With the release of The Suicide Squad, I updated my ranking of the DCEU villains. A lot of these villains are very problematic and some of them are really good with fleshed out backstories. Overall, it's a mixed bag, but the highs are high and the lows are low. That said, here is my official ranking of all 26 DCEU villains.
General Zod / Faora-Ul / Lex Luthor / Doomsday / Enchantress / Amanda Waller / The Joker / Steppenwolf (2017) / Ares / General Ludenhorff / Dr. Poison / Ocean Master / Black Manta / Doctor Thaddeus Sivana / The Seven Deadly Sins / Black Mask / Victor Zsasz / Maxwell Lord / Cheetah / Steppenwolf (2021) / Darkseid / DeSaad / Starro / Peacemaker / The Thinker / Silvio Luna and Mateo Suarez
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26. Steppenwolf (2017)
One of the best things about Zack Snyder's Justice League was the development for Steppenwolf. It makes him a shockingly different character, so I created two different entries for him. In what I'm now calling Josstice League, this dude is just the worst. He is all types of generic, saying things like "This world will fall.". No backstory. No development. He's just a space invader that wants boxes to...uh...destroy the world. I think. Still not quite sure.
While creating this ranking, I legitimately forgot that Enchantress exists. But, alas, she does, and so does Suicide Squad. This is one of the most forgettable villains in a movie that I have ever seen, with the exception of that extremely cringy dance that she gives in the finale (go look it up). This character is dumb and I don't remember what she does. She probably was going to destroy the world, though.
Doomsday is just one of the many disappointments in Batman v Superman. He gets created by Lex Luthor, who somehow knew how to use Kryptonian technology to create a super-monster that is going to destroy the world (recurring theme here). Then he has a three-minute CGI battle with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman before Superman stupidly sacrifices himself even though he didn't actually have to. This is a bad usage of the infamous killer of Superman, and I wish he'd been better.
23. Lex Luthor
Spoiler alert: the next entry on this list is the Joker. However, Jesse Eisenberg transforms his Lex Luthor into more of a Joker-type character. Basically, this clown is what would happen if Lex Luthor, Joker, and Mickey Mouse combined. In my Batman v Superman review, I didn't mind this...but then I watched the first two Superman movies with Christopher Reeve as well as Smallville and I realized that this is not Lex Luthor. I hope they fix him in future films.
22. The Joker
To be clear, the Joker is my favorite comic book villain of all time and one of my favorite villains in general. But this Joker is plain stupid. They transformed the chaotic, intelligent, crazy Clown Prince of Crime into a drug-dealing crime lord that holds a grasp over Gotham's criminals. Ugh. This is what they followed up Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning Joker with? Zack Snyder's Justice League moved him up a bit because of a fantastic scene with Batman, but otherwise, this Joker is the worst take on the character ever.
21. Silvio Luna and Mateo Suarez
Silvio Luna and Mateo Suarez acted as the antagonists of The Suicide Squad for most of the film. However, they were seriously underdeveloped and just acted like mustache-twirling villains. They just wanted ultimate power in Corto Maltese and the rest of the world. Neither of these characters are particularly compelling or memorable. I had to look up their names to put on this list, which shows how forgettable they are.
The climax of Wonder Woman was not on par with the rest of the film. As most of the finales of DCEU movies tend to be, there was a big, boring CGI battle that centered around Ares and Diana. The twist reveal that somebody else was Ares was too obvious to have good effect. And wanna know his goal? Keep a war going on for centuries. So what can happen? So the world can be destroyed.
DeSaad is Darkseid's right-hand man that talks to Steppenwolf a couple of times throughout Zack Snyder's Justice League. He doesn't really do much and I don't like the voice actor that they got for him, so he has to be low. Maybe if he does more in the future, I can move him up a few spots. But he stays here for right now.
Zod's right hand-woman is forgettable and cliche, like most of Man of Steel. She's a Kryptonian, which makes her cool, but everything else is pretty bland. She shows up with about forty minutes left to slam Superman into some gas stations and then she's gone. I don't even remember if she dies.
17. The Thinker
If you read my review of The Suicide Squad, you know I was pretty disappointed with how The Thinker was handled. The only thing defining about his character is an exposition dump given moments before his death. Otherwise, The Thinker doesn't really do much. I expected him to be a much more prominent villain, but he was killed off before he was able to make much of an impact.
16. The Seven Deadly Sins
The true main villains of Shazam!, the Seven Deadly Sins are a good representation of temptation. I thought that the finale with them wasn't great, though, and they don't have many things to do throughout the rest of the movie besides this. The CGI looks bad, too, so that holds them back a good bit.
15. Dr. Poison
Dr. Poison was just creepy. That's why I like her. She had some very eerie mannerisms to her. For some reason, gas masks and poison in old-timey war settings freaks me out. I know that that's very specific, but I really don't care. Either way, she was an imposing villain to me, just not one that really sticks out.
Darkseid is also one of my favorite DC villains. He is the Thanos of the DCEU. If they ever continue on with the Justice League saga and do more with Injustice and stuff like that, we would hopefully get more of Darkseid. He is a very powerful figure that looms over Zack Snyder's Justice League like a thunder cloud. While his ultimate goal is to take over the world, he is more interesting because he's already taken over 100,000 worlds. Yet he wants to continue. Talk about power-hungry. Hopefully we'll see more of him. If we do, he'll probably move up.
13. Victor Zsasz
This man is gross. He is vile and nasty and as ugly on the inside as anyone can get...which is perfect. All he wants is violence and bloodshed and pain, and the lengths that he goes to to inflict pain on others are sometimes so gross that they are funny. Once again, he doesn't really have a ton of screen time, but it is nice to see a villain in the DCEU that doesn't want to take over or destroy the world.
12. Starro the Conqueror
Starro is an interesting villain. He is a really fun final boss for the Suicide Squad to beat, but he doesn't really have much development...until moments before his death. Right before he dies, there's a line where he says "I was happy...floating...staring at the stars...". That was a really powerful line coming from a giant starfish. It made me realize that he didn't choose his villainous path. He was captured by humans, because we can be greedy, and forced into captivity for a while. Which is a lot of depth for a kaiju rainbow starfish.
One of two villains in WW84, Cheetah has a very developed backstory that is super interesting and makes a ton of sense. Her descent into evil and losing her humanity is fantastic, but, as WW84 did in the end, her character got too ridiculous and too over-the-top to be believable. She said "I wanna be an apex predator.". Who does that? Also, her final fight with Wonder Woman is probably the worst fight in the DCEU. I hate the lighting and the CGI. But, before the last twenty minutes, this was a great villain.
10. General Ludenhorff
General Ludenhorff was a solid foe. Obviously he didn't end up being the main villain of the film, but I like him a lot better than Ares (duh). He is realistic, and in a world full of god-like heroes with fantastical powers, a German general was a dangerous threat to a woman with super strength, speed, power bracelets, and a lasso that makes you tell the truth. I like that.
While I wish his motivations for the third act turn were given more attention, Peacemaker was a good character throughout The Suicide Squad. And I did like the idea of him becoming bad in the finale. I also really liked his banter with Bloodsport that seems friendly at first, but becomes more menacing as the film goes on, leading to a great payoff in the third act when Bloodsport shoots Peacemaker in the neck. I'm excited to see where the Peacemaker TV show takes this character.
8. Steppenwolf (2021)
A better backstory, a better motivation, and an overall better character, Steppenwolf in Zack Snyder's Justice League is fleshed out and not as generic. He still is a "conqueror of Earth", but the fact that he wants to prove himself to Darkseid makes you actually feel something when watching him. You understand his perspective and what he wants. His look is also much more intimidating. In 2017, he looked too nice. In this, he looks much more menacing. This version of Steppenwolf, like Zack Snyder's Justice League as a whole, is simply better in every way.
7. Doctor Thaddeus Sivana
Doctor Sivana has probably the best backstory out of all the DCEU villains. To be rejected by a father and told you are unworthy is a sad, depressing origin and it makes sense that he'd go down this path of madness and evil. Although he did become a less interesting character as the film went on, I really liked him. I also like Mark Strong, and he really does a good job of being intimidating and mean.
6. Amanda Waller
Amanda Waller is one of two good things (along with the acting) about Suicide Squad, and then one of many good things about The Suicide Squad. She is ruthless and cruel, but is also sort of an anti-villain in the sense that she assembles a team of bad guys to save the world from the apocalypse. However, she will not hesitate to let tons of people die for her mission...including the entire city of Corto Maltese.
5. Black Manta
Black Manta also has a really compelling origin, with Aquaman letting his father die. Now, all he wants is to get revenge on Aquaman, and the film does a good job of developing that. The battle scene with him is one of, if not, the best fights in the DCEU. I can't wait for him to make appearances in future DCEU movies.
4. Black Mask
Black Mask is simply disgusting. He is hateful, rude, and hilarious all at the same time. Ewan McGregor's nonchalant performance that can suddenly turn sinister is absolutely fabulous and one of his best. He makes for a worthy foe against Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey, which I really enjoyed. His complete grasp over everyone that works for him is dark and scary, but his mannerisms and little quirks are the things that get him this high on the list.
3. Maxwell Lord
Maxwell Lord is crazy. Full on, no questions asked, crazy. And the fact is, he isn't even really that evil. The dream stone is really the thing that drives him mad. His desire for more power and more control is overwhelming, and his deterioration is painful to watch. I wasn't too crazy about Pedro Pascal in my review, but the more I think about it, the more I liked him. He did go a bit too over-the-top sometimes, but most of the time, he grounded this character and made him crazy enough, but not too much.
2. General Zod
If you've read my DCEU ranking, you know that I hate Man of Steel. It is one of my least favorite movies of all time, and the thing that keeps it from being my least favorite movie ever is Zod. This is insanity at its finest. His motivations are in line. He wants to rebuild Krypton. He hates Jor-El and Superman for launching him into the Phantom Zone. Michael Shannon is absolutely incredible. Although watching the final fight scene with him is forty minutes of actual pain, he is truly a great villain.
1. Ocean Master
Ocean Master is, hands down, the best villain in the DCEU. People say he's a retread of Killmonger, but that simply isn't true. They are two completely different villains. His relationship with Aquaman and the influence he has on the rest of Atlantis are fabulous, and I think Patrick Wilson is great. He is said to return in Aquaman 2, and I am all for that. This is the best DCEU villain in the best DCEU movie. He deserves number 1.