In one of my recent internet browsing sessions, I came across a list of the top 100 comic book villains, and reading through it, there were characters who I thought were either too high on the list, too low, and others I wasn’t familiar with at all.  Obviously the people at IGN are a lot more knowledgeable than I am about comic books – past and present, but then again, that does add a certain nerd-factor to their list.  I tried to do my list based on pop-culture stuff I’ve seen – Superman movies, Batman flicks (the good ones anyway), Batman: The Animated Series, the X-Men cartoons, the Spider-man movies and cartoons, the higher-profile graphic novel comic collections, etc.

Here’s what I came up with:

51 – Electro
Anybody who can control electricity seems cool to me.

50 – Mysterio
I don’t know why I think the fish-bowl headed magician who bugs Spider-man is interesting, but he is.

49 – Thanos
If I were more of a comic book reader, I’d probably have him higher than half of this list, but I’m not as familiar with him as I am with a bunch of other guys.

48 – Clayface
Anyone who can alter their appearance to look like anyone else has the potential to be very dangerous.

47 – Killer Croc
Deformed villain with tons of strength?  That’s a dangerous combination.  His involvement in the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum was pretty cool.

46 – Scarecrow
Judging just from the Cilian Murphy portrayal in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, he wouldn’t make much of a splash on this list, but after playing Batman: Arkham Asylum, he probably belongs a lot higher on this list.

45 – Poison Ivy
The Uma Thurman portrayal in the Batman & Robin movie wasn’t all that great, but she is quite dangerous when she gets her pheromones close enough to heroes like Batman and Superman.

44 – Bullseye
Bullseye was the best part of the Daredevil movie, and he’s extremely effective at what he does.  He’s probably not as good of a villain as some of the people behind him on the list.

43 – Red Skull
How can you not hate a Nazi who is a main enemy of Captain America?

42 – Loki
Very powerful enemy of Thor, and a trickster at that.

41 – Chameleon
Shape-shifting enemy of Spider-man who gets better publicity than Clayface.

40 – Sandman
He can alter his body and control sand.  He was brutal in Spider-man 3, but in the end he wasn’t a BAD guy, just desperate.  Old school comic fans probably rate him higher.

39 – Lizard
I like the backstory on Lizard more than anyone else in the list of Spider-man villains.  Former teacher of Peter Parker who becomes a villain based on trying to regenerate his own limb?  Nice.

38 – Rhino
Indestructable suit for a strong, hulking brute?  Probably not deserving of this spot on the list, but he’s also dangerous despite wearing a ridiculous outfit.

37 – Kraven the Hunter
I like the character, but he’s not around enough to be any higher on this list.

36 – Bizarro
More amusing than he is dangerous, I do respect him based on the fact that he’s basically a failed clone of Superman.

35 – Talia Al Ghul
Daughter of one of Batman’s more dangerous enemies, yet she and Bruce Wayne seemingly fall in love.  She has a devious side, which makes her a villain instead of just a side-character.

34 – Ozymandias
I never read Watchmen, but it’s a popular work which I saw in its cinematic form on DVD.  He’s powerful and intellectual, a real match for Mr. Manhattan.  Watchmen isn’t popular enough to get him any higher on this list.

33 – Lady Deathstrike
Basically a female version of Wolverine.  Gotta respect that.

32 – Harley Quinn
To know Harley Quinn is to love Harley Quinn.  She’s the perfect sidekick to The Joker – a crazy psychiatrist who falls in love with her criminal patient.

31 – Zsasz
Honestly I didn’t know muchc of anything about him prior to a few months ago.  As I started learning about him, I started to really appreciate how dangerous and sick he is.  If I ever take the time to write a Batman story, which I’ve considered a few times, I’d likely include him as a main character – which I expect Christopher Nolan might do if he does two more Batman films (if he’s only going to do one film, I don’t expect he’d use Zsasz, but he did place the character in both of his previous films).  The chapter in Knightfall involving Batman taking down Zsasz was an interesting read.

30 – Mr Freeze
My introduction to Mr Freeze through Batman: The Animated Series is one I’ll never forget – easily one of my favorite animated episodes of any television show ever.  He’s dangerous, though not exactly what I would consider a BAD guy.  Great character, though.

29 – Penguin
How could I make this list without including Penguin?  From the old TV show to Batman Returns to The Animated Series, he’s definitely one of the main Batman villains, albeit not extremely dangerous apart from his thugs.

28 – Hush
Batman seems to get some really well-written storyline arcs which are published as trade paperbacks, and one of the best would have to be Hush.  Dangerous guy with an interesting backstory.  He’s not around enough to be listed any higher, though.

27 – Bane
He broke Batman’s back, how serious is that?!  His portrayal in the Batman & Robin movie was laughable, especially given the story he was involved in with Knightfall before and after crippling Bruce Wayne.

26 – Juggernaut
I’m not sure exactly why I like Juggernaut so much, but the helmeted enemy of the X-Men finds his way to a respectable level on this list because he’s a great sidekick to Magneto.  Whether it’s the movies, the cartoon, or a video game including the X-Men, Juggernaut is typically included.

25 – Sinestro
The Green Lantern is gaining in popularity as of late, and Sinestro (as far as I understand) is his primary foe.  He was pretty awesome in the First Flight movie I saw a couple months ago.  Maybe if I were to do this list a year from now he’d be higher up, and some Green Lantern comic readers might think he belongs higher now, but I’m not a huge comic book reader, so this is where he lands on my list.

24 – Mystique
I might give more respect to the shape-shifters than I should, but Mystique is still a great character, beit in the old cartoon, the comics, or the X-Men movies.

23 – Shredder
Sure, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are probably the least popular of the heroes who would be referenced on this list, but The Shredder is still an awesome character.  The fact that he’s the top enemy of the Turtles in almost every single incarnation of the group gives him some serious street cred.

22 – Darkseid
As a kid, I always viewed Darkseid as being Superman’s main alien enemy.  Although he wasn’t in any of the movies, I was glad to see that the Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe game pulled him back into prominence.

21 – Apocalypse
Back in the days of the X-Men cartoon and subsequent video games, Apocalypse was a major player.  Had he been involved in any of the movies, he’d probably be higher on this list, but perception is reality and he hasn’t been around lately, so he doesn’t seem as dangerous.

20 – Ra’s Al Ghul
I knew about this character prior to Batman Begins, but I didn’t care too much about him until then.  At least in the movies, he helped train Batman.  That is some serious street cred.  He’s not a regularly recurring villain, though, which drops him down the list a bit.

19 – Galactus
Destroyer of Worlds?  Yeah, that’s some serious power.  Only thing limiting Galactus’ ranking on this list is that he doesn’t show up too often, and even when he does, it’s hard to really fear him.  He either destroys things or not.  The portrayal in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was kinda cool, though.

18 – Doomsday
He kills Superman.  The only reason he’s not higher on this list is because he’s not around very long, and he’s a recently created character.  His portrayal in Smallville was pretty cool… until the very end, which was very poorly done, in my opinion.

17 – Sabretooth
He seems like a dangerous character, and given his relationship and history with Wolverine, I’d say he’s fairly important, but I just can’t force myself to put him any higher on this list.

16 – William Stryker
The biggest name in the Weapon X program which created Deadpool and Wolverine, I can respect how important he is to the X-Men universe.  I will admit that my exposure to him is pretty much limited to X-Men 2 and Wolverine: X-Men Origins movies.

15 – Sentinel
Big huge robots which can shoot lasers and were a staple villain of the X-Men (at least for a period of time)?  Yeah, I respect Sentinels.

14 – Brainiac
An alien organism which is part computer program with an extreme amount of artificial intelligence.  If there’s one way to beat Superman other than Kryptonite, it’s with intelligence.  The three incarnations I’ve seen of the character have all been interesting, and the version on Smallville was fun to watch and well acted, not to mention super dangerous.

13 – Riddler
He doesn’t seem extremely dangerous, but he’s extremely smart and hugely clever.   The Jim Carrey incarnation was a bit weird for me, but I really liked Frank Gorshin in the old Batman TV show, and his involvement in The Long Halloween graphic novel and in the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game.  Plus, I like his sense of style.

12 – Venom
I’m not a particularly huge fan of Venom, but plenty people really enjoy the character, and my personal biases aside, I can see what there’d be plenty of interest in the character.  He’s essentially an evil version of Spider-man, seemingly more powerful and uninhibited.

11 – Norman Osborn
The Green Goblin is one of the more interesting Spider-man villains, especially going with the schizophrenic version portrayed by Willem Dafoe in the 2002 version of the film.

10 – Two-Face
Harvey Dent’s a complex character, especially when portrayed as having dual personalities instead of just being a brutal guy with a weird sense of justice.  The portrayal by Tommie Lee Jones in Batman Forever was a little over-the-top for me, but his origins story in Dark Knight was very good.  He also plays a very considerable role in The Long Halloween graphic novel.

9 – Dark Phoenix
Sure, she’s more destructive than anyone in the top 10 if she wants to be, but she’s not always evil – and that fact keeps her from being any higher on this list. Because she’s also Jean Gray – one of the more popular X-Men characters, the fact that she has an evil side makes her a more high profile villain.

8 – Doctor Doom
He’s the main enemy of the Fantastic Four and highly respected amongst comic book fans.  He’s the main villain in the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance video game.

7 – Catwoman
The Halle Berry movie might’ve had terrible reviews (I can’t personally comment – I didn’t watch it), but Catwoman is still a great character.  She’s the perfect female foil to Batman, with plenty of great gray area about whether she’s good or bad.  I like the fact that when she’s behind the mask, she and Batman have been known to lock lips, and when she’s Selina Kyle (sp?), she and Bruce Wayne have also been known to date.  As far as I’ve seen it, she’s not a murderer, primarily just a thief.

6 – Kingpin
A crime syndicate leader who can be one of the major enemies of Spider-man, Punisher and Daredevil?  That’s some power and influence.  I wasn’t as impressed as I could’ve hoped with his portrayal by Michael Duncan Clarke in the Daredevil movie.

5 – Doctor Octopus
Although “Doc Oc” is one of my favorite Spider-man villains, he’s not synonymous enough with Spidey nor deadly enough to get higher on the list. If it weren’t for all of Spider-man’s other enemies, Doctor Octopus might be a little higher on this list, especially if he had a more destructive history in the mainstream.

4 – General Zod
He’s as powerful as Superman, probably smarter, a better leader (presumably) than most of the people on this list (a GENERAL on a planet whose average intelligence is higher than that of Earth?  Not an easy task).  He’s not a complicated guy: he wants to kill the son of the man who imprisoned him, and he is willing to kill anyone who won’t kneel before him.

3 – Lex Luthor
It takes a tough, determined guy to take on Superman, but The Greatest Criminal Mind of Our Age is confident enough in himself to put his resources to taking down the Man of Steel.  In some of the animated and video game incarnations I’ve seen, Luthor has built himself a suit to make him extra powerful with some limited ability to fly.  I’ve even seen some stories where Lex becomes President.

2 – Joker
As the top adversary of Batman, there’s no question that Joker belongs in the top three.  His portrayal by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger were both great in their own way.  The one thing I’d say for Joker is that he’s such a great manipulator and can find ways to get things done even without having the monitary resources that Lex Luthor has.  He gets arrested, taken to Arkham Asylum, then gets out or makes thins happen while behind bars. Joker is such a great character that people are actually FANS of him – even as a villain.  Can’t say that about Lex Luthor.

1 – Magneto
It was a tough call on whether to pick Magneto or Joker, but Magneto is far more dangerous.  When you think of Batman, there’s lots of villains.  None are more popular than Joker, but others are definitely more dangerous.  When you think of X-Men villains, it’s definitely Magneto.  Joker might’ve killed a few people in the 1989 version of Batman and The Dark Knight, but Magneto looked dominant in the first and third X-Men movies, and he’s potentially going to get his own movie in the near future.  It was a tough call, but just looking at how much damage Magneto can do compared to Joker, the choice was easy.

For the list which inspired this, you can go here:

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