Best Wolverine villains of all time

Wolverine: The Adamantium Collection cover
Wolverine: The Adamantium Collection cover (Image credit: Philip Tan (Marvel Comics))

Wolverine is known as the 'best there is at what he does,' and the nigh-unstoppable berserker mutant has his share of equally vicious villains who match his reputation as a warrior.

Many fans know Sabretooth, Wolverine's most recognizable enemy (spoiler: he definitely makes this list), but Logan's bench of arch-enemies runs much deeper than that - and it has its share of surprises across many of the best Wolverine stories of all time.

Wolverine fans might want to get ready for all of 'em, as between the just-announced Wolverine game for the PS5 and the twin limited series X Lives & Deaths of Wolverine, the mutant buzzsaw is about to get a workout.

Here are the best Wolverine villains of all time!

10. Wendigo

Wendigo, one of the best Wolverine villains

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The evil spirit of the Canadian wilderness known as the Wen-Di-Go - more commonly Wendigo - has possessed numerous people throughout history, cursing them and turning them into nightmarish, flesh-craving monsters. It was while in pursuit of the Wendigo that Wolverine first encountered the Hulk.

The Wendigo has plagued Wolverine numerous times throughout its various incarnations, encountering Wolverine both on his own, and as a member of the Canadian super-team Alpha Flight. Its razor-sharp claws are able to pierce even the skin of the Hulk, making them almost as sharp as adamantium. Its superhuman transformation leaves its human host ravaged, and often dead.

9. Ogun

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Ogun was Wolverine's mentor in the art of ninjutsu. He was also a telepath capable of controlling the minds of others. Wolverine first met Ogun during WWII, while the latter served in the Japanese army. Sometime after mentoring Wolverine, he fell in with the Yakuza, becoming a villain in the process.

While Wolverine was training his young protégé Kitty Pryde in the same skills he had learned from Ogun, the villain possessed Kitty's mind, turning her from Wolverine's honorable path, and pitting the two against each other. It was only through Wolverine's tutelage that Kitty was able to escape Ogun's control.

Ogun has constantly plagued Wolverine, inhabiting the minds of numerous of Wolverine's allies and loved ones, even forcing him to nearly kill his enemy-turned-reluctant wife Viper, to drive her from his mind.

8. Viper

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Viper, sometimes known as Madame Hydra, has had her share of run-ins with all manner of superheroes as one of the world's most dangerous terrorists, consistently vexing Captain America and Nick Fury, and even dealing savage blows to the New Mutants.

However, one of her most diabolical schemes involved blackmailing Wolverine, one of her oldest foes, into marrying her to gain control of the criminal nation of Madripoor. After being mortally wounded by Wolverine while her body was possessed by the spirit of Ogun, Wolverine was able to seek a divorce, while Viper briefly maintained control of Madripoor.

7. Daken

best Wolverine villains

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Daken, also known as Akihiro, was Wolverine's son from a brief marriage during World War II. After his mother was killed by The Winter Soldier in one of his earliest missions, he was rescued by the mysterious manipulator Romulus and placed in the care of average parents. Akihiro suffered much ridicule from others in his village, who called him "Daken," which means "mongrel," a nickname derived from his mixed heritage.

When his adoptive mother became pregnant, Akihiro, now fully owning the name Daken, slew her son, and accidentally killed her as well; leading his adoptive father to commit suicide. Daken was then taken in by Romulus, who eventually led him on a quest to find his father and get revenge.

Daken also spent a brief period as the first of Norman Osborn's counterfeit Wolverines in his Dark Avengers team until the events of Siege, when he left Osborn's employ and formed a new Brotherhood of Mutants. During his iteration of the Brotherhood's conflict with X-Force, Wolverine drowned his son, ending his life and the chances of reconciling their relationship.

As is the way with mutants however, Daken has been resurrected and now lives on Krakoa alongside his father, with their relationship finally in a place of tenuous peace.

6. Silver Samurai

best Wolverine villains

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Kenuichio Harada (or Kenichiro Shingen) was the illegitimate son of Shingen Yashida, one of Wolverine's oldest enemies, and had the mutant power to charge objects, usually his katana, with an energy field that allowed them to cut through almost anything except adamantium.

Though Silver Samurai did spend some time as a hero, even gaining Wolverine's trust and respect, he almost always fell back into his villainous ways as an enforcer for Hydra, or as hired muscle for the Yakuza and other criminal organizations.

Harada was recently killed by an offshoot of the Hand, even appearing in Hell, cursing Wolverine for the deaths he had caused until Satan beheaded him. Afterward, a new Silver Samurai, the son of the original, surfaced.

5. Hulk

best Wolverine villains

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Hulk and Wolverine have been at odds since Wolverine's very first appearance as, ostensibly, a villain in 1974's Incredible Hulk #181 (for those keeping track, he was on a page of the issue prior). Though they have often found ways to work together, Wolverine has also often been called in to fight the Hulk, or simply found himself in the rampaging green giant's path.

Some would say that Hulk and Wolverine are almost perfect rivals. Both are possessed of a berserker fury and an incredible will to survive. Both are nigh-impervious to death or damage, and neither has ever backed down from a fight. Still, to say that either is the clear winner would be misleading.

The winner of each of their bouts usually comes down to circumstance, with whose allies are there for support, who is at full power, and who can survive the other's attacks longer being the deciding factors. But the fact is, Wolverine and Hulk rarely seem to cross paths without devolving into the savage, feral animals that both can be at their worst.

4. Cyclops

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Though the rivalry between Wolverine and Cyclops had rarely come to blows, in recent years it has often blossomed into all-out war. The tension between Cyclops and Wolverine stems from their shared love of the same woman, Jean Grey, and the fact that she chose Cyclops over Wolverine.

The rivalry itself runs deeper than that, however, as Wolverine has often seen Cyclops as stodgy and stiff. Despite their competition, Wolverine was willing to follow Cyclops's leadership until recently. But starting when Quentin Quire sparked many nations into relaunching their Sentinel programs (which prompted Cyclops to send mutant students into battle) through Cyclops's handling of the return of the Phoenix Force to Earth, the divide between Wolverine and Cyclops has become more and more aggressive, facing off on numerous occasions.

In the Krakoa era, Cyclops and Wolverine have mostly set aside their differences in philosophy - and in their rivalry over the love of Jean Grey - with the ongoing implication that the three are all engaged in a polyamorous relationship.

3. Gorgon

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Tomi Shishido was a child prodigy, composing symphonies and creating accomplished works of art before the age of 10. He also had a dark side, attempting suicide, and eventually manifesting the mutant power to petrify people with a look.

After joining the ninja cult known as the Hand by killing his entire family and then himself to prove his worth, the Hand resurrected Shishido, quickly sending him through their ranks, and eventually into HYDRA, a terrorist organization founded by members of the Hand.

While with HYDRA, Shishido orchestrated one of his most diabolical schemes, capturing and brainwashing Wolverine into serving HYDRA as an assassin, forcing Wolverine to fight his friends, and break his code of honor. Eventually, after several years with Hydra, Gorgon was recruited by Norman Osborn to be his second counterfeit Wolverine, but was defeated by Skaar, son of the Hulk, who was secretly an Avengers operative.

During the story 'X of Swords,' Gorgon was killed in Otherworld. Though he was resurrected per Krakoan protocol, the fact he died on Otherworld meant that his personality was altered somewhat.

2. Lady Deathstrike

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Lady Deathstrike's father was the man who invented the process of bonding adamantium to the skeletons of living beings. Blaming Wolverine for the theft of this scientific breakthrough, Deathstrike has long sought to kill Wolverine, and take the adamantium from his bones.

At first simply a trained warrior, Deathstrike, once known as Yuriko Oyama, eventually contacted the otherworldly warrior Spiral to bond adamantium to her form, and to provide her with numerous cybernetic upgrades including razor sharp talons that extend from her fingertips.

While Deathstrike has often operated alone, she also often finds herself in the company of the Reavers, a group of cyborgs with an agenda against Wolverine and the X-Men.

1. Sabretooth

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Wolverine may be the best there is at what he does, but Sabretooth is the best at being bad. Trained as a killer by the same Weapon X program that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton, the man often known as Victor Creed is Wolverine's true opposite: a cold-blooded murderer with all of Wolverine's powers, without Wolverine's staunch code of honor.

The rivalry between Sabretooth and Wolverine began when Sabretooth seemingly killed Wolverine's lover, Silver Fox, on Wolverine's birthday, sparking a long tradition of Sabretooth tracking Wolverine down on his birthday to torment him. Sabretooth's attacks aren't simply physical. He also makes it a point to mentally torment Wolverine as well, drawing on his longtime issues with memory lapses and false programming to even convince Wolverine that Sabretooth was his father, though this ruse didn't last.

Though Sabretooth has occasionally joined with the X-Men (and in the Age of Apocalypse universe was even a hero of Wolverine's standing), he always reverts to his savage, sociopathic, violent demeanor. And, like a bad penny, even when he's thought to be truly, finally dead, he keeps turning up. Sabretooth is Wolverine's ultimate nemesis, and no one is truly safe while he still lives.

Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)