There must always be the perfect villain to match up against the perfect superhero. It’s a law of nature, where there is someone who has it in them to want to save the day, there is always someone who was scorned by the world who now looks to ruin it. That’s the great thing about villains, depending on what you believe in terms of nature vs nurture; the antagonist of whatever the story is, was once an innocent outcast trying to do good, but the world hurt them, so they hurt it back.

In comic books, and all their adaptations to the big and small screens, arch enemies are usually just that. A parallel character to the hero that maybe could’ve used their powers the right way, but chose evil instead.

No matter whether it is DC Comics, Marvel, Dark Horse, or some independent comic book label, the bad guys in the stories we read and watch always engages us just as much as the hero. As Joker once said to Batman (Tom Cruise said it in Jerry Maguire, too!), “You complete me!”. No statement can be more true of how two nemeses feel towards one another.

20 Deacon Frost (Blade)

Deacon Frost appears in Marvel Comics as the arch enemy of the vampire hunter known as Blade. On the page, he is mostly seen as tall with white hair. Frost has immense powers that many vampires don’t. He can regenerate lost limbs, and you forget about all that fear of garlic or silver; Frost is immune to that. Thus making him a very tough enemy to Blade.

Frost is not Blade’s biological father, but he did attack his mother prior to her giving birth to him. Thus, making Blade half-vampire upon being brought into the world.

Stephen Dorff’s Best Role Ever

When Blade originally jumped off the pages of Marvel Comics and into the world of feature-length films, it was actor Stephen Dorff who knew how to perfectly encapsulate the arrogant, indestructible vampire.

With careful moments of humor woven into the script, Dorff came off as the perfect villain who felt above the rest because, in theory, Deacon Frost is above other vampires due to his extreme physical strength that would threaten any protagonist. Stephen Dorff has had a lengthy acting career, but many people like to single out his work in Blade and go back to see him as a great bad guy.

19 Violator/Clown (Spawn)

First appearing in the Image Comics edition of Spawn #2 is Violator. Spawn creator Todd McFarlane created the demonic creature to be the arch enemey of his demonic protagnist, Spawn. However, in order to convey such a prescnece in the comics of the creature, Violator is more than just a terrfying looking beast from the depths of hell, the creature does take human form as an obese trash talking clown.

A Toxic Relationship

Violator toys with Spawn throughout the comics and animated series as well. Spawn is not worthy of the HellSpawn position in their eyes. The two go back and forth as rivals many times throughout the comics.

When Violator takes human form as The Clown, we continue to see this antagonizing, but some of it comes off almost as if Clown is mentoring Spawn. This is a character arc within the villain that shows the inner struggle of Violator from time to time. When Violator is in human form, there is a gray area for the evilness of the demon. This is more prevalent than in the perfect midnight movie, 1997’s live-action adaptation of Spawn.

18 Mojo Jojo (The Powerpuff Girls)

The Powerpuff Girls hit the airwaves of Cartoon Network at the right time, as there was a surge of fresh new shows and outlandish characters hitting the channel in the late 1990s. The arch enemy of the trio of butt-kicking little girls with superpowers was Mojo Jojo, a genius chimpanzee who is a mad scientist hellbent on destroying the girls’ hometown of Townsville.

Villain Origin Story

Mojo Jojo’s origin story garners some sympathy for the series and the comic books’ big bad. He was the pet and/or former lab assistant of Professor Utonium, the girl’s biggest ally, but turned his back on him and grew jealous of his newest creation.

A fun behind-the-scenes fact about Mojo Jojo is that he’s voiced by Roger L. Jackson, who has been in the business for thirty years now. You may not know his name, but you’ve heard his voice in other TV shows and films as well, like Ghostface’s voice in the Scream franchise.

17 Jigsaw (The Punisher)

Billy Russo, also known as Jigsaw, is billed as the arch enemy of Frank Castle, aka, The Punisher, in the world of Marvel Comics. With a cut-up face tied together by poorly woven stitches and staples, his face very much looks like a puzzle of skin. Jigsaw is girzzly-looking and violent, which works perfectly to go up against The Punisher, a character who has no shame in brutally killing his enemies.

Jigsaw and The Punisher Were Once Friends

Dominic West makes for a great wise guy version of Jigsaw in the underrated 2008 Punisher: War Zone, but in Netflix’s two seasons of The Punisher, we also got actor Ben Barnes in the role. In the show, Russo and Castle were both war buddies who turned enemies, thus creating a long arc over two seasons of a rivalry that turned quite violent.

In terms of the comics, Jigsaw may be Punisher’s biggest rival, but he also appears in storylines that involve Daredevil and Spider-Man.

16 Cheetah (Wonder Woman)

Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston first created the nemesis for Diana Prince back in 1943. Cheetah has had some changes since she first graced the pages of Wonder Woman #6, but back then, before becoming Cheetah, she was a jealous socialite named Priscilla Rich, who grew envious of all the powers and praise Diana Prince had in her life.

Cheetah Was Underused in Wonder Woman ’84

2021’s Wonder Woman ’84 was a bit of a flop. Going in many were excited to see Kristin Wiig play the live-action version; however, many argued how underused she was for being such an arch enemy in the comics. She’s a powerhouse character on the page and sort of a throw-away character in the third act of the film.

Still, Cheetah is admired by many DC fans as a worthy villain that perfectly parallels everything about Wonder Woman. Her predatory skills and superhuman strength put comic book fans on edge when she appears, because she very well can take it to Wonder Woman in a fight.

15 Black Manta (Aquaman)

Debuting in Aquaman #35 of the comic books, Black Manta has become, for the most part, the main antagonist of the major storylines within Aquaman. He has no superpowers but is highly intelligent and tactical in how he plots to take down the King of the Seven Seas. His suit has aided him with battles on land and underwater, making him a perfect foe for Aquaman.

Black Manta’s Origin

Black Manta, otherwise known as David Hyde, first appeared in DC Comics in Aquaman #35 in 1967. His name was David Kane then, and he sought vengeance due to the death of his father, Jesse Kane, a pirate who was killed by Aquaman. Manta would then go on to become a mercenary who was out to kill Aquaman. In 2003, his origins shifted in a way that complimented his high intellect.

Black Manta was autistic, and when he was a boy, he was sent to Arkham Asylum, where he was subjected to many awful experiments. This was something that propelled his villain arc in his adult life.

14 The Mandarin (Iron Man)

The Mandarin, who first appears in Marvel’s Tales of Suspense #50, is the arch enemy of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. The good vs. evil matchup between the two is an interesting look at those who have mystical powers and those who use technology. The Mandarin uses his ten rings, which grant him power and control over the country of China. This arc sets up a matchup between the villain and Tony Stark and his company, Stark Industries.

The Mandarin’s Complex Storyline in the MCU

2013 saw the release of Iron Man 3. The third installment was indeed Marvel’s first polarizing film. Leading up to it, many were excited about seeing Ben Kingsley in the role of The Mandarin.

The appearance of Kingsley made The Mandarin feel like a modern global terrorist of sorts, but in the end, it was all an act, and The Mandarin in Iron Man 3 was not even the real Mandarin. Kingsley ended up playing an actor named Trevor Slattery, who was trying to be The Mandarin. However, Marvel corrected itself with Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings by bringing back Kingsley to play Slattery and introducing Wenwu, the real Mandarin.

13 Deathstroke (Teen Titans)

Deathstroke debuted in the New Teen Titans issue titled “The Terminator,” and since then, comic book fans have been enthralled by the mercenary for hire whose real name is Slade Wilson.

The Villain We Almost Got in Ben Affleck’s Batman Movie

For a brief moment in time, Ben Affleck, who played Batman in both Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman film and Justice League, was going to direct and star in his own version of Gotham’s Dark Knight, and Joe Manganiello was going to suit up in the iconic black and orange suit as Deathstroke. There was even some test footage that hit social media with it. It would not come to fruition, though, as it was all scrapped.

Still, Manganiello seemed very on board to play the role. Stating that Deathstroke was out to kill Batman due to the death of his son, Deathstroke’s persona and overall look make him a fan favorite bad guy. He jumps around a lot in DC Comics, taking on anyone from the Teen Titans to Green Arrow.

12 Kingpin (Daredevil)

Wilson Fisk, also known as The Kingpin, is the ruler of the criminal underworld. Created by Stan Lee himself and first appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man #50, the large and in-charge, bald-headed boss of organized crime always seems to be a step ahead of the heroes he faces. Wilson Fish is as cunning as he is ruthless, and if you’re in his way, he will bury you.

The Many Foes of Kingpin

Kingpin has taken on many of your favorite Marvel superheroes. If the storyline takes place in New York City, chances are he’s had a hand in the crimes committed. Kingpin has squared off against Spider-Man in both comics and animated shows and animated feature films.

He’s also been an adversary of Daredevil in both the comics and the 2003 film where Michael Clarke Duncan played him, and more recently, the MCU version of Kingpin is played by Vincent D’Onofrio. The vicious, vile, sociopathic crime boss is on full display in what many think is the best version of the character in D’Onofrio’s performance.

Related: Echo Star Vincent D’Onofrio Discusses Kingpin’s Role in the Series

11 Sinestro (Green Lantern)

Billed as one of the most underused DC villains in their world of heroes and villains, Sinestro hails from the planet Krougar; he is the epitome of a bad guy who believes that what he is doing is for the greater good, as he is the arch enemy of Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern. His origins date back to the early 1960s, when he was created for DC Comics by Gil Kane and John Broome.

Sinestro Is a Complex Character

Thaal Sinestro is strictly at war with Hal Jordan; he’s always close by attempting to do damage to the universe. In the world of Green Lantern there, of course, is The Green Lantern Corps, Sinestro went out and formed a team of his own with the Sinestro Corps.

Like many, he began his journey as a hero, policing the universe, who then became dissatisfied and became a villain. Some would argue he has merged into the realm of anti-hero, though a lot of comic book readers find his motives understandable in some instances.

10 Sabretooth (Wolverine)

One of the more vicious villains on the list is Sabretooth, a character that exists in the world of the X-Men, more specifically as an arch enemy to Wolverine. Sabretooth’s real name, Victor Creed, is a man who has a vicious animalistic impulse that can run ravage and end lives in a split second. He has super strength and speed that outmatches his arch nemesis, making him one of the toughest bad guys on this list.

Are Wolverine and Sabretooth Brothers?

There has been confusion over the years, from comics to animated television shows to feature-length live-action films that center around the two rivals being siblings. The answer is no; they’re not. The two have had epic fights, nearly taking one another out. Their fights do bring out the rampages that someone like Logan can go on if pushed too far. In one battle, Logan ripped up Victor’s unprotected organs piece by piece, making it pretty hard for him to come back from an altercation like that.

9 Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

To step out of the world of DC and Marvel for a minute, let’s take a look at the big bad of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles world, Oroku Skaki, also known as Shredder. Whether it be the early days of the comics, the early 1990s movies, the video games, or the updated movie versions, Shredder always brings a scary tone to the story.

Shredder’s Demonic Origins

To put it bluntly, Shredder has some pretty badass origins. The original Shredder was a Tengu, a demon or harbinger of war in Japanese culture. Shredder was defeated by five warriors and was on the verge of death.

In order to save his life, he made a deal with one of the warriors, Oroku Saki. If the demon allowed Saki to latch onto him and possess him, he would grant him all of his powers to use. This origin explains why, in some aspects of how the character is presented, Shredder feels like he could be a character that also works in a horror film.

8 Green Goblin (Spider-Man)

Green Goblin has had some pretty memorable battles with his adversary, Spider-Man, over the years. Either on the big screen, the small screen, or in the comics, the Green Goblin is arguably Spidey’s biggest foe. Green Goblin was created by Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko and was introduced in 1964.

Spider-Man Has a Lot of Foes, But the Green Goblin Feels the Most Personal

The argument could be made that other Spider-Man bad guys like Venom or Doctor Octavio could be the arch enemies of Spider-Man, but there’s something about the Green Goblin that goes perfectly as the more menacing Spider-Man villain. The character of Norman Osborne, who becomes the Goblin, is close to Peter Parker. He’s the father of Parker’s good friend, Harry Osborne. He fell victim to a scientific formula he created, which in turn shattered the world around him.

Osborne always felt like a highly tragic character, never more evident than how we see him portrayed by Willem Dafoe in the live-action versions of Spider-Man.

7 Reverse Flash (The Flash)

The Reverse Flash is a character in DC Comics that has been used to torment its well-known time-traveling speedster. He first appeared in The Flash #139 in 1963 as Professor Zoom. He became the arch enemy of The Flash, taking part as the antagonist in many major storylines of Barry Allen, where he commits murderous atrocities out of pure evil.

Why Does Reverse Flash Hate The Flash?

The Flash, despite how cool of a character he is, is not known for his standout villains. Reverse Flash very much takes the cake for being the arch enemy of the hero of Central City.

Reverse Flash has devoted his life to harming Barry Allen. Why would he do it? The answer is not as complex as many storylines in The Flash usually tend to be. He was fueled by hatred and jealousy over the fact that he was stuck being the counterpart of his enemy. So he travels through time, committing traumatic acts against Barry Allen.

6 Red Skull (Captain America)

With superhuman strength, high intelligence, and a frightening appearance to keep you up at night, Red Skull emerged from World War II as Captain America’s biggest rival. A confidant of Adolf Hitler, Red Skull was once known as Johann Schmidt, the leader of Hydra, a man who sought out becoming a superior being and got it when a serum morphed his appearance into Red Skull.

Red Skull’s Metaphor

Red Skull first appeared on the pages of comics in 1941. A clear metaphor for the arrogance and cruelty of the Nazi party, especially since Red Skull was affiliated with the party.

He was the ultimate counterpart of what America wasn’t (at least at the time). In the 1940s, in both television and movies and even in comics, it was easy to tell who the bad guy was and who the good guy was. America needed a metaphor for what it was up against, and Red Skull fits that bill perfectly. He’s a villain many MCU fans wish they got more of.

5 Loki (Thor)

Since the MCU has been conceived, many fans have fallen in love with what Tom Hiddleston has done with the part of Loki. The Trickster God has finagled his way into mischeif that has helped him gain the upper hand against his enemies, especially his brother Thor, who he is technically the adopted brother of. The pair have both been at odds with one another and fought on the same team many times.

Loki vs. Thor is a Tale as Old as Time

Despite them not being blood-related, Thor and Loki are a classic tale of family struggle. Two brothers, one is high and mighty and full of superior strength (Thor), and his jealous brother with less physicality but who makes up for it by being able to outsmart the competition (Loki).

Loki was center stage as the villain in the first Avengers film in 2012. Fans wanted more, so he has appeared numerous times in Thor’s stand-alone movies as an ally who may or may not have ulterior motives.

4 Doctor Doom (The Fantastic Four)

Victor Von Doom was created by both Marvel godfathers, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He is the most powerful user of magic out of all of Marvel’s characters. He’s the arch enemy of the Fantastic Four, a highly ambitious figure in the storyline, which makes him a significant threat to those who oppose him. If you look at who the greatest of the greats are in terms of Marvel bad guys, Doctor Doom is arguably one of the most well-known to fans of the comics.

Doctor Doom is all Over Marvel’s Storylines

Victor Von Doom has been everywhere in Marvel and had some standout moments in the comics. From the power that he obtained during the Secret Wars to the brief moment he had as the most powerful villain in the Marvel Universe as he killed Thanos by ripping his skull and spine from his body.

Doctor Doom has not just appeared against the Fantastic Four; he has also gotten into it with the likes of Black Panther and even had a love affair with Scarlet Witch during the Children’s Crusade storyline in the comics.

3 Magneto (X-Men)

Either in the new X-Men ’97 Disney+ show or the old animated X-Men that was on Fox Kids on Saturday mornings, or it could be Ian McKellen’s portrayal of Magneto or even Michael Fassbender as a younger version of the radical mutant who grew tired of trying to maintain peace with humans. Magneto is a villain who leaves destruction in the wake of the path he makes for himself and his followers, but we kind of understand his motives.

Magneto’s Origin

Magneto’s origin story dates back to the Holocaust in 1930s Germany. A child who witnessed atrocities happen and became hardened by them, he was always very bitter and garnered hate for mankind as they constantly failed the outcasts of the world.

Magneto went to war with the X-Men many times over this singular idea. The crazy thing about it is the theme that comes from it. When you have hate for something in your heart, you oftentimes can become what you hate, and Magneto becomes so harsh to those who oppose him that he too is now the thing he swore not to become.

2 Lex Luthor (Superman)

Alexander Joseph Luthor, otherwise known as Lex Luthor, is the main antagonist in the world of Superman. The character originally appeared in Action Comics #23 and has since gone on to be a bit of a pop culture icon of sorts. Lex Luthor has no superpowers or special abilities; he’s just a billionaire who yearns to be on top of the food chain. He uses all his clout in the world of tech, business, and politics against the Man of Steel.

The Smartest Man in the DC Universe

It’s been said that Lex Luthor is the smartest character in the DC Universe. If you’re going up against a nearly indestructible being like Superman on a regular basis, then you have to be hyper-focused and super smart to stand a chance. It’s laughable at times how much Luthor tries to compete with the last son of Krypton, but if you think about it, it’s also really impressive.

Luthor, love him or hate him, stands up against Superman a lot. He uses what he has to the best of his abilities. His sharp focus on the task at hand always gives him skin in a fight against Superman.

Related: Superman: Legacy: Nicholas Hoult is the Best Lex Luthor Choice

1 Joker (Batman)

It was back in the spring of 1940 when Detective Comics released Batman #1, and we all got to witness the birth of the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker. The world of superheroes has not been the same since his debut in the comics. With a character as iconic as Batman, you need the perfect villain to balance it all out with a little bit of chaos. The Joker has been at it on the streets of Gotham for over 80 years now.

The Best of the Best

The Joker is the epitome of a crazed lunatic of a villain. He has funny one-liners, but then, mid-laugh, you remember that this character is a murdering psychopath. The Joker is a bit of an allegory of sorts, as he represents the harsh consequences of society, something that many argue is also the same for Batman. The Joker tops the list for his stature alone, because, honestly, think of another villain who catches your attention like The Joker.

Try to recall all those casting announcements in Batman movies where the Joker was a character. It’s a role that has earned two actors who played the character an Oscar. The Joker is a peace of pop culture as he taps into the dark side of all of us. Joker’s merchandise rivals, if not tops Batman, depending on the fiscal quarter, thus making him a bankable piece of intellectual property.

“}]] Every great hero needs the perfect villain to balance things out. These are the greatest superhero arch enemies ever created.  Read More