DC is home to some of the most powerful heroes in comic history. The only bad part about that is the writers have to introduce even stronger foes to combat them, meaning that the stakes get higher and the fights get longer. Over the years, we’ve seen interdimensional beings like the Anti-Monitor try to bring down the multiverse, and speedsters like Professor Zoom alter reality.
We’re not just focusing on your average everyday villains today. Instead, we’re going to focus on the hired guns of the DC world. When you can have people that fight as well as Batman, it was only a matter of time before others learned to do the same and use it for their own gain. Assassins are no rare character type in the world of the Justice League, and they have sometimes posed the greatest threats.
Because these assassins have no particular loyalty, they sometimes team up with the heroes in order to face a common threat. At the end of the day, though, it’s all about the contract and the money they make. Killing is a career, and there are plenty who would win “Employee of the Month.”
They could be considered villains, but they can also do heroic things. If they’re targeting you, it’s never personal. You can run, but they’ll likely find you. These are the 15 greatest assassins in the DC universe- the jacks of their trade.
Yeah, you all knew he was going to make this list. Slade Wilson began his career as Deathstroke the Terminator, but changed the title to just Deathstroke after a certain movie came out. Deathstroke boasts one of the coolest designs for any comic book character and is one of the best fighters out there. After being inducted into a super soldier program, Slade was given enhanced reflexes and strength abilities. While he isn’t on the levels of Superman, he still has the necessary skills and tools to bring down the biggest targets. Deathstroke has also been known to become more powerful over time, and it once took the entire Justice League to simply hold him down.
When it comes to hitting the mark, Deadshot is your guy. He originally began as the wealthy man, Floyd Lawton. Lawton had an impressive skill with a firearm and decided to put those skills to good use. He became a vigilante for Gotham City when the Dark Knight was temporarily away. By the time the Dynamic Duo returned, they were met with this masked marksman and discovered that he actually wanted to be a big crime lord. Naturally, they brought him down several times and he was eventually placed in jail. Once in prison, Lawton was offered freedom if he pulled off a contract to take somebody’s life. These skills served him well and got the attention of Amanda Waller. Since then, Lawton, taking the name Deadshot, has been the best shooter in the DC universe. After he began taking lives, he became enthralled with fulfilling a contract and killing people for money. Hey, if you’re good at something, never do it for free.
13. The Phantasm
When thinking of the best Batman movies, one cannot ignore the animated masterpiece that was Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Part of the movie’s critical acclaim was due to its title villain, the mysterious Phantasm. The villain entered Gotham as an entirely new creation, and it wasn’t until later that the revelation came into light. The Phantasm was actually the ex-fiance of Bruce, named Andrea Beaumont.
Beaumont was the daughter of a wealthy businessman who got in too deep with the Mafia. After they fled the country, a pre-insane Joker came and killed the man. Andrea was then filled with a desire for vengeance and spent a lot of time waiting to return to Gotham. When she finally did, she was sporting a costume very reminiscent of the Grim Reaper (scythe and all). She then had a mission to kill members of the Mafia until she found the man who took her father away. This put her toe to toe with the Joker and Batman was stuck in the middle. The Phantasm later appeared in other media, but took up the life of an assassin, seeing nothing else to do with her abilities. She could never have a normal life, so she embraced her darker side.
12. Ra’s al Ghul
The DC universe is home to one of the deadliest organizations in comics, the League of Assassins. The leader of the League is known as the Demon’s Head, Ra’s al Ghul. Ra’s himself has been around for centuries, despite other people taking up the mantle. He is able to live an unnaturally long life due to the magical powers of the Lazarus Pit. Because of years of experience, Ra’s is one of the best fighters DC has to offer. Period. He has been able to easily contend with the likes of Batman and the Green Arrow, even defeating the latter on one occasion. Ra’s is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that the world is purified, and with his expanded skills and resources, it seems that there is nothing he can’t do. Enemies of the League don’t stand a chance.
11. Dark Archer
Malcolm Merlyn is the trademark villain of the Green Arrow. Before he returned to Star City as a powerful enemy, he was a member of the League of Assassins. It was there that he was trained to kill without mercy and remove any potential threat from each and every situation. Merlyn had a strong love for death and excelled in combat. These abilities came very handy when he came back to Star City to fight Oliver Queen.
Taking the name of the Dark Archer, Merlyn also carried over his tendency to be an assassin. While not greatly known to kill for a monetary contract, the Dark Archer assassinates those that he deems necessary to die. Those he kills will likely result in some immediate benefit to his life and/or plans, and this doesn’t sit will with Star City’s vigilantes. Despite the opposition he faces, Merlyn continues to be one of the best archers around and one of the most effective assassins. Remembering his training with the League, there are few who could ever fully take him down, and he always manages to come back and stir up all kinds of trouble.
10. Red Hood
Batman has had a fairly decent history with his young wards, save for Jason Todd. Todd was the second Robin and readers didn’t like him very much. They voted for him to be killed off, so DC had the Joker beat him to death. After that, Batman spent a lot of time reeling, but that was certainly not the last we would see of Jason. The body was taken by Ra’s al Ghul and dunked into the Lazarus Pit, which resurrected him.
Todd returned to Gotham with a new identity and skill set. Taking a red mask and snazzy overcoat, he went by the name of Red Hood. He spent a lot of his time as a brutal assassin, having no trouble ending the lives of even the most heavily guarded crime lords. Taking use of guns and Batman’s training, he was the best there was. Red Hood, the wake of his death, has no issue with taking a life and even attempted to assassinate the Joker once or twice. Despite he and Batman having to duke it out, Red Hood did eventually become a valued member of the Bat-family. That said, he still has his fair share of personal issues, and still has no problem gunning somebody down.
9. David Cain
Batman is one of the greatest fighters in history, but he had to learn it from somewhere. Some movies will say that Ra’s al Ghul trained him, others will state that he picked up from countless classes. The comics say that it came from a man named David Cain. Because of how well Cain trained Batman, one can only imagine his skills in combat.
Cain is actually a top fighter in the DC universe, no ifs ands or buts about it. He has a host of bodies on his belt, some of which are incredibly famous and powerful men in the world. His expertise with weapons and fists served him well and quickly put him on the top of the list for many crime lords. For some odd reason, Cain has yet to appear in any related DC media. His existence was hinted in Batman: Arkham Origins, but his face was never shown and he never got a proper mention.
Some people just have a rough childhood that shapes the rest of their lives. Cheshire is a perfect example. Jade Nguyen was born to European parents who were not very good to her. It wasn’t long before they ended up selling her to slavery. After growing up, Nguyen murdered her master in cold blood and was taken in by a man who taught her how to fight. She then learned how to properly use poisons by her future husband- a fellow assassin.
Donning a unique costume and having a desire for blood, Cheshire climbed through the ranks of DC’s most well-known assassins. Her main shtick is her use of poison, which allows her to kill her enemies with very little noise attached, making her extremely difficult to capture. Cheshire has worked with other assassins like Deathstroke at times, but ended up falling in love with the Green Arrow’s sidekick. Still, this romance hasn’t stopped her from being a powerful adversary for groups like the Teen Titans. The only downside to her is that her costume in the comics is kind of weird. Thankfully, they gave it a much needed upgrade in the popular show Young Justice. She actually looks more like the Cheshire cat.
When it comes to wise-cracking mercenaries who just can’t die, Marvel has Deadpool. DC, on the other hand, has Lobo. This powerful alien has touted himself as the best bounty hunter in the cosmos. Looking at his track record, he makes a pretty good case. Lobo has brought down some of the biggest beings in the galaxy and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
When Lobo first came across a sign for “wanted bounty hunters” he decided that he would take up the job, but quickly became obsessed with outdoing everyone. Along the way, he performed a crazy escort mission for his fourth grade teacher, and killed everyone on his home planet. Despite his tendency to be a bit vulgar and offensive, Lobo is excellent at being an assassin. Naturally, his work has brought him to Earth several times, where he was fought by various members of the Justice League. Whenever you hear a heavy motorcycle coming down from the heavens, you know that someone has an intergalactic target on their backs. Lobo hasn’t appeared in many things outside of a slot in the roster of Injustice: Gods Among Us as a DLC fighter.
6. Lady Shiva
Some assassins like guns. Others prefer swords and knives. Lady Shiva prefers using her bare hands. Lady Shiva was originally introduced as another character in an arc involving the villain Richard Dragon, but has since then come into her own. She has appeared as an antagonist for many other characters like Batman, and her skills have only gotten better over time. Lady Shiva is a master at hand-to-hand combat, and poses an immediate threat to anyone she is hired to kill.
Lady Shiva was also involved with David Cain, who forced her to become the mother of his child, whom he would then train (we’ll get to the kid in a bit). Lady Shiva is not a clear cut villain, though. Many situations have led to her allying herself with many superheroes because of some kind of common threat. That said, she still has no problem filling out each contract. Lady Shiva had a role in Batman: Arkham Origins as one of the many assassins assigned to kill the Dark Knight. Despite the problems she causes, Lady Shiva remains an honorable fighter to this day. When she works with other heroes, she attempts to improve their fighting skills in the process.
If there is one thing I can say against Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, it’s that they didn’t get Bane right. Bane is far from a muscular brute who relies on venom to get him what he wants. The character is actually a brilliant strategist and an excellent fighter. These two attributes effectively go hand in hand to create one of the most threatening characters in Batman’s rogues gallery.
Bane has a host of men at his disposal, whom he uses to orchestrate the minor workings of his plans. Then when the time is right, he himself strikes. Even without venom, Bane is incredibly strong and tough to take down. His most notable moment in the comics was when he purposely sent a slew of villains to tire the Dark Knight before ambushing him in Wayne Manor and snapping his back like a toothpick. Bane continues to be a constant threat for DC’s heroes, and was even the primary antagonist in The Dark Knight Rises, where he maintained his intelligence and combat excellence. He is one of the greatest villains of the Dark Knight, but he has fought numerous other individuals over the years, and has served as a deadly assassin.
4. Constantine Drakon
Constantine Drakon is definitely a messed up individual. His origin is quite simple. He was mocked as a child for being very short, but this didn’t bother him too much. He began killing people at the ripe age of ten, and discovered that he was really good at it. Drakon then understood that it was his “calling” of sorts and decided that if people could turn their callings into successful careers, why shouldn’t he be able to do the same?
Drakon quickly became one of the top assassins in the DC universe, having both the tenacity and professionalism to take down the toughest of targets. Constantine Drakon ended up coming to Star City in the present day, where he became a famous villain of the Green Arrow. Due to his excellent abilities in combat, even Ollie struggles when fighting him. Drakon can catch arrows and dodge any projectile hurled at him. What makes this all more terrifying is that Drakon never states that a tragic event shaped his career choice. According to him, he was just curious as to what he could do. That’s some crazy stuff right there.
3. The Seven Men of Death
What happens when the League of Assassins constructs its own team of hitmen? You get the Seven Men of Death, that’s what. Ra’s al Ghul decided that he needed a group of operatives who were willing to go on long and dangerous missions, whether it be killing some famous guy or removing a vigilante. With Talia’s help, he put together seven of his best killers to become the Seven Men of Death.
The team was full of great killers, and this caused them to deal some heavy damage to the world. They’ve had many appearances in Gotham City, and they’ve faced some opposition as a result. The Seven Men of Death have also been known to be Talia al Ghul’s set of personal bodyguards when she heads to the heat of battle. This group has switched a few members over the years, as Malcolm Merlyn was once a member of the team but left. This group hasn’t appeared a lot in comics, but the collective amount of several assassins is sure to make any vigilante hesitate before attacking. With a name like the Seven Men of Death, you’d probably be a bit scared as well.
2. Cassandra Cain
David Cain is one of the deadliest assassins DC has to offer, and Lady Shiva is one the greatest martial artists as well. When Cain discovered that he couldn’t get other children to fully commit to his cause, he decided that he needed to raise his own child. He did this by forcing Lady Shiva to give birth to his kid, and she reluctantly agreed. The child ended up being a daughter, and Cain was true to his word and raised her in the ways of a killer. Cain chose not to teach her to speak. Instead her entire brain was focused on fighting well and observing the movements of her opponents. She made her first kill at the age of 8, and became an unstoppable machine for her father. She was a brutal killer, but realized that her father’s ways weren’t right and chose to run away.
This eventually brought her into Gotham City, where she had to defend Jim Gordon from an assassination attempt by her father. After this, she was immediately recognized by the Bat-family and was taken in as the new Batgirl. Unfortunately, Cassandra still had her share of problems and tended to take on brutal supervillains just to increase her strength. After some self-discovery, she was able to denounce her former life as an assassin.
KGBeast is arguably the greatest assassin in the DC universe. He’s had several incarnations, but everyone agrees that he is unparalleled when killing others. During his first appearance, it was stated that he already had 200 bodies in his wake, and he would go to leave behind many more. When the Hammer hired KGBeast to destroy relations between Russia and the U.S., KGBeast killed 100 people just to make sure that all of his targets were dead. He had plenty of cybernetic alterations to make him an unstoppable force, and he caused a lot of problems for Batman. Eventually, KGBeast would lose a lot of his morale and become a fairly pathetic man, before being killed by an assassin hired by the Great White Shark.
While the name might seem unfamiliar, KGBeast’s secret identity is Anatoli Knyazev. He plays a significant role in the show Arrow in the Russia flashbacks and even in the present day. Anatoli also appeared in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice but was killed by the Dark Knight. What is it with the DCEU killing all of these major characters before we get to spend any time with them?