Top 20 Supervillains of All Time

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Top 20 Supervillains of All Time

VOICE OVER: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
With the insane amount of villains in the worlds of Marvel and DC you just knew we couldn't keep it to a Top 10! For this list we'll be looking at the greatest Comic Book villains of all time such as The Joker, Thanos, Magneto and Venom. Who's your favorite Super Villain? Let us know in the comments!

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Top 20 Supervillains of All Time

When it comes to putting heroes through their paces, no one does it better than these evildoers. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 Supervillains of All Time.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the greatest, most memorable, iconic and influential supervillains from the comic book medium. Sorry Darth Vader, villains who made their debut on-screen won’t be considered (even if they’ve since jumped onto the comic book page). Furthermore, antiheroes needn’t apply, which similarly disqualifies Catwoman.

#20: Bullseye





The world of comics isn’t short on assassins, but even on a crowded playing field, this villain stands out. Not unlike the Joker, Bullseye’s origin story is shrouded in mystery - he loves to keep those interested in the dark with conflicting accounts of his early life. And that’s not all this Marvel villain shares in common with the Clown Prince of Crime; he’s also a violent psychopath with a sadistic streak a mile wide. The arch-nemesis of Daredevil, Bullseye really left his mark on the medium and cemented his status as an iconic supervillain when he savagely killed Elektra with one of her own sai, and then stuck around to watch Daredevil mourn. He lives to kill, but loves tormenting the Man Without Fear.

#19: Dark Phoenix



Many heroes have been manipulated, mind-controlled or possessed by dark entities to make them turn evil at some point or another in their career; but it’s usually short-lived. When Jean Grey was possessed by the Phoenix Force however, she became an unstable villain with awe-inspiring, earth-shattering and downright terrifying powers, and she remained that way for the duration of the landmark Phoenix Saga, forever changing the face of the X-Men. In this super-charged, volatile state, Jean Grey was responsible for the death of billions when she consumed a star. Of course, at the very heart of the character’s enduring appeal is the internal struggle between Jean Grey and the corrupting influence of the Phoenix Force. She’s a villain, sure, but underneath lies a beloved hero.

#18: Ozymandias



He’s the man pulling the strings in arguably the greatest graphic novel of all time. What makes Adrian Veidt such a great villain is that he truly believes that what he is doing, he does for the greater good. Blessed with extremely high levels of intelligence, Ozymandias is known as “the smartest man in the world" in his reality, and unfortunately, this one-time hero clearly allowed that title to go to his head. He orchestrates the death of millions in the name of bringing about peace on earth. There might be some utilitarian-minded philosophers out there who would defend his actions, but for anyone with a shred of humanity would agree that this not only makes him a villain, but one of the greats.

#17: Brainiac



When a hero is as powerful as the Man of Steel, their villains need to be similarly impressive. Thankfully, in Brainiac, Superman has found a foe worthy of decades worth of high stakes conflict. Not unlike the aforementioned Mr. Veidt, Brainiac is cold and calculating, his hyper advanced intellect making him wholly detached from the wants and needs of the beings he sees as inferior to himself. He has a thirst for knowledge, and he satisfies it by collecting civilizations in the form of shrunken cities. And as for the rest of the planet… they usually get destroyed. Why? Because knowledge is power, and Brainiac isn’t interested in sharing his.

#16: Sinestro



Once upon a time, Thaal Sinestro of Korugar was considered the greatest Green Lantern to wear a power ring. The lack of criminal activity in his sector made him a hero and model to many, which is why he was charged with training new lanterns, including rookie Hal Jordan. And then it was discovered that Sinestro used his remarkable willpower to keep the peace on Korugar by authoritarian means. A trial and imprisonment followed, but from his disgrace, Sinestro was reborn, going on to found the Yellow Lanterns, who, in the place of will, derive their power from fear. He still seeks order, and sees his actions as necessary for the greater good, but his methods are pure villainy.

#15: Kingpin



The pages of Marvel and DC comics aren’t wanting for criminal masterminds. But looking back over the history of the medium, and even taking into account the likes of Black Mask and the Penguin, Kingpin stands out as the cream of the crop. He’s left his mark on not just Daredevil, but Spider-Man and the Punisher as well. If it’s crime and it’s happening in New York City, you can bet that Kingpin is getting his cut. And if he isn’t, well… his goons will be coming to rectify to collect anyways - plus interest. What he lacks in superpowers, this villain makes up for with his mastery of the criminal arts. Kingpin can outplay the best of them - and he knows how to take a punch.

#14: Doomsday



Elaborate schemes and devious plots… who needs them when you’re an unstoppable killing machine? Just select your target and keep attacking until he finally lies down and dies! No one would ever call Doomsday a well-rounded or deep character; he’s just about the worst conversationalist in comics. But when this Kryptonian monster single-handedly trounced the Justice League, he demanded the attention of readers. And when he then proceeded to kill the Man of Steel? He cemented his place in comic book history. Doomsday is a simple creature designed to be the perfect hunter. Nigh indestructible, full of rage and existing purely to destroy, Doomsday is a monster through and through, and a villain without redemption.

#13: Apocalypse





People often say that the X-Men play in their very own corner of the Marvel universe. Sure, their adventures crossover with the more conventional caped crusaders, but they’re more insular than most. And in the X-Men sphere, there are few villains more formidable than the ancient mutant, Apocalypse. En Sabah Nur was born in Ancient Egypt, where the nomadic tribesmen who raised him instilled him to believe in the survival of the fittest. Flash forward thousands of years and numerous regenerations later, and Apocalypse is still being driven by the same values. In the modern age, he views mutants as the superior race, and he does not hesitate to cull those he deems inferior - ie. homo sapiens.

#12: Loki



With his involvement in the MCU, there’s no denying that Loki has risen to great heights. And with his success, he’s experienced a renewed popularity in the comics, getting far more love from the editors. Is he overrated? Well, his cinematic success has certainly skewed the perception of the general public, but considering his long and colorful comic book history (not to mention his villainous greatest hits), we feel he’s earned his place here. The modern Marvel incarnation dates all the way back to 1962, and since then this magical, shapeshifting God of Mischief has more than done his title proud, even manipulating other villains to his own ends. In the comics, like in the movies, it was Loki’s villainy that forced the Avengers to assemble!

#11: Ra's al Ghul



Few villains commit acts of evil for evil’s sake - most find a way to rationalize their actions. But few villains are more resolutely confident that what they do, they do for good reason, than Ra’s Al Ghul. An environmental terrorist (and so much more) Ra’s Al Ghul is one of the few villains in Batman’s rogues gallery who the Caped Crusader truly respects. In many ways, they are equals and two sides of the same coin, fighting for what they each believe to be right - just from very different perspectives. In fact, Ra’s has repeatedly tried to make Bruce his successor. With his deadly league of Assassins and the regenerative properties of the Lazarus Pit extending his life, this brilliant villain is as enduring as he is compelling.

#10: Thanos



Considering his recent success on the big screen, this character requires little introduction. And considering the massive space he currently occupies in the pop culture consciousness, some might be surprised that he didn’t land higher on our list. But… we’re talking all-time here, and so there’s a lot of history to consider. And looking just at the comics, Thanos has indeed earned his spot in our top 10. In the Infinity Gauntlet comic book event, Thanos similarly wipes out half of all life, but he didn’t do it to save reality, he did it to impress the woman of his dreams - Mistress Death. Now if that isn’t villainy of epic proportions, we don’t know what is!

#9: Venom



We said “no antiheroes” and we can already hear some of you frantically typing comments to call us out for this entry. We get it… Venom has evolved into an antihero over the years, if not an outright hero depending on who’s wearing the symbiote. But when he first debuted, Venom was a thoroughly villainous force the likes of which Spider-Man had never faced before. He is physically formidable, shares some of Spidey’s powers and is absolutely terrifying to behold. And for anyone who feels that Venom lost his edge as an antiheroic “Lethal Protector”, the sheer brutality of Venom during Mac Gargan’s time wearing the symbiote more than solidifies his villain status.

#8: Bane



A muscle-bound man addicted to super steroids wearing a luchador mask? Taken at face value, Bane has “henchman” written all over him. But in his very first story arc, the character quickly established himself as arguably the single greatest threat that Batman had ever faced. A cunning strategist, brutal combatant and natural leader, Bane broke Batman - first psychologically, by overwhelming him with criminal activity after orchestrating a mass breakout from Arkham, and then physically when he broke Batman’s back. He also managed to figure out Batman’s secret identity with little effort, demonstrating deductive reasoning rivaling that of Bruce Wayne’s. Batman has mastered the fine art of beating the odds against overpowered villains, but Bane isn’t just overpowered, he feels tailor-made to beat the Caped Crusader.

#7: Doctor Octopus



A character with a name, color scheme, and haircut like this guy should have ZERO chance of cracking the top 10 on a list of the greatest supervillains of all time. But considering everything Doc Ock has working against him, that just makes his success and impact as a villain all the more impressive. The not-so-good doctor is a scientist blessed with staggering intellect and a deep knowledge of various fields. It was he who formed the Sinister Six, and he who beat Spider-Man so badly in their first encounter that our hero considered walking away from crimefighting. He once nearly killed Black Cat and also managed to take over Peter’s body. But for all his evil acts, like the best villains, he continues to captivate.

#6: Darkseid



We have yet to see him on the big screen, but Darkseid doesn’t need a live action adaptation to raise his profile - this villain has already earned his place in the pantheon of legendary comic book villains. For the uninitiated however, the easiest way to describe is Darkseid is as the DC equivalent of Thanos; and for the record, Darkseid debuted a full two years earlier. Darkseid’s thirst for power arguably outmatches all other villains in DC comics; he seeks to rule everything in existence. And unlike most characters with his caliber of powers and raw strength, he also has a mind to match. A godlike villain with an army at his back, Darkseid is endgame for the Justice League.

#5: Lex Luthor



It’s remarkable… Superman is a living god, and he has tangled with numerous similarly overpowered villains over the years, and yet his greatest foe remains a mortal man. Armed with nothing but his intelligence, business-sense, political clout (and yes, on occasion, a wicked awesome warsuit) Luthor proves that there’s nothing more dangerous than a human with a grudge. Lex is a self-made man, and it’s his personal mission to unmake Superman- which he’s come close to doing on many occasions. Though heroes know his villainous heart, his philanthropic ways have earned him the trust of the masses, and this makes him twice as dangerous.

#4: Norman Osborn/Green Goblin



This is the only character on our list today to be identified by both their civilian and villain name. The reason? Because while it was the Green Goblin who originally cemented himself as Spider-Man’s greatest foe -particularly after he killed Gwen Stacy- it’s Norman Osborn who has more often plagued heroes in the years since. Its this historical duality that makes the character such a formidable villain. As Green Goblin, he is wild, violent, unpredictable and more than a little unhinged. Norman Osborn, by contrast, is cold and calculating. In some ways, the two feel like the Joker and Lex Luthor wrapped into one. Over the years, wielding his fortune and business acumen, he’s also placed himself in various positions of power - with devastating results.

#3: Doctor Doom



There are few villains who inspire fear and respect like Victor Von Doom. Though he is first and foremost the arch-nemesis of the Fantastic Four, the man in the iconic mask is a world-class villain. He rules Latveria with an iron fist, but his kingdom is allegedly free from not only crime, but poverty and illness as well. He’s a megalomaniac, sure, but he’s not without honor and has even known to play the hero under the right circumstances. Doom might suffer from the same ego problems as many of his peers, but unlike most, this brilliant polymath actually lives up to his own lofty self-image. He also once reshaped reality as he saw fit.

#2: Magneto





There are those who will be sorely disappointed that the master of magnetism is second and not first, and for the record… it was an incredibly tight race. Max Eisenhardt, also known as Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, knows firsthand the atrocities that mankind is capable of when driven by hatred and fear; he is a survivor of the Holocaust. In his zealousness to protect mutantkind from those who would harm them, however, his methods have seen him commit horrible acts of his own. Magneto refuses to kneel. He is powerful, both in terms of mutant abilities and as leader, and the moral dilemmas he’s presented over the decade never tire.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions

Mystique

Reverse-Flash

Ultron

Deathstroke

Shredder

#1: The Joker



According to co-creator Jerry Robinson, the Joker was designed to be an enduring arch-nemesis for the Caped Crusader - a larger-than-life Moriarty to their costumed Sherlock Holmes. Of course, the accounts of Joker’s creation are as conflicting as his in-universe origin; some claim he was supposed to die at the end of his introductory arc. Regardless, debuting in Batman #1, the Joker would grow and evolve into a massive pop culture icon. Unlike most villains, Joker’s worth can’t be measured in bodies (except maybe those of sidekicks); what makes him so compelling is his uniquely disturbed mind. He is chaos incarnate, an evildoer who defies convention by showing disinterest in power or money. He is undoubtedly a monster, but one whose thoroughly human perversions never get old.
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