10 Most Powerful Secret Organizations In The MCU

  • Many organizations in the MCU prefer to stay covert, allowing them to become even more powerful.
  • Marvel Studios has introduced several new organizations in recent years, including SWORD, the Red Daggers, the Illuminati and SABER.
  • The Ten Rings, HYDRA, and the Masters of the Mystic Arts have had significant roles in the development of the MCU, thanks to them being founded hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of years ago.
Many of the most powerful organizations in the Marvel Cinematic Universe prefer to work in the shadows, staying secret rather than being in the public eye. Marvel Studios broke a popular trend in superhero franchises by having Tony Stark reveal himself to be the superhero Iron Man in its first live-action project, and since then, many of the MCU's heroes have become world-renowned celebrities, throwing secret identities aside. However, this hasn't been the case for every hero and organization in the MCU, as many have chosen to remain covert and anonymous, and have become even more powerful as a consequence.
Since the very beginning of the MCU with 2008's Iron Man, secret organizations have played a major role in the development of some of the MCU's most powerful heroes and villains. Some of them, such as HYDRA, the Ten Rings, the Red Daggers and the Masters of the Mystic Arts have existed for hundreds or even thousands of years, and have had significant roles in the development of the MCU's history. While others are very new to the franchise, these organizations will be important in establishing new heroes and fresh storylines, though they'll surely continue to operate in the shadows.
Related Oscorp & 7 Other Evil Marvel Organizations Still Missing From The MCU The MCU is missing some major evil organizations and corporations such as Oscorp, and the seeds for some have already been planted in the background. 10 The Marvels Introduced SABER To The MCU SABER First Appeared In Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) After Nick Fury and Maria Hill were revealed to be Skrulls in Spider-Man: Far From Home, Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury was revealed to actually be in space. HIs exact location aboard the SABER Space Station remained a mystery until 2023's Secret Invasion, but was further developed in The Marvels. SABER, the Strategic Aerospace Biophysics and Exolinguistic Response, is a new organization in the MCU, established to protect the world from Thanos-level threats. SABER led research into the universal jump points alongside new recruit Monica Rambeau, so it's possible the organization could return to explain Rambeau's situation after The Marvels.
In Marvel Comics, SABER is a sub-division of SHIELD that operates in space. SHIELD doesn't appear to be operational in the MCU's current timeline, so SABER has been established as a separate entity.
9 SWORD Posed A Minor Annoyance In WandaVision SWORD First Appeared In WandaVision (2021) Close First introduced in 2021's WandaVision, SWORD, the Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division, was founded by Maria Rambeau to protect the Earth from extraterrestrial and extra-dimensional threats. This was after her experiences with alien life during Captain Marvel, but after the Blip and Rambeau's death, SWORD's function changed under Tyler Hayward's command. Hayward used SWORD to rebuild Vision with the intention to use him as a weapon, field-testing the new White Vision inside the Scarlet Witch's Westview Hex, and though this ended with Hayward incarcerated and SWORD's fate unknown, the act of rebuilding Vision proved the organization's power and resources.
Related Vision Quest: Everything We Know WandaVision's ending left a lot of loose ends, as it ended with White Vision fleeing Westview, but the Vision Quest show will answer everything. 8 The Red Room Trained Children To Be Weapons The Red Room First Appeared In Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015) Despite not being seen until 2021's Black Widow, the Red Room has been a core part of Natasha Romanoff's timeline as Black Widow since her MCU debut. Romanoff, along with her sister Yelena Belova, was raised in the Red Room to be a Black Widow assassin, falling under the control of the twisted General Dreykov. Dreykov trafficked young girls from around the world to train as Black Widows, producing some of the most highly-skilled assassins the world has ever seen. The Red Room was destroyed during Black Widow, but the organization's influence will be around for many years to come.
7 Red Daggers Protect The Earth From Interdimensional Threats The Red Daggers First Appeared In Ms. Marvel (2022) Centuries old, the Order of the Red Daggers, based in Karachi, Pakistan, were tasked with protecting the world from supernatural threats, with one of the organization's warriors being chosen to hold the moniker of Red Dagger. In 2022's Ms. Marvel, the Red Dagger is Kareem, who aids Kamala Khan in battling the Clandestines and preventing them from unleashing the Noor Dimension on Earth. Members of the Order of the Red Daggers are incredibly skilled fighters, and have supreme knowledge of the supernatural and interdimensional threats residing in the MCU, making them formidable opponents to any villains that attempt an attack.
6 SHIELD Brought Together The MCU’s Original Avengers Team SHIELD First Appeared In Iron Man (2008) Out of all the secret organizations in the MCU, SHIELD is perhaps the most well-known, even though it hasn't been functional since 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron. SHIELD, led by former Director Nick Fury, played a major role in the MCU's Phase 1, as the organization brought together the Earth's Mightiest Heroes to form the original Avengers team. SHIELD was disbanded in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, however, as an even more powerful organization had been growing within, but the organization's resources were dispersed to others such as SWORD and SABER, so SHIELD's immense legacy still remains in the MCU.
5 The Ten Rings Are Spread Out Across The Entire Globe The Ten Rings First Appeared In Iron Man (2008) Close The Ten Rings was founded in the Middle Ages by Xu Wenwu, named after the ancient relics that gifted him remarkable abilities. The Ten Rings became a powerful terrorist organization, infiltrating almost every country in the world. The Ten Rings was responsible for Tony Stark being taken captive in Iron Man, tried to acquire the Yellowjacket suit in Ant-Man, and was impersonated in Iron Man 3, but didn't officially appear until Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The organization is now under the control of Xu Xialing, though it's unclear what the future holds for the Ten Rings.
The Ten Rings' origins remained a mystery until the MCU's Phase 4, though the organization had previously appeared or been mentioned in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Ant-Man and Daredevil, and has since reappeared in Ms. Marvel and Secret Invasion.
4 HYDRA Has Created Many Villains In The MCU’s History HYDRA First Appeared In Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) HYDRA has been shown to be the antithesis of SHIELD since its debut in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. Originally, HYDRA was thought to be the Nazi science division, led by Johann Schmidt's Red Skull during World War II, but Marvel Television's Agents of SHIELD suggested the organization could in fact be millennia older, and connected directly to Inhumans. Whether this is true or not, HYDRA has still posed an incredible threat to the MCU's heroes, particularly since the organization has birthed some of the most terrifying villains in history, and seems to always bounce back from being eliminated.
In the MCU, HYDRA transformed Bucky Barnes into the assassin the Winter Soldier, and HYDRA experiments also created minor antagonists Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch - who would go on to pose an even bigger threat to the multiverse.
3 The Masters Of The Mystic Arts Gave Doctor Strange A New Purpose The Masters Of The Mystic Arts First Appeared In Doctor Strange (2016) Founded thousands of years ago by the powerful sorcerer Agamotto, the Masters of the Mystic Arts continue to protect the Earth from mystical and interdimensional threats. The Masters of the Mystic Arts have also trained one of the MCU's most significant superheroes: Doctor Strange, who acts as the face of the MCU's Mystic Arts, despite the role of the Sorcerer Supreme being filled by Wong. The Masters of the Mystic Arts have prevented threats such as Dormammu, Kaecilius and the Scarlet Witch from wreaking havoc, proving that they are some of the most powerful heroes in the MCU's entire multiverse.
The Masters of the Mystic Arts also used to guard the Time Stone, before the Infinity Stone was used by Thanos to enact his Infinity War plan, and was then destroyed by the Mad Titan.
2 The Illuminati Comprise The Most Powerful Superheroes The Illuminati First Appeared In Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022) Although the MCU's official Illuminati team hasn't yet been introduced, Earth-838's Illuminati were put front-and-center in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Comprising the leaders of the Earth's various superhero teams, the Illuminati is the most powerful superhuman group in the MCU, with Earth-838's team including the telepath Professor X, Reed Richards, the smartest man alive, and Maria Rambeau's Captain Marvel. The Illuminati were able to defeat Earth-838's iteration of Thanos before he collected the Infinity Stones, proving they are much stronger than any team in the MCU's main continuity, though they were still defeated by the Scarlet Witch.
1 The Time Variance Authority Oversee The Entire Multiverse The Time Variance Authority First Appeared In Loki Season 1 (2021) Close Originally founded by He Who Remains to ensure the protection of the Sacred Timeline and the pruning of any branching realities, the Time Variance Authority exists outside time and space, allowing its staff to travel onto any branch of the MCU's new multiverse. Loki season 2 transformed the TVA into an organization tasked with protecting the multiverse's infinite branches, rather than destroying them, with all of reality now being watched over by Loki. The TVA have demonstrated huge power time and again, and this is set to continue in Deadpool and Wolverine in Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


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