When the times get tough, the tough get going. That’s a big philosophy held by nearly every superhero you can think of. When there’s a problem that’s too big for one of them to handle, they call in for help, which has led to the creation of various superhero teams such as the Justice League and the Avengers. These teams have become so powerful and effective that they largely began operating together as circumstances required it.
At the beginning, the villains didn’t really stand a chance. Going forward, many of them knew that something else had to happen in order for them to actually pose a threat. Lots of bad guys then got a hold of one another and formed their own teams to directly combat their heroic counterparts. This has led to some of the most difficult situations for our favorite heroes to overcome.
Even chaotic characters like the Joker have decided to ally themselves on a particular team in order to get the job done. Sometimes the need to destroy the heroes overpowers the need to do it alone, and that idea constantly permeates through the comics when villains try new tactics in order to overpower the best heroes.
When many bad guys team up, it can yield some terrifying results for the entire world. Here are the 15 craziest and most powerful supervillain team ups that have spawned over the years.
15. Injustice League
The Justice League boasts the power of numerous gods and one of the most brilliant minds in the DC Universe. There was no way that a single villain like Bane or Lex Luthor was going to be able to take them on. Naturally, they ended up finding a way to form together to pose a bigger threat. The resulting team was the Injustice League, which has had many different incarnations over the years, but each time manages to get the job done.
The first iteration of the League was when a strange galactic being came to Earth to conquer it. Knowing that he would have to fight the Justice League, he contacted some of the greatest villains on the planet and asked them to team up with him. Characters like Deathstroke and Catwoman were included in this team. The Joker and Lex Luthor have later formed a much larger Injustice League, which they called the Injustice League Unlimited. With Luthor at the helm of this organization, all of the villains were able to properly function like a team with missions and goals rather than just doing whatever they want. The Injustice League has appeared in other media throughout the years, but we have yet to see them on the big screen.
14. The Masters of Evil
One of Captain America’s greatest villains is Baron Zemo. Having ties to the Nazi Regime and HYDRA, he typically takes up a huge priority spot on the Captain’s list. Being an excellent strategist and fighter, it’s easy to see why. Recognizing that the Avengers were growing in strength, Zemo decided to be smart about his next attack. He called up other villains like Melter and Enchantress in order to work with him to beat Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Naming themselves the Masters of Evil, they put the Avengers to the test.
Like many other teams, the Masters of Evil have had several iterations over the years. Some of them have even been led by other people, such as Doc Ock and Ultron. However, most of them were orchestrated by Baron Zemo. Characters like the Wrecking Crew and the Crimson Cowl have both lent their resources to the Masters, but the team is a bit of an older concept. When a team of villains attacks the Avengers, you won’t see them calling themselves by a name such as the Masters of Evil.
13. The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
Back in the “glory days,” comic writers weren’t afraid to create ridiculous and on-the-nose names for villains and heroes. They especially didn’t shy away from creating such names for villain teams, such as the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Originating in the Marvel Universe, the Brotherhood is one of the primary antagonists of the X-Men. The team was originally formed by the archvillain Magneto in order to give Professor X’s students something to be afraid of. The team included powerful and interesting mutants like Scarlet Witch and Toad, who gave the organization the potential to do some serious damage.
12. Sinister Six
Where most villains team up when superheroes get together, some of them team up just to take out one. Spider-Man is a capable and strong superhero. As he continued operating in New York, stopping bad guy after bad guy, Doc Ock concocted an ingenious plan after being taken down by the wall crawler several times in a row. He contacted every one of Spider-Man’s villains, but only five of them answered. Octavius thought that was more than enough, and the team called themselves the Sinister Six. They put together a strategy in order to take down Spider-Man and quickly went to work.
After foolishly deciding to only fight Spider-Man one at a time, the Sinister Six would be known to reappear numerous times, albeit with better battle strategies. Usually the Six is led by Doc Ock, but that is not always the case. One instance saw Norman Osborn form the Sinister Twelve: a team so powerful that it took an intervention from the Avengers in order to take them down. The Sinister Six has since become a recurring threat to the wall crawler, and has appeared a few times in other media. There was even a Sinister Six movie planned by Sony, but that was scrapped after the failings of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
11. Suicide Squad
The DC Universe is full of all kinds of unique and interesting villains, but most of them are locked away in prisons like Arkham Asylum and Belle Reve. Never did anyone think that those crazy people would ever get out for any reason. Then Amanda Waller showed up. Holding her own secret agenda, she pitched to the government that about sending a team of bad people to do good things overseas. She selected a few villains like Deadshot, Killer Croc, and Harley Quinn to form the Suicide Squad. Led by Colonel Rick Flag, this team was sent to other countries to perform special operations in exchange for their freedom. Once other heroes found out about the Squad, there was a lot of contention (especially from Batman, who put away a lot of those villains). That said, the Suicide Squad has done some good things, despite being incredibly questionable in their actions. The popularity of these villains led to the creation of the 2016 movie Suicide Squad. In DC Rebirth, Batman himself ended up forming his own Suicide Squad to accomplish some missions.
10. The Thunderbolts
There are many times in history where a seemingly bad event will actually take a turn to the good side and have a beneficial outcome. That was exactly the case with the Thunderbolts. This team was originally the Masters of Evil in disguise as amazing superheroes when the Avengers were presumed dead. Led by Baron Zemo, this team sought to do a lot of bad in the world. However, many of the members decided that they no longer wanted to be clear cut villains and overthrew Zemo. They then took the identity of the Thunderbolts and decided to become heroes, with the oversight of Hawkeye.
The Thunderbolts eventually received their own comic series that has been heavily praised many times. The group was greatly tied to the Civil War event. After Tony Stark became the head of SHIELD and the government could control the heroes, they put together a team of villains and assigned them to do heroic things. The Thunderbolts are similar to DC’s Suicide Squad in many ways, but they have a vibe all their own. The team has included powerhouses like Red Hulk and combat experts like Elektra and Deadpool to get the job done.
9. The Light (Young Justice)
Young Justice took a route that not many shows don’t, even today. As opposed to introducing a new antagonist throughout each season, this show had the same dark force with both seasons called the Light. The identity of this group was kept so heavily under wraps that we didn’t know who they really were until season 2. The group was actually a team of brilliant villains who were working together in order to stop the Justice League and conquer the world. Led by brilliant minds such as Vandal Savage, Klarion, and Queen Bee, there is much to be afraid of with this team. They have shown to plan very well, often using other villains to distract the world’s heroes while they accomplish their goals in secret. The Light has shown to be extremely manipulative as well, and has succeeded in persuading members of the Team (like Miss Martian, Artemis, and Superboy). Because the organization was so tight, the only way they could properly infiltrate it was by having Aqualad pose as a villain. The Light has caused immense problems for the Justice League, and even turned the team into intergalactic criminals through the use of mind controlling devices.
8. Black Lantern Corps
In brightest day, in blackest night. Those words are not just a mere statement said by the Green Lantern Corps. The “blackest night” actually refers to a potential event that could reawaken the dead as members of the Black Lantern Corps. This organization would be led by the villainous Black Hand. He was revived after committing suicide, and became the avatar of the Black Lanterns. He was given a Black power ring, then decided to call many other rings down from the depths of the universe. The rings flew over the Earth and attached themselves to every dead superhero and villain known to the DC Universe. He wages war on the rest of the Earth and uses the skull of Bruce Wayne to craft more Black Rings on the deceased.
The resulting war that Black Hand waged on the world placed Hal Jordan and other superheroes in a desperate state. They gained the assistance of the other Lanterns, and recruited new members to fight alongside them. The Black Lantern Corps was so powerful that the only way Green Lantern was able to defeat them was by forming with the Entity to become a White Lantern and begin the White Lantern Corps.
7. Team Iron Man (Civil War)
The Civil War was the greatest schism in the entire Marvel Universe. Former friends and lovers were pitted on different sides of the conflict with Captain America and Iron Man leading the charge on each. Captain America would only resort to having faithful heroes fight alongside him (and still managed to get rid of those who didn’t follow orders), but Iron Man chose a bit of a different route. He became desperate to take down Captain America and his Secret Avengers, so he began calling villains to his team. Characters like Jack O Lantern, Venom, and more sided with Tony Stark because they wanted to see Captain America fall. This move by Iron Man instantly placed him on the side of the villain, and readers began routing for Captain America. While it’s true that Stark was fighting for what he believed in, his methodology was not only unethical at times, but resulted in the death of a former comrade. In the process of recruiting villains to the team, Iron Man and the rest of his cohorts became villains themselves, which made it all the more tragic when he won the Civil War and was appointed as the director of SHIELD.
6. Legion of Doom (Legends of Tomorrow)
The Legion of Doom has been around for quite some time, but considering their similarities to the Injustice League, I’ll be highlighting a different version of the team. In Legends of Tomorrow, the team killed the Time Masters and left the time stream in a volatile state. This is when the speedster Reverse Flash decided to start running through different time periods. His ultimate goal was to find the Spear of Destiny to alter reality, but he knew that he wouldn’t be able to do it alone (due to the intervention of the Legends). Because of this, he sped through a few eras and pulled out Malcolm Merlyn and Damien Darhk to work with him. While they didn’t have a name at first, it wasn’t long before Citizen Steel lovingly called them the Legion of Doom. Despite having only three members at the time, the Legion is still incredibly smart with the additions of Merlyn and Darhk. They always seem to get one step ahead of the Legends and are constantly getting closer to the Spear. Captain Cold is also set to be joining the Legion, which will no doubt cause even more problems for the team.
5. Dark Avengers
If you thought the Thunderbolts were a bit sketchy, you haven’t seen anything yet. When the Skrulls invaded Earth, Norman Osborn was leading the Thunderbolts. He ended up killing the Queen and save the entire planet. After this, the government decided that it was a great idea to put Osborn in a position of leadership. He was appointed as the director of SHIELD and the Superhuman Defense Initiative. After reworking SHIELD into HAMMER, Osborn decided that he was going to create his own version of the Avengers. However, instead of using heroes, he used villains. He pulled together some members of the Thunderbolts, as well as some new faces that he disguised to look like heroes. He then took the Iron Patriot armor to become the leader of the team. They actually worked to do some good, but still suffered from being villains. The team was manipulated by Loki, which ended up with Osborn being thrown into prison and the team disbanded. The Dark Avengers did resurface, but by that time, the real Avengers had returned and didn’t take too kindly to Osborn’s team trying to take over.
4. The Rogues
One of the more interesting supervillain team ups has to be the Rogues. It’s not because of who is in it, or what they do. It’s simply because they have some sort of code. They don’t dishonor the memory of a fallen member, and they only kill if it’s absolutely necessary. That said, they are still a team of bad guys and operate for their own personal gain. They originally banded together because they were all individual villains who were stopped by the Flash. By working together, they can cover more ground and have a better chance of foiling the Scarlet Speedster.
They don’t cause any major problems simply because they just want to rob stores. However, the diversity in their lineup does garner some effective results. Having both Captain Cold and Heat Wave gives some good elemental coverage, while the additions of Weather Wizard and Trickster could easily stop the Flash in his tracks. The Rogues are an overall well-organized team, but the only time they really caused any damage was when Eobard Thawne joined them for Flashpoint. By lacing the Rogues with bombs, he nearly killed members of the Justice League and manipulated Barry Allen into altering the timeline.
3. Superman’s Regime
Similar to Marvel’s Civil War, DC also had an event that pitted two of its biggest heroes against each other. This event was called Injustice and placed Superman and Batman at odds. After being tricked by the Joker into killing Lois Lane and his unborn child, Superman basically lost his mind. He killed the Jester of Genocide and decided to reform the world in his own image. He called for an international ceasefire and took control of the military himself. However, it wasn’t long before his ideals turned him into a scary threat. It became so bad that the entire planet of Oa came down to deal with him, but Superman killed every last Green Lantern there. He even had no qualms with using a Yellow Lantern ring. Any other person that got in his way was immediately killed, such was the case with Green Arrow and Captain Marvel. Anybody that continued to follow Superman throughout his reign also gained his ideals themselves. They became a force of villains who did nothing more than try to rule the world. The Regime was so powerful that Batman had to pull heroes from another dimension in order to bring it down.
2. Joker’s Army (The LEGO Batman Movie)
In the beginning moments of The LEGO Batman Movie, the Joker puts together the ultimate plan by calling all of Batman’s villains to attack Gotham City and destroy the Bat. The plan almost worked too, but the Dark Knight was prepared for the assault. You’d think that it wouldn’t be able to get any crazier than that, but it gets much worse and more off-the-wall than you would think. After Joker tricks Batman into sending him into the Phantom Zone, the Clown Prince of Crime comes face to face with some of the universe’s greatest villains: The Eye of Sauron, the Gremlins, Lord Voldemort, King Kong, Daleks, the Wicked Witch of the West, and so much more. Joker then takes all of these villains from other movies and shows and goes back to Gotham to destroy Batman once and for all. It’s one of the craziest moments when you see Sauron’s eye scouring Gotham City as he stands next to Wayne Manor, and King Kong climbing up Wayne Tower to bring down helicopters. It is one of the strangest things on screen, but it’s so beautiful because the movie owns it proudly.
1. Crime Syndicate
The Injustice League is strong and all, but they’d never be able to properly defeat the Justice League. However, what if you were to take members of the Justice League and make them evil? Then you’d be in for a big problem. That was exactly the case with the Crime Syndicate. This super villain team resides on Earth 3 as a terrible counterpart to the League of Earth 1. The team consisted of dark versions of DC’s greatest heroes, such as Ultraman and Sea King. The Crime Syndicate received access to a portal that took them to Earth One in the New 52, where they decided to take over the Earth and fight the Justice League of America. Like most teams who pick on the main heroes, the Crime Syndicate eventually went down after a long and tough battle. Many of them were sent to Earth 0, where they now remain. Others were killed in the inter-dimensional travel. The Crime Syndicate haven’t properly appeared outside of some interesting animated movies. However, characters like Deathstorm have been used in The Flash. The Crime Syndicate would be a powerful antagonist for the DCEU, and we’re hoping that we get to see more of this team in the future.