When comparing DC and Marvel, it's clear that the two universes are vastly different while also vastly alike. There are numerous elements that can be compared; characters who defy expectations; heroes and villains who inspire hope and fear. Perhaps few, however, are as noteworthy as the two companies' villains:
The Joker, Magneto, Green Goblin, and Lex Luthor.
Marvel and DC feature among the most iconic villains of all time. It's one matter to rank them, but, when comparing similar villains to one another, it becomes clear that some villains are superior. They can be compared to one another based on the quality of writing, powers, epic moments, and their sheer coolness factor. When the villains of Marvel and DC are compared, which ones come out on top?
10. Joker vs. Red Skull
It may seem blasphemous to mention the Joker first, but it feels fitting to mention him first. The same can be said for one of the first Marvel super-villains: Red Skull. Both are iconic for their vile cruelty and disdain for humanity. Both are evil...
But when comparing the two, the Joker is simply far more memorable. Red Skull is a Nazi. He represents a very real evil in society. At the end of the day, however, Red Skull can always be punched in the face and beaten into submission.
But the Joker exists as an anomaly. He is not terrifying because he stands in for real bigotry and hatred. He is terrifying because he represents chaos. The Joker is a fluid evil. He can represent any awful thing in society one moment before switching the next. Because of the absurd chaos the Joker represents, writers can do whatever they want with him.
DC: 1 Marvel: 0
RELATED: The Evolution of the Joker
9. Amanda Waller vs. Thunderbolt Ross
Amanda Waller and Thunderbolt Ross are both representatives of authority. While neither is a true villain—and have indeed helped the heroes of DC and Marvel on multiple occasions—they both work for their own selfish desires.
But Amanda Waller has something Ross could never have: an intimidating factor. Ross is out hunting the Hulk, but often, despite all the power at his disposal, always feels like a distant threat or background issue for the Hulk. Amanda Waller is able to hold an edge over everyone around her. She can make Killer Croc, Harley Quinn, and Deadshot—villains of incredible might in their own rights—cower before her. She can keep up with Batman in a match of wits.
There is no question. Amanda Waller is a far bigger threat than Ross, even when Ross Hulks out.
DC: 2 Marvel: 0
8. Vandal Savage vs. Loki
Two of the biggest manipulators in the DC and Marvel Universes, both are seemingly immortal figures who use their wits and brains to play games, weaving webs of intrigue around their adversaries.
However, while both are fascinating characters, this round definitely goes to Loki. Vandal Savage is a powerful threat, but he's far from a very entertaining one. Loki is simply a far more entertaining character to watch.
DC: 2 Marvel: 1
7. Poison Ivy vs. Mystique
While many compare Catwoman and Black Cat to one another, Poison Ivy and Mystique have far more in common than people might realize. Both are crafty women driven by a will to protect and help — in Ivy's case plants, while in Mystique's case mutants. Think of them as literal social justice warriors.
However, between the two, Poison Ivy is a character people really want to read. Part of Mystique's appeal is her mystique. She is enigmatic and always seems to have secrets that keep slipping out. Poison Ivy, however, is a far more open book. Readers have a sense of the villain's intimate life. Her friendship/romance with Harley Quinn is far more memorable than any of Mystique's several affairs.
DC: 3 Marvel: 1
6. Brainiac vs. Ultron
Both are technological nightmares hellbent on ruining the world. Both are iconic in their own right. One bottles cities and accumulates knowledge, while the other is hellbent on running the world.
Brainiac is iconic, fascinating, and intimidating, but there is something just more fascinating about Ultron. When Ultron creates Vision and Jocasta, we see a sense that Ultron does not want to be alone. When he conquers star systems, we see a vision grander than anything anyone ever anticipated. Brainiac is always around to gather knowledge and evolve beyond his limits. But Ultron might be trying to satisfy his existential loneliness one moment or taking over galaxies the next. There are more stories to tell with Ultron.
DC: 3 Marvel: 2
5. Darkseid vs. Thanos
Marvel definitely ripped off DC when crafting their iconic villain Thanos. While MCU fans are only now realizing why they ought to fear the Mad Titan, comic fans have known for years that Thanos may be one of the biggest bads of the Marvel Universe.
The problem is... Darkseid is worse in every way.
Thanos may be a cosmic threat, but Darkseid is a God of Evil. His powers are beyond anything that mankind can understand. Sure, Thanos has his Infinity Gauntlet, but Darkseid seeks the Anti-Life Equation. Plus, while MCU Thanos may have a noble goal, the comic version destroyed half of the universe so Death would notice him. Compared to Darkseid...yeah, that's a no for this Marvel villain.
DC: 4 Marvel: 2
4. Bane vs. Venom
For such iconic villains, people are often surprised how Bane and Venom are recent additions to the DC and Marvel canons. Both are muscular villains with unusual, terrifying strategies, and are played by Tom Hardy.
But while Bane is a master tactician who broke the Bat, there is something so undeniably cool about Venom that makes him the far more memorable villain. They're both great, of course, but consider this: if you were to be shown a blacked-out image of both villains, you'd recognize Venom, but Bane? Probably not. And this is before one takes into account how Bane has never been as intense or interesting a character since breaking Batman. Venom, however, has become even better as time goes on.
DC: 4 Marvel: 3
3. Ra's al Ghul vs. Doctor Doom
Ra's al Ghul is one of the most famous DC villains of all time. This man matches wits with Batman, can hold off the whole of the Justice League using cunning strategy, and genuinely believes his ideology will bring the world into a better place than he left it.
Doctor Doom, however, is a bombastic man who rules an entire country who genuinely believes himself to be the greatest mind in the universe. He believes the world not only should be ruled by him, but that it would be better off under his rule as well. Also, he has tons of magical powers and went to Hell to beat up the Devil, and that's just too cool!
It is, however, due to how ludicrous and over-the-top Doctor Doom is that Ra's is a far more compelling villain. He simply doesn't need bombastic powers to hold off the Justice League and Batman. He just can.
DC: 5 Marvel: 3
2. Sinestro vs. Magneto
Both are idealistic villains who do terrible things in the name of all that they believe is good. Both are incredibly powerful; Sinestro easily more so.
But there is one fatal divide that gives Magneto a huge edge: at the end of the day, everything he does is for the good of mutantkind. He may do terrible things, but it comes from a place of pathos and emotion. Sinestro is far colder, which makes him more insidious, yes, but also less compelling. Both are terrific villains, but one is an evil overlord while the other is a man fighting to change the world.
DC: 5 Marvel: 4
1. Lex Luthor vs. Norman Osborn
Two of the most iconic villains of all time. Lex Luthor, Superman's biggest villain, and Norman Osborn, Spider-Man's arch-nemesis.
It seems impossible to judge one over the other, except when one considers all that Norman Osborn has done. While Norman did once take over S.H.I.E.L.D. and launch war on Asgard, he is really just a Spider-Man villain. Everything he does seems to be about making Peter Parker's life miserable. Lex Luthor, on the other hand, is a threat to his whole world. His plots and plans are grand affairs.
Norman Osborn is a vindictive, petty person who acts like a lunatic. Lex Luthor is the same. But their reasons are different. Norman Osborn almost admires Spider-Man. He is a control freak who hates anything that can interfere with his business. But Luthor feels an almost existential dread thanks to Superman's existence. The very idea of Superman makes Lex go on the defensive.
Furthermore, while both did take over a high position of power, Luthor was elected president. While both do sometimes sport costumes to duke things out, most of Osborn's assaults required knowing how to strike Peter where it hurt. But Luthor? Most of his plots involved multiple levels of thought and planning at every turn. Osborn is a man beating down a kid. Luthor is a man having to contend with Gods.
DC: 6 Marvel: 4