Joker. Bane. Lex Luthor. Darkseid. These villains put superheroes everywhere on high alert because of how dangerous they are, and how much trouble they’ve caused the hero community at one point or another. But they can’t all be Darkseid either.
For this list, we’re looking at major DC threats who...haven’t really accomplished much. That means no characters like Kite Man or Condiment King. These are ostensibly heavy hitters, but they’ve never really pushed a hero beyond their limits. They have never killed off a major hero, caused the death of a loved one, or brought a city or planet to its knees. Essentially, this is where people should look if they’re wondering where the next big villain turned hero is coming from...if they haven’t already turned hero.
This may feel like a shock; after all, Sinestro is one of the biggest villains Green Lantern has, right? He started his own Corps and waged war on the Green Lanterns, immediately reclaiming his standing as Public Enemy #1. But when we look at that, how much work did he actually put in?
The Sinestro Corps War ended the moment the Green Lanterns were granted the right to use lethal force. Outside of that, Sinestro has done such a poor job of being a proper supervillain that the Guardians eventually gave him his Green Ring back for a time, allowing the villain to work for them again.
Atrocitus has had many run-ins with the Corps, both in the original timeline and the current Rebirth version, but let’s place them into context. Originally, the character only turned evil after the Guardians’ Manhunter experiment failed, causing him to try and kill the Guardians. This failed, and it would be years before he created his Red Lantern Corps.
However, even that Corps’ stated goal seems to be to go after murderers and the corrupt rather than aimless destruction. While his failed attempt to take over Earth was bad, even that was born out of a desire to have a home after Atrocitus' domain was wiped out.
8 GENERAL ZOD
Zod is one of those classic examples of a villain who’s most effective when he’s off-panel. Before he was introduced, Zod was a dangerous war criminal banished to the Phantom Zone for his crimes. When he finally shows up, he’s a pain in Superman’s backside but he never actually manages to accomplish any of his goals.
Zod tries to turn Earth into Krypton but fails. Claims he has this never-ending enmity for the House of El but Superman is still saving everyone and getting paid to write articles about himself. In the Rebirth timeline, Zod simply leaves Earth and finds another planet to call home with his wife and child.
7 MR. FREEZE
Though Victor Fries’ origin briefly changed during the New 52, everyone best knows him as an expert in cryogenics who wound up freezing his wife in an attempt to save her life.
Since then, everything he’s done has been to either get the money and technology to save Nora, or to maintain his own technology to keep himself alive, as the same accident responsible for freezing Nora also caused his body temperature to drop below zero, meaning he constantly needs a special suit just to live.
Victor’s crimes are thus generally petty and easily solved, and he’s never presented himself as a major threat to Batman or Gotham, let alone the planet.
Amazo is a legendary Justice League villain with one of the best powersets to challenge the seemingly invincible super-team. An android created by Professor Ivo, he’s able to duplicate the powers of anyone within a certain radius. Despite these incredible abilities, Amazo has never been used for much other than attacking the Justice League and attempting to take them down.
Since the Justice League are still around and Amazo spends most of his time on ice in the comics, it’s safe to say he isn’t very good at what he was created for. Even Justice League Unlimited simply had him copy so many powers he ascended to the status of a god before basically leaving Earth, refusing to even kill his creator, Lex Luthor.
For him to be such a legendary assassin, Deadshot is lacking in important targets. Make no mistake, he’s definitely gained a reputation in the underworld for a reason: He’s an incredible marksman who supposedly never misses a shot.
That said, surprisingly often when Deadshot is involved he’s either killing targets at the behest of the U.S. government as part of the Suicide Squad, being taken down by Batman or the Justice League, or occasionally being forced to outright give up on his mission. Once Deadshot joined up with the Secret Six, he pretty much went from a proper villain to an anti-villain, thanks to his charisma.
4 SOLOMON GRUNDY
This guy was more of a threat when he was Cyrus Gold. Much like Bizarro, the dude just wants to be left alone and spends most of his time wandering underground, far away from society.
The few times he is a threat, it’s because someone else maneuvers him into the path of some heroes rather than him going out of his way to be a problem. Even when Grundy was transformed into a Black Lantern, he never got to do any damage, as he was tossed into the sun by his buddy Bizarro before much could happen.
3 MR. MXYZPTLK
A being from the fifth dimension, Mr. Mxyzptlk is a trickster who spends most of his time trying to annoy the Man of Steel. The only exception being a very specific version of the character in Alan Moore’s Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
Given the powers he possesses, Mr. Mxyzptlk could literally alter and reshape reality to his whims and wipe out much of existence, but instead, he just chooses to be a minor thorn in Superman’s side. By the end of every encounter with the villain, everything always reverts back to normal in Clark’s life, making Mr. Mxyzptlk probably the least effective villain ever.
There was never really a time when Cheetah was all that scary of a villain. But the current person under the fur, Barbara Ann Minerva, is more a tragic victim of her own mistakes than anything else. A British archaeologist, she was on a safari in Africa when she wound up making a deal with the god Urzkartaga.
Since his powers are meant to go to a virgin, Minerva's powers are more of a hindrance than a help, leaving her in constant pain whenever she’s in her human form. She’s also helped Diana more than a few times, and more than anything Diana would rather see her be cured than put behind bars.
Bizarro was Lex Luthor’s attempt to create his own version of Superman. Alas, the experiment turned out to be a failure. Bizarro is barely a villain at all. He certainly has the capacity for being dangerous, but more often than not, he’s like DC’s own version of the Hulk: He just wants to be left alone.
These days, Bizarro spends more time working with the heroes (Red Hood and the Outlaws) than actually doing anything villainous. He even helped the villains battle against the Crime Syndicate during Forever Evil.