The Best Comic Book Villains of All Time

Who doesn’t love a great bad guy? It may not be popular to admit, but without a good baddie, the good guys just look silly. Who would they be fighting, anyway? They need someone to challenge them, keep them on their toes and solving world problems. This means a series can rise and fall on the strength of their villains alone. Are they compelling and complex? Do they come over as a convincing fight? Do they make you root for them, just a little? That’s how you know you have a great comic book baddie.

We all have our own favorites, depending on our tastes, but there’s some that stand out head and shoulders from the crowd. This list today outlines some of the best villains we love to hate, and why they evoke that reaction from us.

Ra’s Al Ghul

Ra’s could be one of the most underappreciated of Batman’s villains. He’s a person who thinks he is doing the right thing, and that’s immensely powerful. It also gives him a kind-of honor we can’t help but love. While he’s happy to jump in the Lazarus Pits to renew himself, he doesn’t care who gets cut down while trying to make his plans come to life.

He’s also now Batman’s Father-in-law (well, sort of- he’s his son’s granddad), making for a deliciously difficult family tree. Powered up by his League of Shadows goons, he’s powerful and interesting, always a great combination.

Doctor Doom

This guy evolved from harassing the Fantastic Four to full-on tackling the Avengers too. You have got to admire those guts, right? This has fully entrenched him as a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe. We love him for his nerdy scientist persona, especially coupled with his magic. Add a compelling sob story- he’s driven mad by scarring and longs for the acceptance his non-scared fellow super-geniuses are treated with. So now he’s monarch of Latveria, he wants everyone to pay for that crime. Add hefty doses of megalomania, and there you have it.

Doc Oc

Dr Otto Octavius will never make the front covers of any magazine as a hottie, but we love him all the same. He’s a great foil to Spider-Man and his simple, innocent heroics. He’s also come the closest of any of Spidey’s foes to defeating him. He uses his iconic robotic arms to overcome his weedy physical stature, and adds the power of nuclear tinkering and further cybernetics to the table too. He’s even taken a great shot at the Avengers now, so he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Deathstroke/Slade Wilson

It’s hard not to feel for Slade. He was once a great soldier, but brutal and disfiguring experiments to try make him the perfect one have left him rather bitter. We can understand that, right? So he’s become a badass mercenary who terrifies the world, and uses that strength and smarts to become a really compelling villain. While he once fought for civilians who never cared for him, now he fights for himself and the rewards he feels he never received for his valor.


Is he the Ultimate Bad Guy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Yes indeed. He started slow in the comics, seeming like just another version of Darkseid, really, but he’s come to stand out all by himself. He is a very simple villain- he wants life eradicated. The end. Now he has both crippling self-doubt and a god complex, however, he makes it interesting. We’re still kind of glad when the Avengers turn him into mush, however!


Talking about Darkseid, it’s good to see someone that can tackle Superman fairly and match him in blows. Plus he has an army, so respect. Darkseid doesn’t try to claim a noble goal. He is just in love with power and wants it all for himself. No free will, and perfect obedience to him. Plus the Omega force to play with, of course. Powered up with a sophisticated mind, he actually seems plausible, and it’s nice to see a genuine, all-dark bad guy every now and again.

Lex Luthor

Lex Luthor is particularly scary because he could actually happen. No big experiments, no magic forces. Just a charming, charismatic person with money and power- and lots of it. He’s smart, evil, and a wonderful way to showcase the mundanity of a very realistic day-to-day evil that’s hard to root out.


We all get cranky when we’re hungry, but c’mon, Galactus! A planet eater who doesn’t care who he eats, he’s nearly omnipotent and can’t really be stopped except by the best of good guys. All he wants to do is crush everything into his gaping hunger and move on. 


On the other hand, Magneto is rather difficult not to understand, and some will say he’s not a villain at all. He wants to keep his people safe, and the world has shown itself willing to hurt them. All because what makes them different is vilified. This does put him in the bad guy seat, and constantly conflicting with Prof X, but he doesn’t really want to be bad- he just does it well. He asks the uncomfortable question of whether the ends can justify the means, even at the extremes. He’s a very well crafted villain, and we love him for it.

The Joker

Now let’s put those complex questions aside and admire the power of utter lunacy. In other circumstances, the Joker would be oddly relatable. He’s over the top, but also confident, unique, quirky, and dazzling. He’s just come utterly unstitched at the seams and doesn’t even care to try and fix it any more. This could make him the most evil villain on the list, honestly. The crazy won in this one, and he can’t even pretend to be fighting for an ideal. He’s unapologetically evil, and it’s oddly compelling, honestly. Sometimes, we just want to see what him letting loose would really do, even though we know it is wrong. Batman always delivers good villains, and he’s the best.


Gotta save the best for last, after all! He’s not truly a villain, but he’s a trickster god who can’t help himself. With powerful magic that can even beat Dr Strange, he’s also manipulative to the extreme and so twisty we don’t know what to do with him. He wants to rule, and doesn’t mind if havoc gets him there. And he’s a handsome god, of course, which helps. Even other villains don’t really trust him, and that says something. 

We love to hate them, and that’s why they’re wonderful! We hope you enjoyed this list of the best comic book villains around – tell us your favorite villains in the comments!

Photos courtesy Depositphotos

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