When it comes to DC Comics, we see some amazing villains. It does not matter which comic they frequent, because at the end of the day they're always going to be remembered. Well, some of them might be. Heroes often have what is referred to as a "Rogues Gallery," which is an array of villains that one superhero sees more often than others throughout their comics. In DC, there are very few who have more than The Flash and Batman. In fact, their villains often jump across the pages to other comics to cause heroes in other comics trouble.
They are not the only ones who have top tier people to battle, as Wonder Woman and Superman often see some tremendous villains too. Even the Justice League itself is formed to fight enemies that they would never be able to take down one on one. Whatever the comic and whatever the hero, there's one thing that is factual that no one can fight.
Without a villain, there is no superhero. You need them to make the hero be, well, a hero. There's a tremendous need at the end of the day, and without them, we'd just see Superman and Batman playing chess on a rooftop somewhere in the middle of Gotham or Metropolis. There is a huge value in them, therefore we need great ones to make us care about the heroes and the comic books in general.
The question is, who are the best? In DC Comics, who is the definitive best of all the others? We thought about it and we volunteered to create a list. We based it on comic/universe importance, powers and abilities, things accomplished, as well as what fans think of them overall. These criteria ultimately led us to a list of the top 25. Did we leave your favorite out or did we get it right? Let us know.
25 The Riddler
From sticking an atomic bomb into a stadium full of people, all the way to trying to drown Batman to death. He does not hold back to accomplish his goals. Possibly the worst thing he ever did was murder his own daughter. Why did he do it? She called her washed up father a has-been. He did take kindly to it, and beat her to death. He often made sure his riddles were not passable. So when they were beaten, it would only make him more sadistic the next time. Truly his actions make him one of the best villains of all time.
Even Superman cannot face off with them. Ares knows this and he tries to make sure his power is ultimately high, which is why war is influenced by him on a regular basis. He whispers into the ears of the world leaders, forcing them to kill. In some writings, his mere presence invokes battle. His strength is only matched by his half-brother Hercules, allowing him to be quite a lot to handle for anyone. Due to his battlefield experience, as he craves being part of what he creates, he is an amazing tactician and strategist. Truly Ares is one of the greatest villains of all-time, and the main reason is because he basically cannot be stopped....only maintained, due to his God status.
23 The Court Of Owls/Talon
They recruit Bruce Wayne, not knowing he's Batman, to join the group. He joins just to shut them down, cause ya know, Batman. However, they do not mind killing to get what they want...even their own members. Talon is the man they use to make this happen. Throughout the entire existence, someone has been a Talon for the Owls to use. These assassins are not ultimately known by name, just by action. That is until William Cobb, which we find out about in another comic. Overall, due to Talon and the Court, the group possesses power that cannot be matched. So it often took Bruce Wayne more than Batman to stop them
What happens when you take the bat out and force the man underneath to be the true hero? The Court of Owls shows you. They're a great take on the villainous role in a time when so many bad guys have been done and played out.
22 The Black Lanterns
It is here that we see former heroes for The Justice League, including the likes of Martian Man Hunter, Firestorm, and Hawkgirl. Being bitten by the Black Lanterns can give an infection leading to death. They are also tough to kill. Any damage done to them can be healed back quickly due to the power of the ring, plus we're using already dead individuals...so death is nothing to those already gone. In Blackest Night, it takes the entire Justice League to stop them. Especially Green Lantern. Truly, what is there to fear when you're already dead? That is ultimately what led to them being on the best villain list.
21 Superman (Injustice, Justice Lords, Dark Side Superman)
In theory, he's right to want better. But the ultimate rule by Superman becomes one based on greed rather than the will of the people. Think about it. What happens when even the biggest good guy of them all turns to the bad guy side? This is answered by DC, and it is not good. He kills several heroes who were once friends, such as Shazam and Green Arrow. He even seeks to end his own cousin, Supergirl. He once shattered Batman's spine and even used his own son, Damien, against him.
Ultimately Superman's turn to the dark side was always a possibility, and the very thing Lex Luther mentions could be an issue from the beginning. Superman might be one of the best superheroes ever, but when he turns bad, he's an almost unstoppable bad guy that can hold rank with any other like him.
The thing about Amazo was that he was always doing the bidding of others, however, by absorption, he has the ability to gain something he never had. That was a brain, basically. Due to this, he decided to leave being used and became his own man...er, machine. Arguably one of the strongest villains in all of comics, the issue with Amazo is that he cannot be stopped by normal means. He absorbs power and anyone who comes with it only gives him more, making him even stronger than before. At that point, what can you do?
19 Black Manta
This suit allows him to remain underwater for a significant period of time, and even allows him to pretty much even up with how he would hit on land. It comes equipped with various weapons, and he's most notably using a sword. He holds a close emotional hatred for the sea....and a huge vendetta against Aquaman over killing his villainous father. This only increases when his son becomes Aqualad under Aquaman. His backstory has to do with him being autistic with experiments done on him to cure it at Arkham Asylum. The experiments cure him but make him insane and homicidal. He still keeps intelligence often given to those with autism, making him an extremely deadly tactician.
Scarecrow can mostly be seen in the Batman series of comics. However, he's gotten around and his fear toxin can be seen in use for multiple heroes. Scarecrow often tries to adjust the toxins to be sure they work on top-tier types who are not human. In the case of Superman, he can use kryptonite and makes a long-acting one for someone like Flash. Normally, however, he has to know they are coming or he cannot have something at the ready. Scarecrow is often seen as intelligent but many stories have him as an insane genius more than a regular genius who just wants to knock over a bank. He truly is one of the most feared villains for a clear reason.
17 Black Adam
He was an Egyptian Prince blessed with power from the original wizard, Shazam. The counter to Shazam was needed, so when the evil inside took over for Adam he drove himself to always push to take out Shazam, and his consuming nature with power ultimately led him to go other directions. Such as joining bad guy teams in order to accomplish his goals. He has been written as an anti-hero a lot in the later versions, similar to that of Lobo or Deadpool. However, his evil deeds cannot be overlooked. As his role in being bad is critical to countering Shazam.
This would turn Hal evil the entire time he spent left in the New 52 series from DC. He would only become good once more when he broke away from Parallax in the DC: Rebirth series. It would then possess Kyle Raynor and become a Yellow Lantern afterward. Parallax traps one inside and takes over the deepest part of them. Their soul is taken for a spin even. He is living fear but also like a virus that almost nothing can kill. He's still unable to be destroyed, only trapped really. The fact he could take over Hal Jordan shows the power he possesses. When the strongest Lantern of all falls victim to him, who else is safe?
15 Poison Ivy
Ivy is by no means pure evil. But she is often on the bad side because of everything she feels she has to do to protect the Earth. This can get her on the side of good too, as Ivy will do what she has to. What has to be understood about Ivy is that she has one goal. While she has made friends, she has betrayed them because they ultimately did not further her goals with her. She is an eco-terrorist of the highest order and almost unstoppable when she gets going. The only few ways to stop her are hurting plants, as she feels for them like one would a puppy.
Sometimes reaching her humanity or proving to her that the Earth would be worsened by what she does all can stop her. The end of the day it's still the same. She will do anything, literally anything, to make sure the Earth itself is safe. She could not care less about the people that live on it.
Sinestro currently has possession of Parallax, which allows his now Sinestro Corps. to police the universe. Of course, Sinestro's evil ways have ultimately led him to do some dark things to get what he wants. To even become a Green Lantern, he let the person holding it die when he could have saved him. He's also the man who helped to orchestrate Hal being taken over by Parallax. He's even broken power rings before, which is something so sacred that not even Hal Jordan dares do it as lightly as Sinestro. His power is immense, and even though he has been an anti-hero in the past, he ultimately is consumed with getting himself ahead.
He is most notable for breaking the Bat's back in the comics. It's a legendary part of the comics where Bane took over as one of the few to truly defeat Batman without any blow-back from the Dark Knight right away. He would even go on to figure out who Batman was and attack Bruce Wayne rather than the Bat. While Bane has been an anti-hero at times, his ultimate goal is to do things the way he wants to do them. Due to his brilliance, even the smartest heroes have trouble with him. His strength is not the biggest threat, and that is creepy to think about.
12 Gorilla Grodd
To top it off, he is supremely intelligent. The threat of Grodd is also increased when he communicates with his own kind. Allowing all the others like him to become a problem only increases the likelihood that he gets what he wants. While he is often associated with The Flash, Grodd has often been a thorn in the side of the Justice League. Mainly due to his inclusion in various villainous teams. His threat is immense and even the Arrowverse thinks as much. So much so they had to throw him on another Earth to make sure they could avoid dealing with him.
The problem with Doomsday is that pound for pound, he's almost a direct equal to Superman. Though he does not fly like him, he can jump large distances. He can shoot the same lasers from his eyes like Superman and sometimes has x-ray vision, depending on the version he's used in. In addition, you cannot truly stop him because it means you would have to end him like you would end Superman. The issue is, it's hard to kill the Man of Steel for a reason. The only saving grace is that due to his monster status, he is not exactly the smartest being. Though he brings about destruction wherever he goes, without any real reason but to lure out Superman to fight. Truly Doomsday's name is perfect for what he seems to bring with him.
10 Ra's al Ghul
He has learned from some of the greatest leaders and warriors to have ever existed and due to this, he has learned every style of fighting one can think of. He is able to keep himself alive so long due to the Lazarus Pit. A pit that has healing waters in it, which can even bring youth back to the one who bathes in it. Ra's is most remembered for his role in the Tower of Babel and Red Hood/Jason Todd storylines, but he can also be known as the man who likes to wipe clean and rebuild. Truly his threat comes from his immense skill, but he's still human in the end. His pit may heal him, but if he cannot reach it, he can die like all others. Meaning his fighting ability, as well as his weapon ability, are of immense skill. Making him a tough person to best in combat.
Though he loves when others fight for him, he can get it done himself. He has incredible strength that even overpowers that of Superman at times. His ray beams might be the real thing that makes people fear him. They can that disintegrate, teleport, or even resurrect a person. While he seeks to find the Anti-Life Equation that would ultimately give him control over the universe due to all it contains, he seeks to conquer various planets and make them bend to his will. He would do a lot of damage when he got the Anti-Life Equation but was ultimately stopped. Though not before changing a lot of things. Darkseid is now and will always be one of the biggest single threats in the history of comics.
8 Lex Luthor
Luthor's real power may be his brain, but he also develops a robotic exoskeleton that allows him to have tons of power. He even uses it to remain a threat to Superman and any other super-powered being. He often uses others to help him carry out his plans, which has had him lead a number of supervillain teams. His endless money and intellect make him an insanely difficult person to keep down. While there are lines some are not willing to cross, Lex has no problem doing it. He also always has a plan and always has a back-up just in case. Making him one of the most incredibly difficult villains to take down. Yet he is only human. A human man being able to take it to a super-powered alien is impressive in any context and Luthor does this on multiple occasions.
He even takes down Green Lantern, the Kyle Rayner version, to take his ring. Green Arrow would step in to stop Deathstroke by stabbing him in his blind eye with an arrow. When it comes to skill, he has it in spades. His armor often protects him in battle with even meta-humans and his intelligence allows him to know how to take anyone down at any time. He is one Batman's ultimate challenges and one of the Justice League's as well. Deathstroke is a master swordsman but also gets it done with guns too. In combat, few are better as far as humans are concerned. Like, less than 1% in fact.
6 Vandal Savage
Savage cannot ever fully die. He automatically heals or comes back in another form. This means he ultimately has lived for thousands of years. Like Ra's al Ghul, he has developed knowledge from these times that has allowed him to become a major threat. From his fighting skills to tactician knowledge. Savage has been an impressive villain to deal with. He has been most notable for his time in the Legion of Doom movie and Legends of Tomorrow series on The CW. Ultimately, as a leader there are very few who can do what Vandal can do. This is why he ranks as one of the greatest villains of all time.
5 The Joker
Joker has been a huge threat to The Justice League as well. He's been part of multiple bad guy teams, which he usually did for profit. However, the one thing he enjoys most is simply messing with Batman. This is big in the Red Hood storyline when Joker beats Jason Todd near death and blows up the building with his passed out body inside. Killing him in the process. All of this being done just because. The Joker is insane and he does cannot be overlooked. His impact on the DC Universe is massive, and there is a reason for that. Sometimes crazy is the biggest threat of all, as they have nothing to lose and would not even care if they did.
He also tends to sport a number of technological gadgets to help him in fights. He controls them via his brain. One of his most notable appearances was in the Divided We Fall story arc where he forms with Lex Luthor, basically taking his body over. He's incredibly tough to defeat mainly due to the fact that he has formed advanced robots that act like drones, which are not really him. This technology combined with his brain make him one of the most feared and formidable villains in history. It is hard for any being to stop him because he always has a plan to defeat them. In the end, you can never truly get rid of him. That is the most difficult situation when you think about it.
Like Batman, he is trained in multiple martial arts styles and is supremely intelligent. He is seen in a number of comics, but he may be most remembered for his attack on the Justice League. He went after the Watchtower, the notable Justice League base in the sky. He had a plan for every member he knew would be there. He took down the likes of Green Lantern, Cyborg, and Marian Manhunter. He expected blowback from The Flash and Superman and had plans for them too, which almost made them bend to his every will. He would even defeat Batman in hand to hand combat, and no one does that. Prometheus is one of the biggest badasses in comics and one of the top villains of all time. If you don't know about him, learn very quickly.
He did not succeed, mainly because of the pairing of unlikely allies. A God-like Spectre, super-villain Darkseid, Superboy, Alexander Luthor, and Superman all teamed up to stop him. This just shows that his plan was so extreme even super-powered bad guys wanted to end him. The fact he came close and could actually even do this just shows the insane power he possesses. He is the man who pretty much powered the Black Lantern Corps. but he is also linked to the Sinestro Corps. too. Anti-Monitor is someone that if you did not know about, you should learn. It is likely we will see the DC movies use him in a few years simply due to massive storylines he is a key part of.
1 Reverse Flash/Zoom
He and Flash were enemies for years, but he's actually the man who made him who he was. He would go back in time to kill Barry's mom, which Barry would try to stop. But this very death caused him to become part of the police force as a CSI for them. This combined with the particle accelerator explosion allowed Barry to become The Flash. This is where Flashpoint comes in, as Barry goes back in time to stop Thawne from killing his mom. Yet in the process changes the entire fabric of time and puts the world in jeopardy.
Since Zoom can go back in time as well as forward, he can cause untold damage to the timeline. While he can die, it's ultimately hard to get rid of a speedster. His amazing speed makes him the same kind of threat The Flash is. The rub? He's often smarter due to being from the future, and often better at using his speed. This has made him a key member of several villain teams. Ultimately he's one of the biggest threats in the comics because what he can do is so impactful that almost no other villain can hold a candle to him there.