Comic books are known for their powerful and brightly colored heroes that possess powers of gods and hearts of gold. These costume wearing characters use their powers and skills only for good as they strive to make the world a better place by being a symbol of hope and all that is good in the world, and stopping the bad guys of course. That’s what superheroes do and the comic book pages are filled with them and their adventures.
But what about the bad guys and villains that these superheroes stop? For a comic book story to work, every hero needs a villain to face and these villains have almost become as famous as the superheroes that stop them. Whether it’s a generic bad guy that just wants to rule the world, or at least become rich, or it’s a villain that’s complex and their reasons for such evil acts come from a place of good, or at least good intentions. For this list we are looking at the latter kind of villain, the bad guys who blur the lines between evil and good, as we count down the 15 supervillains whose evil acts could be justified.
15. Doomsday – Tortured By His Creator
We start our list with a villain that has probably performed the most famous act that any character has ever done in the comic books and that’s to kill Superman. Ok, so the Man of Steel didn’t stay dead for long. In fact he wasn’t really dead at all, he was just resting. But for a brief moment the world thought that Doomsday had done something that no one else could do and that is to kill the unkillable superhero.
Throughout most of his life in the comic books, Doomsday is portrayed as a simple, angry, and rampaging alien that just wants to kill and destroy everything. That is until you get to know his backstory. Essentially Doomsday was a clone of an alien that was treated terribly by the scientist that created him, in the worst and most harsh way imaginable. For decades and decades, Doomsday was tortured until there was nothing left but a beast and monster. That’s enough to make anyone angry.
14. Harley Quinn – Just A Fool In Love
Next we come to a famous DC villain that actually started life out in a Batman animated TV show but became such a popular character that DC decided to add her to their comic book universe. Out of all the villains, and even heroes, in the DC universe, Harley Quinn is possibly the most interesting. Starting as a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, Harleen Quinzel was doing good by helping reform villains. That is until she started to see The Joker. Over the course of their meetings, The Joker manipulated her and made her fall in love with him. Changing her name to Harley Quinn, she dedicated her life to the Clown Prince of Crime and followed him into his criminal and murderous rampages.
Although Quinn is one of the most dangerous and violent villains in Gotham City, she isn’t a psycho like her boyfriend. All she’s guilty of is falling in love with the wrong person and The Joker has gone out his way to use that in order to mess with Quinn’s mind.
13. Galactus – Destroys For Survival
Next we come to quite an interesting character and a character that has caused more deaths than most other characters within the Marvel universe. Galactus is older than the universe itself. He actually existed before our universe was created. The giant Titan roams the universe in order to devour planets, and everything that lives on it, so that he can drain the energy and survive.
The interesting thing about Galactus is that he never does anything out of evil, or malice. He doesn’t kill for the sake of killing nor does he want any kind of gain, like riches or to rule the universe. All he wants to do is survive and his main food source just happens to be our planets. The only thing that drives Galactus is his constant hunger and will to survive. Galactus has also been shown to have compassion for life as he often sends his Heralds out to find uninhabited planets to eat first.
12. Bizarro – He Thinks He’s Being A Hero
Over the years, Superman has had many clones, alternate versions, and counterparts, both good and evil. The most famous of them all comes in the form of Bizarro. There have been a few versions of Bizarro over the years, one of them from a parallel Earth and the other a clone of The Man of Steel. Whichever the version, Bizarro is always the exact opposite of Superman. He’s evil, not very bright, and even his powers are opposite. Bizarro has freeze vision instead of heat vision and heat breath instead of freeze breath.
However, even though Bizarro does some pretty bad things and ends up destroying and even killing, he never intentionally does it. With his simple intelligence and twisted sense of logic and morals, more often than not Bizarro thinks he’s actually being the hero. Often he’s just trying to copy Superman and thinks that what he’s doing is helping. Obviously with his power and small mind, Bizarro often gets taken advantage of and other villains get him to do unspeakable acts.
11. Bane – Rough Childhood
We’ve already mentioned Doomsday on our list and said how he performed the famous act of killing Superman. The next entry on our list also performed one of the most famous acts in comic books when he broke Batman’s back and left him for dead. Bane is possibly one of the most famous villains in the Batman world, except for The Joker. But not a lot is known about his younger days. We know that Bane was born in a prison and raised there until he was strong enough, with the help of a drug known as Venom, which enhanced his strength. He was then able to escape the prison and head to Gotham City.
Over the years Bane has faced off against The Dark Knight many times, and often comes out on top but he has also shown glimpses of good and even times when he’s fought alongside Batman. More often than not, Bane just wants to prove that he’s better and stronger than Batman and his villainess ways are just a byproduct of this.
10. The Lizard – Scientist Can’t Control His Alter Ego
In the world of Spider-Man, there are a lot of interesting, deep, and complicated characters that are more than just straightforward villains or heroes. The first example of this is the character known as The Lizard. When Curtis Connors loses his arm he uses his scientific mind in order to regrow a new one. Using experimental drugs and animal DNA, Connors manages to do just that, only he also manages to turn himself into a rampaging lizard monster in the process.
The Lizard is a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story as the scientist Curtis Connors is always racked with guilt about what his alter ego has been up to and often helps Spider-Man out, in particular when The Web Slinger’s powers mutated. Connors is always trying to cure himself but unfortunately can’t so his Lizard alter ego still gets loose from time to time and wants nothing more than to wipe out humanity.
9. Sandman – Does It For Family
As we’ve already mentioned on this list, the world of Spider-Man is full of tormented characters that walk the line between good, evil, and insane. Another one of those characters is Sandman. When convict Flint Marko was on the run from the law, he stumbled upon a government nuclear testing site and fell into a pit of contaminated sand. Once in there, Marko’s body completely changed and he turned into sand. With his new found form and powers, Sandman went on a crime spree and often came up against Spider-Man.
At face value, Sandman is a classic, stereotypical villain. However, when we delve deeper into his character we realize that Marko isn’t a bad guy as such. He may be a criminal but everything he does is for his family, for his terminally ill daughter in particular and all he wants to do is save her.
8. Two Face – Dealing With Mental Health Issues
Our next entry was once one of the pillars of hope and goodness in the city of Gotham. Harvey Dent spent his life working up the legal ladder and trying to put as many of Gotham’s bad guys behind bars as he could. That is, until he became hideously scarred on one side of his face. The accident drove Dent slightly insane and he adopted the name Two-Face and started his life of crime in Gotham. More often than not, Two-Face is one of Batman’s most difficult foes as his insanity and intellect match Batman’s.
Although, as Two-Face, Dent has done some pretty bad things, he is constantly at the mercy of his own mental problems caused by the accident. Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and a big case of split personality are just some of the issues that drive Two-Face. As a result, Two-Face has become the symbol of chance and fate within the DC universe and often leaves his decisions to the flip of a coin. That act alone shows us that Two-Face isn’t evil as such and the acts he performs don’t come from any planned malice, it’s all just a part of his fractured mind.
7. Mr. Freeze – Does It For His Wife
There have been a few instances, some of which we have mentioned on this list already, in which a character is driven to act the way he does because a loved one is in need of their help. Sandman was one and another one is Mr. Freeze. When Victor Fries’ wife fell terminally ill, the cryogenics expert found a way to freeze her body until he could find a cure for her. Unfortunately for Fries, after a lab accident, he could only survive in a cryogenic suit, so he took on the persona of Mr. Freeze and went on a rampaging freeze fest around Gotham City.
The fact is that although Mr. Freeze is a bad guy, and a pretty evil villain, everything he does is fuelled by love and to save his wife. Unlike many other villains, Mr. Freeze doesn’t do anything for personal gain, nor does he do anything bad for any other reasons other than love.
6. Dark Phoenix – Jean Grey Tries Her Best To Contain Dark Phoenix
Our next entry is an interesting one and the epitome of a character with a split personality. As Jean Grey, she is the ultimate hero mutant and is often the mother figure and caregiver for the X-Men, as well as being one of the most powerful mutants in the X-Men universe. Out of all the characters in the comic book universe, not many are as pure and caring as Jean Grey.
However, after a mission in space, Grey became exposed to the ancient and powerful force known as The Phoenix Force. Being possessed by The Phoenix Force unleashed Grey’s full powers and potential as she became Dark Phoenix. As Dark Phoenix, Grey has done some of the worst things to ever happen to the Marvel universe, including destroying the X-Men and even planets, which killed millions of people. However, through all of the destruction of Dark Phoenix, Jean Grey is still underneath it all and she always tries to contain the powers of the Phoenix Force and the powers she was born with.
5. Doctor Octopus – Just Wants To Help The World
Another entry from the Spider-Man universe and another tortured character, Doctor Octopus is possible one of Spider-Man’s greatest and most dangerous foes. After an accident left him with metal appendages fused to his body, Doc Ock went on a major crime spree. Many of his sprees were to fuel his scientific research and experiments but recently Doc Ock went bigger than most villains and tried to rise the temperature of the whole planet which would have caused mass genocide so he could be remembered after his death.
Although Doc Ock has done many unspeakable things, including forming the Sinister Six, which is a group of villains to take out Spider-Man, he started out as a genius scientist that only wanted to improve the planet. The ramifications of his accident did push the dark side of Doc Ock further than most but he is still a good man underneath it all. This came out when Doc Ock actually became Spider-Man briefly and vowed to be a great hero.
4. Venom – Sometimes Uses Powers For Good
Our last trip into the world of Spider-Man is a character that has become more of an anti-hero these days than an actual villain. Venom is actually an alien Symbiote that first came to our world and attached itself to Peter Parker. Once Parker became free from its grasp, the symbiote went for Parker’s fellow photographer Eddie Brock. With Brock’s hatred of Parker fuelling his actions, the alien Symbiote found its perfect host and the two became Venom.
On a similar path to The Lizard, Venom is actually two people with two distinct personalities. The Symbiote is pretty much evil, or at least evil from our perspective and is only really interested in causing chaos. But then there’s Eddie Brock who is a nice guy deep down. A lot of the time, the Symbiote takes control of Brock and his actions but sometimes Brock can get the better of his evil side and actually uses the powers of Venom for good.
3. Doctor Doom – Trying To Protect His People
Victor Von Doom is one of the biggest, and most complicated, villains in the Marvel universe. The character is actually one of the most popular characters within the Marvel universe and has appeared more times than any other villain. The genius inventor and sorcerer is a constant thorn in the side of The Fantastic Four and The Avengers. Being the sovereignty of the country of Latveria, Doctor Doom’s primary concern is to look after his people and protect them in anyway he can.
Although the rest of the time Doctor Doom is portrayed as a villain, he has actually helped out the planet a few times. More recently, Doctor Doom actually became a hero and joined The Avengers and actually took the Iron Man mantle from Tony Stark. The fact is that Doctor Doom could so easily have been a superhero from the beginning, and to his people he is just that.
2. Magneto – Wants To Protect Mutants
Many fans out there would say that Magneto is the ultimate anti-hero or villain with a justified cause. The most famous villain in the X-Men universe started life out in the comic books as a full on villain that just wanted to rule the world and put humanity in its place. However, over the years Magneto’s story has changed and added an extra dimension to his character and his story.
As a child the young Magneto was put in a concentration camp by the Nazis and watched his parents being murdered. This was the trigger that gave Magneto his powers and he grew up just wanting the world to be equal. However, when humanity learned about mutants and turned against them, Magneto took extreme measures to get mutants recognized in the world. Although Magneto has done some truly atrocious acts, everything that he does comes from wanting mutants to have a place in the world and not to end up like the Nazis.
1. Lex Luthor – His Actions Come From A Place Of Fear
The number one entry on our list is possibly the most famous supervillain in all comic books. Lex Luthor is the master criminal that is constantly trying to kill, or at least stop, Superman. The businessman, genius, politician and engineer was raised to have a lust for power and wealth and will do anything to achieve it.
Lex Luthor is the archetypal supervillain and has been for many years, but through all of his world conquering acts there is actually a normal man underneath it all that just wants to achieve things in life. He wants to be rich, powerful, and even run for president, which a lot of people want. Then a superpowered alien came to Earth and was seemingly unstoppable. Even though Superman was on the side of good, what would happen if he decided to turn evil and who could stop him? If you look at the DC universe from Lex’s point of view them most of his actions aren’t evil they come from a place of precautions and even fear.