Even though the Joker is pretty much thought of as the epitome of insanity, he’s arguably not the craziest villain in town. His many infamous acts include things like crippling Barbara Gordon, killing Jason Todd, and having his own face cut off. That’s not even the worst of the stuff that he has done either. So where could you find villains worse than that?
We can find the answer to that question just using the characters of Marvel, actually. Within DC there might be a few obvious candidates that could outdo the Joker, likes maybe Darkseid just to mention one of the major names, but Marvel is less known for its psychopaths. Don’t worry, though, we’ve searched around and found some worthy candidates from the rival brand to prove DC has some competition even for their most iconic villain. The locks are coming off the padded cells, because these are 15 Marvel Villains Crazier Than The Joker.
15. DOCTOR DOOM
It’s a pretty common idea to hear tossed around that some insane people are really just so intelligent that they view the world in terms that appear insane to regular people. People say this about the Joker a lot, but it kind of gets negated by the fact that the Joker never really helps anyone. Someone like Doctor Doom, on the other hand, is unquestionably a villain, but he’s not some rabid animal either. He talks about wanting to rule the world, and from the small pieces we’ve seen of his control, it might not be all bad.
Doom rules over the country of Latveria and keeps its denizens under his oppression, but it’s not as if he makes them live in constant agony either. Doom takes cares of subjects who are loyal to him, keeping them fed, clothed, and sheltered. That’s a lot more care than most villains show for their subjects. So, is Doom actually so smart in regards to what’s best for the world that people just can’t comprehend the brilliance of his plans… or is he just nuttier than squirrel poop? You decide!
14. MISTER SINISTER
People might initially just think of Mister Sinister for his connection to Apocalypse, but Sinister is worse in some ways. At least with Apocalypse he was pretty much groomed for godhood his entire life, so you can’t really blame him for wanting to be viewed as a god. Sinister’s path towards depravity was much more deliberate and voluntary on his part. Before he gained his iconic appearance he was a brilliant scientist, but believed that society accepting its own mutation was the correct path forward.
While he was still a human and trying to balance his work with starting a family, Sinister’s first child died. Totally undeterred, Sinister dug up his kid’s body and began experimenting on it to continue his work. It led to Sinister’s own wife rejecting him with her dying words, labeling him something totally “sinister” and giving him the name he would dub himself as going forward. He fully accepted his monstrous side, willingly sacrificing everything and embracing his own mutation.
13. RED SKULL
The Joker is pretty unpredictable in his schemes, but being unpredictable alone doesn’t always make for the craziest villains. Red Skull is more blatant in his evil, but also arguably even crazier. The Red Skull’s parents died when he was young, but he didn’t turn into the stereotypical charming orphan asking for an extra bowl of food. Instead, his lack of supervision turned him down a dark path where he was left looking for a role model. And it just so happened the person he settled on for that role was Adolf Hitler.
Even the Joker has never been crazy enough to look up to the Nazis, but Red Skull took things even further by aiming to surpass the work of history’s most vile group of people. Eventually even Hitler found the Red Skull unstable, which should tell you all you need to know, really. What makes it worse is that the Red Skull’s terrorist group has also proven to be one of the comic world’s most enduring threats.
Mojo’s physical body is too weak to create the chaos he desires to see in the world, but that doesn’t stop him from stirring up trouble. The Joker is a hands-on kind of guy, but Mojo figures if he can’t do it himself, he can at least enjoy the mayhem caused by others. So like a demented TV producer, Mojo is looking for the most interesting characters to broadcast throughout his Mojoverse for the carnage they cause.
Basically Mojo would fit right in with the people who run The Hunger Games. He believes people enjoy seeing violence and that it can be marketed as entertainment. And while there is certainly an argument for that, not many comic book characters base their careers on creating such a world. But Mojo really has created his own, literally, in “Mojo World,” and he’s always looking for the latest train wreck to be a ratings sensation for his viewers.
Venom may have originated as just an antithesis to Spider-Man, but he has grown into far more than just an evil web slinger. Even in just the early days Venom was already pretty crazy since he had the whole split personality thing going on. Eddie Brock having to fight for control against the personality of the symbiote is something that always has him in two minds. Eddie reconciles this by referring to himself in the plural, seemingly accepting his duality.
It’s hard not to think of the symbiote as being the dominant personality, though. As Venom, Eddie has not only hurt people but outright murdered folks, and even committed several acts of cannibalism. Plus, his symbiote suit has spawned “children” and put Venom at the head of an incredibly twisted and unhealthy family.
10. THE SKINLESS MAN
It caused quite a stir in the comic book world years back when the Joker had the Dollmaker remove his iconically-smiling face, and the clown subsequently returned wearing his own face as a mask in “Death of the Family.” In the eyes of a lot of fans, this act took the Joker`s insanity to a whole new level. How insane did somebody have to be to willingly have their own face cut off? Well, if that’s the measuring stick for crazy, then the Skinless Man has the Joker beat to hell.
As his name implies, the Skinless Man is a mutant with all of his skin removed. Admittedly, he didn’t ask for this to happen, but he hasn’t let the change get him down too much either. In fact, it brought out a whole new sadistic side in him since he got revenge by removing body parts from other people, including his rival’s face. Even more disconcerting is that the Skinless Man has trained his muscles to be able to stretch and become like extra appendages to him. The Joker just removed his own face for the shock factor, but the Skinless Man actually flourished from losing his flesh.
Madcap is like a mixture of the powers of several different characters, and it makes for a pretty unnerving villain. Just like the Joker’s origin story is sometimes that he was transformed after being exposed to chemicals, Madcap was also changed in a chemical accident that simultaneously killed his family. The deaths of his loved ones drove him mad and made him suicidal, but the chemicals gave him healing abilities somewhat like Wolverine’s.
As if a regenerating psychopath isn’t bad enough, Madcap also has the power to make those around him go mad as well. It also doesn’t help that Madcap is so far beyond reason that he cannot feel guilt for the violence he inflicts. Ghost Rider once used the Penance Stare on Madcap to make the villain feel the pain of all his victims. Madcap just enjoyed it, though, and wanted to feel it again. How do you top that?
8. NORMAN OSBORN
You can say one thing about the Joker, at least when he found his new persona he remained loyal to it. There is still no certainty as to who the Joker actually was before his skin got bleached and his mind was taken from him in an accident. Norman Osborn, on the other hand, chose to embrace his monstrous persona when he became the Green Goblin, using it to terrorize New York. The even scarier thing is that he can just completely turn it off to be plain old Norman Osborn when it suits him.
Mentally unhinged villains have a way of becoming enduring, so it is no surprise that the Green Goblin has become Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis. Norman is responsible not only for the infamous death of Gwen Stacy, but also for basically making insanity a hereditary trait after his son Harry took up the role of the Green Goblin too. The Joker is scary, but at least his insanity is plain for everyone to see. Norman might be worse since he can blend in with every day people, while at the same time, have powers well beyond the ken of mortal men.
7. DARK PHOENIX
The Joker has risen above his status as a normal man several times thanks to gaining new powers, but never to the extent that Jean Grey has. If you want to talk about someone going crazy, it’s hard to top a character’s mind being taken over by a cosmic force that makes them extremely powerful and extremely willing to harm galaxies full of people. Even Jean’s fellow X-Men were not safe from her wrath when she assumed the form of the Dark Phoenix.
The Dark Phoenix’s powers were so strong she could use just her mind to drive someone who challenged her insane. Other races throughout the galaxy recognized the threat that the Dark Phoenix posed and joined together to try and neutralize her. The resistance against Jean in this new form was so convinced of the danger that she posed that they were willing to destroy the solar system if need be to stop her. But when the Dark Phoenix had proven that she had the power to cause a supernova and wipe out all life on a planet in the process, it’s hard to critique such a response from the universe’s denizens.
Heath Ledger’s Joker famously said in “The Dark Knight” that if you’re good at something, never do it for free. And fittingly enough, he was talking about the act of killing in that quote. So that iteration of the Joker seems like he would certainly be able to appreciate someone like Bullseye, a Marvel villain who loves straight up murdering people, so he made a profession of it. But even the Joker was not quite as ambitious as Bullseye has become over time.
Bullseye is great at killing folks and he knows it. But he’s also not stupid enough to do it for free since even supervillains have bills to pay. So, instead, he became an assassin for hire. And he’s definitely worth the money. As his name suggests, when Bullseye picks a target, he doesn’t often miss. It has turned him into one of Daredevil’s deadliest and most enduring villains.
The Joker loves his pranks and could only dream of having the amount of influence over the world that Loki does. Loki’s mischief is not confined to just one city, and he arguably loves creating havoc even more than the Joker does. Admittedly, the Joker has shown the kinds of havoc he would create if he was an emperor in the world, but Loki has access to that kind of power nonstop.
Loki can hypnotize others to work for his cause, he can transform his body to disguise himself or fool people, and he has magic abilities that can rival some of Marvel’s physically mightiest heroes. The Joker is often called the Clown Prince of crime due to his mischievous nature. Loki is the trickster god, though, and it’s hard to outrank a god. Anyone can be a mortal man like the Joker who is devoted to causing anarchy, but gods never go away, so Loki’s maddening plans will never be gone from the world.
Arcade seems like the Marvel equivalent of what would happen if the Joker retained all of his insanity, but also had the wealth of Bruce Wayne. We’re used to hearing about altruistic billionaires who go on to become heroes like Wayne or Tony Stark, but sometimes money really does just corrupt. That’s definitely the case for Arcade who simply enjoys killing people, and chooses to use his fortune to manufacture increasingly elaborate ways to torture his victims.
Arcade fittingly calls his little worlds of traps “Murderland,” and he basically operates it like Jigsaw from the “Saw” films used his traps. They would be cruel and sometimes seemingly impossible to get out of, but Arcade enjoys leaving an escape for his victims. Apparently watching his victims retain enough hope to try and get free amuses Arcade. The Joker does love an overly-complex plan, and has used fun houses in his traps, but Arcade dedicates himself to the cause just that much more.
3. THE PURPLE MAN
The Purple Man, or Kilgrave as he became known courtesy of Netflix’s “Jessica Jones” TV series, is the kind of villain who can put the Joker to shame. Everyone remembers the Joker for mentally breaking Harley Quinn and turning her into one of his most devoted followers. But the Purple Man is known for being able to mentally dominate anyone thanks to pheromones that give him the ability to control people. That’s the kind of power the Joker could only wish for.
We have seen what kind of depraved behavior the Purple Man has utilized his power for, even enslaving Jessica Jones for a huge amount of time with no other heroes being the wiser. And in the TV series he turned two former lovers against each other and driving them to try and kill one another. The Purple Man is scary because he doesn’t take control by corrupting people. He forces their bodies to act outside of their own volition, leaving their minds trapped to witness the horrible things they are doing.
Even if you couldn’t predict many of the names we would pick for this list, most of you no doubt saw Carnage coming. How could he not be included in a topic like this? He’s just as insane (if not more so) as the Joker, except his symbiote suit gives him built-in methods to be as brutal as possible about it. The Joker usually doesn’t stand a chance with his bare hands and instead needs his toys to cause destruction. Carnage can just turn his own two hands into weapons at a whim.
Carnage’s ties to Venom give him an especially demented origin since, in a way, Eddie Brock is like Cletus’ dad. Carnage even created his own version of the Manson family in the “Maximum Carnage” storyline, leading to the group going on a killing spree in New York while simultaneously driving the rest of the city insane. Even the Joker has a tough time competing with that.
Thanos might not initially seem like someone who is more insane than the Joker, but the Mad Titan undoubtedly has a lot more power than the Joker will ever have. Thanos is practically a god, so when he snaps, he has the potential to do tons of damage to everything around him, especially if he has the Infinity Gauntlet in his grip. The Joker is able to rampage through Gotham, but on a global scale he is seldom ever dangerous enough to cause a threat to the entire Earth.
Thanos on the other hand? The guy was in love with lady Death, so to try and impress her, Thanos literally destroyed half of the lives in the known universe. He figured what better way to get Death’s notice than to kill on an unprecedented level. Not only is that a screwed up view of romance to begin with, but the fact that Thanos is powerful enough to go through with it definitely makes his craziness scarier than the Joker’s.
Is there anyone else from Marvel that you think can out-crazy the Joker? Tell us what Marvel villains you think have outdone DC’s clown.