When you've been around for as long as Marvel and DC have, you're bound to create some dud villains. Back in the day you'd need to come up with a new enemy for your hero to face in every single issued; sure, you could reuse the more popular ones like the Joker or Lex Luthor or Venom, but nobody wants to read about the same villains month after month. This meant that writers were often scrambling to create bad guys, many of whom were one-off characters who were so awful that they never came back or were used as the butt of the joke later down the line.
But don't sleep on some of these guys! People tend to forget that, even though they are mocked today, the lamer villains of Marvel and DC did give our heroes a run for their money when they first appeared. In an act of encouragement we here at Screen Rant would like to remind you what some of these "lame" villains are really capable of!
Here are 15 Villains Who Won't Use Their Full Potential.
Flint Marko is a character who has kind of gone by the wayside in recent years. In the original run of The Amazing Spider-Man the Sandman was one of Spidey's most formidable foes; he was a founding member of the Sinister Six and also would appear as the main villain of the comic from time to time. However, as time went on people started to point out how lame the character was. Exactly how threatening was a guy whose body was made of sand, exactly?
Turns out that Flint Marko is ridiculously powerful when he wants to be. Sandman can turn his body into a substance as hard as concrete or allow solid objects to pass through his body at will, making him near-impossible to fight. Sam Raimi seemed to understand Marko's potential, as he originally had pegged Sandman as the primary antagonist in Spider-Man 3 before Sony forced him to include Venom.
Also, there was that time in Marvel Zombies that, pumped full of adrenaline and fearing for his life, Sandman killed an alternate version of Spider-Man without so much as breaking a sweat.
Just hearing this guy's name alone is enough to make you roll your eyes. As you probably guessed, Toyman is a villain who is obsessed with creating (you guessed it!) evil toys that help him commit crimes. He often acts as an adversary of Superman and his family, most recently appearing in the Supergirl TV show. The fact that Toyman was created in the 1940s should tell you everything you need to know about how ridiculous the character is...
But there's a lot of potential that Toyman isn't utilizing. This is the guy who builds exploding Teddy Bears, deadly Pogo Sticks, and giant robots - you can't tell us that he isn't a brilliant inventor! With those kind of skills, Winslow Schott should be working for the military or the CIA developing weaponry that can be disguised as regular objects for assassinations or robotic exoskeletons that can be used the next time Darkseid invades.
Schott has acted upon his potential multiple times, as he has been "reformed" too many times to count and has helped the heroes of the DC Universe. Alas, he always ends up reverting back to his evil, toy-obsessed ways.
Poor Rhino. Even when he finally got his big break as a character in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 he was reduced to the laughing stock of Marvel. Aleksei Sytsevich was just a normal thug working for the Soviets before he was given a powerful suit that increased his strength and made his skin near-indestructible. In some incarnations of the Spider-Man lore the Rhino costume is actually just a large, rhino-shaped robotic suit. Despite his powerful abilities, Rhino is as dumb as a rock.
We don't mean "ditzy" or "ignorant"; Rhino is a moron. He once tried to take on the Incredible Hulk one-on-one, to hilarious results. He's also defeated quite often simply by getting goaded into charging into somethin. Just imagine for a moment how unstoppable Rhino would be if he actually took some time to improve himself?
If Sytsevich actually sat down and tried to educate himself there would be nothing that could stand in his way; it would be as if Doc Ock was given the strength of Rhino. We're not even sure Marvel's heavy hitters like Hulk or Thor could stand a chance.
12 Paste Pot Pete/The Trapster
Please stop laughing... Yeah, maybe Paste Pot Pete wasn't the best name for Peter Petruski to use as his villainous moniker. But it was the sixties and every other supervillain had a lame name! That's why, after joining the Frightful Four, he changed his name to the Trapster. Yeah, not much better... But don't let his horrible name fool you; the Trapster is potentially one of the most cunning villains in the Marvel Universe.
Trapster is the only person in the entire world who can create an exact replica of Spider-Man's webbing, and he uses adhesive on his boots to walk on walls. This means that he could easily frame the Wall-Crawler for a crime without anyone giving it a second thought. Also, he has the ability to fly via anti-gravity discs and can create lubricants that render any surface friction-less. He has even created a chemical that depowered Mister Fantastic!
Laugh all you want, but Paste Pot Pete is one of the most brilliant inventors in the Marvel Universe. Had he put more effort into his name and design, Petruski would probably be one of the greatest villains in the publisher's history.
No, we aren't talking about the big bad of the Lord of the Rings series. The Sauron of the Marvel Universe is a scientist named Karl Lykos who turns into a giant Pteranodon whenever he feeds on the energy of one of his victims. Despite wanting to find a cure for his Mr. Hyde-like ailment, Saruon eventually embraced the role of the villain. As the giant prehistoric creature, Lykos has powers similar to Rogue, able to steal mutant's abilities by draining their power. He also has strong hypnotic powers that allow him to manipulate others into doing his bidding.
Sauron does live up to his potential as a villain. However, he definitely doesn't live up to his potential as a scientist; Karl Lykos is a world-renown geneticist. He once used his knowledge of genetics to turn humans into dinosaurs that he could control. Spider-Man called him out, saying that he could use this breakthrough scientific knowledge to do something like cure cancer. Sauron simply responded, "But I don't want to cure cancer. I want to turn people into dinosaurs!"
So, unlike the others on this list, Lykos is completely aware of his potential but simply doesn't want to use it for good. Wow.
10 The Top
Aside from Batman and Spider-Man, the Flash probably has the greatest rogue's gallery in comics. Sure, not all of his villains are necessarily well-designed or sinister, but you're not going to forget colorful characters like Captain Cold, Rainbow Raider, or Captain Boomerang. The character of Top first appeared in the Silver Age of comics and perfectly fit in with the ridiculousness of the time period. Roscoe Dillon was a criminal who was obsessed with tops. He eventually taught himself how to spin his own body so fast that he can deflect bullets and give himself heightened intelligence. We don't get it, either.
Where Top's full potential comes from is not his power or his intellect; instead it comes from his own life experiences. Early on in his villainous career Dillon is killed by being exposed to the Flash's Speed Force. He remains dead for some time, but eventually returns and reveals that his soul had been trapped in Hell.
Now, let the implications of that sink in - comic book characters return from the dead all the time, but Top's story actually confirms the existence of the Biblical Hell. That's a pretty big deal. Why is Dillon even still a criminal? He would be set for life just from the book deals and TED Talks he could get from his experience!
9 Mole Man
If Frank Reynolds ever entered the Marvel Universe, he would be Mole Man. Just look at this guy: there's nothing pleasant about him! His outward appearance and self-righteous personality were the main reasons that Harvey Elder was shunned by his scientific colleagues; Harvey kept pushing forth his theory of the Hollow Earth without much evidence, to the mockery of his peers. One day he fell into a large cave and discovered an underground race called the Moloids. He was accidentally blinded by a large pile of diamonds and decided to stay in this world as the race's new leader. As the Mole Man. Elder has antagonized the Fantastic Four for decades.
Mole Man has no superhuman abilities per se. He has always acted as more of a cerebral villain to Marvel's First Family, as his minions did the physical work while he simply masterminded his surface invasions. However, because Mole Man has been without vision for so long, he is said to have super-senses on par with Daredevil's. There's only one problemL Mole Man refuses to lose weight. The character's short, pudgy stature keeps him from being able to perform the death-defying stunts that the Man Without Fear is so well known for.
Don't do drugs, kids. If you do you'll end up like Snowflame, a villain who gained his powers through... snorting cocaine?! This character was created specifically for the New Guardians series, which followed a group of lesser-known superheroes in the wake of Millennium. The series didn't last long, and we can see why; aside from Snowflame, villains included Hemo Goblin, who ended up giving two of the Guardians AIDS. Yeah...
Fans of DC ridiculed Snowflame and his horrible origins. But just think of just how much damage this villain can do! One of Snowflame's many powers is what he calls the "cocaine touch," which is the ability to give people contact highs just by coming into contact with them. This power could be the driving force behind so many political scandals; what if he used it on a world leader, leading to the destruction of their political career and potential arrest for being under the influence of drugs? Snowflame could also use the cocaine touch to create a wide-reaching drug epidemic in the world.
He's only appeared in a singular issue, but maybe it's because writers realized just how overpowered the character really is.
7 Asbestos Man
Well, the problem's right there in the name. Believe it or not, there was a time where people actually desired their items to be created with asbestos. Around the time this comic came out it was becoming clear that asbestos actually caused severe illness in humans. But that's okay! It's resistant to fire, so this Human Torch villain used his own "super asbestos" to create a suit to defeat Johnny Storm. Storm, however, got the last laugh when Asbestos Man finally reappeared almost forty years later and it was discovered that he had developed cancer from his chemical-laden suit.
Now, Orsen Karloff has a PhD. in analytical chemistry. How did he not realize that this was a bad idea? To make things worse, he only had a singular appearance. So unlike most career criminals in the Marvel Universe, Asbestos Man was humiliated, served his whole jail sentence, and then turned up again with an illness that he himself was responsible for. What is a PhD. worth anyway?
It's not too often that a Spider-Man villain actually wants to turn themselves into a giant monster. The Wall-Crawler has an entire rogues gallery of characters who were created accidentally in science experiments gone wrong. Vincent Stegron, on the other hand, wished to recreate the experiment that turned Dr. Conners into the Lizard. While investigating the Savage Land with Conners, Stegron stole some of the DNA from the dinosaurs that inhabited the land and injected it into himself. The result was that Stegron turned into a giant Stegosaurus-human hybrid with super strength, super agility, rock-hard skin, and a prehensile tail that can be used as a weapon.
The problem is that Stegron would be near-unstoppable if he just wore a dang coat! This villain defeated by being exposed to the cold, since he's cold-blooded like a reptile. Stegron's entire body slows down and eventually goes into a hibernation state when he gets cold.
Also, the character has the lesser-known ability to control the reptilian part of any animal's brain ; the part of the brain that controls survival instincts. Stegron could literally use his powers to make his enemies see each other as a threat, and get them to take each other out.
Let's be clear here: ee are mostly talking about current Bane rather than the one that was introduced in the '90s. In his original form, the villain was the greatest foe Batman had ever faced on his own. After Batman was worn down by having to recapture all of his rogues in a single week, Bane showed up at Wayne Manor and "broke the Bat." However, post-Knightfall Bane was reduced to a complete joke.
He's shown signs of his old glory recently, but for the longest time Bane's intellect was pushed aside in favor of his brawn. Often appearing as the hired muscle that was hopped up on the drug Venom, he normally worked for one of the villains who was more "cerebral" and couldn't fight at all (like the Riddler, the Joker, the Penguin, etc.).
When we first saw him on the big screen, he was disappointing; Bane in Batman and Robin was a total insult to the character. The film reduced him to a giant mindless monster who could only say one or two word sentences.
We finally got an awesome version of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, but even then he didn't live up to his full potential! The League of Shadows was the most powerful secret society in the world and Bane decides to finally reveal himself to the world by taking over the crime-ridden city of Gotham? Tom Hardy's Bane could have easily taken over the world had he (and his boss) not been so driven by revenge.
He may be considered one of the the worst Captain America bad guys, but Madcap was able to find temporary new life in the pages of Deadpool. The character was originally created to represent the apathetic culture of the average American teenager, wondering why they need to do anything and promoting anarchy and chaos. Naturally this made him a great "lesson of the week" villain for Captain America and his uber-patriotic ideals. In Deadpool, the character was revealed to be the "little white text boxes" that would talk to the Merc inside his own head.
Madcap is definitely one of those bad guys who is so over the top that he could never work as a serious character. If he ever gave up his philosophy about chaos theory, however, he could quickly ascend the ranks as a dangerous foe in the Marvel Universe. Madcap possesses the ability to turn people temporarily insane simply by making eye contact. The results of this power drive people to go as far as commit suicide in their insane state.
He also has just as strong of a healing factor as Wolverine or Deadpool: Madcap can heal from any injury instantly and also lacks the ability to feel pain.
3 Double Down
Yes, we are serious. Surprisingly, the villain Double Down was not a product of the '60s like most of the others on this list. Instead, he was created by comic book legend Geoff Johns during his run on The Flash in the early 2000s. Jeremy Tell was just a regular con man until he lost a particularly bad hand at cards. In a fit of rage, he killed his opponent and stole all of his money. What he didn't know was that the man had a cursed deck of cards that would instantly bond with Tell's body and replace his skin. Now going by Double Down, the character can peel parts of his skin off at will and use them as weapons.
Let's just talk for a second about how horrifying of an image that is. If he wanted to, Tell could just take off the entire deck and walk around like a terrifying skinless creature; that alone could keep people from messing with him!
Then there's the fact that he could make millions cheating at cards now. Need an extra Jack? Just tear off a piece of your leg and you're good to go! Even Double Down's creator realizes the character's potential, saying that Jeremy Tell was the "one that got away" during his run on the Scarlet Speedster.
Thanks to Arrow, this character may finally be getting his due. Prometheus was introduced in the late '90s as an enemy of the Justice League before going on to act as a recurring villain in the Batman lore. He was just a young boy and a fan of the League when he was allowed to join them for a day as the hero "Retro." However, not long after this event, Prometheus' parents committed a crime and led the police on a cross-country chase. In the end they were gunned down and the young boy vowed that he was going to dedicate his life to stopping "the forces of justice." Once and for all.
Prometheus spent the rest of his young adult life traveling the world training in different forms of martial arts and eventually building a base within the "ghost zone" (not to be confused with the Phantom Zone). Prometheus' suit of armor has the ability to download any fighting style or the mannerisms of any being and program them directly into the villain's brain. How is this guy not an A-lister?
Seriously, despite the awesome abilities that the character possesses, he is regulated to a C-lister at best. Thankfully recent writers have realized Prometheus' potential; he is currently acting as the main villain of Arrow season five and has appeared a few times since the New 52 DC Universe reboot.
1 Mister Mxyzptlk
The Imp Mister Mxyzptlk has been the subject of ridicule even back in his early days. He's a trickster from the fifth dimension who has the powers to completely warp reality into any situation he can think of. Mxyzptlk is a foe of Superman and usually appears more on the "antagonist" side of the spectrum rather than as a full-on villain. The Imp is a lover of all things mischievous; he uses his powers to primarily cause chaos and wacky situations for his own amusement.
Thank god Mister Mxyzptlk has never decided to go completely evil. Think of the repercussions if he did! The character isn't bound by any of the laws of our dimension. He could completely wipe us out of existence with the blink of an eye if he wanted to.
If you really want to see how sinister Mxyzptlk's powers can be, check out the Emperor Joker storyline. In it, the Clown Prince of Crime is able to steal "90%" of the Imps' powers and uses them to completely recreate the world to his own desires. Now, the members of the Justice League are all lowly criminals while their greatest enemies act as the "real" Justice League. However, the pure insanity of Joker's mind mixed with Mxyzptlk's power threatens to tear the entire universe apart. Yeah, let's be glad he's on our side.
What other Marvel and DC villains aren't living up to their full potential? Let us know in the comments!