While the DCEU may not have gotten everything right as they began their cinematic universe, something they did manage to get right (that Marvel has yet to really learn from) was putting a spotlight on the villains. From the upcoming Joker film that seemingly isn’t attached to the DCEU at all to the Suicide Squad film and the upcoming sequel, DC has done a spectacular job of showing both sides of the coin.
With the recent success of Aquaman in theaters and Doom Patrol on DC Universe, it seems likely the DCEU is about to expand quite a bit. But which villains are most likely to get some of the spotlight moving forward? Let’s see if we can figure it out.
8 Amanda Waller
Much like with Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD, DC and Warner Bros. have a great opportunity to highlight how the government, and through it, the average people working for it, handle a world filled with superheroes...and villains. Comic books often like to focus on the grandiose, the tales of god-like men and women doing battle in the skies above us meager human beings. Not often is there a spotlight shown on the regular people that have to handle the aftermath of situations far beyond themselves.
The regular men and women handling the crisis after alien crisis. Amanda Waller may not be one of the superheroes, but she’s often found in the shadows making the tough decisions the heroes won’t. God save the Queen and God save Amanda Waller.
7 Ra's Al Ghul
Ra’s al Ghul, Head of the Demon, leader of the League of Shadows, and one of Batman’s greatest foes. Not only is Ra’s al Ghul’s story incredibly interesting, but it’s also expansive and long-lasting. Ra’s was alive and kicking for over 600 years before Bruce Wayne even showed up on his radar.
We’ve already seen adaptations of Ra’s in the animated series and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, so there’s definitely enough interest in his character and the impact he has on the life of Bruce. But even more interesting than the impact he will have on Bruce Wayne’s life is the journey that leads an adventurous and curious young nomad to become the notorious Ra’s al Ghul.
6 Red Hood
The Red Hood, at least the Jason Todd version, may not exactly be a supervillain, but he’s certainly no hero. He’s often found at odds with Batman and the rest of the Bat-family due to the use of his more permanent solutions when it comes to the villains of Gotham. Shows like Netflix's The Punisher have already illustrated that audiences will flock to a series following a gritty antihero fighting to clean up the streets.
It’s hard to find more grit than someone who was beating and blown up by the Joker before being resurrected by Ra’s al Ghul. Somehow Bruce still manages to think he’s the one with the tragic backstory. Jason’s tragic backstory is meeting Batman. And everything that followed it. This unique perspective on the toll catching Batman’s attention takes on someone is what makes Jason’s story so ripe for exploration.
5 The Crime Syndicate
One of the benefits of Warner Bros. and DC creating films that don’t directly attach to their main universe is that, whether intentional or otherwise, they are laying the groundwork for a cinematic multiverse.
That being said, with the failure of the Justice League film DC may be looking for a new approach to some new properties. As DC has already illustrated with the upcoming Joker film, they aren't afraid to shine a spotlight on the darker aspects of their source material, even if it doesn’t quite go along with the bigger narrative they’re trying to build. Giving fans a film about an alternate version of the Justice League that gradually becomes evil could be the perfect way to build on the darker side of the DCEU.
While Deathstroke and Deadpool have many things in common a sense a humor and solo films are not among them. A film (or series) following Deathstroke would be a great opportunity for DC to, once again, highlight the darker side of their cinematic universe. A movie
A film following Deathstroke around the world to new and exotic places, where he meets exciting new superheroes and then kills them, could be just the kind of new life the genre needs. Plus, a darker take on a character like Wade Wilson--I mean, Slade Wilson, could be a great twist on the old “morally ambiguous mercenary” thing. Imagine that? A mercenary that’s mostly just a bad dude. May just be crazy enough to work.
Okay, so with the failure of pretty much every one of the DCEU’s filmed attempts at a shared universe comes a significant decrease in the likelihood that we’ll see a villain of Darkseid’s caliber anytime soon. However, we do know that there’s no way that DC will simply let a hallmark character like Superman fall to the side.
And with the recent success of Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle, we could be much closer to seeing a film adaptation of Darkseid than many fans assume. We’ll all just have to wait and see if DC can raise a hero up capable enough to take on such an overpowering force.
2 Lex Luthor
Much like DC is doing with their new Joker film, Lex Luthor is a character that needs to be handled differently than most regular villains in a superhero film. Lex is cold, calculating, intelligent, and complex. He’s a character that demands the space to grow, change, and evolve over time. No mere mortal could stand up to the likes of Superman and routinely walk away almost entirely unscathed. Audiences need time to fully grasp just why Luthor is so mad.
It’s not that he’s terrifyingly brilliant. It’s not even that he’s got the resources to build, create, or buy almost anything he could ever want. It’s that, even when the rest of the world is telling him otherwise, Luthor looks at Superman and sees nothing but a threat, a cancer cell that must be excised. Lex is unwavering. That’s his real power.
1 Harley Quinn
Since her inception, Harleen Quinzel has been on a near meteoric rise in the hearts of fans, heroes, and villains alike. Not only are future Harley Quinn properties likely, but they’re also imminent with the upcoming Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). From a recently announced cartoon series on the newly launched DC Universe streaming platform to headlining upcoming DCEU films, Harley Quinn is on the rise.
While most fans may be used to her more villainous side, it seems like that DC television and movies may take some hints from more recent comics and align Harley more with heroes of her universe rather than tying her down to with the Joker. Harley Quinn deserves all the good things coming to her. Sticking it out with the Joker for that long couldn’t have been easy, so it’s nice to see her character finally becoming emancipated from her partner's toxicity.