you face, it's going to be a tough fight.
Power Level: You don't get to be Ancient without surviving a whole lot of fights. What chance do you think YOU have?
Thanos is pretty damn impressive. Even without the Infinity Gauntlet. And WITH it? Holy hell.
Thanos once used the Infinity Gauntlet to eliminate half of all living beings in the universe. With a flick of his wrist, he halved the cosmos. That is horrifying. Thanos is also, in his heart, in love with Death. No, not the abstract concept; he’s in love with the Grim Reaper of the Marvel Universe. Oh, yeah, the Grim Reaper is a lady in the Marvel U. It's cool; she and Deadpool had a thing.
So in order to win over his corpse of a consort, Thanos decides to do a series of horrific things to impress her. Even though Death is not interested in him. Thanos is just a villainous cosmic Nice Guy. Like, the girl doesn't like you, dude, stop creeping on her and move on.
Power Level: Will fight half the universe for a girl, until she’s finished filing her restraining order.
When there are literal gods bouncing around in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of course they're going to wind up on a list of the most powerful characters.
Loki is a master manipulator with intense amounts of power. Due to his Frost Giant lineage, he's stronger, tougher, and faster than most, and has a lengthened lifespan. Loki is also more skilled in magic and spells than his brother and father are. Plus, he’s capable of hypnosis, flight, teleportation, and his trademark illusion casting.
He’s also a shapeshifter who famously spent some time as a female horse in Norse mythology. Yeah, you know, that weird eight-legged horse Odin sometimes rides? That's Loki's son. Norse mythology is weird, man. And Slepnir, the eight-legged horse that has Loki for a mother, is just one aspect of it. Loki isn't always a bad guy. He was even a valued member of the Young Avengers when he was a child. Good or evil, Loki is a powerhouse, no matter how you judge it.
Power Level: Master of deceit, lord of lies, horse mom.
The God of Thunder. Thor is rad.
As someone who is crazy super omega pumped for Thor: Ragnarok, I am down for whatever the god of thunder throws at me this November. Thor has always been one of the most powerful Marvel heroes, and with his strength, durability, and enhanced lifespan, he's powerful as hell on his own, even without Mjolnir. And with that almighty whack-a-mole mallet? He's darn near invincible. He's not the strongest of the gods, nor the most powerful cosmic being, but he's certainly up there in the pantheon of MCU characters who can take (and deal out) a punch.
The current Marvel Comics Thor has been depowered a bit, having been stripped of his worthiness and his hammer. The Unworthy Thor, otherwise known as The Odinson, has been tooling around the Marvel Universe for a bit now. Currently, he's serving Captain America (Steve Rogers) on the HYDRA Avengers squad, but he'll be back for The Death of Thor in Thor #700.
Power Level: The God of Thunder AND kicking your ass.
Ego the Living Planet is great.
He's such a silly Marvel concept that I never in a billion years thought we'd get to see a film version of this guy on screen. And yet, we did! Ego, now recognized as a Celestial, popped up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Star-Lord's dear old daddy. Ego was given a human avatar, but we did get a tiny little taste of big purple planet Ego in that movie, and it made me very happy. Marvel Comics Ego is ALWAYS a big purple planet with a beard, and it’s glorious. He's ludicrously powerful, and can decimate worlds if he wants to.
He also had a brother named (wait for it) Alter-Ego. The first time I read that, I threw the comic book I was reading across the room. Ego first appeared in Thor #132, but since then, he's done battle with The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and even Rom Spaceknight.
Power Level: A planet with a beard. That's maybe the best thing ever.
Of course, the Allfather is a shoe-in for this list.
The guy is the God of Gods. He's pretty hardcore.
Odin Borson (Son of Bor) is an Asgardian who rules the Norse gods. He's been locked in battle with numerous forces throughout time, most notably Laufey and the Frost Giants of Jotunheim. He possesses Gungnir the Almighty Spear, which can also fly through the air at Odin's will and blast electricity. Like other gods, Odin is incredibly strong and fast and able to heal. His Odinforce powers are insanely well-developed. Dude's been known to smack around Thanos and the Silver Surfer AT THE SAME TIME. Those are some insane power levels.
It has also been said that Odin's abilities are on the same level as Galactus’, and that he could hold his own against the Devourer of Worlds.
Power Level: His depth perception may be off, but that just means he has trouble discerning just how far he kicked your ass.
The MCU’s Dormammu is GREAT.
Seriously, find whoever came up with the idea of using dimensional ripples to make up Dormammu's face so it would look like a comic book fire effect, and give that person a Nobel Prize. That person is a genius.
Dormammu looks imposing, and he’s deeply, uncontrollably powerful. He is so horrific a foe that Doctor Strange was only able to beat him through trickery and deal-making. A physical or magical challenge was only ever going to end in destruction. Do you know what you call an otherworldly foe with unstoppable evil powers that you can only defeat through trickery? The Devil. You call that The Devil. Comic book Dormammu is a vicious fire-headed monster who will mess you up any day of the week. His servants are called Mindless Ones, which is delightful. It's such a mean name, but it's presented as such.
Power Level: Hot-headed jerk.
1. The Celestials
The Celestials are pretty much just giant space gods with insane cosmic power.
They can be allies, villains, or just forces of nature to be deeply wary of. In the MCU, we've seen garden variety Celestials pop up a few times – notably Eson the Searcher, a former bearer of the Power Stone, and the unnamed Celestial whose decapitation made way for the colonization of Knowhere. As we mentioned earlier, Ego counts as a Celestial, but he seems to be a less powerful one. Celestials debuted in Marvel Comics as Jack Kirby creations, which makes sense. They do look like what Jack Kirby thinks God looks like.
The Celestials were most notable for their role in creating the Eternals. But the Celestials were FAR more interesting as foes for the Avengers, Thor, and – once in a blue moon – X-Factor. But god-beings with nearly infinite power are by far the Number One answer for "most powerful character in the MCU".
Power Level: Dear Celestials, who art in the cosmos, hallowed be thy unpronounceable names"¦
And there you have it, the Top 15 most powerful characters in the MCU (plus some honorable mentions), as ranked by a series of arbitrary rules I came up with. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below! And until then, Make Mine Marvel.