Superheroes are great and all, but there’s something truly entertaining about a villain. Whether it be the melodrama of Doctor Doom or the cackling madness of the Joker, a great villain is often more memorable than the heroes they battle. What would Batman be without the Joker? What would Thor be without Loki? You either love them or love to hate them, and a good villain can elevate even the greatest hero to new heights.
The CW’s Arrowverse has no shortage of amazing heroes, but its monster of the week format means that a lot of the villains feel a little lacking. More often than not, they are little more than generic bad guys for Team Arrow or Team Flash to dispose of before moving onto the next plot-centered episode.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that all of the villains are bad. Throughout the course of the various shows’ histories, the teams have come across plethora of cunning and interesting enemies.
From the cunning to the terrifying and the truly absurd, here are The 15 Best Arrowverse Villains , Ranked.
As always, we’ll try and keep the spoilers to a minimum for the more recent seasons, but earlier ones are fair game so read at your own discretion.
The big problem with Zoom is an issue that plagues a lot of Barry’s big-bads. Speedster on speedster fights simply aren’t that interesting to watch. It’s a lot of blurring and special effects, but the fights themselves aren’t that interesting.
Beyond that, Zoom is a pretty weak villain. He had a lot of build-up, and Thawn’s reaction to his helmet really sold us on the threat he represented, but, in the end, he was just a speed vampire.
His relationship with Catlin Snow was well-done and made his betrayal more painful, but his overall motivations were still extremely boring and bland. He just wanted to kill other speedsters and become faster. There was no real motivating factor beyond him just being evil.
The Arrowverse crossover events are a bit of a mixed bag. It’s always interesting seeing team Flash and team Arrow work together. The sheer chemistry between the two teams makes for a good time, allowing the two to play off of each other.
The problem lies in the fact that these events always seem to interrupt the flow of their parent shows, and the villains are a bit lackluster. The Dominators are no exception to this.
The invasion of an alien species is a classic comic book trope and some of comics’ best storylines– such as Marvel’s Secret Invasion– have been built around this idea, but this one simply fell flat.
The so-called “god of speed” started off rather lackluster as far as villains go. We had just finished up one season with yet another evil speedster big-bad and a lot of fans we’re hoping for something a bit different. Savitar was, at first glance, a bit of a disappointment. Not only was he yet another speedster, but he was also a CGI character who appeared to have little in the way of personality or ties to the team.
Of course, that all changed later on in the season when Savitar’s true identity was revealed. This reveal– which we won’t spoil incase you’re behind– managed to elevate Savitar above the likes Zoom by giving him a personal connection to our heroes and added some much-needed context to his actions.
12. Vandal Savage
Vandal Savage is one of the more disappointing villains of the Arrowverse. This is particularly due to the fact that, in the comics, a lot of interesting lore surrounds his character and he as been a part of some amazing story arcs.
The basics of Savage’s story are the same across both mediums. He’s an immortal tyrant who dreams of world domination, but he’s so much more effective in the comics.
At one point, while wielding the Spear of Destiny, he managed to defeat the Specter, who is basically the avatar of God’s wrath. However, his TV show origin also did him no favors by tying him to Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
Supergirl is a testament to how much a TV show can improve over the course of a season. The show’s first season was, understandably, disliked by most fans for numerous reasons, such as the clichéd writing and odd romantic-comedy persona given to Kara, but, beyond all of that, one of the show’s biggest weaknesses was its villains.
Non was, to put it bluntly, a waste of screentime. He was a sniveling weak-willed coward amd little more than his wife’s henchman. He had no agency or motivations of his own outside of this, and his plans made little sense in the grand scheme of things. Supergirl has came a long way since its first season and poor villains like Non are a big reason why the show initially failed.
10. Damien Darhk
Magic is awesome and people who use magic are generally amazingly powerful. For example, both Hermione Granger and Doctor Strange are great characters with a lot of capability. Damien Darh, however, is not so great, which is a shame since he had a lot of potential.
After going up against mostly street-level threats, season 3 of Arrow gave us Ra’s Al Ghul and introduced magic to Ollie’s life. The idea of team Arrow going up against a legitimate sorcerer had all the trappings of a classic technology vs. magic storyline. However, this exciting spark immediately fizzled out since, as it turned out, Dhark just wasn’t that interesting of a villain.
He had some great moments, such as when he caught Green Arrow’s arrows mid-flight, but, beyond that, he fell flat and didn’t stand up to the show’s other major villains. That being said, John Constantine’s cameo was great and we need more of him.
9. The Legion of Doom
Growing up, a lot of kids watched a lot of the old ’70s Superfriends show, as Cartoon Network often ran a lot of re-runs. When you think about it objectively, the show was pretty awful. It was campy, had weird weak storylines, ruined Aquaman for a generation, and was borderline racist with its depiction of Apache Chief, but the Legion of Doom was an awesome concept.
The idea of an evil Justice League made up of the League’s greatest foes is pure gold, and we’re glad to see that Legends of Tomorrow took that awesome concept, adjusted it a bit, and made it their own. Sure, it’s not the classic Legion, but it’s still awesome to see so many Arrowverse villains working together, especially since it gave us the return of Eobard Thawn.
8. Lillian Luthor
Supergirl is a very different show from what the Arrowverse offers. Originally airing on a different network, the series has a different feel and is probably the most controversial of the Arrowverse shows. It definitely has its fans and has improved a lot since its rocky first season, but the villains have, for the most part, remained fairly lackluster. However, Lillian Luthor is the rare exception.
In a lot of ways, she is similar to her son, Lex, at least in terms of personality and philosophy, which is a strength rather than a weakness. Sure, she can come across as just a clone of Lex Luthor, but, on the other hand, she also sheds some light on how the more famous Luthor came to be.
Now that we know his mother’s outlook and personality, it gives us some insight on the man who would go on to become Superman’s greatest foe. Aside from that, Lillian is different enough from her son to stand out on her own.
7. Ra’s Al Ghul
Were this a list of “best DC villains,” the Demon’s Head would rank much, but Ra’s’ Arrowverse incarnation is lacking some of his comic book counterpart’s charisma. In the comics, the nigh-immortal Ra’s is one of Batman’s greatest foes, and is arguably much more Bruce’s equal than the Joker.
The Arrowverse version of Ra’s isn’t quite as impressive, but he’s still a force to be reckoned with. From the first time you hear his name, you get the sense that Green Arrow does not wish to face this man or the organization that he leads.
6. Gorilla Grodd
Gorilla Grodd is one of the strangest entries on this list, which factors into why he ranks so high. He’s a talking gorilla with telepathic mind control powers. It’s an incredibly silly premise, but that’s what makes the Flash such a great TV show. A lot of Marvel’s Netflix shows seem ashamed to admit that they’re based off of comic books, but the Flash wholly embraces this and it’s wonderful.
Grodd isn’t a compelling villain on his own, however. In fact, he rarely says anything and lacks agency and any form of motivation, but, in this case, that doesn’t matter as much, since he represents the sheer awesome insanity of comic books, and the fact that the Flash was willing to embrace this, makes Grodd a great villain on his own.
5. The Trickster
As one of the not-so big-bads, Mark Hamill’s Trickster isn’t the most compelling or interesting villain that Flash has ever faced, but he may very well be the most entertaining. Aside from Luke Skywalker, Hamill is probably best known for his role as the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series, and thus the Trickster feels like a love-letter to that iconic villain.
To be fair, Hamil actually played the Trickster in the previous live-action Flash TV show, but a lot of fans may have missed that one, as it is not as well known. By reprising his role in the Arrowverse, Hamil gives a whole new audience the chance to see his genius at work. The Trickster is no Joker, but his laugh is almost as chilling, and this alone is worth the price of admission.
4. Malcolm Merlyn
Malcolm Merlyn is arguably the best villain on this list and is certainly one of Green Arrow’s most endearing enemies. During the first season, he served as a foil to Olllie, but, in a lot of ways, he reminded us more of an evil Bruce Wayne than an evil Oliver Queen.
Having lost his wife to violent crime, he went a bit nuts and concocted a scheme to wipe out all crime by destroying the poor portion of town with an earthquake machine. It’s pretty clear that Merlyn is a bit of a classist jerk.
Later on, we learn that he’s actually the father to Oliver’s sister, Thea, which manages to humanize his character, since he was a bit too evil and cold in the earlier seasons.
3. Captain Cold
For sheer entertainment value, no one beats Captain Cold. Wentworth Miller plays Leonard Snart with the perfect mix of camp and sincerity. His acting can be a touch scene chewing at times, but he’s always entertaining to watching. Whether he be fighting the Flash, arguing with his slow-witted partner Heatwave, or fighting alongside the other Legends of Tomorrow, he is always ready to deliver an amusing quip.
Of course, quips alone aren’t enough to make a great villain. Snart has displayed a more human side of his character on several occasion. Despite his apparent dislike for most of the members of his team, he always stands by them and has their back when he’s needed. More importantly, his love for his sister goes a long way towards making Snart a sympathetic and likable character.
2. Reverse Flash
We’ve complained a lot about the Flash’s over-reliance on evil speedsters, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that none of them can live up to the original evil speedster.
Eobard Thawn is, in our opinion, Barry’s greatest foe. He is the man who killed his mother, sent his father to prison, and basically set Barry on the path that would determine the rest of his life.
From the very beginning, we knew that Harrison Wells wasn’t all that he seemed to be, but, despite that, there was a lingering hope that he was a man doing the wrong things for the right reasons and that made his inevitable betrayal all the more painful and powerful.
In our opinion, the second season of Arrow was the show’s best for a lot of reasons. One of those is the fact that Deathstroke remains the most interesting and menacing villain that Oliver Queen has ever come across. As an old friend from Ollie’s time on the island, Slade Wilson is the most personal villain of Arrow’s rogues gallery.
Not just content with killing Green Arrow, Deathstroke is set out to steal away everything that mattered to Oliver, including the life of his mother Moira Queen. Rather than being some obsessed psychopath, Deathstroke’s actions make a twisted sort of sense considering the fact that Green Arrow is– somewhat– responsible for the death of the woman that Wilson loved. Their broken relationship has a true brother vs. brother feel that makes Deathstroke the Arrowverse’s greatest villain.
Do you agree? Who is your favorite Arrowverse villain? Let us know in the comment section!
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