Villains are some of the most iconic and well-known characters in all the pop culture—and they’re a vital part of any comic book storyline. They provide a necessary foil to the heroes, and without them, comics would be pretty boring.
If you want to brush up on your knowledge about some of the greatest comic book villains of all time, or even learn something new about them, take a look at the list below.
10 Best Greatest Comic Book Villains
The Joker is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic supervillains of all time. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for DC Comics, The Joker—who’s famous for not having a “real” name—has been portrayed by many actors in various films over the years.
Chaotic and unpredictable, The Joker provides the perfect juxtaposition to Batman, his archnemesis. Read more about him, his powers, and other Batman villains in this infographic by ExpressVPN.
Over time, he’s battled several superheroes including Spider-Man, X-Men, and The Avengers. With his intellect and skills in dark mysticism and sorcery, Doom is considered one of the most powerful villains in the Marvel universe.
Darth Vader, the primary antagonist in the Star Wars franchise, is another iconic villain—so much so that he even has his own theme song. Much like The Joker, Vader, too, has been portrayed by many actors since he first made an appearance in Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope (1977).
Dark and ruthless, Vader’s mastery of the Force is so powerful, he’s able to move objects with his mind and use different techniques to enhance his speed and strength.
Created by Jim Starlin, Thanos was introduced in the 1973 edition of The Invincible Iron Man as part of the Marvel Universe.
One of the most well-known story arcs featuring Thanos was when he battled The Avengers in the Infinity Saga film series. Said to possess a warped moral compass, Thanos is obsessed with Mistress Death and lives to earn her affection.
In an interview, Starlin admitted that Thanos is inspired by DC Comics’ Darkseid.
Smart, charming, and rich, you’d be forgiven for thinking Lex Luthor was one of the good guys. Like most of the villains on this list, there have been several depictions of Luthor’s character and story by various creators and actors throughout the years.
Unlike the other villains though, Luthor doesn’t have actual superpowers. Instead, his near-genius intelligence and skills in technological advancements have made him a force to be reckoned with. Luthor is the main antagonist of Superman.
Magneto is one of the Marvel Universe’s most complex and exciting characters. Often described as a villain and antihero, Magneto has both gone up against the X-Men and served as their ally.
In his younger days, Magneto—whose real name is Max Eisenhardt—founded the X-Men with his former friend, Professor X. Through the X-Men, Magneto had hoped to achieve civil rights for mutants worldwide. Unfortunately, Magneto’s beliefs and aggressive nature caused several rifts in the pair’s friendship.
Magneto’s best known for his charisma and ability to manipulate magnets. His signature look includes a cape and a helmet that shields him from telepathic attacks.
Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley, better known as Poison Ivy, first appeared in Batman #181 (1966). Prior to turning into Poison Ivy, Isley was a trained botanist—which explains her affinity for plants and ability to use them for ecoterrorism.
Isley has occasionally been referred to as an antiheroine, aligning herself with Batman every once in a while.
Catwoman first appeared in DC comic books in the early 1940s. Best known for being an adversary of Batman, Catwoman is an expert burglar, martial artist, and gymnast.
She is one of the most popular female villains in the DC Comics universe. Fun fact: Several story arcs have romantically linked Catwoman and Batman.
A mobster and criminal mastermind, The Penguin is often seen wearing a monocle, top hat, and tuxedo. Like Catwoman, The Penguin too is an adversary of Batman.
Commonly portrayed as a short and fat man with a long nose, Penguin is skilled at armed combat and utilizes unique weapons like gas guns, umbrellas, and more. The character first made an appearance in comic books in the early 1940s.
Hela first appeared in the Marvel Comics series Thor in 2012. She is the goddess of death and is the ruler of Asgard—where she and her brothers, Thor and Loki, are from. Hela is a powerful and ruthless villain who was famously portrayed by Cate Blanchett in the 2017 film Thor: Ragnarök.
Comic book villains are such well-loved characters because they provide invaluable storylines. Their motivations and methods make for great reading, and their stories always provide a challenge for the heroes we’ve grown to love.