DC Comics has established a vast and powerful menagerie of villains who've made the multiverse an extremely dangerous place to be. Darkseid has used his Anti-Life Equation to enslave and control millions. Doomsday's brute strength has all but leveled Metropolis and even the entire Justice League, and the Joker has murdered hundreds with complete abandon.
DC has its share of bad guys whose reputations precede them. And in many cases, they live up to the hype. But not all DC villains are created equal. So, who's overhyped and underequipped? Here's a list of 10 big-name DC villains who've actually done nothing.
10 Black Manta
Aquaman's arch-nemesis is a scientific genius who's built his own weaponized suit and helmet with a jetpack. He's got an impressive staff complement of tough seafaring henchmen and he even has his own underwater "Mantamobile" - a submersible ship that's super fast and armed to the teeth.
With those stats, Black Manta has the potential to rival the likes of Lex Luthor as an A-List bad guy. But aside from cutting off Aquaman's hand and killing "Aquababy" a few retcons ago in 1977's mostly forgotten classic, Adventure Comics #452, he's never really lived up to his full potential.
9 Vandal Savage
Vandal Savage has one major advantage over most other terrestrially based villains in the DCU: time. The immortal Savage has lived through every age of mankind and claims to have conquered a few civilizations along the way. The strange meteorite he encountered as a caveman not only granted him seemingly eternal life, it also gave him tremendous intelligence.
How is it then that he's still not the supreme ruler of Earth? Savage missed a beat by not crushing the superhero phenomenon early on when the very first superpowered beings appeared on Earth.
8 Mr. Mxyzptlk
Mr. Mxyzptlk has been using his reality-altering abilities to annoy Superman for decades. His antics have included bringing a giant "Big Belly Burger" statue to life (Adventures of Superman #441, 1988) and forcing Superman to race the Flash (Adventures of Superman #463, 1990) - not exactly Earth-shattering stuff.
Some of Mxy's true potential was revealed in the Superman: Emperor Joker storyline, when the Joker steals his powers and remakes the world into his own warped version of reality. More recently, Mxyzptlk was held captive by Mr. Oz in the Doomsday Clock storyline and merged two Superman realities together (Superman #19, 2017). But his real power has never truly been unleashed.
Despero has menaced the Justice League on several occasions. He possesses superhuman strength, mind control abilities and telekinesis. He's faced just about every incarnation of DC's premier superteam and he's even succeeded (briefly) in taking over the White House (JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice).
Despero is such a force to be reckoned with that in Justice League America #58 (1992), not even the combined might of the Justice League and Lobo could take him down. Nonetheless, in Injustice: Gods Among Us, Sinestro snaps Despero's neck with barely a thought. And the Kalanorian's appearances in more recent continuity have been quite anticlimactic.
There's a new Mongul on the scene now, and he's very powerful in his own right. But the original Mongul was a conqueror of worlds who is best-known for the role he played in Alan Moore's classic Superman story, "For the Man Who Has Everything" (Superman Annual #11, 1985). Mongul was stronger than Superman, extremely fast, able to teleport and even had some telepathic abilities. He held off the Green Lanterns single-handedly and fought the Big Blue Boy Scout to a standstill more than once.
In "For the Man Who Has Everything", Mongul's narcissism gets the better of him, as the tale ends with him trapped in his own fantasy where he's violently conquered the universe. And ultimately, Mongul's ego proved to be his final undoing, when after being insulted by the demon Neron in Underworld Unleashed, he voiced his disapproval and was unceremoniously killed.
This article focuses on the current Cheetah, Barbara Ann Minerva - arguably the most recognized incarnation of the villain. In current continuity, Cheetah has been painted as a more noble character and on/off Wonder Woman ally. At her core though, Minerva's Cheetah is a savage killer with inhuman strength and speed. She regularly trades blows with one of DC's heaviest hitters and the magical nature of her powers even makes her a match for Superman.
So why hasn't Cheetah enslaved millions of civilians and super-types alike, to assemble her own feral army, primed for world domination? It defies belief. Cheetah's status may change in the near future, with the character set to make her big-screen debut in the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 and to play a role of as-yet-undisclosed importance in DC's Year of the Villain.
He's a mentally unstable, backward clone of Superman. What more do you need? The Bronze Age "Bizarro Code", which originally appeared in the relatively innocent, Comics Code compliant "World of the Bizarros" story in Action Comics #263 (1960) reads like a mass murderer's credo: "Us do opposite of all Earthly things. Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!"
Can anyone else see the person who wrote that (either with a broken crayon or someone else's blood) greedily smearing their entire face with lipstick after penning it? But despite his terrifying and often unsettling potential, Bizarro tends to fall into the role of henchman for other big villains all-too-often. Either that or he's (for the most part) used as comic relief - with a few notable exceptions, like when he became super-intelligent and was taken quite seriously for a little while.
As Batman baddies go, Oswald Cobblepot is at least among the top five that spring to mind, even for those who aren't necessarily comic book fans. He's appeared on screen many times - in the classic 1960's Batman TV series, in various animated incarnations, in Tim Burton's Batman Returns and in Warner's Gotham TV series.
But for all his bluster and all the hype, the Penguin is really no competition for the likes of the Joker, Two-Face and Ra's Al Ghul. he may have ascended beyond just trick umbrellas and a massive chip on his hunched shoulder. But other than his strange appearance, general disregard for human life and a fluctuating tragic/comic back story, Oswald is really just a mob boss, not a supervillain.
2 Dr. Sivana
He was recently the "Big Bad" in the Shazam! movie, and has been Billy Batson's nemesis since the Original Captain Marvel made his debut in Fawcett's Whiz Comics #2. Yet he's not much more than a placeholder for Mister Mind and Black Adam. In Roy Thomas and Tom Mandrake's Shazam! The New Beginning in 1987, Sivana steps in to become Billy Batson's legal guardian. Shocker! it soon turns out that his motives are not all that pure, and it seems that he's going to be the primary villain in the story. But (Shocker again!), by the end of issue 1, Sivana has summoned the real villain, Black Adam.
The recent movie's post-credits scene in which Sivana is locked up in a cell, having been defeated by the Shazam! family, introduces Mister Mind, casually striking up a conversation with the mad doctor. Sivana has the brains and the motivation to become a villain of Earth-shattering proportions but his penchant for summoning beings more powerful than himself ultimately makes him a rather lackluster villain.
1 Harley Quinn
She's a relatively new addition to the DCU, having first appeared in Batman: The Animated Series in 1992 as the Joker's sidekick. Since then, Harley's popularity has grown exponentially. She's blossomed into a pop culture icon and an independent character in her own right.
She's a sympathetic version of the Joker. Where the Joker more closely resembles John Wayne Gacy, Harley is much less terrifying. But Harley has been humanized so much due to her popularity that she's skating on the edge between heroism and villainy. And it's looking like she'll land up as the former.