With the new Justice League film out this year, a lot of people wonder about who the best villains were that they went against. Let’s be honest, there are so many amazing bad guys in the DC Universe. Individually, each member of the league has their own top big bad. Perhaps, The Flash and Batman have the biggest, most crucial, and toughest rogue galleries in the universe.
Regardless of what universe in the multi-verse you might be in, there is always an incredible bad guy for the two to go up against. This is what makes things so good for us as fans. The top players in these galleries are tough to beat, and thus we get so into the comic, animated TV show, or movie they may go up against.
When a villain is so good that they challenge every possible thing about the character, it makes you consider that our hero may not beat them. In the end, you imagine they will, but DC has pulled out deaths to characters before or severe injuries that cripple main characters. Ask Superman and Batman about that. However, perhaps the biggest issue the heroes face is when the threat is too large to tackle alone.
This is why the Justice League was formed. It allowed for the team to help each other when threats were too large to take on by themselves. Just because the heroes team up does not mean they will win or immediately do well. Sometimes the bad guy still wins and can bring the league to their knees. There are 15 such villains who did this, and we thought you might want to know about them. Enjoy.
Since the upcoming Justice League film will focus primarily on Steppenwolf as a character and big bad for the movie, we should probably talk about him. The man is the General of the Apokolipian army. Basically, he works for Darkseid, the main man of Apokolips, as a man who helps to take planets for him. Steppenwolf is a strong villain who mainly worked against the league and not any single person of the team individually. The reason for this has to do with the fact that he tries to take over the world, so that is kind of a team effort to stop, of course.
Any world he wanted, Steppenwolf has been able to take. The reason for his success for so long is mainly due to how strong he is as a fighter and the army by committee system he possesses. When these demons of Apokolips keep coming, it takes all one can do just to get them out of the way enough to get to Steppenwolf. When finally approached, he is not some pushover.
He posses a cable-snare weapon that allows him to entrap opponents. While in this, he can fire lethal radion beams at someone. His main weapon is his electro-axe, the thing you see him with in the film. He is a master swordsman and a formidable hand-to-hand combatant, meaning even the best like Batman would have a tough time taking him on even without his weapons. It is also tough to ignore that he is immortal as well, and has super-strength and speed. That said, we’re not seeing some sort of easy opponent. The league is nearly crippled by this man, and for clear reasons. With that known, Steppenwolf clearly deserved to be on this list.
When you talk about powerful villains, Amazo ranks near the top. The reason for this has to do with the various ways he is used in the comics and animated television shows. In Justice League Unlimited, Amazo is considered to be one of the League’s toughest opponents. The reason for the toughness ultimately has to do with what he is and what he can do. He’s an android, or robot. So you’re seeing a character that can simply be rebuilt.
On top of this, he can absorb the powers of those in his immediate proximity. This means if he faces a Wonder Woman or Superman type, he can develop the powers they have. Of course, depending on the type of Amazo we’re discussing(there have been many), he can add these powers to his system and use them again. Therefore making himself literally impossible to defeat if he were to gain ever League member’s powers, for example.
He has been on the brink of tearing the Justice League as well as Teen Titans in half on many occasions due to the abilities he possesses. If not for Dr. Fate stepping in, finding the good inside Amazo (cause that’s a thing somehow), he would have completely killed every Justice League member, including the entire Green Lantern Corps in one story of the animated series. Simply put, Amazo is one heck of a foe for the Justice League and it would not be shocking to see him turn up in movie form at some point.
Mongul is known mostly from his time in Superman comics, like many other big bads you might see go up against the Justice League. Superman, in knowing Mongul, is usually ready for the things that come his way. However, he was not quite ready at one point when he found Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. He did this on the Man of Steel’s birthday, as though things could not be better. Superman had been expecting Batman and Wonder Woman that day. This led for the duo, along with Robin, to discover Superman in an inescapable dream-like state.
Mongul put Superman in this, and did one of the evilest things one man could do. He put him on Krypton for life and gave him the dream-like version of what would have happened to his life had the planet not exploded. He had a family and even a dog. He waited for Batman and Wonder Woman to arrive, and seeing he could do the same to Batman he did to Superman, he put him in the same state. Not to forget Wonder Woman, whom he brutally beat down.
He gives Batman and Superman a paradise only to force them to realize it isn’t real. Talk about completely hurting someone emotionally. Even your ex-girlfriend at least gave you hints she was going to cheat first. Mongul doing this and taking down core League members proves how much of a foe he was for the team. He remains pretty difficult in the comics, and after the Darkseid storyline, he could be one of the top people Warner Bros. uses for a studio film. This is how impressive Mongul happens to be. An Alien-world conqueror with super strength, stamina, speed, agility, and durability is tough to beat. Oh yeah, and he’s a twisted type who likes to break you apart emotionally too.
12. Nekron and the Black Lanterns
There is one storyline that is seemingly beloved by all superhero fans, which is known as Blackest Night. The reason for it is due to a situation involving the two men, Nekron and Black Hand, where they give out Black Lantern rings. They did not just hand them out to random homeless men, but rather, they reanimated former Justice League members considered long dead. Meaning we were seeing former League members come in for this storyline, where they wore the black lantern ring(think Green Lantern, but evil). This included the likes of Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, Ralph and Sue Dibny, and Martian Manhunter.
Oh and Batman too, in a sorta-kinda way. While Black Hand and Nekron are considered threats on their own, they lead their army of black lanterns against the Justice League. Seeing as they’re now going against friends from their past, zombies somewhat, they have to deal with the idea of killing their dead friends…whom they are both happy and horrified to see. This set up Green Lantern fighting his friend Flash, or Zombie Flash.
Since Batman was never part of the team for real as the bones found of his were cloned, as were Superman’s, the team never actually went against them. While the Black Lanterns would rip through the League to begin with, this would not last. Green Lantern would eventually summon a White Lantern corps that would help defeat the black. Upon doing this, black lanterns were destroyed along with Nekron… until he wasn’t. He is still a significant force that every lantern must look out for, as well as the Justice League.
Deathstroke made his name as the main villain and tormentor of the Teen Titans. He continued to take those kids to school whenever he had the chance. This led him to eventually clash with Batman, and he became a top villain in his rogues gallery as well. However, Deathstroke is not someone who stops with one act. He’s paid by the job, and it does not matter who he has to face or what he has to do. If it involves killing someone, stealing something, or kidnapping, Wade Wilson is your man.
This led him to clash with the Justice League. In the Identity Crisis storyline, he is hired by Dr. Light. This leads him to run into a bulk of the Justice League, which included, and we’re not kidding, The Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Hawkman, The Atom, and Zatanna. His reaction to running into them all? He freaking smiles! Seriously, he smiles at the challenge!
He flat out destroys the League and nearly overpowers then-Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, to take his ring. If not for Green Arrow stepping in to stab Deathstroke in his blind eye with an arrow, he would have taken said ring. He was able to be taken down by the League from there, but what a feat to do what he did against some of the greatest heroes in history. Deathstroke is a tactical genius with amazing physical ability. He knows every martial art there is almost impossible to stop. Oh yeah, and he’s not some sort of alien but a human doing this. Talk about amazing.
10. Vandal Savage
Vandal Savage is considered to be one of the better villains in the entire comic universe due simply to the fact that he is thousands of years old, and cannot die. His plans on running the world have been in play for so long, he was plotting evil plans before Justice League members and their grandparents were even thought of. While the television show Legends of Tomorrow does well with explaining his dominance, the Legion of Doom animated film shows it as well.
The idea is that Savage has to be stopped in both the past and present. In Legends, he has to be killed by the very people whom he developed his powers with, Hawkman and Hawkgirl. One has to be the person to kill him or he will be back again. In Legion, he has to use various villains to enact a plan to kill the Justice League that Batman created as a means to stop them, not kill.
Savage uses others to get things done as a way to keep himself hidden from the timeline. If he can force others like a Hitler to commit the acts he wants to make happen, they will be remembered for the acts and not himself. Thereby making it tough to find him in history, unless you’re outside of time. In other storylines, he has to be stopped by teaming past and present superheroes. It’s actually quite complicated in explanation, but we’re pretty sure that was the point.
9. The Joker
The Joker will always stand out among villains because of the crazy things he does. The thing is, he might be crazy but he isn’t stupid. Joker has a plan, even if he does not consider it one. He’s gone up against Batman many times, but also he’s been difficult for other heroes. Probably the most notable version of what The Joker did was destroy the Justice League in the Injustice series. The story goes like this. There are threats of bombs spread out through Metropolis. The League comes in to help Superman with the threat.
Considered to be an issue, it’s revealed that Lois Lane has been kidnapped by The Joker. Before doing this, he finds Scarecrow, kills him, and takes his fear toxin. Thinking this through, he combined it with Kryptonite. Joker is found by Superman, and since the Man of Steel does get hit by the toxin but thinks he cannot be affected by it, he shrugs off the issue. What he does not know is that Doomsday is with The Joker and is now running toward him.
He decides to take Doomsday up to space to have him out of Earth. However, about this time the toxin wears off to find that the toxin made Superman think Lois was Doomsday. An unprotected Lois is now dead in space. Joker had also attached a heart monitor to her so that when her heart stopped beating the bombs would go off. Superman would lose his love and his city at the same time. He would end up finding The Joker and killing him. This would set Clark on a hunt to rid the world of evil, but becoming a dictator at the same time.
It would also destroy the Justice League in this universe and it is still not completely back together there. Superman would kill anyone who did not abide by his rules or question him, including Shazam and Green Arrow. He would force Green Lantern to turn yellow and encourage the warrior/evil side of Diana to come forth. All of this, set up by The Joker, even if the crazy guy did not even plan it to turn out this way.
8. Injustice League
While it may seem related, the original Injustice League had nothing to do with the story involving The Joker. Bored of dominating, villain Agamemno forms an alliance with Kanjar Ro, a former alien dictator. The plan: to take out the Earth’s heroes, the Justice League. Upon coming to Earth, they contact Lex Luthor and recruit villains to their cause. People like Black Manta, Chronos, Cheetah, Penguin, The Joker, Reverse Flash, and others would be part of the league.
Agamemno would tinker up a device allowing the members to switch minds with the actual Justice League’s major members. Basically, the top villains for each respective hero would be who they were switched with. With this, they would take over their minds and learn all about them and how to, of course, beat the league. By knowing them all individually, they would be able to take them down one by one or at the same time. Their pick.
Of course, now that the League was evil, other Silver Age members of the League would have to battle them. Green Lantern would manage to summon the power of Oa’s Central Power Battery and a Thanagarian weapon called “Absorbascon” to reverse the mind swap. Now having spent time inside the League’s mind, they knew how to end them. They would enact their plan and take many down.
In order to defeat the Injustice League, the Justice League would use Robby Reed’s alien H-Dial to change themselves into different heroes. Green Lantern would use his power ring through the Absorbascon afterward to remove all knowledge of the heroes from the time they learned inside their mind, such as secret identity, family, etc.
7. Ra’s al Ghul
Don’t ever let it be said that Ra’s al Ghul does not have a plan, as he not only has one, he has the BEST one. Almost like Trump saying he has the best of ideas, Ra’s actually does and proves it. Yet they are not his own in this case. A bit of backstory here is that Ra’s knew Batman made a contingency plan for the Justice League to put them down if they were ever a threat to mankind or any world for that matter. His plans were meant to safely put them down, which would allow for capture by the caped crusader himself.
Ra’s stole the plans in the Tower of Babel storyline, which is considered to be one of the better storylines in DC history. He would change said plans to kill the league rather than simply put them down for a period of time. The Legion of Doom animated film showed this, but put another man in as responsible for the theft. The plans took down every league member, from having Wonder Woman fight until she died to having Martian Manhunter catch on fire with a flame that would never go out.
Due to Batman inventing the plan, he did not truly make one for himself. However, being buried alive in the same grave and coffin as where your family once was is pretty big. Batman has to then battle out and eventually the Justice League slowly saves each other from death. The Demon Head’s plan did not work out, but it served to add distrust in Batman amongst the Justice League. Batman is a part-time League member for a reason, people.
6. Reverse Flash/Zoom
It does not matter what you call him, whether it is Reverse Flash, Zoom, or some other name… he is quite the foe for the Justice League. In fact, the entire story of The Flash is wrapped around his biggest enemy. It is one of the most brilliant things ever written. With someone like Zoom being as fast as The Flash, and extremely smart due to being from the future and knowing what Flash does not… he can do things Barry Allen and Wally West would not be able to do. In fact, the man was so smart that he actually managed to wipe the Justice League from existence.
In his plan to destroy Barry Allen as a human being, not just Flash, he puts Barry in a bad mindset after a while. This leads to Zoom managing to, in a way, influence Barry into Flashpoint. This would allow for Reverse Flash, a man out of time and always available to existence, to take over whenever he feels like. Barry does this to make sure he has his parents back and to lead a normal life, but he realizes this is not the place he needs to be in. But in doing what he did, he lost his own powers to change it.
Due to Flashpoint, many heroes do not exist as well. Bruce Wayne is killed by the robber instead of his parents, pushing for Bruce’s dad Thomas Wayne to become Batman and his mom to become The Joker. Aquaman and Atlantis are about to go to war with Wonder Woman and the Amazonians. Then if that wasn’t enough, Superman landed in Metropolis instead of a country field, thus leading to the government to get him under their possession and keep his powers down. Flash has to find his way out of all of this, which was brought on by Reverse Flash, who continues to keep this as Barry’s fate the entire time. Talk about brilliant.
Darkseid and the Justice League are combined like some horrible marriage where the two people refuse to get a divorce. Darkseid can be credited with being the reason the Justice League forms in one universe, which is the one we’ll be focusing on in the upcoming Justice League movie franchise. The idea is that Darkseid is trying to take Earth as his own and set up his Apokolipian home there.
Meanwhile in another universe, the story Final Crisis (which is about as big as anything ever in DC), Darkseid succeeds in his mission. He sets up Apokolips on Earth for a time. This was after perfecting his anti-life equation on Earth, which is exactly as it sounds. The Justice League originally fails to stop Darkseid in this, which means hell really has arrived on Earth. Batman and others did not take this lying down.
The Dark Knight would fire a Radion bullet into the heart of Darkseid in order to stop him. While Darkseid is still living in the ether, he has not succeeded in taking the Earth since Final Crisis. However, he has been a problem since in many other ways for the League. Yet he’s not their biggest foe ever, as weird as that might seem.
4. Lex Luthor/Brainiac
If we have not made it obvious enough, both of The Justice League’s animated series need to be watched. In one of these storylines, Lex Luthor, noted supervillain in his own right, forms with Brainiac, the smartest being to exist. In the Justice League Unlimited’s second season finale, we come across a story named Divided We Fall. Lex is already considered by most to be a genius, so combining with Brainiac for this is clearly a problem. To top it off, both hate Superman with a passion.
Brainiac is of course not from Earth, and he has been in many galaxies to take knowledge from them all, thus having alien technology is simplistic for the character. He had almost unlimited power and genius, making him such a threat that no member of the JLA could take him on alone. In order to do any sort of damage, The Flash has to run around the world (literally) to build up enough speed to do a damaging punch to “Lexiac Brainuthor”. Tough to form a good name.
While he does take down a lot of league members, he is eventually taken down by The Flash and others. After his downfall, Lex and Brainiac still manage to succeed in killing the league. Superman gives a press conference in the second half of the season finale that lets us know the League would disassemble. This is due to the damage they had caused, among other reasons. Don’t worry, they reform later.
While the Arrow television show brought up Prometheus last season, this version of the character is completely different from the archer we saw in the series. Why does Prometheus stand out over so many? He’s what many call Batman’s opposite, which is why Green Arrow had him last season as his opposite… the story was borrowed from Batman. The backstory is simple. Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed by a criminal, while young Prometheus’ parents were criminals, killed by a police officer.
This enraged Prometheus, who would vow revenge on the forces of justice due to this. He would train for years to become smart enough and capable enough as a fighter to beat them all. Due to being almost an exact, yet evil, clone of Batman, he is exactly like him. His most memorable usage was when he completely took down the Justice League in their much-beloved Watchtower. Once inside the Watchtower, that was when the takedown truly began.
Like Batman before him, Prometheus had a plan for each Justice League member. Thus, he knew how to take them down one by one. He would go after and take out Cyborg, Martian Manhunter, Huntress, Zauriel, and Green Lantern through this system. Thinking ahead on meta-humans like Flash and aliens like Superman, he had a plan there as well, as he would ultimately bend him to his will. If that wasn’t enough, he even took down Batman in combat…seriously.
Weirdly enough, the complete savior in all of this was Catwoman, who no one knew about. She would secretly attack, and since Prometheus did not have plans for her, he would ultimately go down from her helping the JLA. If not for this, Prometheus, a human man, would have taken down the entire Justice League without seemingly as much as a challenge.
2. Crime Syndicate
You may not realize it from their name, but Crime Syndicate is evil. I know, it shocked us too. Earth-3 is considered to be very different from what we consider Earth-1. Due to how impressively different things can be here, it makes sense to think there could be counters to us all on another Earth…evil versions. Just ask the Justice League, whose opposites were on this planet. Thus leading to what was known as the Justice League vs Crime Syndicate rivalry, of which the Syndicate would win initially.
Considering the opposites did not have the same names as the League members we know, they had different names allowing us to know who they were compared to our heroes. Ultraman, Power Ring, Johnny Quick, Superwoman, and Owlman were the core members. I am sure you can tell who the opposites of THESE people were. In the Forever Evil storyline, the Syndicate overpower the JLA, and even make them disappear from their Earth entirely.
They have an evil version of Cyborg, known as Grid, who helps them. Thus allowing them to take over the planet. If that wasn’t enough evil for one team, they even kill long-time Batman ally Dick Grayson, or Nightwing, on live television. Talk about insanity. Remember the Injustice League from earlier? It takes Lex Luthor and his team to take down this Crime Syndicate. Making them clearly one of the Justice League’s most horrendous threats.
When you talk about the Justice League’s biggest threats, there may never be a bigger one than Anti-Monitor. Why is this? Well, it’s a loaded situation. See… the Justice League can only do so much when the character they go up against is practically a God. In fact, it was Anti-Monitor who gave them their first true test in comics as he made the first crisis for them occur. He did this in the Infinite Earths storyline, which was considered at the time to be one of the better story arcs of the day. Of course, it still holds up today as well.
Anti-Monitor did not just threat one universe, but the entire multiverse that DC loves to talk about and exploit. Thus meaning that he was so powerful that he threatened to take over every single universe available to take over. This led to both Barry Allen and Supergirl sacrificing their lives in order for him to not bring anti-matter into the equation. Those sacrifices were nearly in vain, as he was so powerful he could do without the anti-matter if need-be to take over.
Understand, this character was so powerful he even made villains want to get involved to stop him. This led for the God-like Spectre, super-villain Darkseid, Superboy, Alexander Luthor, and Superman combining their might to stop him. In the New 52 version of comics, he would wipe out Earth-3 completely and would enter a cosmic war with Darkseid, that ultimately leads to heroes coming to help.
When you ask who the biggest Justice League threat was ever, look no further than Anti-Monitor. He simply was so powerful that it took God-like beings to take him down, and he still kept coming back in other comics. Clearly meaning he cannot be ended.