The Justice League. In 1960, a group of disparate superheroes came together to stop a single, world-ending threat that none of them could have defeated on their own. Since then, the League has taken on many members and even more villains. Some of these villains are the greatest in all of comics. We have nearly-immortal eco-terrorists, three-eyed aliens, government bureaucrats and interdimensional interlopers. (We also picked out one or two crappier enemies just to keep things honest.)
With the Justice League live action debut inching closer every day and people getting more excited for DC Comics’ premiere property more than ever before, we thought we’d focus on some of the bad guys they’ve faced over the years. After all, how good can a team really be if they don’t have great villains? Well, you could ask the Great Lakes Avengers or the Justice League Detroit branches, but, really, why would you want to dredge up those messes?
With nearly sixty years of Justice League comics to work with, Can you Name These Justice League Villains?
He’s blind in one eye and still the greatest assassin in the DCU
Originally debuting in The New Teen Titans, he nearly destroyed the team by turning Terra against them. His enhanced strength and healing factor allow him to overcome the fact that he’s blind in one eye—a handicap he flaunts to further show his superiority. Over the years, he's dropped a nuke on Blüdhaven and had his daughter blind herself to prove her loyalty. It took Batman, Nightwing, and Robin teaming up to defeat him in a fight. Thanks to his enhanced healing abilities and superior physical conditioning, he is a threat to humans and metahumans alike.
This Batman villain almost took down the entire League without lifting a finger
He’s a 600-year-old eco-terrorist with a handsome cape. While primarily known as a Batman rogue who is often thwarted by his ego and his daughter’s conflicting loyalties, this character almost took down the Justice League. How? He distracted Batman by stealing the dead bodies of his parents (yeah, you read that right) and then hacked his computer. He stole Batman’s files on how to take down his fellow League members and implemented the plans. While he did not succeed in killing them, he created a gigantic rift between the League and the entire Bat-family, which saw all of them virtually excommunicated from the superhero community.
This alien menace has a deep connection to J’onn J’onzz
These alien interlopers have a deep desire for war and conquest. They’re one of the most recently developed villains on this quiz, first appearing during Grant Morrison’s JLA run. This group used a combination of psychic and shapeshifting abilities and to appear as a new superhero team on Earth. In reality, their intentions were to systematically turn the world against the JLA and then pick them apart one by one. They succeeded, except for one rookie mistake: they didn’t check to make sure Batman wasn’t dead.
A giant space entity that consumes universes
During the historic Crisis on Infinite Earths story, the multiverse was being consumed by a gigantic entity that had no intention of stopping. Growing ever more powerful, it took the combined efforts of the heroes and villains of Earth 1 and 2 to stop him finally, but at a major cost: trillions were dead, including The Flash and Supergirl. This character would only make a handful more appearances between his 1985 debut and now. Each time, his surprise returns have been used to highlight to dire the situation is. Each time, it’s taken the sacrifice of many to keep him from consuming all of existence.
He’s like an evil Batman
Many villains have been meant to be an evil version of Batman, but only this one was particularly successful. His parents were criminals murdered by cops, so he devoted his life to fighting justice. Using CD-ROMs (it was the 90s), he programmed his mind to be able to learn at an accelerated rate. He infiltrated the Justice League satellite, and despite not having any powers, strategically or physically took down each member of the team singlehanded. While not often used these days, he recently showed up in the Midnighter series, where the two had one of the most brutal and oddly psychedelic fights in recent memory.
The Godfather of DC Comics villains
He’s been a mad scientist, a businessman, the president of the United States and a charter member of the Hair Club for Men. In his quest to get rid of Superman and the Justice League, he’s created and led several incarnations of the Injustice Gang and the Society of Super Villains. During the epic Rock of Ages storyline, he even stole this Philosopher’s Stone who did secure his victory against the League. He has only stopped thanks to time travel (naturally). Recently, he saved the Earth from the Crime Syndicate and Darkseid; this character has finally achieved a lifelong goal of his: popularity. Irony of ironies, he’s now a member of the Justice League.
The evil counterparts of the Justice League is called…
It’s like the mirror universe from Star Trek. On Earth-3, the Justice League—obviously called something else—are a team of villains who have enacted mob rule over the world. To underline the opposite theme, Joker, Lex, and Deathstroke are good guys, and Hell is above, and Heaven is below. This evil team came to prominence again thanks to animated movies like Crisis on Two Earths and the recent Geoff Johns miniseries Forever Evil and Darkseid War, which saw this evil team taking over the Earth-1 after theirs was destroyed by the Anti-Monitor.
He is the owner of Warworld and former leader of the Sinestro Corps
If you’re going to be a despot, model yourself after this character. Not only does he command a living weapon-planet called Warworld, but he’s also partially responsible for vaporizing Coast City and once defeated Superman using a plant. Oh, and he’s also incredibly strong and once took over the Sinestro Corps. and renamed it after himself. Anyone who opposed him was killed or had their tongues ripped out. He then adorned himself with several Sinestro rings as trophies and laid waste to everyone in his way. And even his kids think he’s a jerk.
The villain of the infamous Armaggedon 2001 story arc
And it all started out so well. This character was a tyrant from the future who, by 2030, had killed the Justice League and enslaved Earth. The kicker: he was a former Justice League member. Waverider goes back in time to figure out who did it. The only problem was that art from the revelation issue was leaked. Though fans reacted positively to the villain’s identity, DC editorial made a last-minute change. The new identity of this character made no sense to what was established before and turned a classic in the making to something spent three event stories trying to retcon.
This team doesn’t stand for justice
Lex Luthor doesn’t really handle defeat well. So when the Justice League repeatedly thwarted him, he decided to make his own team. Drafting some of the vilest villains on Earth along with the archenemies of many Justice League members, he used this team as something in between a mafia and an army. Often boasting numbers to rival the League, they opened chapter organizations in different cities, states, and countries. Either through infighting or becoming too large and unwieldy to handle, the team eventually falls apart, but that never stopped Lex from trying several more incarnations of this group over the years.
She created the Suicide Squad and once outsmarted Batman himself
It’d be unfair to call her a villain. She’s an antagonist. Also, possibly the only competent government official in fiction or real life. Realizing that the Justice League is both too powerful to be trusted and too public to do black ops, she created her own team comprised of villains called the Suicide Squad. Considered to be one of the greatest strategists in the world, she not only has had the ear of presidents, but she’s also blackmailed a few on occasion to keep her funding. That’s a true badass.
He is the dark god of Apokolips
This character was created by Jack Kirby as the main villain in his New Gods saga. Not content with reigning over his own planet, this ultimate villain seeks the Anti-Life Equation. If found, he could use it to enslave the minds of every living entity in the universe, making them a reflection of himself, and, therefore, getting rid of all chaos by removing choice and free will. If every villain is the hero in their own story, then this character is the poster child of this. His desire to end chaos is commendable, but his actions and his final goals are of total and utter oppression.
You know this soldier from the comics and the Flash TV series
Wade Eiling hates the Justice League for many of the same reasons as Amanda Waller. The only problem is that he’s a power-hungry sociopath. He eventually transfers his brain patterns into the body of the Shaggy Man (and then shaves the hair off so he doesn’t look like a hippie). The power made him even more unstable, and the abilities of the Shaggy Man made him almost invincible. It took the combined efforts of the Justice League and the Ultramarines to bring him down. In the Flash TV series, he imprisoned Gorilla Grodd and was known to engage in experiments on metahumans.
She is a rogue Amazon from the Justice League Animated Series
A regular human, this villain was adopted by Hippolyta after recovering her from a shipwreck. Eventually endowed with Amazonian powers, she blamed men for the death of her biological mother and the wars that ravaged her country. Her misandry became genocidal and spread a virus that would kill only men. She outsmarted and outfought Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl, though the latter two were eventually about to thwart her. However, this villain’s fury was boundless, and she chose to die rather than be captured or live in a world with men.
This android’s amazing powers made him into a nearly unbeatable enemy
Created by Professor Ivo, this villain can absorb the powers and abilities of the people he encounters, draining them—at least temporarily—while he remains constantly strong. Most famously, he’s stolen the powers of over twenty different League members to the point of having god-like powers and the intelligence to back it up. Several copies of this character have been created and go for a great deal on the Black Market. Some, through the absorption process or through Ivo’s brilliant programming, have become sentient and even think they’re totally human, unaware of the powers they possess.
Wonder Woman knew how to handle this character’s betrayal
Due to his father’s suicide and his mother’s paranoid conspiracy theories surrounding it, this character grew up skeptical of all authority figures. Naturally, he took a job in public relations and helped form the Justice League. However, this was part of a long con. Revealed to have a growing disillusionment with superheroes, this character became the King of Checkmate and plotted to supplant the Justice League on Earth. He murdered Blue Beetle and brainwashed Superman. He would have succeeded had it not been for Wonder Woman snapping his neck. Reiki to the rescue!
This villain is awfully sinister. Get it? SINISTER?
Despite ostensibly being a villain, we can still identify with him. We understand his desire for peace; we pity him for the loss of his wife, his planet, and for his daughter hating him. However, he’s a victim of his own ego and severe character flaws that he himself can never acknowledge, let alone escape. While technically a Green Lantern villain, he and his army once invaded Earth and resurrected the Anti-Monitor to wipe out the Justice League, the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians of the Universe all at once. You have to give him points for ambition.
The first the Spirit of Vengeance in DC Comics was…
Even as the embodiment of God’s wrath, this character might have gone a little overboard. Yeah, that’s the kind of maniac we’re dealing with here. He was responsible for Noah’s Flood and lost his job as the Spirit of Vengeance after that. He was a little too hardcore. Roaming the Earth, this character would possess others so he may continue his work in punishing those he deemed worthy of it in ways that were excessive to the say the least. The Heart of Darkness is the source of his power and the only thing that can be used to imprison him, though he has been known to escape.
He’s the oldest villain and DC Comics and may have invented cannibalism
Starting out as a caveman, this villain received advanced intelligence and immortality from the radiation of a fallen meteor. He has claimed to have ruled large portions of the world throughout history, using different pseudonyms including Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Julius Caesar. He also claimed to be Jack the Ripper and one of Hitler’s advisors, but why anyone would want to admit that is a mystery. While he has managed incredible feats, nowadays he seems more nihilistic about life. Having lived so long he’s bored with the usual cycles, including the ones he’s involved himself in.
They dress like playing cards. Like playing cards!
This group is an institution in DC Comics. They’ve had dozens of members over decades. They’re one of the oldest crime families in continuity. They’re also one of the most incompetent. The quintessential jobber villains, they’ve come up against every hero and lost, sometimes embarrassingly so. Used primarily to establish a new hero by trouncing a familiar foe, these villains can’t catch a break regardless of the money and advanced technology at their disposal. Even Booster Gold was hesitant to bust them, worried about his reputation suffering for being “low enough” to have to deal with them.
He’ll get you in your dreams
We’re not talking about Freddy Krueger. Promise. He can enter and manipulate your dreams as a way of figuring out your desires and alter your sense of reality. From there he can use you to commit crimes for him without you ever being aware of what you’re doing. He can also trap you in a twisted version of your own dreams, essentially imprisoning you in a nightmare coma indefinitely. In an episode of Justice League Unlimited, this villain stalked Batman, forcing him to listen to obnoxious boy bands to keep this villain’s voice out of his head and from falling asleep.
He was the hero of the first Crisis and the villain of the second
Connected to one of DC’s greatest villains, this character literally reshaped the multiverse in an attempt, not only to recreate his lost home of Earth-2 but to create a perfect Earth. To do so, he created countless new Earths only to destroy or mash others together to see if he could create perfect from the pieces. He did succeed in recreating the multiverse and nearly killed Nightwing when he tried to stop him. Using Brother Eye, the OMACs and the Society, he almost murdered all of the heroes on Earth. In the end, the biggest mistake he made was not letting the Joker play.
He is the alternate universe counterpart to a beloved DC legacy character
To say that this character is a whiny, self-absorbed winner of the Victim Olympics would be fairly accurate. Once one of the greatest heroes in the DCU, this dimensional refugee was unable to cope with being away from his true home, which was much more wholesome than the version of Earth he was living in now. He also once “punched time,” to free himself from his prison. It caused the retcons of Infinite Crisis. If that wasn’t bad enough, he then killed his Earth-1 counterpart and then complained it was everyone else’s fault.
He won’t stop talking about his third eye
This character hates Martian Manhunter. Mostly because he hates Martians and if J’onn would just die already, they’d finally be all gone. His third eye gives him psionic and reality warping powers. His natural strength is more than a match for Superman. Despite losing his form, he can travel body to body (once inhabiting L-Ron the robot) and used the Flame of Py’Tar to create a new and even more powerful body than he had before. If his strength wasn’t enough, his scientific, technological and even magical prowess make him an incredible threat.
That’s right, it’s a giant sentient starfish from the stars
This was the first villain that caused the Justice League to unite and has been a mainstay DC villain from the beginning. Capable of mind control, this character usually creates miniature spawns of itself which latches to the faces of others and puts them under its control. Its main goal was to capture and control all of the heroes and villains on Earth and use them as shock troops for universal conquest. Of course, this character (and likely everyone else) would like us to forget that it was once defeated by Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew.