The DC Universe boasts a lot of deadly assassins, and we’ve seen them in feature films, television shows, animated outings and of course, comics. They’ve pushed the non-metahuman and non-powered heroes such as Batman, Nightwing and Green Arrow to the brink, coming in a vast array of mercenaries, thugs and as expected, femme fatales. But in all fairness, they’ve just served us up lots and lots of excitement because there’s nothing better than watching the heroes you love left chasing ghosts and shadows right after these killers strike, and then go into hiding.
Even the Justice League have found themselves at odds with such individuals who show no hesitation nor remorse at pulling the trigger, detonating bombs or slicing you up from head to toe via swords or knives. Assassins make intriguing stories because they usually come with a tragic past that allows you to empathize with them, right before they slit you a new one! With that said, whether you feel sorry for them or not, they deserve to be thrown in prison because they won’t stop what doing what they’re good at. As a result, CBR decided to dive into 15 of DC’s deadliest and most lethal assassins!
Spoilers ahead for many DC comics, television shows, animated features and movies!
15. CASSANDRA CAIN
Cassandra Cain had a tortured past before Batman rescued her and made her a Batgirl. She was trained as an assassin due to her parental ties to the likes of David Cain and Lady Shiva — which in all fairness meant that from birth you were destined to be one of the best killers around in the business.
Her past was also tainted by the al Ghuls and the League of Assassins, which Batman recognized as a trigger point to either convert Cassandra or watch her evolve into a deadly foe, and let’s be real, he doesn’t need another one of those. Given her age, he successfully brought her over to his side but time and time again she wrestles with her dark instincts from years ago, which draws parallels to the likes of Jason Todd and even, Jean-Paul Valley.
14. RED HOOD
Jason Todd came back from the dead with a thirst for blood as he felt Batman didn’t do him justice after The Joker killed the young Robin. He adopted the Red Hood moniker and started distributing his own brand of bloody justice, with the likes of Black Mask, as well as Batman’s heroic team feeling the brunt of his rage.
Todd was as murderous as they came and took vigilantism to a whole new level, even leaving calling cards in a way that would make Azrael cringe. He was all about killing those he saw as evil and became the extreme opposite to Batman, with knives, guns and grenades as his main tools. He had no limits but eventually, he came around to the light. That said, his ledger is as red as his hood.
KGBeast (Anatoli Knyazev) is a Russian assassin that managed to make his way into DC’s live-action universe through Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as Arrow. He was trained by a super-assassin called “The Hammer” in every weapon known to man and became a very staunch enemy of the entire Bat-family.
His kills were very political, with US President Ronald Reagan also coming into his crosshairs at one point. He was killed and resurrected later on as a member of the Black Lantern Corps in Blackest Night, but in DC’s Rebirth we went back to the murderous version of the character. However, he was now a devil worshiper and went by “The Beast,” even sporting a 666 mark to signify that he wanted nothing but death.
Cheshire is another prime assassin and mercenary in the DC Universe, fueled by being one of the best combatants around. She’s also an acrobat so you know you’ll have your hands full. Born as Jade Nguyen, she usually deals with attacking countries, nuclear missions, and often running with the likes of Vandal Savage. She even got some air-time in the Young Justice and Teen Titans cartoons.
Her biggest claim to fame though is her romance with Roy Harper as he transitioned from Speedy to Arsenal, with Cheshire playing on his emotions and manipulating him into believing that they were meant to dispense justice in a bloodier fashion. Cheshire has often run afoul of the Birds of Prey as well, and was also seen with the League of Assassins as they tried to recruit Red Hood. She’s untrustworthy and actually owns it!
Katana tore it up in the DCEU in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad where we managed to see her in full-effect, slicing and dicing with her Soultaker sword. It contains the souls of her family, guiding her as she seeks to avenge them, but let’s not forget how much this thirst for vengeance has muddied her character.
Batman saw her potential, although he knew she needed to be controlled, and so he hired her as a skilled hit-woman and member of the covert Outsiders. In the New 52 she even joined the Justice League of America and the Birds of Prey, but in the past, DC fans have seen her struggle with the loss of her family, which messed with how much she wants to keep her honor. Amid this inner-conflict, she shed a lot of blood and truly marked herself as a lethal warrior.
10. LADY SHIVA
Lady Shiva has long been known as one of DC Comics’ most badass assassins, which played a big role in how her daughter, Cassandra, came out. Shiva is one of those elite murderers that’s not just content with her own kills, but is also constantly training others in the art of war and bloodshed.
She’s a stone-cold killer but has often played both sides of the coin, which brought her into conflict with the likes of Batman, the al Ghuls, Deathstroke, Cassandra, and last but not least, David Cain. Usually though, it ends with Shiva doing things her way as she doesn’t enjoy playing by anyone’s rules. This is what makes her so dangerous — you never know when she’ll turn on you and strike. Shiva’s all about self-gain after all.
9. CONSTANTINE DRAKON
Constantine Drakon is a Greek assassin who was a prodigy at murder since the age of 10. He usually runs afoul of Green Arrow, and even appeared in the Arrow series on the CW. In the books, Ollie needed the help of Speedy (Mia Dearden) and the Outsiders to stave off the threat of Drakon because he’s as relentless as they get.
He’s an extraordinary martial artist with superb reflexes and movement, which saw the likes of Deathstroke respect and even want to ally with him. To top things off, he’s just as skilled with guns, knives and swords, ensuring that his arsenal is fully equipped whenever Green Arrow and, in recent times, even the Justice League come calling. Drakon isn’t one to be underestimated and has sworn to keep killing as long as he can.
Roy Harper as Speedy got a lot of airtime as Green Arrow’s sidekick, not just in the Arrow series, but in Young Justice. The latter also tied into his transition to Arsenal in the comics, which saw him devolve into a murderous vigilante. He lost his daughter, Lian, (the baby he had with Cheshire) and his arm to the villainous Prometheus and his drug-addiction returned, along with degradation to his mental health.
As Arsenal, he had a robotic arm, to go along with his dangerous arrows, took out a bunch of thugs and almost killed Mia Dearden too. Not even his former mentor, Ollie, could help change his perspective, and he eventually joined with Deathstroke. That didn’t last long and he returned to the light, however, he still felt guilt over his deadly actions. The New 52 retconned a lot of this as he joined Red Hood’s Outlaws.
Deadshot is one of DC’s most elite assassins and with this kind of talent, it’s hard to walk on one side of the criminal line. Batman, as much as he hates Floyd Lawton, knows he can be harnessed for good, which pushed the DCEU to bring him to life in Arrow and via Will Smith in Suicide Squad. He’s also been in Secret Six and Checkmate because his killer services are always required.
Deadshot has the skills of Marvel’s Bullseye, meaning whether it’s with a gun, knife or a toothpick, he doesn’t miss and can murder you at will. He’s also been in a plethora of DC’s animated features and cartoons, so it’s very apparent how popular he is. Even the Justice League have taken note of his prowess and it just goes to show how much of a threat Lawton is viewed as.
6. DAVID CAIN
David Cain is a premier assassin that sought the perfect mate to create the perfect killing machine, which is what Lady Shiva provided. He specialized in training child soldiers (including a young Bruce), which came back full-circle with Cassandra trying to exact revenge by taking him out. Cain has slivers of light in him though, which Batman recognized.
However, his past with the al Ghuls and their League, and ties to the likes of Lex Luthor and Deadshot, often painted him into a corner where he couldn’t evade actions of old. No matter how much he tried to run, he remained steeped in bloodshed and murder. Cain is an expert in all weaponry and with someone always hunting him, it makes sense to always stay in attack mode. He eventually passed his Orphan moniker to Cassandra.
5. THE AL GHULS
The al Ghuls will kill you, whether if it’s direct confrontation, or something as sinister and subtle as a poisoning. This vicious, immortal mentality passed down from Ra’s to his daughter, Talia, and to this day continues to shock Bruce. In fact, his son with Talia, Damian, has come a long way to break this venomous stranglehold and transition into Robin.
The father-daughter duo can’t even trust each other, yet their League of Assassins remains strong in their quest to raze and control the world. All assassins in the DC Universe, from Deathstroke to Lady Shiva to David Cain, have crossed paths with them, and they’ve often pushed the Bat-family to their fullest. When it comes to subterfuge and murder, the al Ghuls are some of the most prominent in the business, which led to them appearing in Christopher Nola’s film series, as well as several animated ventures.
Bane is most noted for breaking Batman’s back and putting Bruce Wayne out of commission, but since the age of eight, he’s led a life of hardship. He committed his first murder at that age and went down a path of darkness that saw him land in prison. In the comics, Santa Prisca became his playground and he honed his craft as a killer who preferred that you saw him coming, as opposed to one lurking in the shadows.
He ended up in the League of Assassins, which Nolan meshed into The Dark Knight Rises, and also, joined Secret Six as part of their mercenary covert-ops adventures. Bane is a brute and a thug, but comic fans know that if he wants you dead, he’s quite capable of making it happen, even by his lonesome.
3. THE COURT OF OWLS
The Court of Owls are a secret society that helped shape Gotham’s history and want to continue doing so, but not for the better, which saw them clash with Batman. Their military arm is the group of assassins called Talons and driven by the likes of Lincoln March, William Cobb and Calvin Rose, they waged war on Batman and the Bat-family.
They actually pushed them to the limit as the Talons usually became super-soldiers thanks to serums, with treatments even bringing dead ones back to life. They showed no mercy, even when having to kill each other to ascend the ranks and in the Court of Owls and Night of Owls storylines, Batman realized how dangerous they could be. Eventually, they would go internationally as the Parliament of Owls. The group also appeared in Gotham and the Batman vs. Robin animated film.
This can be considered a wildcard pick but once you look at the character’s history you’ll understand why. Ozymandias took out The Comedian, which wasn’t an easy task, and more so, he did so undetected. This alone shows how cold and calculating he can be. When he’s not being cerebral and stealthy, he’s catching bullets, framing his own assassination or beating down Rorschach and Nite Owl.
But in terms of killing innocents, his genocide counts as assassination because as seen at the end of Watchmen, he committed mass murder without batting a lash. Adrian Veidt ends up justifying his kills too, so whether it’s via squid or bomb, or even carcinogenic gassing, expect him to eventually find a way to get you. Doctor Manhattan can testify to his vindictive brilliance.
Deathstroke is the king of assassins in the DC Universe and he just keeps on coming. Batman knows this, as does the Justice League. He’s gone after almost every hero there is because when there’s a bounty on their head, there’s Slade Wilson trying to collect. This also saw him clash with the Teen Titans, and even trickled down to his kids, who proved that the apples don’t fall far from the tree.
He’s also gone mainstream in Arrow, and is set to appear when Matt Reeves continues Batman’s story in the DCEU. Deathstroke has also been a major part of DC’s animated series and features because fans love seeing him go for the kill. He isn’t super-powered, but he always uses the right tools to put things on an even keel and get the job done. Even villains like the al Ghuls know not to trust him.
Thoughts on our picks? Let us know in the comments who you think are DC’s deadliest assassins!
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