Superheroes may rely on supervillains for action and drama, seeing their powers turned against them or pushed to their limits, but you don’t need heat vision or super-strength to be truly terrifying. Sometimes, all it takes is a criminal blessed with determination, and an opponent pushing them to their true potential. Suicide Squad will be putting the street-level criminals of the DC Comics Universe into the spotlight, but the film’s roster is just a small sample of the comic villains specifically tailored to the dark alleys of Gotham, Metropolis, and everything in between.
Here is our list of the 10 Most Dangerous Comic Book Criminals.
No one knows his story, his motivations, or his endgame – but everyone knows his name: Joker. Over the years, Batman‘s arch-nemesis has been portrayed as a serial killer, a crime boss, a madman, and an agent of chaos, in nearly every form of entertainment. Every fan may have their favourite, but The Joker is so fragmented and crazed, it’s impossible to even call one version more faithful than any other. Without any superpower, super weapon, or even backup, Joker’s calculated mayhem hasn’t just made him a comic book icon, but one of the most complicated and terrifying villains in history. Not bad for a guy with nothing but a knife, a pistol, and a plan.
He may not be much to look at, but Wilson Fisk has proven to be not only one of the most brilliant and ruthless crime bosses the comic book world has ever seen, but a physical threat capable of fighting some of Marvel’s most impressive heroes. Bullied in his childhood because of his weight, Fisk hit the gym, turning his former bullies into henchmen, and beginning his rise to the top of Hell’s Kitchen’s underworld, letting his fists and wits do the talking, eventually becoming the Kingpin of Crime. Don’t be fooled by the lack of a gun or club, either: The Kingpin prefers to kill with his bare hands, and whatever furniture is nearby. He may not be a supervillain, but a man with his talents for organized crime who can beat Daredevil and Spider- Man in a fight deserves more credit than he’s usually given.
Born with a rare genetic condition that caused his skin to grow hard and scaly like a reptile, Waylon Jones was an outcast, bullied by schoolmates and abused and abandoned by an alcoholic aunt. As he grew bigger and badder, a job wrestling alligators for the circus seemed a waste of his talents. Waylon knew how to be tough, and knew a life of crime was his destiny. Taking the name Killer Croc, he set out to organize and rule the criminals of Gotham City, proving a serious player even without his bulletproof skin and superstrength. He would do battle with Batman too many times to count, but what he lacked in brains, he made up for in brutality. Did we mention he’s also a cannibal?
As one of the few comic criminals who is neither good or evil, Jackie Estacado began his life as an orphan, adopted into the Franchetti crime family at the tender age of 6. Making his first kill at the age of 16, Jackie would become the family’s most skilled and ruthless hitman, doing more than just killing his targets to send a message. But on his 21st birthday, he learned that his induction into the mafia was no coincidence: he was the latest in a long line of men entrusted with The Darkness: an ancient force granting its host nearly limitless power. In the hands of Jackie, the power to create any weapon or creature as long as he stayed in the shadows was a perfect fit, seeking vengeance on all who had wronged him in the past. With the power to take on Superman himself, Jackie took over the crime family with ease, putting his skills learned on the streets to work taking over an entire country.
Unlike most criminal masterminds, the Prince of Puzzlers can’t resist telling the absolute truth. But his need to prove he’s the smartest person in the room means The Riddler can’t do anything simply. His green costume and obsession with riddles and brainteasers made Edward Nigma a bit of a joke to mainstream audiences, but comic fans have seen him develop into a twisted, terrifying and truly dangerous criminal over the years. The well-known “Hush” storyline saw Riddler pulling the strings behind every single Batman villain as part of his plan to bring down Bruce Wayne once and for all. More recently, “Batman: Zero Year” saw Riddler take complete control over Gotham, turning the city to ruins until a citizen could solve his riddles. Puzzles aren’t too scary, but in the hands of The Riddler, they can be fatal.
Spider-Man knew that the Alien symbiotic behind his black suit was bad news, and when it merged with Eddie Brock to become Venom, his most popular enemy was born – but not his most dangerous. When Brock found himself sharing a cell with serial killer psychopath Cletus Kasady, he wanted out – fast. His alien partner came to the rescue, but left its child behind, soon entering Kasady’s bloodstream – and just like that, Carnage was born. What was most horrifying about the murderous rampages that followed wasn’t the villain’s powers, but placing them in Kasady’s hands. It was the madman’s belief that murder was the mark of true courage that made him a menace, meaning he’s just as deadly without the suit. He was created to show what DC’s Joker could do if given superpowers, and Carnage has yet to disappoint.
Putting his skills with throwing projectiles to use as a baseball player, the pitcher who would become known as Bullseye found throwing a no-hitter too boring. Killing the batter with a ball to the head sent him on his path of murders-for-hire, becoming one of the deadliest assassins the Marvel Universe has ever seen. But becoming a soldier of fortune for villains like The Kingpin wasn’t enough – Bullseye wanted fame as well. Bragging to New York’s Daily Bugle about his many kills and the fact that he “never misses” put Daredevil on his tail – and the two have been at war ever since. If his mastery of martial arts, guns and blades wasn’t deadly enough. Bullseye can turn toothpicks, paperclips, and even his own teeth into lethal weapons. For the right price, of course.
Who says insanity and homicidal tendencies can’t be profitable? The Marvel villain known as Arcade learned there’s good money in killing, and as is usually the case, bigger is better. When the pampered young man was cut off by his wealthy father, he killed him, and took the money for himself. Flush with cash and realizing his love of murder, Arcade became a globetrotting assassin. But when the murder game became too boring, he hatched a different plan: he’d build his own deathtrap known as “Murderworld,” and drop his targets into the fatal theme park to give them a fighting chance. The villain’s similarities to DC’s Joker are obvious, but his one-of-a-kind humor and genuine thrill at seeing his victims attempt to escape made him a hit, appearing alongside many of Marvel’s most well-known heroes. Even if that meant he racked up more failures than kills.
What’s more tragic than seeing an embodiment of law and order flipped on its head, embracing crime, chaos and violence instead? The answer is a man who can’t even decide between the two. Every Batman fan knows the tragic story of Harvey Dent, once an upstanding District Attorney who develops a split personality when half of his face is burned with acid. Although the darker side of his character may be more than a little crazed, it still has access to the brilliant intelligence and knowledge of Gotham’s underworld. The result is Two-Face, a crime boss who sees every attack against Gotham as an opportunity. But what makes the villain truly dangerous is his signature coin, used to make nearly every decision facing his fractured mind. Sure, he may have become predictable over the years, but when the flip of a coin means Harvey Dent may help Batman save the day – or commit an unspeakable act of violence, he becomes a villain unlike any other the Dark Knight has had to face.
If there’s one criminal in the world of DC Comics who is truly underrated, it has to be Prometheus. Raised by two criminals, the young boy travelled across America, learning the outlaw life until his parents were shot down by police. Just as Bruce Wayne dedicated his life to avenging his parents, Prometheus did the same. Spending time in South American fighting pits, working as an African mercenary and as an international terrorist, Prometheus became a true student of crime and violence, eventually killing the cops who killed his parents, and turning his finely-tuned skills to bringing down the Justice League. He may have required some gadgets to get the job done, but an everyday criminal who can take down Batman, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter deserves some respect.
So what do you think of our list? Did we miss any of your favorite comic book crooks, killer and thieves? Let us know in our comment section and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more videos like this one.