Everyone has their favorites, so here they are, my top 5 comic book Villains of all time:
Now whether you’re favorite Joker is Heath Ledger, Mark Hamill, Jack Nicholson, or god forbid anyone who actually enjoys Cesar Romero you can’t deny that everyone of these characterizations while frightening and disturbing is equally persuasive and charming.
Originally, the Joker was a homicidal maniac inspired by the Conrad Veidt film, The Man Who Laughs. In the film, his character endures a barbaric punishment wherein he is sentenced to have his face carved into a smile so that for as long as he lives he can never truly emote. This technique has also been adopted in the comics as an explanation for his grin, but in recent years writers such as Grant Morrison and Scott Snyder have used it more as well as Heath Ledger in Christopher Nolan’s, The Dark Knight.
The Joker the antithesis to Batman earns the number one spot for making it his personal mission to kill the batman but not without serious tragedy to the “Bat Family” including the killing of Jason Todd (The second Robin) and his mother, Jim Gordon’s second wife Sarah Essen, and paralyzation of Barbara Gordon. This was a polarizing event in the DC Universe showing Barbara’s retirement from active crime fighting as batgirl, even in later years referencing it in the Booster Gold Time Travel series as a fixed point in time.
And even still in the Death of the Family series by Scott Snyder, The Man Who Laughs by Jeph Loeb, or even his brief appearance in Hush, shows the Joker cannot exist without Batman. In a constant never ending struggle, the Joker will always be the Batman’s greatest foe.
If you’re unfamiliar Magneto or his origin, apart from just reading the comics I would definitely try to see the movies. But here’s a basic overview represented by an amazing montage here.
As a jewish holocaust victim, Erik Lensherr discovers he can manipulate and control metal with his mind. The point in which he discovers this superhuman ability is when his parents are separated from him and (at least until X-Men: First Class) assumed killed by the horrors of the holocaust. He then meets Charles Xavier, also a mutant advocating for mutant’s rights. But their methods differ greatly between them, Magneto believing mutants are the next step in human evolution and should destroy the humans or at the very least hold them as subservient to the mutant race.
However, several films and comics demonstrate Magneto’s willingness to help and support Charles Xavier against an anti-mutant threat. It’s this grey area that makes him such an intriguing character to watch and examine throughout the series. His malice tempered with the plight of his jewish heritage and subsequent experiences in the holocaust cause great sympathy for the character in his fight for “Mutant Freedom.”
The Greatest Green Lantern there ever was or ever will be… well, he would’ve been had Hal Jordan not found the ring of Abin Sur and become a Green Lantern himself. The Lantern Corps is a group of intergalactic police (an intergalactic version of Interpol) which help the galaxy through the power of each individual’s will which allows the user of each ring to create energy constructs according to their concentration and will.
Throughout the Green Lantern’s series however, it is later revealed in the Blackest Day, Darkest Night event that there is a whole spectrum of colors used by separate corps each representing a type of emotion. Sinestro, lacking faith in will chooses a more worthwhile emotion for most of his career and with it, The Sinestro Corps! Represented through yellow energies, their rings are powered through fear.
Besides being a self-admitted villain who wanted to be a Yellow Lantern (incidentally the most harmful color to any Green Lantern for a number of years). Sinestro’s struggle for power is similar to Magneto’s in the sense that he feels the Guardians of Oa, those who watch over the Green Lantern Corps are too restrained in opposing real threats. Many of their techniques are often geared towards pacifying or imprisoning galactic threats, rather than killing them outright.
Dr. Doom, originally Victor Von Doom, was once a reluctant friend and ally of Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four but in space each of them was exposed to solar radiation of mass proportions giving them each special abilities. Doom, never a man who would seek out his Reed’s help but since his inception has become more than just a Magneto knockoff, he is also a master of the mystic, a technopath, and an incredibly strong and power-hungry, evil version of Captain America and Doctor Strange.
If nothing else every story that involves Doom never relegates him to be a B-level villain, His prescense makes you bow before him. NOW BOW!
5. Lex Luthor
Lastly, of course we have Luthor. The promethean business man proving how awful Superman is to our planet at every turn. The thing I like the most about Luthor is that where the Joker concentrates every second of every day obsessing over Batman. Luthor proves his place in Metropolis as a competent business man and an intelligent researcher devoting much of his vast wealth and research to defeating Superman, when masquerading as helping “the human race step up to the challenge” keeping Superman on even footing with everyone else.
Nothing can make you sympathize or love Lex more than Brian Azzarello’s Luthor. A Fantastic graphic novel putting Superman in the role of Antagonist reasoning how Luthor lives in constant fear of this mysterious super being from Krypton.