Daredevil has been extremely fortunate throughout the years to have incredible run after incredible run. While Frank Miller clearly set the standard in the early ’80s, his run was followed with talented and memorable runs from such talented authors as Ann Nocenti, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Kevin Smith and Mark Waid. In addition to that, the book has had tons of very talented artists such as Miller, Allred and Mazzucchelli, among many others. It would go without saying that one of the consistently well written characters in all of comic books would have a pretty formidable rogues gallery.
This list comprises Daredevil’s most dangerous villains! Who will top this list? Kingpin, Bullseye, the Hand? Daredevil has had countless, brilliant adversaries throughout his illustrious history as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, so trying to narrow it down to 15 was tough enough. That said, we’re confident that we’ve found Daredevil’s 15 most dangerous villains of all time!
15. STILT MAN
Perhaps Daredevil’s greatest adversary of all, it’s the legendary Stilt Man! Wilbur Day was created by Wally Wood in 1965. Emerging from the pages of “Daredevil” #8, Stilt Man has generally always been the butt of villain jokes for Daredevil. It is not clear what the motif was when Wally Wood created him, because while some antagonists play well against Daredevil, just thematically speaking, that doesn’t work with Stilt Man. That’s because he is literally just a man on very tall stilts in a mechanical suit.
Stilt Man is a crafty inventor who has a background in engineering. He constantly was confronted by Daredevil, particularly in his Silver Age appearances where he was just a guy on giant hydraulic stilts, but despite their numerous confrontations, he always came up short to Daredevil. Even though his track record against DD was never all that impressive, Stilt Man did nearly manage to defeat Spider-Man once.
Created in 1971 by Gerry Conway and Gary Friedrich, the Man-Bull first debuted in “Daredevil” #78. Originally from Camden New Jersey, Bill Taurens was a human guinea pig that saw him become a human-bull hybrid. Over time, Man-Bull began to lose more and more of his humanity, becoming more bestial in nature. Eventually becoming a supervillain, Man-Bull was brought down by Daredevil, among other Marvel superheroes, each time he made an appearance.
Every superhero has a dangerous, dumb brute that they have to bring down now and then. Spider-Man has the Rhino, Batman has Killer Croc, and Superman has Doomsday. Man-Bull just happens to be Daredevil’s physically imposing obstacle that has to be brought down whenever he starts seeing red. A lot of Daredevil villains play off some motif with the character, and in the Man-Bull’s case, it’s that Daredevil wears red, which typically enrages a bull and causes it to rampage. Like most brutes he gets into a fight with, Daredevil is always able to bring this bull to its knees.
13. THE HOOD
Making his debut in 2002 in issue #1 of “The Hood,” the titular character’s origin is intrinsically tied together with Daredevil. Created by Brian K. Vaughan, Kyle Hotz and Eric Powell, the Hood witnessed a fight between Daredevil and Electro while he was a kid that turned out to be a formative moment of his adolescence. The Hood is an extremely charismatic villain who has been portrayed as a major crime lord in New York City, but he’s also known for having come into contact with the Infinity Gems, the Nord Stones and the dread lord Dormammu.
As a boy, the Hood’s father worked very closely with Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. After his father died, his mother had to be hospitalized, having fallen into a coma, so he turned to a life of crime. In his formative years as a young crook, he killed a demon and took its hood and boots which granted him some of its powers. Rather than use his new mastery of the arcane arts for good, like say, Doctor Strange would, The Hood instead used his abilities for petty crime. However, the Hood would rise through the New York crime scene to become one of the most powerful crime lords of the city.
Nuke is an extremely unstable Vietnam veteran who first debuted in “Daredevil” #232 in 1986 and was created by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. Nuke also had a prominent role in the Marvel Netflix series “Jessica Jones” where he was portrayed by Wil Traval. Regardless of the adaption, Nuke is an extremely aggressive and physically imposing threat.
Nuke was a notable test subject for the Weapon Plus program, which was the operation that transformed Steve Rogers into Captain America. The conditioning process went poorly, which transformed Nuke into a deranged man. A former Vietnam veteran, he was captured by the Viet Cong where he was severely tortured. Nuke is notable for his taking of different pills which have several different effects depending on their U.S. flag-themed color coding. The red pills pump his adrenaline, the blue pills bring him down, and the white pills put him somewhere in between. Impressed with Nuke’s resume, Wilson Fisk hired Nuke to kill Daredevil, but was defeated.
Quentin Beck, one of Spider-Man’s highest-profile and oldest antagonists, first debuted in “Amazing Spider-Man” #13 in 1964 and was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. A stunt man and special effects wizard in Hollywood who tried to make a name for himself as an actor, Beck realized there was a lucrative in becoming a supervillain with his vast array of gizmos. Mysterio has been featured in any number of media, including video games and cartoons.
Mysterio is featured prominently on this list for his role in the “Guardian Devil” storyline by Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada. In the story, Mysterio becomes obsessed with Daredevil as he believed that the two were kindred spirits. Through Mysterio’s actions, he nearly drove Daredevil insane to the point of murdering him, only to be spared at the end of the story. Mysterio had hoped Daredevil would kill him as he believed it would be an incredible final act to his story, so to be spared created great dramatic despair in Beck. Mysterio served as a brilliant mastermind throughout the story, only to be cast aside as unoriginal and uninspired by Daredevil. This all led to the climax of Beck killing himself.
10. LADY BULLSEYE
Emerging from one of the most underrated Daredevil runs ever, Lady Bullseye debuted in 2008 from the pages of “Daredevil” Vol. 2 #111. She was created by Ed Brubaker, Marko Djurdjevic and Clay Mann. Lady Bullseye is an extremely intimidating foe, as her entire character revolves around Daredevil in a myriad of ways. Her origin is inspired by Bullseye (who we’ll get into later on this list), who saved her from being sold as a sex slavery. She’s an attorney who matches wits with Matt Murdock in the courtroom, and has deep ties with the Hand, who also strongly oppose Daredevil.
Lady Bullseye is exceptionally ruthless. Her goal was to take over the entire Hand clan, as she is extremely ambitious. She’s extremely cunning, adept at hand-to-hand combat, and is very career oriented. She poses a very real threat to Matt Murdock at all junctions in his life, and because of her, Daredevil inadvertently and temporarily became the leader of the Hand, and became his own worst enemy.
9. MR. FEAR
What better way to play off the motif of the “Man without Fear” than to pair him off against fear itself? The moniker of Mr. Fear has been used by several characters over the years such as Zoltan Drago, who first appeared very early on in “Daredevil” #6 where he was created by Stan Lee and Wally Wood in 1965. A more notable version of the character was created in 1972 in “Daredevil” #89 in 1972 and was created by Gerry Conway and Gene Colon. Mr. Fear as a character really isn’t too dissimilar to the Batman villain, Scarecrow.
The Mr. Fear that was created by Conway and Colon was a law school classmate of Matt Murdock named Larry Cranston. Cranston happened to be in the hotel where the second Mr. Fear killed the first incarnation, which eventually lead to Cranston becoming the third Mr. Fear. Cranston sought to discredit Daredevil as a hero. Later, Cranston involved himself in a war to become the top drug lord of New York by teaming up with the Hood.
First appearing in the 18th issue of “Daredevil” in 1966, Melvin Potter emerged as perhaps Daredevil’s most physically imposing adversary. Created by Stan Lee and John Romita Jr, Melvin Potter is an example of the potential of a supervillain becoming a reformed and adjusted member of society. Melvin Potter appeared in the “Daredevil” Netflix series as well where he was portrayed by Matt Gerald, who helps make Daredevil’s suits.
Gladiator was one of Daredevil’s most formidable and intimidating adversaries until he was reformed with the help of Nelson and Murdock. As Gladiator, Melvin Potter was a massive man who was adept at costume design. I recognize that sounds silly, but he basically wore a costume that was just one giant weapon. One notable early story saw the Gladiator being mind controlled by the Purple Man as they looked to thwart the Man Without Fear. With the help of his therapist, Betsy Beatty, whom he later married, the Gladiator eventually became a new man. However, they divorced and he returned to villainy.
7. PURPLE MAN
Purple Man was created by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando in “Daredevil” #4 in 1964. Purple Man was utilized primarily as a Daredevil villain until the character rose to prominence as a Jessica Jones antagonist in the early 2000’s. Killgrave was featured most prominently in the Marvel Netflix series, “Jessica Jones,” where he was portrayed by famous “Dr. Who” leading man, David Tennant.
Purple Man is one of Daredevil’s oldest nemeses. He has the ability to force people who hear his voice into doing what he tells them, but Daredevil was eventually able to overcome Killgrave’s control through sheer force of will. The Purple Man has been featured in several prominent stories, such as “Emperor Doom” and “Daredevil Yellow,” the latter of which showcased the Purple Man as he tried to seduce Karen Page. He once teamed up with Kingpin, who helped boost his powers by filtering Kilgrave’s voice through a sound system.
6. THE OWL
One of Daredevil’s oldest and greatest villains, the Owl was created by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando in “Daredevil” #3 in 1964. A version of the Owl appeared in the first season of Marvel Netflix’s “Daredevil,” having been portrayed by Bob Gunton. The Owl was also notable for his appearance in “Daredevil Yellow.”
Also known as “The Owl of Wall Street,” Leland Owlsley was a financial genius who became a crime lord after the I.R.S. came after him for tax evasion. As a crime lord, Owlsley began using his earnings to create super-powered enhancements for himself, which saw him evolve into a weird bird person. Most of his powers come from a flight serum that he takes, but he also takes the drug known as Mutant Growth Hormone, as well as refined the hormone from his own genetics. The Owl’s brilliant with financial capitol and should not be undermined as a crime lord in New York City.
5. TYPHOID MARY
Ann Nocenti and John Romita Sr’s run on “Daredevil” often goes unappreciated, as Daredevil has had the luxury to attract a great surplus of talent on his titles. Amidst their run, they created Typhoid Mary, who follows in Elektra’s footsteps as an incredibly complicated former partner for the Man with No Fear. First appearing in “Daredevil” #254 in 1988, Typhoid Mary is notable for suffering a unique version of dissociative identity disorder and has low-grade psychic powers that include telepathy, telekinesis and pyrokinesis.
Typhoid Mary has been utilized in a myriad of ways to complicate Daredevil’s life. She was a former lover of Matt Murdock, a pawn of the Kingpin and has even been a part of the Hand. Her origin story is directly tied to Matt Murdock before he even became Daredevil. Murdock had inadvertently pushed her out a window where she vowed that no man would ever hurt her again. She has three primary personalities: Mary, a quiet pacifist; Typhoid, who is lustful and violent; and Bloody Mary, who is brutal, hyper-violent and practices misandry. Her personal relationship with Daredevil makes her one of his most formidable foes.
Elektra was created in 1981 by Frank Miller and first debuted in “Daredevil” #168. Originally intended to be a one-time-use villain, Elektra has been utilized throughout countless Marvel platforms and has been portrayed by Jennifer Garner in the 2003 cinematic film, “Daredevil,” and its 2005 spin-off film, “Elektra.” More recently, Elektra has been portrayed by Elodie Yung in the “Daredevil” Netflix series, who is scheduled to return in “The Defenders.”
Elektra and Matt Murdock had a fiery romance in their college years. For both characters, their romantic intersection spelled disaster as the rest of their romantic lives would be marred with disaster. In Daredevil’s case, it’d be love and loss over and over again. The two came from different worlds: Elektra came from socialite circles and Matt was the son of a poor boxer. Through their entanglement with Stick and the Caste, their methodology for dealing with the world’s problems became even more different, with Elektra following a much darker path. Now it’s Matt Murdock’s somber obligation to have to stop Elektra should she ever cross the line.
3. THE HAND
Daredevil’s largest cult of adversaries comes in the form of the Hand. The Hand is tied to Daredevil’s life by being both intertwined with his mentor, Stick, and his lover, Elektra. The Hand’s operations are insidious and when they find themselves within the borders of New York City, they find themselves at odds with Daredevil. The Hand was created by Frank Miller in 1981 and debuted in “Daredevil” #174.
The Hand, which has been featured prominently in both the “Daredevil” and “Iron Fist” Netflix series is a massive criminal organization within Marvel Comics. Primarily based and founded in Japan, the Hand has its roots as a secret society of nationalist samurai and ninja. The Hand are adept at hand-to-hand combat and are comparably skilled in utilizing magic to both murder and revive people. Historically, the Hand’s greatest adversary is the Chaste, which Daredevil’s mentor, Stick, had led. Over the years, the Hand has clashed with Daredevil, Wolverine, Iron Fist and countless other Marvel heroes.
At the head of all crime in New York City resides one man, the Kingpin himself: Wilson Fisk. The Kingpin first debuted in “Spider-Man” #50 in 1967 and was created by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. While he has been featured as a Spider-Man villain often enough, he’s most well-known for his encounter with Daredevil and the variety of ways he has gone about making Matt Murdock’s life a nightmare. The character rose to broader prominence when Vincent D’Onofrio portrayed him in the “Daredevil” Netflix series.
Daredevil represents a constant and perpetual threat to the Kingpin’s totalitarian iron grip over New York City, particularly Hell’s Kitchen. As Daredevil cuts deeper and deeper into Wilson Fisk’s profit margins, the more perilous of a position Daredevil find himself in. Daredevil strikes the seedy underbelly of New York’s crime scene without prejudice and this makes him a formidable obstacle for Kingpin. Not wanting to get his own hands dirty, Kingpin is a mastermind who uses other people to fight his war with Daredevil for him, such as Nuke, Elektra and Bullseye.
Coming in at number one on this list, who else could it be but the man who never misses, Bullseye! Bullseye consistently pushes Matt Murdock to his brink and back again. Bullseye mercilessly tries to defeat Daredevil at the expense of his loved ones. Debuting in “Daredevil” #131 in 1976. Created by Marv Wolfman and John Romita Sr, Bullseye rose to prominence, especially during Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s seminal run on the character.
When it comes to Daredevil villains, is there anyone more dangerous than the man who never misses? While Kingpin, Elektra and the Hand all offer different methods of lethality to the Man Without Fear, Bullseye is Daredevil’s Lex Luthor, Joker and Green Goblin all rolled into one. Bullseye is an absolute wildcard who has ruined Matt’s life more so than anyone. Whether it be killing Karen Page or Elektra, or all around posing a perilous threat, there’s no one more dangerous to Daredevil.
Let us know in the comments which of Daredevil’s villains you feel is the most deadly!