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10 Most Surprising Redemptions In Marvel Comics

CBR 3/24/2023 David Harth
© Provided by CBR

Marvel has created some iconic villains throughout the decades. Villains like Loki and Doctor Doom have defined what evil was for many readers, and have all starred in epic battles. They've built rivalries with the heroes that are well-known and beloved to fans. However, Marvel has also never had a problem changing the moral alignments of heroes and villains.

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Readers were rightfully caught off guard watching their favorite villains develop a warmer conscious and new moral codes. It's hard to picture them ever being heroes, which is why it's so interesting when they get their chance at redemption. Many of Marvel's greatest villains have gotten that chance at redemption, and it's shocking every time.


The X-Men's Omega-class mutants are mind-numbingly powerful, as are the Omega-class villains. For years, Exodus was Magneto's right-hand man, leading the Acolytes at times. He stayed a villain long after Magneto’s redemption, but like many villains showed up when Krakoa was established. Him joining a mutant nation wasn't surprising, but him becoming a leader of the island nation was.

Exodus worked with his longtime foe Apocalypse, restraining himself from attacking him. He'd later pledge allegiance to Hope Summers, her status as a mutant messiah piquing his religious interest. Exodus has become an amazing defender for Krakoa, giving up the evil of his past.


Akihiro is the son of Wolverine. His mother Itsu was killed by Winter Soldier, and he was cut from her womb by Romulus. Raised to hate his father, Akihiro did everything he could to kill him. They had some titanic clashes, all of which culminated with Wolverine drowning his son. He was resurrected by the Apocalypse Twins, his undying hatred for his father spurring him on.

It was so surprising when he showed up after his father's death and worked with the others who were honoring Logan's legacy. Akihiro then joined Krakoa where his grudge against his father was completely gone, something no one every expected. It's still bizarre to see them working together.


Galactus is a universal force of destruction. His name is whispered with fear throughout the cosmos, and he's been responsible for the destruction of countless worlds and lives. His command of the Power Cosmic has allowed him to defeat to gods and the few times he's been defeated are rarely through brute force. This is why the Ultimates decided to do something about him.

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The team was able to force the World Devourer into his Incubator, using Neutronium to accelerate the process, and he emerged as the Lifebringer. Instead of destroying worlds, he brought life to them, often recreating worlds that he had devoured. He worked with the Ultimates as an ally, but would eventually go back to being the old Galactus.

Doctor Octopus

Doctor Octopus has changed often, but the biggest one was also the most surprising. Doc Ock was dying, so he decided that it was time to get serious about destroying Spider-Man. He created a machine that would allow him to switch bodies with the Wall-Crawler and was able to succeed, becoming Peter Parker. However, Peter's memories changed him.

Instead of using his new body for evil, Ock decided that instead he would become a superior Spider-Man, trying to prove that he was always better than his old foe. As Spider-Man, Ock fought crime and created a new life as Peter. He wasn't the nicest person, but the fact that he didn't go on a massive crime spree immediately was surprising.


Magneto has always had a special place among Marvel's most influential villains. The X-Men's greatest foe started out as a stereotypical Silver Age villain, but writer Chris Claremont fleshed him out. Making him into a survivor of the Holocaust put his hatred of humanity into perspective and made him sympathetic to readers even when they didn't agree with his methods.

Magneto was devoted to protecting mutants, but he also had no problem committing atrocities against humans. That's what made him becoming such a committed member of the X-Men so surprising. He joined his enemies in order to protect his people, joining a group of people that had hated him for so long.


Marvel has created many evil robots, but none are as infamous as Ultron. The mad android has tried to destroy all biological life many times over the years. If there's any villain who seemed like he would never be redeemed, it's him. However, Old Man Logan definitely surprised readers with Ultron-8.

Ultron-8 ended up marrying Tonya Barton, Hawkeye's ex-wife, and helped raise Tonya and Clint's daughter. Seeing an Ultron as a devoted father who wasn't trying to murder humanity wasn't something that readers ever thought they would see.


Marvel is known for great face turns, but few have been as strange as Apocalypse's. The ancient mutant was known for trying to destroy everyone he decreed weak, which was basically the vast majority of the mutant race. However, like the X-Men's other villains, Apocalypse joined the mutant nation of Krakoa, decreeing its inhabitants strong and devoting himself to making them stronger.

Apocalypse as a hero was quite bizarre, and X of Swords eventually established why he was so altruistic. He had promised his wife thousands of years ago that he would create a strong army to defeat the demonic hordes of Amenth when they returned. Not everyone enjoys the retcon, but it explained his change of heart.


Loki's threat brought together the Avengers, and since then he's battled every major hero and team. The God of Mischief was known for his lies and manipulations, but he had a change of hurt during the Siege of Asgard. He used the Norn stones to supercharge the heroes during the battle against the Void and paid for it with his life.

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He didn't stay dead for long, and returned as Kid Loki. Kid Loki joined the Young Avengers, helping them in their battles against Mother. He ended up working to help save Asgard, and became rather heroic for a time. In recent years, he's taken over as King of Jotunheim and eschewed his old God of Mischief roots, becoming the God of Stories and sometimes helping his brother Thor.


Sabretooth and Wolverine have always numbered among Marvel's greatest rivalries. Sabretooth is a ferocious monster, one who enjoys tormenting and killing anyone he can. Readers have watched him do terrible things, which is why Sabretooth from The Age of Apocalypse was such a surprise to readers. Sabretooth has worked with heroes before, but he was never as heroic as he was during the AoA.

This Sabretooth had joined up with Magneto's freedom fighters after working with Apocalypse and became an important member of the X-Men. Readers seeing Sabretooth basically taking Wolverine's place on the team in the AoA was a massive change. Sabretooth was an actual hero, and it was one of the many great things about the AoA.

Doctor Doom

Doctor Doom is a Marvel legendary villain. He's been battling the Fantastic Four for years and has branched out to other heroes as well. Doom is always a dangerous foe, but there is a nobility to him at times. Secret Wars (2015) heralded a huge change in Doom, as he admitted that Reed Richards would have done better than him. He ceded his godlike power to Reed, who healed Doom's face in return, something Doom was unable to do when he had that same power.

Doom decided to prove he could be better, and after Tony Stark was taken out of action by Captain Marvel, he took up the mantle of Iron Man. This wasn't a ploy or a way to fool everyone into trusting him; Doom was actually trying to be hero. It wouldn't last, but for a time he was a hero who even worked with Human Torch and the Thing.

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