The minute Heath Ledger wore the makeup of the Joker, comic book fans and non-comic book fans alike, just fell in love with the devious psychopath that would play with his enemies’ minds, forcing them to make the most impossible decisions. He could transform the greatest people into monsters like himself, while at the same time doing the complete opposite. The villain was always popular both in comic books, and in the version of Batman, when Jack Nicholson brilliantly portrayed the Joker. Jared Leto had the toughest of all acts to follow and is easily the most talked about actor in Suicide Squad, mainly because of the popularity of this evil monster.
Having said that, is the Joker truly the most devious and maniacal villain in any comic book? Perhaps he is, but we are going to make a case for fifteen more villains that would scare the living daylights out of us as well. Many can compete head to head with the Joker’s mind tricks, while others are motivated by something bigger and more deadly than what inspires the Joker. The Joker lacks several key comic book traits. He has no superpowers, no money to make special gizmos, and most of all, he is not a very strong guy. Perhaps this is his greatest allure; he is only human, but what other villains possess these same traits? There are quite a few. And so what if someone has superpowers, couldn’t that make them even scarier? Some of these villains have only that, but even then, they can still send shivers down your spine in the same manner that the Incredible Hulk can terrify the most despicable sadist.
15. Dr. Doom
The Doctor, also known as Victor Von Doom, began as the arch enemy of the Fantastic Four. His initial incarnation as a man hell bent on ruling the world is something seen over and over again. It’s boring stuff. But what makes him scary is the manner in which he proceeds to create his goal. Victor is the ruler of Latveria, and he is endowed with a mind considered to be as superior as any in the universe. It is this mind that cultivated this European country into a repressive haven, free from most problems plaguing other nations. His citizens are kept happy as long as they fall in line. But a man who can seduce people, and create some sort of paradise keeping everyone happy in exchange for total obedience, is always a danger. Eventually a person like that cannot be stopped once they have gone mad, because they have the support of the people and the power to go along with it. More recently, he has demonstrated his madness when he skins his childhood sweetheart to the bone, using the resulting flesh to create the suit of armor he is always seen with. The past year he became a god. Count me out of his church and get me out of Latveria.
14. Victor Zsasz
Victor is a straight-out assassin. He does not manipulate or play mind games, so in that sense, he is not as eerie or as frightening as the Joker. What can make him scarier is his complete disregard for life. In his mind he is not slaughtering people, but liberating people from their painful and pointless lives. His main adversary is Batman, and like Bruce Wayne, he grew up wealthy, eventually seeing his parents die. Unlike Wayne, his grief makes him gamble his fortune away. A wealthy gambler who has lost everything is someone you want to stay away from. All they know is pain and hurt and that is all they want to inflict on others, especially if they can’t transform themselves into something good, or kill themselves. This pain is evident as Victor’s body contains a single scar for each one of his victims. This evil monster scares Batman more than the Joker, and with reason. He just lost his soul.
Amusement parks are like clowns. They can put smiles on many kids’ faces, while at the same time providing nightmares for many. Arcade looks like a joke, but one definitely has to take him seriously. He is similar to the Joker, in that he likes to use the amusement park setting to play with people’s minds, watching them scream in horror at the traps he sets in his theme parks before they die. For a paltry sum of $1 million, you can hire this assassin to create a custom ”Murder World” theme park for your intended victim. If you are the victim, then you become like an insect trapped inside a spider’s web, slowly dying a little bit at a time as you try to escape trap after trap. All the while this sick man is watching and enjoying every minute of it.
12. The Purple Man
The Purple Man, also known as Kilgrave, began as a small time adversary to Daredevil before becoming a full-blown psychopath in Alias. His power is mind control. Nothing special or spooky, as pretty much every comic book series has plenty of those types around. What makes him scary is that the victims know they’re being manipulated but can’t do anything. It’s almost as if you’re in the jungle getting attacked by a Tiger; half dead but alive enough to feel and see the pain as you’re being eaten alive. Kilgrave has another thing in common with the Tiger, a lack of empathy. One thing he does not have in common with the Joker is the element of surprise.
11. Dark Phoenix
It’s always good that comic books are starting to throw in a few more female villains, as it might make men feel insecure if it is perceived that they are the only gender capable of psychopathic destruction. You know that you’re evil when every other malicious being (and every good guy) wants you dead because of what you can do. She is an example of a plan gone wrong, much like Frankenstein. The evil illusionist Mastermind, tried to control her psyche when she was just Jean Grey. In the end she broke free of him and the X-Men, flying to a distant galaxy where she devoured a star to satisfy her hunger, thus killing billions. She would be higher on the list, but in the end Jean Grey freed herself from the Dark Phoenix and committed suicide, thus ending the life of her monstrous alter ego as well.
Magneto of the X-Men, is reminiscent of someone’s boss and a politician. For him everything is just business, and nothing is personal. Being a member of his troupe is like being a member of an organized crime syndicate; you should always watch your back. For many the world is black and white, but for him the world is gray with no heroes or villains. The only thing that matters is what he wants and how he’ll get it. In the beginning his plans meant that he would not kill any of his own kind. However, he has recently shown that he will easily change his mind if it means the destruction of those pesky humans. The man has power beyond belief and he cannot be trusted.
9. The Governor
We are talking about the Governor in The Walking Dead series. As despicable as he is on TV, the comic books paint an even gloomier picture of the ruthless ruler. He is reminiscent of how Magneto might rule in the sense that he is only your friend as long as he needs you. When he doesn’t need you anymore, like the mafia, there is only one way out: death. One thing he has in common with the Joker is that he lacks the superpowers that most of the villains on this list have, thus he requires a great deal of manipulative powers to get the job done. Unlike the Joker, his subjects depend on him for life and death. No one depends on the Joker.
8. Harley Quinn
There are two entries on this list who do what they do for love. In Harley Quinn’s case, it is a sick depraved kind of affection. There are reasons why shrinks can’t fraternize with their patients and she is a prime example. Her patient was the Joker himself. She became enamored with his warped mind. The master manipulator then got Harley hooked on him, using her to free himself. Harley became obsessed with chaos and the man that introduced this to her. As such, she will do anything and tolerate anything to gain the Joker’s approval, having dedicated her life to him and to spreading his mayhem. Love is blindness, but in Harley’s case she can see clearly, and no one is more dangerous than someone who knowingly spreads evil for the sake of some disturbed form of love.
7. Red Skull
Who can be scarier in real life than Adolf Hitler? Any man who can scare Hitler himself, that’s who. The Red Skull is that man. The maniacal freak was power hungry, and in Hitler he found the ultimate guide. The Joker is definitely crazy, but could he scare the most evil man from the last century? Maybe not. Like many comic book villains, this guy had a rough childhood, having grown up as an orphan. Later he was courting a Jewish girl who rebuked his advances. Of course, he killed her and like many a rejected man, he probably blamed the world for his broken heart. Unlike most men, he was a psychopath who acted out on his anger. Unfortunately for him, he always lost. Give the guy credit though, he always kept coming back for more.
Darkseid is considered by DC Comics as the most dangerous creature alive. Other comic book characters are smart men who wish to rule. Darkseid though, is a triple threat. He has the brains to manipulate and lead, and the physical strength to wipe out the justice league all by himself. He also wants to rule the universe and has a loyal army of brutal warriors at his command. Some rulers feel the need to take care of their subjects in order to reward good behavior. Darkseid rules by fear and fear alone. He is not concerned with the well-being of his followers. To him they are nothing. As scary as the Joker can be, he only has one tool to defeat his enemies. This man has everything.
Thanos is the Marvel equivalent to DC’s Darkseid when it comes to strength, power and desire to rule the Universe. What makes him scarier than Darkseid is that he has a stronger motivation. He’s a man in love and his affection is for none other than Death. His desires are akin to Harley Quinn’s need to impress the Joker, but even the Joker can’t compete with Death. It’s like the song from Percy Sledge; ”When a man loves a woman, she can do no wrong. Turn his back on his best friend if he put her down.” In this case it’s the entire universe putting down his girl, so what do you think he’s gonna do about that?
4. The Emperor From Star Wars
The Joker only tries to manipulate a few enemies at a time; the Emperor can manipulate everyone from every planet on every galaxy all at once. He has unbelievable power, but he never, ever has to use it. He can gain everyone’s trust while he is destroying them at the same time. His mannerism can be so sincere that you might actually thank him when he’s hurting you. When the time is right, he just has to tighten the screws and force his subjects to live in fear. All of this is done with his great strategic mind. He just has to sit back and let everyone else do the killing for him, like Don Corleone in The Godfather. Of course, if his strategies fail, who else can kill him and live to tell the tale?
Doomsday is part of the DC Universe. How strong is he? He defeated Darkseid, the man DC Comics created to be the most powerful villain ever. He also did the impossible and killed Superman. He does not have a manipulative mind, as he does not plan or think. He has no need for that. All he wants to do is kill, and then kill some more. His strength is insurmountable and even if you hurt this guy, he can regenerate and self-heal. In one sense, he is easier to confront than the Joker since you know he is going to kill you right then and there. At the same time though, knowing that there is no escape makes him even more terrifying.
2. Lex Luthor
The maniac has the perfect cover: the business suit. He will never do anything as blatant as killing a superhero’s girlfriend. The magnate wants to stay out of jail so he will never ever get his hands dirty or get caught. He needs to maintain his public image, much like a politician. He is as cutthroat as any Wall Street player, he has the ingenuity of Elon Musk and the brain of Stephen Hawking. You never see him coming, but rest assured if your town is facing the ultimate disaster, this man is surely behind it. No one will ever be able to prove it though, and he will slip away and do it again. Is it any wonder why, even without any superpowers, he can compete with the most powerful hero alive; Superman? No one can predict this man’s plans, not even the Joker.
Why is this kid number one? He has no makeup, no superpowers, he can’t even talk and he isn’t even a character in a real comic book. He is the character in a novel. The novel is Sin City, and many can see the similarities between this and a comic book. All this creepy little kid can do is stare and look at you, and when he does just that, can there be anything spookier? He is seemingly harmless, but step into his basement and you are literally dead meat, as he will cook you up and sauté you in all sorts of imaginative ways before he eats you. Whatever he won’t eat becomes a snack for his pet wolf. Of course it’s hard to devour the head of your victim, so Kevin will just stuff it and mount it on his wall like a prized possession. Just like the Joker, he has no motive except pleasure, but unlike the joker, you will never know what this kid can do.