The comic book medium is known for creating larger-than-life villains capable of destroying universes at the snap of a finger. But on the other end of the spectrum, its also known for creating goofy villains that think a high-velocity ketchup gun is going to stop Batman.
They can't all be megalomaniacs on the villainous "A-Team" with nearly unlimited powers. Some of the guys on the "Z-Team" make the best of it with nothing but a silly gimmick and criminal dream in their hearts. And you've got to give it to some of these lower level guys for their bravery bordering on the insane. Who else in their right mind would take on Superman with nothing more than a bow tie and an exploding gift-package?
While the lower-level villains are just a nuisance to be solved on a slow Wednesday afternoon, the top-shelf villains require massive team-ups to defeat and planning skills on fleek. It takes the likes of the entire Justice League or Avengers roster to go up against some of these reality-bending monsters. And by the end of it, they might not even remember what happened because the timeline got rebooted in the process. Up against these odds, a few batarangs or spider-webs just aren't going to cut it.
Putting the strongest and weakest villains next to each other makes the weak ones look even more pathetic, and the strong ones look like gods. The big guys probably wouldn't think twice scraping the Z-team of the bottom of their shoes.
Here are the strongest and weakest Marvel and DC Villains.
Skipping the middle-tier of villains and landing close to the top, we have the likes of Braniac. There have been multiple versions of Braniac throughout the years, but the most recent ones cast him as an alien super-intelligence that is a formidable threat to be reckoned with.
Braniac is a collector, often absorbing the knowledge of entire worlds and shrinking them down to the size of jars to be included as part of his menagerie. He can control robotic or organic drones remotely, making it hard to discern where the "real" Braniac actually is. He is a master of all forms of computers and technology.
He most often goes head to head against Superman, proving to be one of his most formidable challenges. Worse, he occasionally teams up with Lex Luthor, a combination that proves to be a giant headache for Superman.
Blinded by a warehouse explosion, Phillip Reardon thought he would never see again. Until some quack claimed he could re-attach his retinas to his finger-tips. That doesn't sound medically possible, but, you know, comics.
So now Reardon calls himself the Ten-Eyed Man and leads a life of crime with the power of... ten eyes. Did anyone think this villain through? Wouldn't this cause excruciating pain every time he grabbed anything at all? Typing must be literal torture.
Supposedly these extra eyes make him a good marksman and fighter. At least, that's what he probably he tells himself. In his free time, he suffers from the delusion that he can win against Batman. This usually ends in bitter defeat, with the maniacal sounds of Batman laughing his cape off.
Ultron is similar to Braniac in that he is a master manipulator of computers and technology, and can control multiple proxies of himself. Where he is different is that he is a complete machine super-intelligence, originally created by Hank Pym, aka Ant-Man. In the MCU films, Ultron was created by both Tony Stark and Bruce Banner.
Ultron has nearly destroyed the Avengers on multiple occasions. He is the human equivalent of a megalomaniacal sociopath, bent on wholesale destruction of the human race. Despite his inner evil, he contributed to the forces of good by creating the synthetic being known as Vision, a member of the Avengers.
As an opponent, he is extremely difficult to take down. He is a master tactician and his body is constructed of Adamantium metal, nearly impossible to destroy.
Matadors are graceful and some people think they're pretty cool. But no one equates bull-fighting skills with actual superpowers. Except for this guy, who let's all admit it, does it with style.
There were actually two different guys that took the Matador mantle. The first one was named Manuel Eloganto (Really, Marvel? Really?). The second one was simply named Juan. Both used their capes for criminal tom-foolery, like covering the windshield of an armored car or using it to envelop an enemy.
Unfortunately, both Matadors went up against Daredevil, a guy who doesn't need his eyes and sure as heck wouldn't get visually diverted by a cape. Bullfighting is definitely a skill that doesn't have much practical use in criminal masterminding. At least he has a sword!
Doomsday carries the exclusive distinction among super-villains as the only one to successfully destroy Superman. Well, temporarily, at least.
Doomsday is a genetically engineered being, endowed with certain abilities by its creator, an alien scientist named Bertron who used to work with Kryptonians before Krypton exploded. What makes his creation Doomsday so powerful is that he continually regenerates himself. Every time he is apparently destroyed, he regenerates and develops an immunity to the thing that just destroyed him. Over time, this has made him virtually invulnerable to all things that typically might be a threat.
A behemoth with strength and invulnerability equal or greater than Superman, Doomsday is a top shelf-villain and is among the most elite examples of sheer force and durability in the DC universe.
It's funny how some villains with similar gimmicks ended up so far apart from each other in status. The Joker, with no powers, is one of the most iconic villains of all time with movie-stars lining up to play him on the silver screen. But a guy like The Prankster, with a similar skill-set and a far more subdued degree of insanity, gets no respect at all.
Part of the reason is how he was originally drawn. What you see above is his original incarnation, looking like a goofy carny. Just like Joker or The Trickster, he uses weaponized practical jokes and pranks as a way to attack his enemies. Older versions of The Prankster used gags like exploding gifts and acid corsages. New versions of the character use high-tech pranks involving nano-bots or ultrasonic frequencies— none of which are particularly useful against the likes of Superman, his arch-enemy.
Nemesis is a being that was created when all seven Infinity Gems were joined together. Once they were conjoined, they formed a sentient intelligence in a humanoid female form.
Most are aware of the six Infinity Gems: Space, Reality, Power, Soul, Mind and Time. These six were enough to power up Thanos' gauntlet during the original storyline of Infinity War. But there was a seventh gem: the Ego Gem. This was the missing gem that gives Nemesis both her form and power.
Having control over all of the Infinity Gems gives Nemesis nearly omniscient power over everything, but she can only exist as long as the Infinity Gems are joined. Only a massive alliance that comprised of multiple heroes and Avengers from several different universes was able to take her down. One universe's heroes were just not enough.
Paste-Pot Pete doesn't have much going for him in the way of strength or superpowers. But what he does have is an amazing grasp of chemistry, particularly as it applies to state-of-the-art adhesives. Paste-Pot Pete utilizes a paste gun to trap those in his way, and in his early years had meager success as a bank robber.
Later in his career, he changed his name to Trapster and updated his outfit so it was sleeker and sporting. He once was part of a super-villain group which included Wizard, Hydroman, and Titania. He also tried to go after Deadpool, but Deadpool took care of him easily.
These days, he has gone back to calling himself Paste-Pot Pete in the hopes of being underestimated in battle. Honestly, with that outfit, it's hard to underestimate anyone further.
By witnessing the dawn of time with a device he created, the genius scientist Krona unwittingly split reality into countless parallel universes. This is what created the DC multiverse.
This was seen as an unforgivable sin by his own species. For punishment, they banished him by converting him into a state of pure energy. This forced him to be a passive observer, witnessing the universe from the outside for all of eternity.
Of course, Krona escaped, and when he did, he had amassed massive power. He meant to continue his experiments to observe the beginning of time, but he didn't get very far. The Green Lanterns stopped him before he could do any more lasting damage.
Had it not been for Krona's initial meddling with forbidden knowledge, millions of extra universes would never have existed at all.
It's not clear how a stand-up comedian could sink so low that he resorted to sporting weaponized condiment guns to assist him in a life of crime. A joke even among 5th and 6th string super-villains, Condiment King had the audacity to take on Batman armed with nothing more than common kitchen condiments.
Admittedly, a blast of horseradish to the eyes might actually incapacitate someone for a short time. Also, if one has a food allergy to mustard or the other condiments, it's possible that a condiment gun could be life-threatening. But we think Condiment King has delusions of grandeur. If big guys with real guns are no match for Batman, what good is a non-lethal mayo gun? Perhaps he is better suited for working a high capacity burger joint as a mascot. They're used to clowns in that industry.
Thanos is an Eternal, an elite race of beings, part of which settled on the planet Titan. Simply by nature of his heritage, he is one of the strongest beings in the universe. He also has a high intellect coupled with no moral qualms about committing genocide.
After acquiring the six Infinity Gems, Thanos almost ruled over all reality itself. But most of his massive destruction was an ill-fated attempt to court a woman who demanded that he prove himself to her. It turned out this woman was named Death—and was a living deity representing the cessation of life. Ultimately, he found his courtship empty and was defeated by the Avengers.
Even without the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos is a formidable foe possessing immeasurable resources, massive power, and a mind for mischief.
The character of Asbestos Lady was created in a more innocent time, one where we had no idea that asbestos was potentially life-threatening to whoever was around it. In the early years of The Human Torch, Asbestos Lady was one of his foils. She wore a suit of Asbestos that she engineered and created herself. It was an excellent flame retardant to counteract The Human Torch, but also to shield herself from her own pyromaniac adventures.
She was an arsonist by trade, utilizing a flamethrower to ignite her targets. These served as diversions for the authorities while she would rob a bank nearby.
Sadly, Asbestos Lady perished from mesothelioma, a likely side-effect from donning the suit all those years.
Darkseid was created about 50 years ago by the legendary Jack Kirby. To this day, he remains an awesome villain who still plagues the modern day heroes of the DC universe. He's also the character that some villains from other comic book universes are loosely based on, such as Marvel's Thanos.
Born a literal god on his planet of Apokolips, Darkseid possesses immense strength, virtual immortality, and powerful "Omega Beams" that emanate from his eyes and can disintegrate virtually anything in their path.
Darkseid is in constant search of "The Anti-Life Equation", a formula that would give him dominion over all sentient minds. He has nearly succeeded in completely assimilating Earth several times, but he is always stopped by Earth's greatest heroes.
Batman has a knack for accumulating criminally insane villains throughout the course of his career. Though Joker is of the most extreme, Calendar Man is another one who is just as arguably crazy. Calendar Man doesn't have any superpowers, but he is completely obsessed with holidays and other significant days of the year, often committing a theme-based crime based on the date. His costumes would vary depending on the holiday. If it wasn't a holiday, he would sometimes wear an outfit that was supposed to look like a calendar, with a cape made of calendar sheets depicting different numbers of the month.
Calendar Man was a member of the short-lived super-villain group known as the Time Foes, a collection of other time-themed villains such as the Clock King. Now, he spends most his time at Arkham Asylum.
Born at the dawn of the universe, Galactus is a deity that feasts upon planets to accumulate energy. He makes practical use of minions he designates as his "heralds" to seek out new planets to consume. The Silver Surfer served as one of his heralds, though later he regretted his time spent with Galactus.
Galactus has an appetite for planets that can never be sated. He claims he cannot be destroyed until the universe itself is destroyed as well. He often takes advantage of the chaos of cosmic events to consume more. Galactus can be stopped, but it takes massive planning, teamwork, and firepower to do so.
Though he has threatened earth on many an occasion, it is usually The Fantastic Four that thwarts his plans through highly ingenious methods.
Stilt-Man, aka Wilbur Day, is actually quite intelligent, having developed his stilt-suit all by himself. Using state-of-the-art technology, Day employs armored telescopic legs to ascend to heights of about 290 feet. This is great for entering high rise buildings unimpeded or robbing helicopters in mid-air.
Stilt-Man is a low-level favorite, popping up all over the Marvel Universe. He's tangled with She-Hulk, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and The Avengers. Though his suit augments his strength and his legs can have potent force, he can be easily beaten if thrown off balance.
Stilt-Man perished at the hands of The Punisher, but was later resurrected by The Jackal. He is now principally Spider-Man's problem.
The Beyonder is the living embodiment of an entire universe. He is not unique in this respect—he comes from a race of beings who are born as their own self-contained universes. For a while, the experience of himself was enough. But after he discovered Earth, he became aware of the concept of desire and started performing experiments to learn more about it.
For Earth's heroes, this led to the events known as The Secret Wars, where every hero was promised their heart's desire if they won in battle against super-villains chosen by the Beyonder. He doesn't see himself as a villain, but he is remarkably self-absorbed, lacking the empathy needed to understand the ramifications of how his action affect other living beings.
Eventually, the heroes of the Earth found a way to banish him from their universe, supposedly to rejoin with a higher power. There is always the possibility he might return.
Kite Man has wicked hang glider skills, which is great because he doesn't have much else going for him. He started out as a silver-aged era Batman villain in 1960, mainly caught in theft-related crimes.
Like other villains obsessed with gimmicks, Kite-Man uses a wide variety of kites as both weapons and escape vehicles as part of his schemes.
He was apparently destroyed by Intergang when he refused to join them, but this was later retconned away in the The New 52. His storyline took a darker turn in modern times when we discover his children perished at the hands of The Riddler. Upset enough to change sides, Kite Man teamed up with Batman to stop the Riddler and sabotaged his henchman's gliders to be caught by The Caped Crusader.
The Anti-Monitor is a mysterious being that formed from the leftover cosmic energy of the universe. In the infamous Crisis on Infinite Earths mini-series, the Anti-Monitor nearly succeeded wiping out every positive matter universe in the multiverse. It took the combined efforts of ALL heroes and villains from the multiverse from EVERY time period to vanquish him. But doing so meant changing the timeline and losing all memory of the previous versions of the multiverse.
As a result, DC retconned over fifty years of confusing comic book history and completely started over with new versions of their heroes and villains. This was the first universe-wide "reboot" in comics history, spawning multiple similar events in both DC and Marvel.
If you're into extreme in-line skating and enjoy robbing banks, then maybe you too can become a "super-villain" like Blue Streak. Blue Streak can travel at race car speeds, up to 150 mph on his rocket-powered skates. He also has a suite of armor that is functional: it helps absorb the impact of any high-velocity accidents and also houses potent lasers in the forearms. This alone makes him slightly higher on the list because he actually bothers to employ a useful weapon. Those lasers are great for cutting through steel or blasting warning shots at The Avengers.
But still, at the end of the day, he's mostly just a fast guy on roller-skates.