Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is less than three months away from its release, and it’s ready to unveil a whole team of DC superhero movies, ready to fight against Lex Luthor and Doomsday (in the movie) and Marvel’s Avengers (at the box office).
Marvel has dominated the superhero landscape in past decade, but now it’s DC’s time to see if they can compete with Marvel. Yet it remains to be seen if DC can bring their second-tier characters the level of fame that the Marvel movies have brought to Iron Man, Thor or Guardians of the Galaxy. This list will take a look at how popular some of the top characters in the DC universe are to casual fans of superhero movies. How recognizable are they to someone who doesn’t know a whole lot about comics and superheroes?
Here is Screen Rant’s list of the 12 Most Recognizable DC Characters.
12. THE PENGUIN
Aside from The Joker and Catwoman, The Penguin is the most recognizable villain in Batman’s diverse gallery of rogues. Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot a.k.a The Penguin is easily distinguishable by his long pointy nose, top hat, and the umbrella that he uses as a weapon. Over the years, in television and film, the character has been played by a number of actors. Burgess Meredith portrayed the character in the 1960s television series and Danny DeVito played The Penguin in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, in which the character largely deviated from his comic version, looking and behaving more like a grotesque character inspired the German Expressionist films of FW Murnau and Fritz Lang than the distinguished and refined Penguin of the Batman comics.
More recently, the Fox television show Gotham has increased the popularity of The Penguin by including a younger version of the character, played by Robin Lord Taylor, as he becomes The Penguin of the comics.
The oft-mocked Aquaman is human hybrid who can breathe both air and water. The character has gone through many changes since his introduction in 1941. From his origins story to his appearance, Aquaman has become a more fierce character over the years. The King of the underwater Atlantis, many efforts have been made by DC in recent years to make the character seem edgier and more complex than the 1960s animated TV series that bares his name.
The HBO series Entourage included a storyline where Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) played Aquaman in a film that was directed by James Cameron, but the upcoming Dawn of Justice will mark the debut of the cinematic Aquaman, played by Jason Momoa, who is also slated to star in a solo Aquaman movie for 2018. This is a character that’s destined to gain a lot of attention in the coming years. Aquaman is kind of a big deal. The dude gets to hang out with dolphins and mermaids, so why wouldn’t he make this list?
10. GREEN ARROW
If this list was being put together a few years ago, Green Arrow, a.k.a. Oliver Queen, might not have made it. Due to the huge popularity of the CW show Arrow, however, that is no longer the case. That series opened the door for DC television shows that have followed, including The Flash and Supergirl. Actor Stephen Amell has injected “coolness” to the character who has often been viewed as a second-rate superhero that sometimes gets confused with Marvel’s Hawkeye (or even DC’s own Green Lantern).
He doesn’t have the greatest of superpowers, aside from being an ace with the bow and arrow, but that’s what makes him pretty awesome. Like Batman, his superheroism comes from rigorious training rather than supernatural abilities. Arrow is a DC character that’s just getting noticed by the mainstream, and continued success with the CW show is only enhancing the characters popularity.
9. LEX LUTHOR
You don’t have to be a fan of comics to know the name Lex Luthor. Known for for his trademark bald head, as well as being Superman’s top nemesis. Lex doesn’t have any superpowers or super strength. Instead, he is a wealthy entrepreneur and scientific genius who can wreak havoc with the resources at his disposal from LexCorp. He has a hefty bank account to help him in his battles with Superman.
Luther has been portrayed in film by Hollywood heavyweights such as Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey. Michael Rosenbaum played the younger Lex on Smallville for 7 seasons, and was arguably more popular among fans than Tom Welling’s Clark Kent. Jesse Eisenberg will take on the role of Lex in Dawn of Justice, where his fast-talking appearance in the trailer has already caused consternation among fans.
Unless you are a fan of comics, you probably wouldn’t know who Selina Kyle is, but most people on the street could tell you they have heard of Catwoman. The most famous female comic villain has worn a lot of outfits over the years, from the grey costume of Batman: The Animated Series, to the purple attire she wears in the comics. Most variations of Catwoman include her wearing a mask to cover up her identity, and more recently the using goggles to cover her eyes.
Catwoman has been known for walking the line between being Batman’s villain and ally (and sometimes, his lover). In Batman Returns, Catwoman was played by Michelle Pfeiffer in a leather catsuit covered in zippers. The solo Catwoman starred Halle Berry in an even skimpier outfit, and it’s notorious both for its poor quality and for heavily deviating from the comic book character.
7. GREEN LANTERN
This is where the list starts to get tricky. Which incarnation of Green Lantern are we referring to? Hal Jordan? Alan Scott? Kyle Rayner? Guy Gardner? Simon Baz? John Stewart? Well, how about all of them. Each Green Lantern character is a bearer to a ring with the ability to construct solid green objects which can aid them in battle. The ring bearers also have the ability to fly and travel inordinate distances across galaxies.
The Lantern is a staple of the Justice League. Comics aside, the Green Lantern has been featured in many DC animated movies, video games, and a feature film starring Ryan Reynolds. The 2011 film received negative reviews and disappointed at the box office, which halted production of any slated sequels, but it’s likely he’ll be revived as a part of the DC Expanded Universe.
6. the FLASH
As with Green Lantern, a number of characters have taken on the moniker of The Flash. Most notably, Wally West was The Flash in his Golden Age, while Barry Allen became the most famous flash in the Silver Age. The Flash is a core member of the Justice League, and mostly known as being the comedic relief of the group.
Go to your local Walmart and you can find T-shirts featuring the iconic yellow Flash thunderbolt symbol inside a white circle. The red jumpsuit he wears with the bolts on the side of his mask or helmet are also pretty iconic. Pay attention to Sheldon’s T-shirt next time you watch The Big Bang Theory, and you’ll see what we’re talking about. Currently you can see actor Grant Gustin as the most recent incarnation of Barry Allen on CW’s The Flash, but Ezra Miller is set to take on the character within the DC Extended Universe.
5. WONDER WOMAN
The Warrior Princess of the Amazon is one of the leaders of the Justice League, and her iconic attire consists of a lasso, indestructible bracelets, and a tiara. Wonder Woman is one of the first female superheroes, a strong female character that’s been embraced for decades.
Lynda Carter portrayed the character on television from 1975-1979 on the popular Wonder Woman TV series, but Gal Gadot will be taking on the role in Dawn of Justice, which will be the first time the character will appear on the big screen. It will be followed by a solo movie in 2017. DC is wasting no time in making Wonder Woman a huge part of in their superhero universe.
Dick Grayson is easily the most famous Robin, but there were also a few others that followed him. Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne all played the role of Robin, Batman’s teenage sidekick, at some point. Stephanie Brown was a female version of Robin, but if you aren’t an avid comic book fan you probably don’t know much about her. Robin is another character that has distinctive attire. Robin’s appearance remained mostly intact throughout the years with the mustard yellow cape, green tights, eye mask, and an “R” on his chest making up his signature look.
The Christopher Nolan Batman movies didn’t include Robin, but he did appear, played by Chris O’Donnell, in both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. The character will always be linked with Batman due to their long history, but various versions of Robin have gone on to become superheroes in their own right, such as Dick Grayson’s transition into Nightwing.
3. the JOKER
The most famous comic book villain of all-time is clearly The Joker. If you know nothing about comics, you still know that The Joker is Batman’s arch-nemesis. The green hair, clownish make-up, purple suit, and that creepy laugh all make for a pretty iconic character. Cesar Romero was the first to play Joker in the 1960s Batman television show. Jack Nicholson took on the role in Tim Burton’s Batman. Mark Hamill has been the iconic voice of the Joker for various animated series, movies and video games over the years.
Perhaps most notably, however, Heath Ledger won an Oscar for his interpretation of the Joker in Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Jared Leto is about to introduce us to his take on the Joker this summer in Suicide Squad. You couldn’t possibly find a better group of accomplished actors to play one character.
What is there to say about one of the most famous characters every created. Easily recognizable with his long black cape, the intimidating mask, and the bat symbol across his chest. Batman is not just one of the most famous superheroes of all-time, but also a cultural icon. Batman’s appeal is worldwide. The history of the character is as rich as any comic book character ever
He has appeared in literally hundred of comics with many variations. The list of actors to play Batman is also very impressive. The men who have worn the mask and cape have included Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and now Ben Affleck will take on the cape and cowl in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Superman isn’t just a comic character, he’s a symbol of truth, justice and the American way. There might not be many humans on the planet who haven’t heard of Superman. The Superman “S” logo is the most recognizable logo around. Whether or not Batman or Superman is the most popular superhero is up for debate, but Superman is easily the most recognizable, having been popular now for almost seven decades.
In film, Superman has been portrayed by Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh and, most recently, Henry Cavill. Cavill will be taking up the role once again, after his well-liked performance in Man of Steel, to battle Ban Affleck’s Batman mano-a-mano in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Is there any way Superman can lose this battle? We don’t know, but we’re dying to find out!
Do you agree with the choices and ranking of this list? Share your thoughts and options in the comments section below.