Top 10 Comic Book Villains

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Comic books are more popular than ever and with so many media options to see our super powered heroes and villains it is likely their popularity will only increase. And while the superheroes get the lion’s share of the attention, it is often a fact that the comic villains get a bigger spotlight than the heroes themselves. In a way, this makes sense as the villains are often more far more interesting than their good-two-shoes counterparts. So who are the “best” comic book villains? Well, this is a very subjective list but here is the criteria I used to build this list. How important the villain was in the life of “their” hero, how powerful were they (raw power and brain power), are they interesting to read about and how much to you love to hate them. In the end it came down to this: Would I want to read a story with this comic book villain if there were no heroes in the story. If the answer was yes, then they probably deserve to be on this list.

10. Kingpin

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-man #50, Marvel Comics

Image result for kingpin marvel

Wilson Fisk is a criminal mastermind who is involved in extensive illegal activities such as drug-running, smuggling, murder, and extortion. Despite this, he has no criminal record and an army of lawyers to keep it that way. He is a criminal financial strategist without parallel. Fisk has no superhuman powers, but the majority of his 400-plus pound bulk is solid muscle. He has battled heroes such as Captain America, Moon Knight and Daredevil, but his most despised antagonist has been Spider-Man. While you may not give the Kingpin his due, he has destroyed the life of Daredevil in a way few other heroes have been brought down. Recently he sparked the whole Spider-man New Day fiasco.

Most heinous crime: Ordered a hit on Spider-Man’s Aunt May.

9. Galactus

First Appearance: Fantastic Four #48, Marvel Comics

Image result for Fantastic Four #48

Sole survivor of the universe existing before the Big Bang, Galactus is perhaps the most feared being in the cosmos. Considering he devours planets, he has killed more beings than any the villain on this list or even all combined on this list. Although some may consider him a “force of nature” and a natural part of the universal order, the fear he elicits easily ranks him in the top ten of villains.

Most heinous crime: He has tried to devour Earth many times and his most famous feeding came at the expense of the Skrull home world, leaving the planet a lifeless rock.

8. Thanos

First Appearance: Iron Man #55, Marvel Comics

Image result for thanos iron man #55

Considering he has courted death as his lover, that should give you an idea about how impressive he is as a villain. If only Death will do, you are setting your sights high (or low). What kind of gifts do you offer Death? A lifeless universe according to Thanos.

He has controlled some of the most power objects in the universe such as the Cosmic Cube and the Infinity Gems and became god-like himself. He has defeated Galactus to add to his legend.

Most heinous crime: His villainy was seen at an early age when he attacked his home world with nuclear weapons, killing thousands, including his own mother. Now that is cold.

7. Doomsday

First Appearance: Superman: The Man of Steel #17, DC Comics

Image result for doomsday comic villain

Doomsday was created and evolved through cloning an infant and having it killed over and over again in one of the harshest habitats in existence, prehistoric Krypton. In other words, he was bred to be nasty.

Image result for The Man of Steel #17, DC Comics

Many may complain that Doomsday was a marketing ploy but you gotta give him his due becasue he did kill Superman and killing the Man of Steel has to count for something. If you are a one-trick pony, killing the greatest superhero in comic book history is certainly a good place to start. He also defeated the entire Just League, with one arm literally tied behind his back, before killing Superman.

Most heinous crime: He killed Superman. Really, he killed Superman.

6. Dr. Doom

First Appearance: Fantastic Four #5, Marvel Comics

Image result for Fantastic Four #5,

Victor Von Doom suffered an accident that caused his face to be scarred. After this accident he made matters worse when he then attached a hot steel mask to his face, further scarring him, physically and mentally. That takes commitment.

He has controlled various forces of the universe, much like Thanos, such as the Power Cosmic which he stole from the Silver Surfer. He has also usurped the powers of Galactus and a all-powerful being, the Beyonder. In other words he is crafty and smart.

Most heinous crime: He actually sent Franklin Richards, the child of Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four, to Hell seeking to torment his parents

5. Green Goblin

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-man #14, Marvel Comics

Image result for Amazing Spider-man #14

While not one of my favorite villains, he did cause the 2nd most defining moment in the career of Spider-Man. He murdered Spider-Man’s girlfriend Gwen Stacey when he dropped her from Washington Bridge. He has caused Spider-Man more problems and heart-ache than any other villain and had knowledge of Spider-man’s secret identity as Peter Parker. Considered to be Spider-Man’s most dangerous villain the Green Goblin’s insanity and lust for revenge only makes him that much more deadly.



Most heinous crime: Killed Gwen Stacey in front of Spider-Man.

4. Venom

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #300, Marvel Comics

Image result for Amazing Spider-Man #300

Venom is actually a team-up between two beings, one an alien and one a human, who both hate Peter Parker/Spider-Man intensely. Venom is an alien symbiote that has bonded with a number of different hosts who all share its hatred, most notable Eddie Brock.

Venom has all the powers of Spider-Man but does not trigger Spider-Man’s early warning abilities, his spider sense, which gives him a crucial advantage over Spider-Man. Venom also has knowledge of Spidey’s secret identity and kidnapped Peter’s parents in an effort to lure him into trap. Although he has had a tendency to fight for good by protecting the innocent he started out as a villain and always comes back to his evil-doing roots. His extreme popularity guarantees him a place on this list.

Most heinous crime: Pushed Spider-Man in front of a train and turned Peter Parker into a ultra-violent vigilante while trying to bond with him.

3. Magneto

First Appearance: Uncanny X-men #1, Marvel Comics

Image result for xmen magneto

One of the first mutants to appear on the planet and also one of the most dangerous, Magneto has deemed that mutants or homo-superiors are homo sapiens’ successors as rulers of the planet. He is more than willing to sacrifice every human to achieve his ultimate goal of mutant domination on Earth.

His control of all magnetic forces him a good shot at this, especially when he leads his team of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants or any army of misguided mutants. Not letting his past friendship with Charles Xavier get in the way, he has attacked the X-men throughout their history and knows their strengths and weaknesses.

Most heinous crime: He ripped Wolverine’s adamantium metal skeleton from his body and physically reduced the X-men to the level of a two-year old while leaving their minds in tact. Oh, and he killed Jean Grey.

2. Joker

First Appearance: Batman #1, DC Comics

Image result for first appearance of the joker

Update: Also read our list of the top 10 best Joker stories.

The maniacal Joker is Batman’s most dangerous foe. Unpredictable, murderous and surprisingly cunning, the Joker is a threat to all human life. Heath Ledger commented on his role, describing his character, the Joker as a “psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy.”

While Joker is a skilled inventor and chemist, the reason he is on this list is due to his purely evil actions spurred by his insanity. Nothing is beyond him and no life holds any value in his warped reality. With a maniacal intensity his focus is usually on destroying Batman while having a laugh doing it. Killing innocents isn’t only his plan, it is his desire.

His most heinous crime: He is a mass murderer killing hundreds of people. He killed the 2nd Robin, Jason Todd, Sarah Essen (Commissioner Gordon’s second wife), and crippled Batgirl.

1. Lex Luthor

First Appearance: Action Comics #23, DC Comics

Image result for lex luthor first appearance

Lex Luthor may be one of the most gifted persons alive in every facet of his life, but he is also a sociopath without regard for the suffering of others. His hatred for the Man of Steel drives him and makes him Superman’s greatest foe.

Becoming President of the United States and knowing that Kryptonite is the one weakness of Superman has given Lex advantages when trying to destroy Clark Kent’s alter ego. Lex’s disregard for everyone, believing himself superior to all others, has placed him at the top of the list. It has to be noted that he is more intelligent than Superman and has often out-smarted him. Add to the fact that nothing is too low or too vile for him, he has an advantage over the moral limitations of Superman. Being calculating, cool and a master manipulator puts Lex at the top of the comic book villain list.

Most heinous crime: Lex activated a “Doomsday Plan” to destroy Metropolis and burned the city to the ground killing thousands. He also had an affair Perry White’s wife, fathering a child.

There were many honorable mentions such as Doctor Octopus, Dark Phoenix, Sinestro and Apocalypse. Do you think any other comic book villains were overlooked? (Editors note: Red Skull and Darkseid deserve at least honorable mention.)


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133 Comments

  1. the Joker is probably the most recognizable comic villain of all time but he is always the Joker, all the time, never presenting the world a face other than that of the Clown Prince of Crime. We don’t even know his real name. Norman Osborn, on the other hand, is a monster that can walk the streets without being recognized for the evil that he is (And yes, Norman has been outed at least twice as the Green Goblin, and both times has managed to overcome it and pull the wool over the world’s eyes and con them into believing that he’s not. So, the assumption of this article is that his identity is currently secret). That he is the Goblin is something he has to keep carefully hidden from the world at large so that he can continue to function freely within it. Only by adopting another identity can he fully let loose with the rage and the mania that more than once have claimed his precipitous hold on sanity. Everyone has a “goblin,” a dark side within them, and most people are able to control that side and not let it out. That Norman is in a position, through his wealth and costumed identity, to give his demons free reign at times, escaping the limitations that society and the legal system put on aberrant behavior makes him the most compelling and fascinating villain

    • Everyone has a “Darkseid” (Lol). Seriously everyone (nearly everyone) has a dark part to them but that doesn’t make them become corrupt businessmen and/or scientists. They also don’t necessarily become sadistic murderers either. Norman Osborn has real issues.

  2. Magneto is only #3 what?? How is he below Lex Luthor? This man has sacrificed and manipulated his children to make his point. I mean he’s infiltrated the X Men by befriending and DATING ROGUE!! If you think he’s a ‘GOOD’ guy, then you deserve to be a Joe Quesada fan. #3 my A$$

    and the Joker #2, the man would blow himself up to complete a joke to show up Batman and he turned and educated psychiatrist into a murderous clownfaced psychopath c’mon!!!

    Carnage?
    Loki?
    Apocalypse?
    Darkseid?
    Mr. Sinister?

    to each his own list I guess, I have mine.

  3. joey armenio on

    i definitely think Darkseid should of been on the list but considering Thanos is more or less his Marvel counterpart (admitted my Stan Lee) it’s fine. Thanos should of been number one, his lover is death itself, and he has killed more then half of all lifeforms in the galaxy. it will be exciting to see Thanos in the second Avengers

    • Yes, i agree but then the creator of this list should of put both villains. and yeah it will be exciting to see Thanos in the avengers they will definitely need more muscle. spider man will be awesome to see. maybe thats why they created the new spiderman movie recently “the amazing spiderman”

      • joey armenio on

        well they can’t use spiderman because he is currently under the rights of Sony. but i agree they do need more muscle if they plan to defeat Thanos. Stan Lee sad he would like to see Black Panther in Avenger 2. they are coming out with a black panther movie in 2014 so it is a big possibility.

  4. List is good but the following are more dangerous than kingpin And Dr. Doom
    1. Bizarro
    2.Carnage
    3. Red Lantern Corps
    4. Parallax
    5. Darksied
    6.BANE
    Also Doomsday is should be considered more dangerous than Luther, because he killed superman not luther!
    The biggest miss is that Bane should be top 5 simply for what he did to Batman!!!

  5. i am sure that venom should not appear in the list, he didn’t a great damage to spiderman and not mention that he is like a anti-hero, no a complete villain

    and yes, the red skull should appear

  6. in the secret wars doctor doom took galactus’ power along with most of the omnipotent being the beyonder’s power. he also stole the cosmic cube along with odin’s power.

  7. 1. Joker
    2. Red Skull
    3. Lex Luther
    4. Magneto
    5. Dr Doom
    6. Megatron
    7. Shredder
    8. Darkseid
    9. Apocalypse
    10. Green Goblin
    Honorable mentions Ra’s al Ghul, Sinestro, Mr Sinister, General Zod, Deathstroke, Sabretooth,

  8. mighty black adam on

    i cant believe that darkseid isnt on this list… he should be 3rd… 1st should be joker than lex than darkseid

  9. Carlos Giraldo on

    Luthor first? Really? Though I agree he had to be in the top 10, I don’t think he surpasses the power of Magneto which IMO should be first, followed in second by the Joker.

  10. Top ten
    1. Joker
    2.Carnage
    3. Darkseid
    4. Scarecrow
    5.Red skull
    6.Bane
    7. Doomsday
    8. Brainiac
    9.sinestro
    10.Thanos

  11. Technically Spiderman, NOT the Green Goblin, killed Gwen Stacy (with a little help from physics). Any later revision of the story aside, THAT is the whole point of ‘the death of Gwen Stacy’ as a lynch pin in the Spiderman mythology.

    And, of course I agree with everyone else who argues for Joker as the #1 comic book villain. Literally, symbolically, psychologically, allegorically, etc. He is the defining archetype of what it means for a ‘super hero’ to have an arch nemesis; an equal but opposite ‘super villain’ whose existence defines the hero (and vice versa).

    For all of the same reasons that I vote Joker #1; as much as I am a Magneto fan, I really have to question his inclusion on the list as a “villain”. He is Xavier’s ‘equal and opposite’ for the sake of the mythology but, particularly as the treatment of his character has evolved over the past 40 years, that’s really a question of ideology. The ‘evil’ of his ‘villainy’ is a matter of perspective. And, not to cause a riot at Xavier’s, but I too think “Magneto was right”.

    Finally, MUCH RESPECT to the commenter who brought up Hitler! [Unlike Stalin who was a US ally in WWII] Captain America fought (and punched) Adolph Hitler in the Golden Age. I get how it is counter intuitive to the type of fan-boy debates that these sorts of lists are meant to incite, but that was using reason and an impressive command of comic book history to find the ultimate loop hole in the question. The atrocity of his actions aside HITLER IS THE WORST AND MOST POWERFUL COMIC BOOK VILLAIN BECAUSE HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO IS ACTUALLY REAL!

  12. I think that the Joker deserves to be at the top of this list because when you think about it he is a very insane man but his opponents are giants among men yet he still manages to bloody their noises.

  13. What about Doc Ock when he got adamentium tentacles he wiped the floor with the Avengers and X-Men while the other villians with him just watched.

  14. Lex Luthor is simply not scary, he’s just boring (like Superman). The Joker should have been number one. He is more deadly than the other nine combined. The Mad Hatter, the Lizard, Dr Octopus and the Scarecrow should have been on the list too.

  15. what da hell, Joker is the most influence,smart,funny,mad,insane villian to ever have been and u put Lex Luthor on top, why

      • potentialKEN on

        Having long since read and commented on this list I can admit that from a certain perspective I can almost accept a rational legitimization of Lex Luthor as the #1 villain over the Joker. However, reading your response I feel compelled to reenter the debate. Are you seriously suggesting that it was Heath Ledger’s interpretation of the character that established the Joker’s “world-wide fame”? If so, do you really think that you are qualified to be evaluating a list like this? Twenty years prior Jack Nicholson made quite a splash as the character and twenty years before that Cesar Romero beat out Frank Sinatra for the role (and all of that was twenty plus years after the character was created). Admittedly Luthor first appeared on the comic scene at around the same time. However, by your logic, I wonder if you are suggesting that it is the fresh memory of Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of the character (as opposed to Gene Hackman’s) in the mediocre “Superman Returns” which cemented Lex’s rank at #1. Maybe it was Michael Rosenbaum’s interpretation of the character for Smallville that secured the top spot? Perhaps it is simply that in a short-attention-span postmodern culture comic book mythology is only as good as it’s most recent cinematic interpretation.

  16. Incredible Hulk……. He has beat the hell out of many super heros and villains over the years. Since way back in the day he has had his own comic appeared in others comics and has been confrintational to the piont when all heros combine there efforts to beat a villain they then have to deal with the hulk

  17. Carnage is VERY underrated…He killed more than a hundred people, some of which include his grandmother(pushed down a flight of stairs), and a little girl he pushed in front of a bus

  18. Well, this list seems like it was made by a guy who only reads Marvel comics and then decided “oh, yeah, Lex Lutor and Joker are also up there and who’s another DC villain I can throw in there? Oh yeah, that Doomsday guy who killed Superman.”

    Seriously, out of all the villains DC has in their roster, you guys choose Doomsday to fill a slot in the top 10? Not Sinestro? Not Darkseid? Not Ra’s Al Ghul? Not Brainiac? Not Anti-Monitor? Not Black Adam? Not Mongul? I mean, Doomsday’s not a bad villain but he’s more top 20/30 than top 10.

    Also where’s Loki? You know, the guy who is the whole reason behind the Avengers forming? Red Skull?

    Galactic is a Mary Sue and Thanos is a Darkseid rip off.

    • In all fairness, this list was made in 2008, so things have changed since then. But thanks for all the great additions.