We’ve already covered the best superhero teams recently, but every great hero needs a great villain to go up against. And the same is true of superhero teams. There’s no use having the Avengers or the Justice League if they are just going to sit around in a peaceful world with nothing to do. For those heroes we love to have a chance to do their thing, someone needs to stir up some trouble. That’s why we not only like supervillain teams, but sometimes even look forward to them more than the heroes.
We’re not interested in just any group of baddies who decide to join forces, though, and have already covered some of the villainous teams that have left us feeling flat. All the teams we’re about to cover bring something great to the table, whether it’s pure power, the star-studded members that form the group, or their iconic status in the history of comics. These are the 15 Best Supervillain Teams Of All Time.
15 THE INJUSTICE LEAGUE
A recurring theme for this list is will be some of the more noteworthy groups of villains originating as evil counterparts to preexisting groups of heroes. But it's hard to blame the villains for having to take a reactive approach since some of the most well-known groups of heroes, like the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and the Justice League, all originated in the '60s and then proved too popular to disband. With the heroes seemingly sticking together for good, it only made sense the villains would have to even the odds by joining together as well.
The Justice League has some big names attached to it, so of course the Injustice League would feature some of DC's greatest villains. With Lex Luthor typically serving as the leader of the group, the team also regularly consists of such major antagonists as the Joker, Deathstroke, Black Manta, Cheetah, and Sinestro, all of whom have proven pretty effective at creating trouble for their respective enemies on their own. The Injustice League ranks low however, because as a team they usually prove less effective than when they strike individually, likely due to the long history the Justice League has of working as a team.
Also, for those of you who will be looking for the Legion of Doom among these groups, you can consider them a rebranding of the Injustice League. The Super Friends were basically the Justice League anyway, with both groups having many of the same members, and pretty much everything that can be said about the Injustice League also goes for the Legion of Doom.
14 COBRA COMMAND
Perhaps less of a supervillain group and more of a terrorist organization, Cobra Command nonetheless is a collection of recurring villains joined together in a common cause that just so happens to make them the obstacles of the heroes of G.I. Joe. Though in this case, the war between Cobra and G.I. Joe is probably based less on irreconcilable animosity, and more on a desire to sell toys to children. But that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t still like the characters and enjoy watching them clash.
Despite the snake theme of this organization, they typically operate like a fairly ordinary military unit. Though, some interpretations of Cobra Command have taken the name literally, and had the Cobra Commander be an actual snake man beneath his mask. We don’t need over the top gimmicks to enjoy this group, though. For kids especially, when a leader has such a cool, mysterious look, and a menacing, slithery voice, this is the character, and the team, that you’re rooting for.
13 THE THUNDERBOLTS
There are numerous groups on this list that can claim to fight for good as well as for evil. But the Thunderbolts have a bit more of a unique history. They are a group of villains who wanted to do bad from the outset, but failed in their goal to the point that they were eventually trusted by the heroes to help them out. Sure, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of their ability to create chaos in the world, but alliances between good and evil are always an interesting dynamic in comics. Plus, very few villains are successful at fully turning over a new leaf, so even with good intentions, this group had to be monitored.
Original incarnations had the likes of Baron Zemo and Norman Osborn leading the team, and they participated in comic storylines such as Civil War by fighting for the pro-Superhuman Registration Act side. As years passed, the Thunderbolts’ villainous faces phased out in favor of more recognizable heroes. In recent years, Luke Cage, Deadpool, and even the Punisher have been part of the team. None of those three have much of an issue with violence, but they’re a far cry from the cruelty the group was originally designed for.
12 THE HELLFIRE CLUB
The first of several groups relating to the X-Men that we will cover is also one of the most influential among the world of the mutants. Unlike a lot of teams that refrain from taking their name literally, the Hellfire Club is an actual club, though one comprised of high-society members rather than demons. It’s one of the most historic factions that the X-Men encounter, filled with aristocrats and people with the capacity to influence world events. It also just happens to be a group with a collection of villainous mutants who desire to create war and destruction at its core. But at least their social parties are supposed to be fun!
The Club has a chess motif going for it, with each of the core members assigned some role from the classic game. If you’re a chess player, you know pawns are the most expendable of the bunch. It’s the king and queen who matter. In the case of the Hellfire Club, that would be Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost-- though eventually others like Storm and Magneto would become the metaphorical monarchy for the white chess pieces. Magneto being on these teams is going to be a common thread, and if you saw the Hellfire Club’s appearance in X-Men: First Class, you know why. The guy doesn’t want to be one of the world’s kings, he wants to be the king.
11 THE SINESTRO CORPS
Here’s another one of those evil counterparts to the heroic team we were talking about. If you’re a Green Lantern fan, you’re of course familiar with the Green Lantern Corps. So when Green Lantern’s antagonist Sinestro wants to start his own villainous team, what does he do? Ripoff the concept of his enemy of course, and create the Sinestro Corps.
As seems to be the norm for villains who form their teams in response to the hero’s team, Sinestro Corps isn’t as effective as the group it mirrors, but still possesses enough of successful traits to be a threat. In the way that the Green Lantern Corps can be found throughout all regions of space, the Sinestro Corps have created just as many of their own ring-bearers to counteract the heroes. They have even had some surprising names among the list of those who have worn their malevolent jewelry, such as Lex Luthor, and even Batman at one point.
Like Cobra Command, some will debate whether Hydra really deserves to be called one of the best teams of supervillains since they are more of a terrorist organization than a collective of superpowered antagonists. But Hydra has played such a major role in providing a struggle for Marvel superheroes across the years that excluding this group would feel like a big omission. Besides, as they've been clear to state in recent years, they are not some rebranded Nazi organization, but rather their own identity with their own aspirations for taking control of the world.
The group made headlines this year for the recent controversy of Captain America appearing to swear allegiance to them. But even without publicity stunts, Hydra has contributed plenty of memorable moments to Marvel. The Red Skull has been a frequent antagonist throughout history, and is the iconic adversary of Cap himself. And even their side characters have found popularity among fans, such as Deadpool's recurring sidekick Hydra Bob.
9 THE MASTERS OF EVIL
We’ve already covered Baron Zemo’s hand in shaping the Thunderbolts, but what we didn’t mention is that his iteration of that group actually began as yet another attempt to reform his original group of villains, the Masters of Evil. This team began as antagonists to the Avengers, and because it was the ‘60s, Baron Zemo was like Hydra’s Red Skull in that his evil intentions were encapsulated by his Nazi affiliations. Anything to give Captain America an excuse to punch a Hitler supporter, right?
Fortunately, the Masters of Evil outgrew that one-note villainy as the years went on, and started acquiring more impressive villains as part of the team. Doctor Octopus got to take a crack at leading them for a while, and eventually some of their regular members began including the likes of the Wrecking Crew, who were already a team of villains. Meaning the Masters of Evil had a sub-team of supervillains within their overall team. That’s unique and impressive. And with Zemo showing up in the recent Captain America: Civil War, perhaps that’s a sign that movie goers are about to become a lot more acquainted with this historic group.
8 THE HORSEMEN OF APOCALYPSE
This faction of X-men nemeses is kind of the antithesis of Magneto's faction, in that there is no interesting disagreement about politics to be had between this team and Xavier's students. The leader of this group is named Apocalypse, for crying out loud. That should be a pretty clear indicator of how interested he is in getting along with others. Apocalypse is simply a tyrant who revels in power, and what makes his team worthy of a higher mention on this list is how good they are at exerting that power. Even Magneto has been subservient to Apocalypse.
Speaking of the members: as the name would indicate, there are typically four who get to share in Apocalypse's power. And unfortunately for their adversaries, the members are actually often some elite characters who are extremely dangerous, even alone. This has included the likes of Wolverine, Gambit, Storm, Colossus, Deadpool, and even Venom. And then whoever gets past all of them still has Apocalypse himself to deal with.
7 THE DARK AVENGERS
Much like the Thunderbolts, the Dark Avengers are a group of villains trying to redeem themselves. But whereas the Thunderbolts started out trying to be evil, but wound up turning good, the Dark Avengers wanted to be heroes, but eventually started relapsing back into their chaotic ways. But then what can you expect from a group that is led by Norman Osborn, and includes members like Venom, and Wolverine's son Daken? The latter alone is known for killing Frank Castle by cutting off his head, by the way, so take that as you will for this group's chances of being heroic.
Knowing that they won't have the trust of the public, Norman and his fellow members disguise themselves as trustworthy heroes so they can attempt their plan in peace. Osborn adopts a Iron Man type costume and dubs himself the Iron Patriot, Venom appears as Spider-Man, Daken adopts his dad's costume, and so on. And at first, the group seems to be effective crime fighters, but let's just say it's not long before members of this team wind up back in prison. At least they keep things interesting.
6 THE SECRET SIX
It's noteworthy that The Secret Six had a reputation as heroes dating back to the ‘60s, before new writers ushered them into an era of villainy. And the change has actually been one that was well-received by readers. It provides a fresh take on a group of heroes that hadn't shone as much as bigger groups from DC. But it wasn’t as if the preexisting members all became villains. Rather the team name was adopted by several well-known villains.
The group has boasted such heavy hitters as Deadshot, Bane, and Harley Quinn among its alternating cast of villains. You might think that sounds like nothing you haven’t seen before in the Suicide Squad, but the Secret Six are even able to claim the Joker as a member, a name that's notably absent from the long list of villains who have served the Squad. Yet one constant of the team, regardless of whether they've been heroes or villains, has been their guidance from a mysterious leader who goes by Mockingbird. The big reveal behind this name has had the likes of the Riddler or even Lex Luthor pulling the strings.
5 THE LEAGUE OF ASSASSINS
In an ironic twist, one of the most effective teams that is continually a problem for Batman is one that isn’t exactly hoping for his death. In fact, the creepy thing is that the League of Assassins are a group of highly dangerous villains who actually care about Batman. Ra’s al Ghul is still clinging to the hope that he can convince Batman to become a successor to the League at some point. And Talia, Ra’s’ daughter, is the poster girl for unrequited love. She constantly refers to Batman as her “beloved” and is dismissive of his interest in other women. And when Batman has made the mistake of trusting Talia, she always has an ulterior motive, like trying to bear his child without his knowledge.
Adding to the intrigue of this group is that, unlike other terrorist alliances like Hydra or Cobra Command, the assassins in this team aren’t nameless mooks. Many of them have names, distinct personalities, and their own machinations within the League. Lending even more credibility are the other big names that have been recruited for a time: the deadly mercenary Deathstroke and the brilliant, yet powerful Bane. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy used the League twice for a reason. They are one of the biggest threats to the Dark Knight.
4 THE BROTHERHOOD OF EVIL MUTANTS
What has always made Magneto's Brotherhood so interesting is that they are not some mere faction that try to destroy the world while ultimately just serving as punching bags for the good guys. This is a team of supervillains who are tied together because of their belief systems, rather than some petty desire to create chaos. Where Professor Xavier and his X-Men seek to create unity between humans and mutants, Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are sick of living in fear of humans and want to use their power to take control and stop living in secrecy.
That's not to say Magneto's crew doesn't do horrible things. They do have the word "evil" right in their name after all (though some incarnations of the group forgo that off-putting little title). At the same time, it's hard not to sympathize with them. Many of the members, like Magneto and Mystique, grew up being discriminated against by humans due to their mutations. It's hard to have tolerance in the face of that, especially when Magneto knows many of the mutants are so much more powerful than the humans they have to hide from.
3 THE SUICIDE SQUAD
More than any other group on this list, the Suicide Squad is a team that you have to judge based on its concept rather than its members. That's because the boss of this team makes no secret about viewing its members as expendable. Amanda Waller leads the Task Force X project into heroics from afar by implanting bombs into the bodies of villains to command their obedience. Disloyalty brings a Battle Royale-style demise, and loyalty earns a spot on a highly dangerous mission. Suffice it to say, the turn-around on team members is high for this group.
Nonetheless, many villains have been a part of the group in exchange for a reprieve of their prison sentence. The Suicide Squad has become a "who's who" for DC villains, attracting big names like Bane, Deathstroke, and Black Adam. It's also been great for minor characters to get a chance in the spotlight and show off their personality. Harley Quinn is an obvious one who has benefitted from being in the group, but "villains of the week" types have gotten a renewed chance to shine with their inclusion in the Squad.
2 THE CRIME SYNDICATE
So we've talked about some of these villainous groups being counterparts to groups of heroes, but the Crime Syndicate takes that to a whole other level. They aren't just counterparts to the Justice League, but essentially evil versions of the exact same members. Evil doppelgängers might sound a little lacking in creativity, but it's really the ultimate test of whether good or evil would prevail if given the same powers. As much as the Justice League has done to help humanity, the Crime Syndicate has done to harm, and even enslave, humanity.
Ultraman, Super Woman, Owlman, Johnny Quick, and Power Ring aren’t going to win any points for originality. That being said, it’s a classic comic book move to have an evil version of the hero, so how could we not have an evil version of the Justice League? But just because the two groups are similar in appearance, doesn’t mean they are identical in powers. Owlman has been able to harness some mental superpowers before, Johnny Quick has to use supplements to gain his speed (which is not as great as the Flash’s), and Ultraman has even needed Kryptonite to survive before. They’re an effective group, and undoubtedly powerful foes for whomever they face off against.
1 THE SINISTER SIX
Luckily for Spider-Man, he does a pretty good job of keeping his enemies in line. Compared to someone like Batman, it's pretty easy for Spider-Man to keep track of the number of villain alliances that are after him, since they are so few. The bad part is that one of Spider-Man's most dangerous groups of opponents also happens to be his most tenacious. With a debut from back around the time the Avengers and the Justice League were forming, this long-standing alliance of baddies is called the Sinister Six.
The group is best known with Doctor Octopus as the leader and characters like the Vulture and Mysterio as his frequent companions. All the members have varied wildly though, including everyone from Venom to even Spider-Man himself. Even the name has proven misleading, with as few as five members or as many as sixty-six actually comprising the Sinister Six. This is one of the most historic collections of villains in comics, repeatedly putting Spidey to the test every time they reform. And while we have yet to see this group in the Spidey movies, it’s a moment fans have been waiting eagerly to see, and will surely be on the lookout for during Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Were there any of your favorite teams of villains who didn’t make the cut? Tell us which groups of baddies you like the best in the comments section! And you can check out a team of supervillains on the big screen right now, with Suicide Squad, currently in theaters.