20 Marvel Villains Who Became Heroes

That Marvel The universe is a web of stories stretching back over 80 years. Its open nature can pose a problem for creators. How many times can the X-Men defeat Magneto before it becomes obsolete? How many times can Doctor Doom try to conquer the world before readers feel like they’ve seen it before? How do you create a truly satisfying character arc if said character arc can never really end?

That’s one explanation for an interesting phenomenon: With enough years and enough appearances, almost every major Marvel villain has become—or at least tried his hand at—being a Marvel hero. While a few Marvel villains have remained unredeemed (so far), many of the company’s biggest antagonists have become its biggest protagonists over time. Some eventually returned to their villainous ways, but others have remained heroes, headlining comic books and even a few movies and TV shows. (You wouldn’t have one Black Widow movie or a Hawkeye TV show without this phenomenon.)

See the list of 20 examples below for a small sample of what we mean. And this list is only sure to grow thanks to Marvel Cinematic Universe and the way its interpretations of classic Marvel characters tend to become dominant over time. (See: Nick Fury looks like Samuel L. Jackson, or Hawkeye prefers tactical gear to purple and blue Spandex.) It’s good to be bad, but at Marvel, it’s often better (at least for sales) to be good.

Marvel villains turned heroes

These characters were introduced in Marvel Comics as villains. But it didn’t last.

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