World's Finest....Foes!1 of 12
In recent months, Lex Luthor has embraced his role as a true supervillain, founding a new Legion of Doom to take on the Justice League and leaving behind his pretense as a legitimate businessman.
Appropriately, Luthor is also about to come to CW’s Supergirl, with the show’s executive producers revealing they’re working on casting the classic villain right now.
In honor of Lex Luthor making his return to the small screen, we’re counting down the greatest DC villains ever.
And if you’re missing Harley Quinn, who appeared on a previous version of this list, we’re considering her as having fully moved into the role of a hero (or at least an anti-hero) like Catwoman before her.
Anti-Monitor2 of 12
The Anti-Monitor is not a villain in the traditional sense. He is simply a force of absolute destruction, driven by his very nature to destroy everything in his path, up to and including reality itself. While the Anti-Monitor has not appeared often, his arrival heralds something far more nightmarish than a simple global threat, for the Anti-Monitor signals the arrival of a Crisis between realities, a crucible of metaphysical proportions from which survival is, at best, an uncertain outcome.
Captain Cold3 of 12
The leader of Flash's Rogues may not be the most vicious of the Scarlet Speedster's foes, but he is symbolic of an entire contingent of DC's villains. The ultimate everyman opportunist, Captain Cold is a scoundrel with a code of honor, one that has earned him the respect of many of his fellow villains, as well as a position at the top of the street thug hierarchy.
Deathstroke4 of 12
Deathstroke has always straddled the line between hero and villain, even teaming with his arch-enemies the Teen Titans for a time in the old DCU. Though he's occasionally landed on the side of the angels, one thing continues to separate Deathstroke from being an out-and-out hero: his killer instinct.
Deathstroke is DC's ultimate assassin, a master killer with no remorse and no hesitation. He's also been a leading man for the last few years, headlining his own title - and inching ever closer to being a true anti-hero rather than a self-serving criminal.
Zoom5 of 12
Eobard Thawne is, in almost every way, the exact opposite of his pure-hearted nemesis Barry Allen. Vicious and determined, Thawne's goal is no less than the total erasure of the Flash and seeing the timeline of the DC Universe remade in his image.
Thawne is well known for having killed Barry Allen's mother (and framed his father for the crime) - a story that has become the set up for the Flash's translation into other media time and time again.
Brainiac6 of 12
It would be easy to write Brainiac off as the ultimate expression of brains against Superman's brawn, but the real nature of their rivalry is far more sinister. Brainiac may be possessed of unparalleled intelligence, but what he truly represents to Superman - and to the DC Universe at large - is an utter lack of compassion. Alien to the point of being downright inhuman, calculating to the point of sheer ruthlessness, Brainiac has no care for any living thing in his quest for ultimate knowledge.
Brainiac recently set the stage for a major relaunch of DC's Justice League titles by organizing a group of heroes and villains to fight an epic cosmic threat in No Justice - before dropping dead and leaving his team unprepared for the fight ahead in the series' first issue.
Ra's al Ghul7 of 12
There are other villains who might better fit the role of Batman's thematic opposite, but it is Ra's al Ghul who is the Caped Crusader's true equal. Immortal, ancient, and cunning, Ra's is the leader of the League of Assassins, and a manipulator of the highest caliber. While Ra's has most often dealt with Batman, both in manipulating Batman into providing DNA for his daughter Talia's cloned son Damian and in attempting to destroy Gotham, he has also proved a threat to the entire world.
Still, Ra's is not above aligning himself with heroes when they align with his own goals, such as when he teamed with Batman to rescue Damian from Apokolips.
Sinestro8 of 12
In blackest day, in brightest night, beware your fears made into light!
Sinestro is a megalomaniac of the highest order, abusing his power as a Green Lantern to enslave his homeworld of Korugar even before falling from the Green Lantern Corps in disgrace. Wielding the power of fear through his yellow power ring, Sinestro has returned to the Green Lanterns from time to time, but always returns to his own Sinestro Corps, a conglomerate of beings dedicated to spreading terror and ruin throughout the universe.
He also joined Lex Luthor's new Legion of Doom, appearing in Justice League.
Darkseid9 of 12
Darkseid is, perhaps, DC's ultimate expression of evil. Obsessed with his quest for the Anti-Life Equation, the mad god and lord of Apokolips is possessed of power beyond measure, and a contempt for all whom he sees as beneath his strength. In the decades since Jack Kirby created him, Darkseid has squared off countless times against his enemies on New Genesis, and gone toe to toe with Superman again and again. At the start of the "New 52," Darkseid singlehandedly fought the entire Justice League to a standstill. Darkseid was also the main villain of "Darkseid War," which closed the book on the "New 52."
Now, he appears as a reluctant member of the Justice League under still mysterious circumstances in Justice League Odyssey.
Joker10 of 12
Madness. Chaos. Mayhem. These are the facets of Joker's fractured personality. While some of Batman's enemies have grown into their more recent, deadly incarnations out of somewhat silly origins, the Joker has always been a murderous agent of anarchy. Considered Batman's greatest enemy and opposite number, Joker has also challenged the entire DC Universe singlehandedly, both by seizing the power of Mxyzptlk, and more recently seemingly dying alongside Batman – before both apparently returned.
But it's not his occasional forays into global villainy that make Joker one of the most feared and effective villains in comics. It's his willingness to go farther, to strike deeper, and to succumb to absolute evil more than anyone other mortal in the DC Universe.
The Clown Prince of Crime is a key member of Lex Luthor's new Legion of Doom in Justice League, while also appearing in the Doomsday Clock event - and will be the star(s) of the 2019 Three Jokers series.
Lex Luthor11 of 12
And so we've arrived at the top of the list. Honestly, who else could have filled this slot but the de facto leader and occasional organizer of DC's villains, Superman's greatest rival, Lex Luthor? Whether he is filling the role of a ruthless politician and corrupt businessman, an infuriatingly untouchable mad scientist, or an out and out mega-powered menace, Luthor is possessed of a confidence and an intellect rivaled by none.
Luthor's greatest strength is also his greatest weakness: his absolute and utter selfishness. Where a noble man would selflessly use Luthor's gifts to better mankind, Luthor uses his assets to benefit himself at all times, only aiding the world when doing so aligns with his personal goals. At the end of the "New 52", Luthor aligned himself with the Justice League after leading a team of supervillains in defeating the Crime Syndicate. He also temporarily absorbed the powers of Darkseid – and apparently got a taste for that level of strength.
At the start of DC's "Rebirth," Luthor was operating as a hero alongside Superman in Metropolis. That all came to an end, however, when Luthor founded a comic book version of the Legion of Doom in the newly relaunched Justice League ongoing series.
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