Heroes are defined by their villains and the DC Universe has some memorable comic book super villains. They are not always super powered, but the villains are almost as well known as the super heroes. Here is some comic book background on the characters as well as their television and film appearances.
10 Doomsday – The supervillain who killed Superman was created by Dan Jurgens in Superman: The Man of Steel #18 (November 1992). His villainy was embodied in his savagery and indestructibility, a DC Hulk. He was first realized in the Justice League cartoon voiced by Spawn himself, Michael Jai White. Sam Witmer played the character, Davis Bloome, that transforms into Doomsday in the 2009 season of Smallville. He then goes on a rampage played by actor Dario Delacio. Recently, Elden Henson voiced Doomsday in the direct to video The Death and Return of Superman (2011) animated film.
9 Bane – a very recent Bat villain, Bane was created by Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, and Graham Nolan in Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 (January 1993). He was a deadly villain because he was fueled by Venom, the drug that addicted Batman for a brief time in the Legends of the Dark Knight #16-20. Bane had the build and costume of a Lucha libre wrestler. Bane’s greatest threat was that he knew all about Bruce Wayne and slowly took him down until finally breaking his back in Batman #497.
His first film role was as a cameo henchman role played by Jeep Swensen in the panned Batman & Robin (1997). In animated form, he was in one episode voiced by Henry Silva, “Over the Edge” (1998) of The New Batman Adventures. Later, he was voiced by Hector Elizondo in the Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman direct-to-video cartoon. Of course, given a lead and very serious role in The Dark Knight Rises played by Tom Hardy. The Venom injection is not mentioned in the film, but his gravelly voice is perfectly villainous.
8 Cheetah – Cheetah, Wonder Woman’s super rival, has been rebooted in almost every comics age, but first appeared in Wonder Woman #6 (October 1943) created by William Moulton Marston (creator of the lie detector and Wonder Woman) and H.G. Peter. Cheetah first appeared in Challenge of the Super Friends voiced by Marlene Aragon. Sheryl Lee Ralph voiced her in the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons. Cheetah appears in the Wonder Woman direct-to-video animated film, but only in an unvoiced cameo. She recently appeared voiced by Farscape’s Claudia Black in the direct-to-video animated film, Justice League: Doom. Unfortunately, the Cheetah never appeared on the Wonder Woman television show.
7 Deathstroke – This deadly assassin was introduced in New Teen Titans #2 (December 1980) by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. He started out as The Terminator, but for some reason that was dropped. Deathstroke was re-booted in the new 52 as a mercenary hero with his own title. The name Deathstroke was dropped in favor of his first name, Slade, for the Teen Titans cartoon voiced by Ron Perlman (best known as Hellboy). In the final season of Smallville, Michael Hogan plays Slade Wilson. The mask of Deathstroke was shown at this year’s Comic Con for the upcoming television series Arrow.
6 Black Manta – one of Aquaman’s deadliest foes, Black Manta was created by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy in Aquaman #35 (September 1967). Black Manta is infamous for killing Aquaman’s son, Arthur Curry Jr., otherwise known as Aquababy in Adventure Comics #452. He is recently made prominent in Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis’ Aquaman comic book where he is killing off the super team The Others. Black Manta first appeared in animated form voiced by Ted Knight in the Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. Ted Cassidy (also known as Lurch from “The Addams Family” television show) voiced the character as a member of the Legion of Doom in Challenge of the Super Friends. Much later, he showed up in Batman: The Brave and the Bold voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. His most recent appearance is in the Young Justice cartoon played by Khary Payton.
5 Sinestro – Green Lantern’s greatest villain and sometime ally, Sinestro, was created by John Broome and Gil Kane in Green Lantern #7 (August 1961). Geoff Johns has brought depth to him in the comic books and made him the one-time leader of the Yellow Lantern Corps. He first appeared in Challenge of the Super Friends voiced by Vic Perrin. His first film appearance, unfortunately, was in the Legends of the Superheroes played by comedian Charlie Callas. His later animated appearances include an episode of Superman: The Animated Series voiced by Ted Levine who also voiced him in the Justice League cartoon. Sinestro was given a nod to the recent comic books with the direct-to-video animated film, Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) voiced by Victor Garber. Recently, he was put on film by Mark Strong in the Green Lantern (2011) film. It was a fine portrayal, but his potential as a villain is lost among the rest of the confusing script.
4 Catwoman – Bill Finger and Bob Kane created the femme fatale in Batman #1 (April 1940). She is a sometime Bat villain, but now turned hero in the comic books. Her own title was rebooted with the New 52 where she has some bedroom action with the Bat. Catwoman has an extensive onscreen portrayal starting with Lee Meriweather in the 1966 Batman movie, then Julie Newmar from the Batman television show from 1967 and then 1968 with a brief period in between by the very sultry Eartha Kitt. Batman Returns (1992) had Michelle Pfeiffer as the resurrected Catwoman which was almost a parody as was Halle Berry in Catwoman (2004). Adrienne Barbeau voiced eight episodes in the Batman Animated show. Lastly, Anne Hathaway brought realism and fit the cat suit great in The Dark Knight Rises.
3 Lex Luthor – Superman’s greatest villain while created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster did not appear until Action Comics #23 (April 1940). Visually, Luthor is just the bald headed mad scientist until given the green War Suit designed by George Perez. Gene Hackman of course started the film roles with Superman (1978), Superman 2 (1980), and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) which I still like since actors returned. The young Luthor was memorably played by Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville from its beginning in 2001 to 2008. He thankfully returned to move his character to super villain status in the last episode, “Finale” in 2011. Kevin Spacey brought a thuggish edge to Luthor wielding a Kryptonite shiv in Superman Returns (2006). Luthor is voiced by Mark Rolston in the Young Justice cartoon.
2 Darkseid – one of the greatest DC villains of all time and introduced fairly recently. He was created by Jack Kirby in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 (November 1970). Darkseid was given some recent prominence in the recent Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. He still wasn’t given the threat of the original Kirby character. Darkseid was first realized in the Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show voiced by the legendary Frank Welker. He was then voiced by Michael Ironside in the Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League cartoon. Darkseid was mainly an off screen villain in the last season of Smallville. He was mostly in shadows with gleaming red eyes, but no Omega Beams.
1 Joker – The Joker is without a doubt one of the most well known villains in all comic books. He was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane in the first issue of Batman. His film portrayals started with the great Cesar Romero in the 1966 Batman movie and the show from 1966 to 1968. Romero is the one closest to the comic book villain with his offbeat villain plots and what is more memorable than his moustache covered up by make-up (which I still can’t see today) is his haunting laugh. Cartoon Joker first appears in the Batman/Superman Hour voiced by Larry Storch of F Troop fame. The Joker finally appears in Super Friends with the Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians with voice supplied by the talented Frank Welker.
Jack Nicholson played Jack Napier in Burton’s 1989 Batman. I was taken aback by his need to cover up his face, the comic book Joker would never be ashamed of his clown face. The Joker is of course brilliantly realized by Mark Hamill in Batman Animated giving him a goofy and maniac edge. He also stepped in as the shadowy Joker in the premiere of the Birds of Prey show. Of course, Heath Ledger brought an anarchist, psychotic bent to The Dark Knight in 2008 and we all know that the brutality of the character can be replicated in real life. Lastly, he is voiced by Brent Spiner, Data himself, in the “Revelation” episode of Young Justice.