One of the best parts of the Marvel Universe is their plethora of alternate worlds. For years, What If was a terrific series that gave writers free reign to go wild on how characters could be vastly different in alternate Earths. The most common aspect was how so many heroes could be villains if circumstances had gone differently. Some origins could be altered, their backgrounds much different or just pure circumstances warping some heroes into truly twisted bad guys. Marvel has played on it since a few times, notable the controversial storyline where Captain America led Hydra.
This has given fan artists some terrific inspiration. Many love the idea of showcasing darker takes on Marvel heroes and how they could be amazing bad guys. Some are easy to imagine while others are a bit more out there but work. In a few cases, they mix them up with a little touch of DC to make it more believable. There are scores of examples but here are 20 of the best reimaginings of Marvel heroes as villains to show how different some Marvel Earths can be.
20 Punishing Devil
Daredevil and the Punisher have long had an intriguing relationship. Daredevil hates the Punisher for his blood-thirsty ways while the Punisher claims he’s just doing what DD won’t to truly stop crime. More than once, Frank Castle has suggested that all it would take is “a small push” to make Matt Murdock just like him. As this fantastic image shows, DD would make a very imposing figure as the Punisher. The skull looks scarier in red and DD has openly said that with his powers, he could rack up a body count that would put the Punisher to shame.
19 Black Lantern Mar-Vell
In the DC Universe, the Black Lanterns are a truly dark force that resurrects fallen heroes and villains and supplies them with rings of power. The most obvious choice for them in the Marvel Universe would be Captain Mar-Vell. The famed hero fell to cancer and has actually stayed dead since. The idea of him transformed into an ultra-powerful zombie figure is horrifying and would turn one of Marvel’s best heroes into their worst enemy.
18 Darker Thunder
As much as he hates to admit it, Thor was a very brash and arrogant figure in his youth. This drawing imagines Thor never becomes worthy of Mjolnir and instead becomes a darker Thunderer. His hammer is larger and more powerful with runes giving out sinister lightning and his outfit looks much darker as well. Loki might be intrigued at first but even he would realize a God of Thunder without morals would be a dangerous thing for both Asgard and Earth.
17 The Doctor Is In
Stephen Strange acknowledges he was a very selfish man before a car accident ruined his medical career. While he changed upon becoming Sorcerer Supreme, that inner ego can still tempt Strange now and then. This image paints the picture of a Strange who still thinks of himself and uses his powers for his own gain. It looks like he’s surrounded by some Lovecraftian nightmare and ready to use it for his own gain. This Doctor would be nasty in his bedside manner.
16 Symbiote Stark
One can do an entire list of nothing but images of Marvel heroes infected by the symbiotes. These aliens are famous for helping create Venom and Carnage and have attempted to take over Earth several times. This image has Iron Man being infected and the symbiote managing to integrate itself into the armor. It would make Tony even tougher in the field and drive him to some brutal acts as a reminder how dangerous the symbiotes are on anyone.
15 Deadly Spider
A couple of Marvel’s What If comics have showcased versions of Spider-Man where, instead of growing up as a nice high school kid, Peter Parker is trained to be an assassin. Sometimes it’s for SHIELD or HYDRA but either way, it makes Spider-Man far deadlier in the field. This drawing uses that with Spidey’s outfit more like a commando’s and you can almost see the cold expression under his mask. This is one Spider-Man even Doc Ock wouldn’t want to mess with.
14 Hydra Wasp
The Secret Empire event had Captain America being warped into a Hydra agent. This had led to various fans creating artwork reimagining other Avengers joining the organization. Janet Van Dyne would be notable as the somewhat flighty heiress is still a great Avenger and has even led the team. That she still looks downright cheerful wearing the colors of this evil organization gives the Wasp a more sinister sting.
13 Fearsome Four
More than once, the Fantastic Four have clashed with these four, a shifting pack of super-villains meant to be their opposite number. But this image imagines that when they crash to Earth, rather than be heroes, the FF turn bad. The Human Torch looks freakier with blue flame while the Thing is so powerful, he could intimidate the Hulk. Sue Storm looks ready to use her invisibility for sinister means and Mr. Fantastic is also darker. It’s a good thing for the MU the FF didn’t go this direction.
12 Devilish God
A major X-Man adventure had them traveling to Asgard and getting into various run-ins with the gods of the region. That included Loki who enjoys playing with the team. This odd image has Nightcrawler in Loki’s armor and it actually works. It’s not clear if Loki is posing as Kurt or if Nightcrawler has somehow become the God of Mischief. Either way, it turns the popular X-Men into a far darker figure.
11 Oscorp Spider
Norman Osborn is easily Spider-Man’s greatest enemy. Whether the Green Goblin or just doing wild antics as a businessman, Osborn lives to make Spidey’s life miserable. Yet in some alternate reality, it’s possible they’re allies with Osborn helping to enhance Spidey’s outfit. We have a Spider-Man with Oscorb armor, transforming from the Friendly Neighborhood guy to a corporate enforcer and a truly evil sight.
10 A True Predator
The Black Panther isn’t just a superhero but the champion of Wakanda. He takes it upon himself to defend his jungle lands by any means necessary. This could lead him to bold actions that can set him against other heroes. This striking image has T’Challa donning a costume that looks more like the armor for the Predator. It’s downright terrifying and would make the Panther incredibly deadly in the jungle as a reminder you don’t mess with Wakanda.
9 Spider Squad
While the MU Peter Parker lives by the mantra “with great power comes great responsibility,” some alternate reality versions don’t have the same ethics. This image has the nasty idea of Peter deciding to make money as a mercenary in street gear. With him are Spider-Woman and Venom, putting aside their usual flashy outfits for tough commando gear. Peter’s hand signal shows he cares less about responsibility than cash to make this a tough squad.
8 Dark Doctor
A key bit in the Doctor Strange movie is Mordo sharing how he and the Ancient One are worried about Strange following Kaecilius into evil. It’s noted Kaecilius was a decent guy until his lust for power overwhelmed him. This image showcases Mordo’s fears with Strange joining Dormammu’s side as a follower. He not only has the same outfit as the acolytes but the misshapen face as well to showcase how an evil Strange would have been a nightmare to handle.
7 Blacker War Machine
In Civil War II, War Machine is taken out battling Thanos and his loss weighs heavily on Tony Stark and Carol Danvers. Thankfully, it didn’t last long as Tony was able to find a way to bring Jim Rhodes back to life. However, this image imagines that Rhodey has become part of the DCU’s Black Lanterns. The armor is darker than ever and the Lantern powers make it even more of a nightmare to beat. It truly makes War Machine live up to his name.
6 Scarlet Phoenix
The Phoenix Force is a cosmic entity capable of wiping out entire galaxies. The Scarlet Witch’s powers once remade all reality and can still be fearful. A combination of the two would be downright terrifying. It’s a mix of Phoenix and Witch’s usual costume and it does work out pretty well overall. However, it also showcases how, with a snap of her fingers, she could cause galactic chaos to be a very troubling figure.
5 Blackest Widow
It’s well known that Natasha Romanoff was subjected to long-term training and brainwashing by the KGB to become the Black widow. She turned on them to join the Avengers and has proven herself a heroine. However, there are hints some of that control may still remain. This image shows Natasha still a loyal agent to the Red Room, deadlier than ever before and looking far colder. The Widow as a pure villain would have been a major threat to the Avengers.
4 Iron Hydra
“Secret Empire” is already an infamous event for how it transformed Captain America into a bad guy. Steve Rogers was convinced by a Cosmic Cube that he’d been a lifelong Hydra agent and took up leadership. This image imagines that it was Iron Man who’d been made to believe he was Hydra. The usually red and gold armor is now dark green and the symbol at the front bearing the Hydra logo. It’s almost scary how natural this looks for a darker take on the Iron Avenger.
3 A Lethal Couple
To call Daredevil and Elektra’s relationship dysfunctional is an understatement. The two have gone from close lovers to trying to kill each other numerous times. But this image imagines the two having been subjected to deadly symboites like Venom and Carnage. In their case, their already red outfits look freakier with Elektra deadlier than ever before and Daredevil ready to follow her. It shows how this couple could in fact be so much worse.
2 Rogue Magneto
There’s always been a strange connection between Rogue and Magneto. The “Age of Apocalypse” epic has the duo even married. This weird pairing has been showcased in the comics itself. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Rogue to be shown in Magneto’s famous outfit. Given she can copy the powers of others, it’s natural for Rogue to be able to use Magneto’s abilities and the fact she looks great in the costume is freaky.
1 Red Lantern Wolverine
In the DC Universe, the Red Lanterns are a Corps fueled by rage. It thus makes total sense Wolverine could become a member. The feisty X-Man is well known for going on berserker rampages where almost no one around him is safe. This piece has him being inducted into the Red Lanterns and looking impressive as Wolverine flying and spitting out fire would be even more dangerous. Considering a Red Lantern thinks of nothing but violence, Wolverine in this role would be very dangerous indeed.
Sources; Deviantart.com, pinterest.com