Captain America's Greatest Villains
Captain America's villain roster is one of the oddest in all of comic book lore. These villains head evil, scheming organizations and take on the strangest shapes, colors, and abilities in comic book history. From evil women to snakes, this list is a compilation of some the biggest, baddest villains out there. But seriously, there's a ton of snakes in there...Here are Captain America's top 15 villains (and a bonus). Here's to hoping Captain America 3 features Baron Zemo and not Diamondback or Slither, or Sidewinder, or... any of the serpent society or the serpent squad...or...
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Ah, good 'ol Red Skull. Who else could POSSIBLY rank as Cap's most notorious villain? Beyond just Winghead himself, he ranked as Wizard Magazine's 21st and IGN's 14th greatest comic villains of ALL TIME.
Red Skull, aka Johann Shmidt, is a former Nazi general and Adolph Hitler's confidant. He's currently a Hydra associate bent on world domination and genocide. Years ago, his brain was transferred into the body of a Captain America clone, giving him great power and making him seemingly indestructible.
His first ever appearance WAY back in 1941 in Timely Comics Captain America #1 was written and sketched by the famous Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. In the first few issues, he's revealed to be George Maxon, owner of Maxon aircraft, and he's attempting to overthrow the government by raising money from robbing banks. By Capt. America #7, the Red Skull of today (Johann Schmidt) is introduced, and it's revealed that Maxon was an impostor. He pops up a couple more times in the 50's but then gets his big revival into the silver age of comics in Tales of Suspense #65, where he became a modern continuity character (not just shown through WWII flashbacks).
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Ultimate Comics: Avengers. In ultimate continuity, Red Skull is the illegitimate son of Steve Rogers and Gail Richards who, after his father "died" in WWII, is taken away from his mother and trained on a military base. He has a brilliant tactical mind and physically superior to anything they've ever seen, naturally excelling through the military. Buuut his well adjusted, friendly personality is revealed to be a ruse when he, at 17, takes on his ENTIRE BASE, killing and beheading over 200 men.He then escapes, joins A.I.M., gets his hands on the cosmic cube, uses it to make all of the A.I.M. base members cannibalize each other, he calls the Avengers to show it off, owns them, and finally, Cap arrives and he owns him too. It's a beautifully consolidated arc on what Red Skull is at his core: brilliant, tactical, ruthless, and well... superior.
- 2313 VOTESPhoto: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
Baron Zemo, is actually two different people: a father/son duo of evil.
Here we'll be referring to the dad, though the son (Helmut Zero) is an incredible character with a rich LONG history (eventually becoming somewhat of a hero leading the thunderbolts. Look him up, great character.)
Baron Heinrich Zemo was a brilliant Nazi scientist introduced in Avengers #4. While working on a death ray that was destroyed by Nick Fury, he became an enemy to the people. He began wearing the cowl to disguise himself and set off to redeem himself to the Nazi's with his next invention, Adhesive X, which couldn't be unstuck with any solvent. It worked too well when, during a fight with Cap, the adhesive permanently adhered his cowl to his face. He possessed a violent hatred for humanity (and especially Captain America) ever since.
Most Notorious Act:Keep in mind, up until recently, Bucky Barnes was the only THE ONLY character (okay, Gwen Stacy too, but it's a short List) that STAYED dead. So when in Avengers #4-6 Baron Zemo was revealed to be the man who seemingly killed one of the most beloved characters of the Golden Age, he was instantly public enemy #1. His hatred for humanity in conjunction with his brilliant mind made him a worthy adversary for Cap. He also formed and led the Masters of Evil, the long time villainous equivalent to the Avengers themselves.
- 3261 VOTESPhoto: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
First appearing in Captain America #360, Crossbones was Born Brock Rumlov and ran the Savage Crime gang in New York. After brutalizing young Rachel Leighton (who would later become Diamondback), her two brothers attacked Brock, and he killed the eldest and fled New York. He then began training as a mercenary under Taskmaster. He was sent to invade Arnim Zola's compound and was the only one to survive the assault, impressing the Red Skull and becoming one of his head mercenaries and dubbing him Crossbones.
Most Notorious Act:Captain America #25, while often attributed to Sharon Carter, it was Crossbones who actually organized and made the assassination of Captain America possible. When freed from the raft (by electro breaking in) The Red Skull quickly recruited Crossbones to take out Cap. He also hires Dr. Faustus, who brainwashes Sharon Carter. So while Steve Rogers is walking up the stairs of to the Federal Court (to speak on the superhero registration act), he is shot first by Crossbones (to distract and panic the masses), then in the chaos a brainwash, Sharon comes up and shoots him three times in the stomach, killing him.
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Winter SoldierPhoto: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
The Winter Soldier – the namesake character to the Captain America Sequel. The Winter Soldier is the alias of Bucky Barnes upon his return from apparent death. As I mentioned briefly with Baron Zemo, Bucky used to be the only character who DIDN'T miraculously spring back to life in comics, so much so that it was a running joke that he was the only sacrosanct character in the whole Marvel universe.
When something was dead dead, it was "dead as Bucky." So when he came back (having been discovered preserved much like Cap, but with an arm severed, hence the mechanical one), it came as quite the shock after 60 years. Bucky suffered from amnesia for some time and was programmed as a Soviet operative and assassin. He was well trained and did all manner of dirty work for the Soviets.
Most Notorious Act:I'm going to actually go with the ironic choice here and make his most notorious the most heroic. It's fairly common in comics for a villain to go good for a time but rarely the wholesome Boy Scout Captain America good, and for a time, Bucky Barnes took up the mantle of Cap himself after he died, albeit a darker, gun wielding, bulletproof metal-chested cap, but a hero nonetheless. And he remains on the side of good to this day.
- 5233 VOTESPhoto: Captain
First appearing in Captain America #208 (and played awesomely by Toby Jones as in a pre-transformed body in Captain America the First Avenger), Arnim Zola was the world's leading biochemist in WWII and the world's first geneticist. Hired by Hitler to create a device that could transfer someone's essence into a cloned body, he was successful creating The Hate-Monger from Hitler's consciousness and using it on himself to transfer his mind into an android body, keeping him alive to this day.
Most Notorious Act:His plots are always sinister and noteworthy in comic lore, the guy brought HITLER back... and his greatest allies are Baron Zemo, Hitler, and the Red Skull... not a nice fella. But his most noteworthy skill might be while he was studying werewolves. Zola temporarily turned Captain America into a werewolf.s. Cap Wolf (yes, they called it that. YES, it lasted like, 8 Issues. That's 8 MONTHS! And yes, Wolverine was there.)
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First Appearing in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commando's #5, Baron Von Strucker has always been at the forefront of giant Evil Empires. First as Adolph Hitler's Right Hand man, then as leader of Hydra. Born to Prussian Nobility he became a fencing champion and was disfigured by facial scars. Fought for Germany in WWI then sided with Hitler in his rise to power, and quickly rose through the ranks.
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He later single handedly infiltrated SHIELD by having Super Powered people on his side fight one another and have the "good guy" recruited by shield then slowly built up sleeper cells within the government agency. For years SHIELD was completely corrupted and HYDRA had access to any and all information.