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The Top 10 Villains of Superman

Updated on July 20, 2012

The Greatest Foes of The Man of Steel

He came from the planet Krypton, the last son of a lost race, speeding towards the planet Earth. His name, Kal-El, and from his rise into manhood under the identity of mild-mannered Clark Kent, this crusader of justice donned the red and blue uniform of Superman, The Man of Tomorrow.

And what makes him so super? Could it be his incredible strength or invulnerability to almost every form of attack. Maybe it's his Heat Vision or Frost Breath. Perhaps his super speed...or his X-ray Vision?

Nope. In truth, it's not the powers that define this monolithic superhero; it's his enemies, rich arch-rivals and deviant nemeses that have proven their meddle and tested his ground, making him one of the worlds greatest defenders.

Let's face it, without these grand schemers of ill-fated designs, there would be no need for Superman!

Therefore, let us not delay. It is time to aid our favorite Kryptonian; let this stand as a testimony of Superman's Greatest Villains, the 10 most threatening and dastardly bad guys he's ever had to face in moments of peril. But understand this before you read further: there can be no turning back! Some of these evil-doers plot, some rampage, but all form their own craft of dire consequences when they wreck havok against Metropolis.

Let's Begin!

Superman Villain #10: The Toyman

The Man of Steel vs. The Mind of a Psychotic Child

Superman go bye bye!

~The Toyman

There are two most prominent "Toymans" recognized in the DC Universe. The original one is Winslow Percival Schott who first appeared Action Comics #64 (September 1943). A mentally deranged genius, he built many deadly weapons in the comical form of toys, that he littered in the path of Superman.

Note: The other Toyman is Hiro Okamura, a technological child prodigy who assisted Superman on occasions

In the DC Universe, the most descriptive and flattering detail of Schott is one of a toymaker employee in Great Britain who was fired. Blaming Lex Luthor, he engages in forms of revenge, finally facing Superman and being defeated.

The appeal of the Toyman is his whimsical, seemingly innocent gadgets, which show a high level of genius (and unusually deadly intent), but what makes him one of the more threatening villains is his mental application. Toyman borders on the suicidal, and is a sociopathic killer, with misdeeds of child abduction and murder.

Because of his resources and ingenuity, Toyman shows up often, helping other Supervillains, or joining in evil partnerships.

When Superman has to face a duplicate of himself, trouble is on the way. But that's only one of the reasons Bizarro is so popular, ranking as #25 on IGN's List of 100 Top Comic Book Villains. Equipped with the wit of a moron, readers have easily been humored into following his (mis)adventures.

Note: Having gone through many rewrites, the first Bizarro was actually a clone of Superboy in Superboy #68 (Oct. 1958). That didn't go so well, but the story didn't stop for this strange, dare we say "bizarre", Supervillain.

Of Bizarro's origin, one well-remembered is where Lex Luthor gathers some genetic material from Superman, cloning him, and hoping it would serve him in battle. Unfortunately for Lex, the process was meant for human cloning and the creature turned out confused and twisted.

The big threat Bizarro poses to Superman is not just Kryptonian might, in his case he's basically stupid and will try to do "good deeds", which end up causing mayhem. (For example, wanting to have his own family, he kidnaps Clark Kent's parents.)

Because of Bizarro's lack of mental fortitude, other Supervillains use him, tricking him to fight. And when he's manipulated by others, that's when he becomes a serious threat to Superman.

Superman Villain #8: Mr. Mxyzptlk - The Man of Tomorrow vs. Unpronounceable Words

Mr. Mxyzptlk: No, dolt, YOU don't have to say it backwards, you have to get ME to say it!

Superman: Say what?

Mr. Mxyzptlk: Kltpzyxm! Gosh, you're thick! Now, for the last time... ah, nuts!

From the 5th dimension, comes this eternal, imp-like character who tries mostly to impose a nuisance to Superman. Killing or destruction is just incidental. Don't bother trying to pronounce his name; that's the easy part. The trick is trying to get him to pronounce it backwards. You see, that's the only way to beat Mxy.

Superman has had numerous encounters with Mr. Mxyzptlk, and there's a reason; once he's banished, he can return after a 90 day hiatus. (He usually uses the time to hang out with the wife, or plan his revenge).

But this poses an incredible problem for the Man of Steel; when your powers aren't enough, how do you fight a god? Well, don't despair, Superman proves why he's "Earth's Protector", using a myriad of comical techniques to trick the little guy into beating himself.

Fortunately for us all, Mr. Mxyzptlk doesn't often work with other Supervillains. Oh sure, Lex has manipulated him in the past, but more often than not, Mxy is a solitary figure, only looking for a way to spend his immortality.

Superman Villain #7: Parasite

Superman vs. The Super-Leech

Of Superman's Greatest Foes, one supervillain has reappeared at different times for different causes, to literally feed off the Man of Steel.

Called The Parasite, we are usually referring to Rudy Jones, a worker at S.T.A.R. Labs who was doused with biohazardous materials, mutating his body into an energy-draining conduit; in turn, it was the only way he kept himself alive. Whenever he touched someone, he would drain them physically and mentally; the side effects was that he gained a subject's knowledge and strength as well as a Superhero's powers. and

Named IGN's 61st Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time, The Parasite has actually appeared as four people, Rayman Jenson, Rudy Jones, Alex Allstons, and Alexandra Allstons, but Jones seems to be the most infamous. When he first received his powers, he captured Superman to use as a "meal", returning to feed off him.

The original Parasite, Raymond Maxwell Jensen, appeared first in Action Comics" #340 (August 1966).

The main reason Parasite falls behind others as a threat to Superman is not because of his lack of power. What really stops this bad guy is his lack of cunning. Most of the time, he ends up as a pawn or partner to diabolical plans of other Supervillains, only to be stabbed in the back after he's done his part. Of course, every now and then, he does some backstabbing of his own...

Superman Villain #6: General Zod - The Last Son of Krypton vs. Krypton's Greatest War Leader

Kneel before Zod!

~General Zod

What would happen if Superman studied war tactics and strategy, became ego-maniacal, and bent his will on complete domination over all he surveyed? Why, then you'd have General Zod, or "Dru-Zod", a Kryptonian who survived that world's explosion in the Phantom Zone.

Throughout the DC Universe, there have been many incarnations of the General; most of the time, he is a great Krypton War Leader who ran afoul of Kal-El's father, Jor-El. In some cases, such as Superman II (1980), he is represented as a criminal who escaped the zone, finally reaching Earth.

General Zod's first appearance is in Adventure Comics #283 (April 1961), and the biggest threat he plays to the Man of Steel is that he, also, is a Man of Steel. Perhaps he's even stronger than Superman; he's definitely a more skilled fighter. And every time they face off you have to wonder how Superman can beat someone with powers equal to his.

Superman Villain #5: Metallo - The Man of Steel vs. The Man...of Steel?

This is you. This is your body made of metal. This is what happens when your metal body is powered by Kryptonite.

John Corbin was an con-man, when he became the victim of a near-fatal car accident. To his luck, a robotics scientist "restored" him within a metal-framed mechanized being, powered by a Kyrptonite Core. Perhaps it was the shock of becoming a cyboard: Corbin immediately donned the named "Metallo" and started on a rampage of killing, facing off against Superman.

Of Supervillains, Metallo ranks a special grade since his presence alone can kill Superman. To date, he has tallied the deaths of six Kryptonians led by General Zod against Earth. Of the stories surrounding him, details have emerged where Lex Luthor upgraded his alloys and power source to include other forms of Kryptonite (Green, Red, Gold, and Blue) which he could emit for various effects.

Besides Metallo's robotic strength and impervious, his power source remains his greatest threat to Superman. On multiple occasions, it has been shattered or destroyed, only to be refitted more dangerously than before.

While not a criminal mastermind, Metallo is capable of working alone, with, or under the direction of other Supervillains.

Superman Villain #4: Doomsday

The Man From Krypton vs. The Genetically-Enhanced Neanderthal From Krypton

Having first appeared in Superman: The Man of Steel #18 (Nov. 1992), the most amazing thing about Doomsday is that he beat most of the world's heroes with...literally...one hand tied behind his back.

Known only by the "Doomsday" title, he is actually a creature born of prehistoric Kryptonian origin. It is also suggested in the comics that he was bred and killed "many thousands of times over" with his genes being evolved in the process, until he finally went into a bloodlust and killed his maker. This gives us a representation of the power of Doomsday, and how he was capable of killing Superman.

That's right, this death machine killed Superman. (Well, almost. Superman's body was placed in a regeneration matrix in the Fortress of Solitude where it eventually arose in a weakened state). Of Doomsday's finality, his body was flung into deep space. Little did anyone know that it had already begun the process of revitalizing itself.

Of Superman's Foes, Doomsday may be the least killable. Besides raw strength and invulnerability, he returns stronger after every "death"; in one of his later battles, he is only defeated because he is transported to the end of time. As dangerous as he is, evil schemers like Brainiac and Lex Luthor have plotted to use the creature to kill the Man of Steel.

First appearing in Action Comics #242 (July 1958), Brainiac has gone through many rewrites and incarnations. In each regard, however, he is noted as one of the main "criminal masterminds" that haunt Superman on a frequent basis, using his advanced mental powers and technology to force or coerce other Supervillains to his aid.

In most cases, Brainiac appears as an andriod of "12th level intelligence", bent on gaining servitude, utter annihilation of life, or the capture of remaining life. (Yes, it sounds complicated, but Brainiac is a complicated bad guy). He typically has "bodies" waiting in secluded places; androids where he can transfer his consciousness. Other than that, he has been known to possess technology (at one time he implanted himself into Metallo as a virus).

Because of Brainiac's origin, he never has a regard for life; normally, the destruction of human beings is part of his intent, and if it is incidental, then so be it. Often, he will express himself morbidly, dissecting superheroes to learn their abilities or weaknesses. On some occasions, especially in his earlier stories, he shrank cities for his own collection.

Supeman Villain #2: Darkseid - The Last Son of Krypton vs. The First Son of Apokolips

Darkseid represents one of the New Gods, and has purposed himself with the elmination of free will in the universe, as well as his reigning control over all things. His domain is centered on the planet Apokolips where he spawns armies and contains prisoners to serve his primary goal of finding the Anti-Life Equation.

Although his body seems to be made of stone, Darkseid's greatest power comes from his Omega Beam, or the Omega Effect, a ray that shoots out of his eyes and can turn corners until it hits the target. Using it, he can utterly disentagrate an opponent, or capture it for a later time. He also has the strength and imperviousness of the Man of Steel.

It should be noted that Superman has never actually defeated Darkseid; at some point in the battle, he simply retreats in a "boom tube" and plans on fighting another day. But Darkseid was killed by his son, Orion, one time, although it turned out that his lifeforce travelled to him at an earlier time. Therefore, it may be possible that Darkseid cannot be killed.

He's an average-looking business man; he wears nice suits and reads the stock exchange. If you didn't know Lex Luthor very well, you might not even think of him as a Supervillain. After all, you did vote him in as President, didn't you?

Well, your observations are correct if you've observed him more closely. This sociopathic genius ranges far above other villains and has earned the title of Superman's Greatest Foe by manipulating him through acts of wealth, science, and law. Clearly, Lex plays upon Superman's greatest weakness. No, not Kryptonite, but his boyscout laden sense of justice.

Lex Luthor first appears in Action Comics #30 and has come a long way since then. In the DC Universe, almost no villain lights a match against this human with no powers. And you have to admit, there's something to appreciate about a guy that rides a limo to his battles.

You see, Lex uses that big brain of his to ruin you financially, politically, and charismatically, as well as to master over the many forms of technology and science. Because of his strategies and plans, Superman barely survives the encounters. Only when when he steps too far, jumps into a Kryptonite-powered battle suit, or unleashes his weapons of destruction, is Superman able to fight on common ground.

Thanks for dropping by my Superman-styled lens. I'm always interested in what you see and think, you're comments are welcome. If you feel something is missing, or have some great ideas, pleace let me know.

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    • Taranwanderer profile image

      Taranwanderer 20 months ago

      Nice take! I actually like that Luthor reigns number one here; out of all of them, no one is more singularly committed to taking out Superman. Darkseid has other worlds to conquer, for example. Doomsday should've been second, though, since he was created solely to be able to stand toe-to-toe with the Kryptonian. Nice list! http://pinstor.us/articles/hulk-vs-superman-a-figh...

    • profile image

      Matthew Hecht 2 years ago

      1. Bizarro 2. Zod 3. Toyman 4. Parasite 5. Mr. Myxyzsptlck 6. Lionel Kuthor 7. Brainiac 8. Darkseid 9. Metallo 10. Doomsday

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The only one to actually beat superman was doomsday so just off that I would put him on no.1

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Then you only watched the movies.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i think sod should be no.1

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Cool

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I think Luthor is 1st and Zod is just plain beast so i put him in second, then braniac pulls up next in 3rd, followed by doomsday then darkseid.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I think Luthor is by far the least interesting and most awfully saturated villain in the franchise by far. The new movie would be better off without him.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      luthor is the best

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Dru-Zod, Metallo, Bizarro, and Brainiac go

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This list seems very wrong, here's how I believe it goes:

      1 Lex

      2 Doomsday

      3 Darkseid

      4 Braniac

      5 Zod

      And I don't know where to put Cyborg superman, I read he's one of the worse, superman even needs the help of Hal Jordan to beat him and still struggles!

      Then somewhere Metallo!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      General Zod is obviously the best and Nuclear Man is terrible. General Zod, Lex Luthor and Bad Superman are the best villians.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      No one was surprised when Lex was crowned supreme, but I would think that Metallo would be higher on the list. Superman / Batman #1 anyone?

    • BlakeCzirr profile image
      Author

      BlakeCzirr 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Ha ha! Okay, I hear what you're saying! But the hard part here is comparing Metallo to Brainiac, Doomsday, and Darkseid. Doomsday's position is simply for the "Death of Superman" arc. Darkseid's gets a big spot because he's the lord over Apokolips and has the Omega Beam.

      Brainiac is a villain that's evolved into Superman's ever-present "thorn" in the side; He's fully pervaded Superman's past, present, and future.

      Metallo's a great supervillain, but you have to admit, he's not a traditional mastermind compared to Brainiac and Darkseid, and doesn't have the raw power of Doomsday.

      Still, I should put up a reader's vote poll here; I'd like to see what others say. Good comment!

    • therealstig86 profile image

      therealstig86 6 years ago

      I love these. Especially General Zod!

    • auntjennie profile image

      Jen 6 years ago from Canada

      This is a great list of superman villians. Great job:)

    • Glenn619 profile image

      Glenn619 6 years ago

      Well written lens really have done justice to it. good job