Ranking top 25 Batman and Superman villains of all-time


The “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” teaser trailer gets a classic fan recut.

Photo Credit: Bobby Burns/YouTube

Superman and Batman have been linked together in both comic and cinematic history for nearly as long as they have both existed. They are different sides of the same coin of justice, one not willing to bend to certain measures to get the job done while the other accepts the world even it all its darkness.

Being the world’s greatest superheroes doesn’t come without the attention of some bad guys and, hoo boy, both have more than their fair share to choose from.

Some on this list are as iconic as the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight themselves, characters that could never do battle with their arch-nemesis again and yet still feel as though they’ve lost their place in the universe. Others pop up a little more sporadically, providing a very large pain in the rear end before being relegated back to mediocrity once more.

There are a bit more than 25 villains in the histories of Batman and Superman, but these are the 25 greatest evil-doers they’ve had to face. There are more than a few worthy foes left off this list, but hey, that’s for another Bat time and another Bat place. Or something like that.

Next: 25. Hush

25. Hush (Batman)

Hush is somewhat of a new kid on the block in terms of Batman villains, but his initial impact is hard to top. A childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, Dr. Thomas “Tommy” Elliott has a bit of a checkered past. He cut the brake line of his parents’ car, his father dying in the accident and his mother being gravely injured. Bruce’s father, Thomas, saved her life and thwarted Tommy’s plans of killing his parents for the inheritance.

After finally succeeding in killing off his mother and claiming his inheritance, Tommy continued to hold an irrational grudge against Bruce. He would join up with a temporarily insane Riddler, who had figured out Batman’s identity, becoming the villainous “Hush” as the duo attempted to destroy Batman.

Though framing Two-Face in a series of murders and attempting to kill Batman didn’t pan out, Hush had left his mark in the rogues gallery. He had managed to use a number of Batman’s greatest foes against him and had even managed to turn some of his greatest allies (including Superman, who had been coerced through Poison Ivy’s kiss) against the Arkham Avenger.

Driving Batman to the very edge and manipulating the worst of the worst to do his bidding, Hush has only begun to establish himself as one of the very toughest foes Batman has ever run up against.

Next: 24. Penguin

24. The Penguin (Batman)

Though there are a few Batman villains higher up on the list, there may not be another one (save the Joker) who has more of a pop culture recognition than Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, aka The Penguin.

Much like Batman himself, the Penguin isn’t so much a super being as a man with a great deal of wealth and a superior intellect. In more than a few iterations, he has also shown a tremendous political reach, rising to the rank of mayor of Gotham City. This has helped his criminal reach exponentially, allowing him to pull off farther-reaching and more devious crimes in the process.

Perhaps his greatest known feature, aside from the fact that he looks like his namesake, is his arsenal of umbrellas. Yes, I said umbrellas. Penguin has shown an affinity for weaponizing the umbrella in the past, giving them the ability to act as a gun, knife, sword, deliver toxins and even fire missiles. He has even used umbrellas with spinning metallic blades, using it as a weapon or as a sort of miniature helicopter to aid his escapes.

Despite not being the most physically imposing or threatening of the Dark Knight’s foes, there aren’t many more recognizable nor more treacherous than the Penguin.

Next: 23. Parasite

23. The Parasite (Superman)

The Parasite has gone by more than a few aliases, though the more well-known is the current Parasite, Rudy Jones. Jones went from menial janitor to dangerous Superman foe thanks to the manipulation of Darkseid.

Parasite’s abilities are just that: parasitic. He has the ability to siphon off the energies of anyone he touches. That means he can absorb powers from anyone he touches – though it has been stated that he can’t absorb the full capacity of Superman’s powers simply because his body can’t handle it – as well as some of their mental faculties.

The latter ability helped him learn Superman’s alter ego, resulting in attacks directly on Clark Kent instead of the Man of Steel in costume. It is also revealed that, though Parasite gains control over the powers he absorbs, he only has them for a short time. They are soon lost and he must steal the energies from another being to “feed” his hunger.

Though the mantle of the Parasite has changed a few times since Jones, it remains a threat no matter who is harboring it. With the ability to shape-shift and become one of his victims right down to their DNA, there are literally endless possibilities for Parasite to come up with in his attempt to finally destroy Superman once and for all.

Next: 22. Imperiex

22. Imperiex (Superman)

On paper, there may not be a bigger bad that Superman has faced than the mighty Imperiex. Around since the dawn of time, it is stated by Mongul that Imperiex destroys universes and then recreates them from the ashes.  He is pure energy inside a set of massive armor, making him more powerful than maybe anything that has ever existed.

En route to Earth, Imperiex destroys several plaents and hollows out a whole galaxy, including Almerac, the home of superhero Maxima.  Imperiex presents such a threat to not only Earth, but Superman and all of its heroes that they have to form a coalition consisting of all the heroes, the militaries of several Earth nations and even a re-programmed Doomsday.

It takes their combined might, as well as the refocused energies of Apokalips to essentially send he and Brainiac back in time to the Big Bang, destroying both villains and undoing all of the damage they had done along the way.

Though he had just the one arc against Superman and some of the other mighty heroes of Earth, Imperiex left destruction and the death of several heroes in his wake. There may have been no greater threat to Superman and the Earth itself than the one presented by Imperiex.

Next: 21. Deathstroke

21. Deathstroke (Batman and Superman)

The case of Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, is a bit of an interesting one. At no point could you classify him as a direct nemesis to either Batman or Superman, but he has come across the path of both more than a few times. I guess that’s what happens when you routinely tangle with the Justice League.

Wilson, a former military operative turned deadly assassin, might ring a bell because he was the, ahem, “inspiration” for Marvel’s Deadpool. Did I say inspiration? I mean Marvel totally ripped him off, from look to skill set and even named him Wade Wilson as a wink-wink, nudge-nudge to the DC character.

Deathstroke is unique when it comes to all of the villains that have crossed paths with Batman and Superman. Thanks to a serum, he has enhanced physical abilities such as super speed, strength and regenerative abilities. He also has the ability to use up to 90% of his brain at any given time, making him a tactical genius. His time in the military also likely influenced that, but he is a master tactician that can expose the weaknesses of an opponent and use those weaknesses against them.

Deathstroke is something of a wild card in the DC universe, primarily operating on his own as a baddie but sometimes joining forces with the good guys (like when he was in Teen Titans) when the situation calls for it. In any event, there are few in the  DC universe that can match the bad ass levels of Deathstroke.

Next: 20. Anarky

20. Anarky (Batman)

Like a few others on this list (notably Catwoman and Mister Mxyzptlk), Anarky is an on-again/off-again villain more than an arch-nemesis. As a matter of fact, both Anarky and Batman possess the same goal: a peaceful utopia without supervillains causing death and destruction.

That’s where their agreement ends, however. Anarky is a fan of just that and is not above killing those he deems as enemies, whereas Batman has adopted the one rule of never killing anyone because he feels that if he does, he will become no better than the villains he fights. Anarky even challenges Batman to a turf war over control of the city.

What makes Anarky unique to the comic industry, though, is his outlook. He adopts a Neo-Tehc philosophy, dealing with themes that are political in nature, including antimilitarism, homelessness and political corruption. He is the only mainstream comic book character ever influenced by this philosophy.

Anarky is also not without his fair share of controversy. In Anarky: Vol 2, as Lonnie Machin (Anarky) searches for his biological parents, it is eventually revealed that his father is none other than the Joker. The thought is that Anarky is a character of reason and that having his father turn out to be the raving lunatic would be the ultimate twist.

Remaining something of a secondary character who acts more of a foil to Batman than an outright villain, Anarky has carved his own special place in comic lore.

Next: 19. Bizarro Superman

19. Bizarro Superman (Superman)

What better to oppose and eventually destroy Superman than a version of himself? That’s exactly what Bizarro Superman brings to the table.

The exact opposite of the Superman we all know and love, El-Kal/Kent Clark possess all the same abilities that the Son of Krypton does with the only difference being that he uses those same powers for death and destruction instead of truth, justice and the American way.

Dumbed down and speaking in complete opposites, Bizarro Superman has always come off as the dangerous special needs child in the Superman universe. Prefacing every sentence with “me” – “me destroy”, “me hate” etc” – Bizarro Superman is all might with none of the sympathy and compassion that Superman possesses.

Because he possesses the same abilities as Superman – though they are flipped; his heat ray is a freeze ray, his x-ray vision allows him to see through lead, etc. – he remains a massive threat any time he is brought into the fold, whether it be by himself or as a henchman for one of Superman’s nemesis’.

Though he may not be as dastardly, devious and cunning as others on the list, Bizarro Superman remains as great a threat as any of them and that alone is enough to get him a spot on the list.

Next: 18. The Riddler

18. The Riddler (Batman)

Another one of the more famous villains in Batman’s rogues gallery, the Riddler has had a few different variations throughout the years both in the comics and on film. He was one of the main baddies in Batman Forever, a movie that is best left ignored.

The Riddler is an extremely intelligent foe, as demonstrated by the complex riddles he leaves attached to his crimes. Batman’s exemplary detective skills are often the only match for his frequent clue-dropping, leading to his eventual defeat.

An interesting touch has been added to the character in recent years. For the longest time, he was portrayed a bit lighter, use rhymes and riddles but never been seen as especially dangerous or deranged. But it has been presented that Riddler suffers from a few psychological disorders, most notably Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Riddler has expressed a need to leave clues at the scene of the various crimes he commits, knowing that Batman will use them to eventually catch him. At one point, he even expresses a desire to return to Arkham Asylum as he believes himself to be in need of some help and determines that he might, in fact, be crazy.

Though he might not be the physical challenge that some of the other members of the rogues gallery present, there are few who challenge the intelligence of Batman quite like Edward Nigma.

Next: 17. Poison Ivy


17. Poison Ivy (Batman)

As you’ll notice the further into the list we get, Batman and Superman are about on equal footing when it comes to the heavy-hitters that oppose them, but Batman’s rogues gallery is much deeper with more quality and memorable characters.

Case in point as we arrive to #17 on the list: Poison Ivy. Formerly Pamela Isely, Ivy attracts the attention of the Bat as one of the world’s most notorious eco-terrorists. She is obsessed with plants (what gave that away?), incorporating toxins from plants and even using mind-controlling pheromones, often a kiss to coerce some of her greatest male opponents into becoming her slave.

On more than a few occasions, Ivy has used that very kiss to bring Bruce Wayne and Batman under her spell to do her bidding.

Ivy has also notoriously teamed up with fellow villains Harley Quinn and Catwoman, though with the latter moving to more of a tweener role of late, Ivy has stepped up to become a greater independent female villain.

Unlike most on the list, Ivy’s villainous ways seem to be driven by a pretty good cause. Her problem is that she tends to go way overboard with it, doing whatever it takes and harming whoever may cross her path to make sure the plants of the world are safe.

Next: 16. Clayface

16. Clayface (Batman)

A big fan of Batman for many years, I personally think that Clayface and all of his various aliases is one of the most underrated villains in the massive Batman rogues gallery.

Part of that is due to the fact that the Clayface mantle has been passed on more than a few times over the years. It started with Basil Karlo back in the 1950s, jumping to Matt Hagen who is the most recognizable Clayface iteration, before moving on to Preston Payne, Sondra Fuller, Cassius Payne, Peter Malley, Todd Russell and Johnny Williams. So yeah, the Clayface mantle has been passed a few times.

Despite this, Clayface remains a formidable threat to the Arkham Knight thanks to powers that have largely stayed the same with a few variances over the years. Generally speaking, whoever is Clayface has mud-like DNA with the ability to shape-shift into whatever they can think of.

This has been expounded upon in many different ways over the years, with the addition of the ability to melt people by touch as well as the ability for chunks of the clay DNA to break off and “bond” with humans to form a “Claything”.

Regardless of who possesses the name, Clayface remains a terrifying and difficult challenge for Batman and will continue to be just that for a long time to come.

Next: 15. Mongul

15. Mongul (Superman)

Like a few of his counterparts on this list, Mongul was originally conceived as a villain that could actually stand toe-to-toe physically with the Man of Steel, something few characters in any comic can say.

On more than a few occasions, Mongul has done just that. In his debut during the early 1980s, Mongul hatched a plan that saw him kidnap all of Superman’s friends in order to obtain the key to activate Warlord. Though he is eventually stopped, it is only heavy mental strain from operating Warlord that brings down Mongul.

Despite being foiled by Superman, Mongul had a stellar record against him early on. He was stronger than Superman and almost totally invulnerable to him, while also showing the ability to teleport and some limited telekinesis.

Though his power has somewhat decreased over time, Mongul has remained a formidable foe to Superman throughout the years. Somewhat related, Mongul gave way to a son, also named Mongul, who appeared to be an enhanced version of his father.

These days, Mongul is back in charge of Warlord and used to conquer planet after planet before ultimately being taken down by Superman and a kryptonian-powered Batman. There are few in the DC universe that can match his power levels and few that garner the respect of Superman the way Mongul does.

Next: 14. Metallo

14. Metallo (Superman)

Though his history has been altered quite a few times, John Corben has consistently remained a thorn in the side of Superman as the supervillain Metallo.

More metal than man, Metallo possesses a heart made of kryptonite and has been something of a varying threat to the Man of Steel. In some iterations, Metallo is handled somewhat easily by Superman. Then there are his altered states.

After making a deal with the demon Neron, Metallo is given the ability to morph his body into any mechanical shape he could imagine. That means turning his hands into guns or growing a jet-pack from his back. He also had the ability to project his consciousness into any technological or metallic device as well as grow to gargantuan heights.

Metallo has even shown a penchant for making things personal with Superman. In addition to trapping Superman in a kryptonite death-trap, Corben obtained a job at the Dailey Planet and tried to romance Lois Lane.

Though his plants are ultimately thwarted by Superman, Metallo typically comes back bigger and better than ever, ready to finally deliver the crushing blow to his most hated enemy. Given some of the transformations he’s already made, it’s a little scary to think about what steps he would be willing to take to make that happen.

Next: 13. Bane

13. Bane (Batman)

Like few others in comic history, Bane made a memorable debut in the “Breaking of the Bat” story arc in the mid 1990s. In his initial iteration, Bane had a dark history in Central America, but had used his intelligence and a drug called Venom to make himself into a formidable Bat-foe.

In the arc, Bane frees the inmates of Arkham Asylum – the place where all of the Batman rogues go when Batman beats them up and has them arrested – unleashing them all upon the city at one time. Batman has to then exhaust himself over the following days and weeks, relentlessly battling and capturing each and every one of them until he’s rounded up everyone.

Along with Ra’s Al Ghul, Bane is one of the few to deduce the true identity of Batman. He uses this information to confront a battered and exhausted Batman in his cave, breaking his back and crippling him in the resulting battle.

Though Batman would ultimately succeed in defeating Bane, resulting in Bane taking something of backseat to more historic villains since then, it cannot be overlooked just what Bane accomplished. Though he hasn’t been able to threaten the Bat in quite the same way since then, Batman has had to take special precautions when dealing with someone as smart and physically powerful as Bane ever since.

Next: 12. Harley Quinn

12. Harley Quinn (Batman)

Of all the names on this list, perhaps no one has had quite the meteoric rise in popularity and importance that the former Harleen Quinzel has had.

Originally created as something of a walk-on character for Batman: The Animated Series, Harley quickly became the somewhat eccentric sidekick and on-again/off-again love interest of Batman’s main nemesis, the Joker.

Formerly a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, Quinzel takes an interest in the Joker and quickly becomes obsessed with him, eventually becoming his most noteworthy sidekick. Though she is somewhat more whimsical and humorous in the animated series, she has been known to take on a much darker and more violent persona in some of her comic book adaptations.

Despite her relatively short comic book history, Harley has been everywhere. She has battled Batman on numerous occasions both with the Joker and without, she has joined the Birds of Prey and the Suicide Squad, and ultimately her own title.

Even though she is one of the newer kids on the block, there are few characters in the DC lore that have the popularity that Harley possesses. Be it on her own or hangin’ with Mista J, this sometimes spunky, sometimes homicidal jester has carved out her own place in comic history. Not bad, eh puddin’?

Next: 11. Mister Mxyzptlk

11. Mister Mxyzptlk (Superman)

Mxyzptlk stands out for a lot of reasons and not just become he has a name that is virtually impossible to pronounce.

It’s hard to really even classify Mxyzptlk as a villain in the Superman world. During a conversation with a hardcore nerd friend of mine, we came to the conclusion: Mxyzptlk isn’t so much a villain as just kind of a dick.

He possesses fifth dimension technology, giving him magic-like powers that are only limited by his willpower, making him possible of literally anything he can imagine. The only problem with that is that if you get him to say his name backwards, he is dismissed back to his home in the fifth dimension and any changes that he previously made are reverted back to the way they were.

Mxyzptlk, though, is not bent on world domination nor driven by a destructive appetite like nearly every other foe on this list. No, he is more of a prankster, looking to cause mischief and generally be an annoying thorn in the side of the Man of Steel rather than doing away with him. Hell, he even helps Superman at times because there is nothing that brings him more joy than to prank the ultra-series Son of Krypton.

Those reasons make him more of an annoyance than a true nemesis, though his potential power is always a cause for concern.

Next: 10. Scarecrow

10. Scarecrow (Batman)

As we get further into this list, you’ll notice one thing in particular: while those at the top of Superman’s list are the heaviest of heavy hitters, Batman’s rogues gallery is much more deeper and full of various types of dangers to the Arkham Knight.

This is illustrated perfectly by the Scarecrow. Though he is physically no match for Batman, Scarecrow stands out because his greatest weapon just happens to be the same as Batman’s: fear. Batman uses the shadows to build his legend to perpetuate fear upon the criminals of Gotham, whereas the Scarecrow goes for the more old-fashioned gas method.

Thanks to his deadly nerve toxins, Scarecrow has managed to invade the mind of Batman on many occasions and make him face some of his greatest fears and nightmares: the death of his parents, his fears of being unable to protect those important to him and some far more trippy items that only a hallucinogen can make happen.

Superman tends to deal with more physically destructive heavies, but Batman’s rogues gallery has lots of villains who try to screw with him through more dubious measures. Breaking the Bat can happen in many ways, but the Scarecrow attacks his psyche like few others have.

Next: 9. General Zod

9. General Zod (Superman)

The story of General Zod is an interesting one. In terms of the comics books, there are several villains who would certainly rank higher for their ability to test the Man of Steel in the quest to destroy Metropolis and the world.

But in the cinematic iterations of Superman, there might not be a greater foe than his fellow Kryptonian. Zod has been either a featured villain or the villain in three Superman movies, including the most recent. Hell, his death at the end of “Man of Steel” is supposed to be a big on-screen moment for Superman, showing us all just why he vows to not kill again.

Banished to another dimension where he and his minions can neither be seen nor heard, but where he can see and hunger for a world they are no longer part of, Zod only becomes formidable when bathed in yellow sun – same as his Kryptonian brethren Superman.

Though there are several villains who might be more synonymous with Superman and his mythos, General Zod has become one of the major thorns in his side over the last 30 years just as much for his ties to a world Superman thought gone as his abilities.

And much like some of Superman’s greatest foes, Zod is always out there lurking, sure to appear to make the Man of Tomorrow’s life a living hell.

Next: 8. Doomsday

8. Doomsday (Superman)

Doomsday might have the most impressive debut of anyone in the history of comics: he killed Superman.

That’s right, during the 1992 event “The Death of Superman”, Doomsday was revealed to the world as a violent monster who wanted to do nothing more than spread death and destruction across the globe. He would go on an epic path of devastation and even managed to make short work of the rest of the Justice League.

From there, Doomsday would battle Superman in one of the most epic fist fights in the history of comics. Superman would succeed in stopping Doomsday, delivering the final blow with his last efforts. The Man of Steel dies in the arms of the love of his life, Lois Lane, bringing an albeit-short end to arguably the greatest hero in comic history.

Doomsday has been back several times since and it usually takes the entire might of the Justice League and perhaps even a few additional DC superheroes to banish him away. That is until the next time something completely fluky happens and he gets to bring terror and devastation back into the mix once again.

In terms of physical strength and ability, perhaps only Darkseid is capable of rivaling Doomsday. He is the greatest physical threat Superman has ever faced and is one of the very few to have actually killed the Son of Krypton.

Next: 7. Two-Face

7. Two-Face (Batman)

Much like Selina Kyle/Catwoman mentioned previously, Two-Face is far from the most dangerous or physically advanced villain that Batman has ever faced. But like Catwoman and the Joker, Harvey Dent/Two-Face has had one of the biggest impacts on the caped crusader.

Dent started on the right side of the light: he was Gotham City’s district attorney before a horrible incident resulted in his face being horribly disfigured by acid. Finally corrupted by the dark side of the law in Gotham, Harvey snaps and develops split-personalities: Harvey, who remains good and true, and Two-Face, a violent gangster who leaves lives in the fate of a coin flip.

Though Two-Face has never quite challenged Batman for control of Gotham City in the way the Joker does routinely, it is the psychological effect that the character has on Batman. Batman sees Dent as all that was potentially right with Gotham and even himself – the crime-fighter who didn’t have to wear a mask. Losing Dent to a life of crime is perhaps Batman’s greatest defeat. Few events hit him quite as hard as being unable to help Harvey Dent and that has a lasting effect on the Batman character.

Though he sometimes feels like a bit player, it is hard to ignore the impact Harvey Dent/Two-Face has on the psyche of Gotham’s hero.

Next: 6. Ra's Al Ghul

6. Ra’s Al Ghul (Batman)

The Demon’s Head himself, Ra’s continues to be a somewhat underrated part of the Batman mythos despite having one of the biggest impacts on both Bruce Wayne and the Bat.

Depending on which line of history you choose to follow, Ra’s is partially to credit for training Bruce Wayne for his life as the Batman. Aside from teaching him in the ways of martial arts, Ghul has been one of the few criminals in the rogues gallery that has managed to figure out just who Batman is, though he keeps it to himself as a show of respect.

Ghul is supremely intelligent, perhaps one of the only characters in the DC Universe who can match wits with the Dark Knight himself. He regards Batman as his worthiest opponent and has frequently sought to make Batman his successor in the League of Assassins.

Thanks to his Lazarus Pit, which heals nearly all wounds and has proven to have resurrection abilities, Ra’s will likely continue to be a thorn in the side of Gotham’s avenger for as long as he continues to put on the cowl. He may not have the psychological impact of the Joker nor the physical abilities as others on this list, but there are few who have a greater effect on Batman.

Next: 5. Darkseid

5. Darkseid (Superman and Batman)

The inspiration for Marvel’s Thanos, Darkseid was terrorizing the DC universe long before the mighty Thanos was assembling any gauntlets.

As much as he is a Superman and Batman villain, Darkseid might be the villain in the DC Universe in terms of sheer power and destructive capacity. He has the abilities of a God and has taken down some of the DCU’s biggest bads without so much as breaking a sweat.

To illustrate just how bad a guy Darkseid is and just what kind of power the DCU is up against, he has battled gods and even defeated his own brother to gain the Omega Force. Darkseid has gone toe-to-toe in physical battles with the Man of Steel and come out looking like a monster. Though he has been defeated by Batman, it took Batman acquiring god-like abilities and a bunch of weird space-time tricks to defeat him. Point is that Darkseid never goes down easily.

Simply put, Darkseid is the big bad in the DC Universe. When he decides to strike, it isn’t often that just Superman has to deal with him and it usually takes the group might of nearly every hero in the DC Universe to defeat him. How’s that for a bad guy?

Next: 4. Brainiac

4. Brainiac (Superman)

Though he may not have had quite as many clashes with the Son of Krypton as some of the other foes on the list, Brainiac may have been one of the most dangerous and innovative. Paraphrasing Supergirl from the Superman: Brainiac arc, if Lex Luthor is the worst that humanity has to offer, then Brainiac is the worst that aliens have to offer.

Like Luthor, Brainiac realizes that he cannot compete with Superman on sheer power, so he uses his other-worldly intellect to try to get the best of his nemesis. Combining with Lex Luthor, he played a monumental role in the “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” arc that featured a future without Superman.

Brainiac’s most famous arc against Superman may have also featured his defeat, as do almost all Superman arcs, but it also featured a dastardly trick from the villain: after Superman thwarted him and saved the day once again, we learn that Brainiac learned the location of Superman’s parents, Martha and Jonathan, and had a missile fired at their farm. Though the blast didn’t kill them, Jonathan subsequently suffered a heart attack and died in Martha’s arms.

Brainiac gets lost in the shuffle among the gargantuan foes that Superman has done battle with in the past, but it is Brainiac who stands out as one of the most unique and dangerous foes in Superman mythos.

Next: 3. Catwoman

3. Catwoman (Batman)

Though there are far bigger and more powerful foes on this list and in the Batman rogues gallery itself, there are fewer villains in the history of either Batman or Superman that have had the impact that Ms. Selina Kyle has had on the protector of Gotham.

With the most on again/off again relationship the comic world has ever seen, Kyle has dipped her paws into the good end of the pool on more than a few occasions. She has helped Batman battle a good portion of his rogues gallery and most famously got in the middle of a fight between Batman and Superman. That said, she almost always finds her way back into the wrong company and has opposed Batman just as often as she has sided with him.

Perhaps most importantly of all, Catwoman becomes such an integral part of the Bat-World and the life of Batman that he actually reveals his secret identity to her. Not everyone gets the privilege of knowing who really operates under that cowl, but Catwoman is on that very short list.

Though she isn’t as important to the very core of Batman in the way that the Joker is, Catwoman has established herself as one of the pillars of the Batman universe and will likely continue to play a role in his life – probably both good and bad.

Next: 2. Lex Luthor

2. Lex Luthor (Superman)

As the Joker and Batman are seemingly drawn to one another for as long as time itself, there may not be a Superman if it weren’t for Lex Luthor. But what sets Luthor apart from many others on the list is what he could be as opposed to what he is.

Luthor and his company, LexCorp, represent the potential good that could befall man. Luthor uses his gifts – intelligence, money, science – for the pursuit of evils instead of bettering the planet. How many technological advances has LexCorp made to destroy Superman when they could be using it to make the world a better place?

As smart as Superman is strong, as immoral as Superman is moral, Luthor’s goal in life is to become god-like all while battling a god among men to do so. Lex has frequently defeated the Man of Steel using strategy, intelligence and a willingness to get personal.

From becoming President of the United States to mental screwing with the Joker himself, Luthor has seemingly done everything dastardly that he possibly can. Then again, just as we let our guard down and assume he can’t do much worse, Luthor will no doubt come up with his most devious scheme yet.

Next: 1. The Joker

1. The Joker (Batman)

What else can you really say about the Clown Prince of Crime that hasn’t already been said? He is the yin to Batman’s yang, the sugar to his tea. Without the Joker, there very well may not be a Batman.

The Joker has gone from one end of the spectrum to the other over the years – at times, he was campy and goofy but mostly only a threat to himself. Others, he was crippling Barbara Gordon and going on random murder sprees. He has been responsible for more disasters and crimes over the years than most villains combined and he does it all with a creepy smile on his face.

More than anything, the Joker is a constant test for Batman to maintain his humanity and not fall into the darkness as the Joker has. He constantly tempts the Dark Knight to break his only rule – to not kill – often by offering up his own neck. If he can make Batman betray himself, after all, killing him couldn’t hold a candle.

Because Batman refuses to kill the Joker, it seems like these two were destined to do this forever. Even when the Joker dies – as he has on seemingly numerous occasions, sometimes simply to make Batman look like he did it – it’s not long before he is back tormenting Gotham’s knight.