DC may boast some of the best-selling comic books in history. However, in a period when people are less likely to read a comic and more inclined to rely on visual media, it would be foolish not to regard its animated episodes as one of the most crucial aspects in helping the brand maintain its popularity.
The DC Animated Universe is a force to be reckoned with, with shows like ‘Justice League,’ ‘Batman: The Animated Series,’ ‘Static Shock,’ and ‘Justice League: Unlimited.’ ‘Superman: The Animated Series’ dominated television before the Justice League cartoon debuted. Regrettably, its significance is frequently neglected.
It joined the list of superhero cartoons that made the 1990s one of the most intriguing eras for comic book properties, including ‘X-Men,’ ‘Batman: Beyond,’ and ‘Spider-Man.’ ‘Superman: The Animated Series’ has also received critical praise for a number of factors, including voice acting, animation, themes, intricacies, and, most importantly, maintaining true to the original material.
To personalize its competition with Superman, it did make minor adjustments, such as turning Brainiac into an artificial intelligence supercomputer from Krypton instead of Colu. These adjustments have been expertly designed, elevating ‘Superman: The Animated Series’ to new heights. And one area in which the series has excelled is in the creation of antagonists.
The Superman comics include some of the strongest villains in their arsenal, including Lex Luthor and Darkseid. The animated series has provided ample screen time and character depth for such characters. It has also introduced a generation to a number of other underappreciated but intriguing villains, who are gradually shifting away from reading media and into viewing them on screen.
In this video, we will discuss fourteen of the series’ most devastating villains who have troubled Superman and stolen the show. So, let us get down to business.
Starting the list with Lobo or ‘The Main Man’ as he likes to call himself, he was a master bounty hunter from the planet Czarina, famous and revered throughout the galaxy. He had his set of hobbies. He enjoyed drinking, gambling, fighting, and of course, riding the Hog i.e., his beloved space bike.
He was persistent in his job and did not let anything hinder him. With a strong moral code, this guy never went back on his word.
Lobo had murdered everyone on his home planet. His justification to this was kind of offbeat. Apparently, it was a ‘high school science project’. He also graded himself with an A. Maybe he didn’t go for the A+ because he himself was still alive, so the race hadn’t been completely wiped out.
He went on to become a mercenary in the galaxy. He would do anything as long as the compensation and money kept flowing. Priorities. He also has a lot of enemies but barely any allies.
No matter how revered you are in DC, of course, you’ll fall flat in front of Superman and that’s what happened to Lobo. After Superman made himself known to Earth, the Intergalactic Preserver hired Lobo to bring in the last Kryptonian to keep him in their safety. Superman ended up defeating him. But he fell into a trap while pursuing Lobo in space. Remember how Lobo was the last Czarnian? Yep. The Preserver captured Lobo as well. Lobo then teamed up with Superman to try and break free from being held captive by the Preserver.
Lobo is believed to possess the same powers as his people from Czarina. His strength is actually close to Superman’s and he has sent the Man of Steel flying. However, he has been severely wounded on several occasions so he lacks the same invulnerability as Superman. And yet, that does not mean he has the shorter end of the stick, because what he has is the ability to heal at a rapid speed.
One of his most interesting abilities is how he does not need to breathe air to survive. Which is the reason why he can travel through space on Hog, his bike. Lobo is very attached to his space-bike and can summon it fairly easily, with a whistle.
He is known for always finding his target as a bounty hunter, and he always keeps his word. But we do not know whether he was training in the craft of hunting or not, at least not in the DC Animated Universe.
Rudy Jones used to be a janitor at S.T.A.R. Labs before turning into the Parasite. This villain is an energy-draining creature. He eventually went on to become a criminal.
While working as a janitor, Jones had gotten entangled with gambling problems. He struck a deal with Martin Lebeau for clearing his debts. He agreed to steal some experimental chemicals from S.T.A.R. Labs but of course, things did not go perfectly. Two security guards intercepted him and Jones escaped, jumping into Lebeau’s truck. The two took off, leaving Jones in the rear along with the canisters.
Lebeau drove hastily to escape and that had its repercussions. Jones toppled over and so did the canisters, that bathed him in the chemicals (which seems to be quite a common way to gain superpowers in DC).
Jones literally begged Lebeau to stop the car but instead, was dropped on the roadside. He became unconscious and Lebeau did not care whether he lived or died. After a couple of hours, he regained consciousness but the way he did, was what made things interesting. A rat had come in contact with him and Jones drained its energy and absorbed it instead. He then wandered aimlessly until a policewoman intercepted him. He then lunged at her and drained her energy. This is also when he discovered that he could sap people’s memories and mimic voices.
He named himself ‘Parasite’ and later proceeded to become a part of the Secret Society after Grodd recruited him. It was the criminal gang whose purpose was to destroy the Justice League.
He also joined the Legion of Doom, where he came into contact with the infamous Lex Luthor after Luthor took over the association by overthrowing Grodd. Parasite did not join Luthor’s side and sided with Grodd instead in the Legion’s mutiny.
In the end, Killer Frost froze him and the other supporters of Grodd. Darkseid blew them up.
Just because he could drain energy did not mean it was permanent because of course, energy gets used up. Also, he could not absorb anyone’s energy without physical contact. But what made his abilities truly formidable was soaking in his victim’s powers, skills, and memories. These attributes did return to their owners over time. So, Parasite resorted to holding his victims captive in secure locations and visiting them periodically for their energy, to retain the absorbed powers.
His powers had other drawbacks as well, probably to nerf his power level as a villain. He couldn’t sap energy despite direct contact if either of the parties wore special, protected coverings; say Armor. Also, while draining someone, Parasite had to battle his victim’s mind. So, if the victim had a strong mind, they could assert their will on Parasite instead. This has happened during an incident before, with Earl Garver.
To make matters worse for him, he also ended up absorbing their weaknesses such as Livewire’s water vulnerability or succumbing to the Kryptonite if he drained Superman. This makes Batman his most formidable opponent because he cannot sap his net worth.
Anyway, Parasite would find himself in a state of massive memory loss and comatose after he suffered through the weaknesses of others, but he would overcome it gradually.
Similar to Lobo, Metallo or John Corben was also a mercenary. But unlike Lobo, this was Metallo’s life before turning into a cyborg.
He used to live his life as a high-profile hitman and mercenary, working Special Rank missions. Once, he infiltrated the LexCorp with a team of mercenaries led by him and stole the Lexo-Skel Suit 5000. This theft was staged by Lex Luthor himself and was done for benefitting the Regent of Kaznia.
Corben saw the light of jail after he was sent to Stryker’s Island Prison. A few months following this, he discovered that he had a super rare and terminal disease caused by a virus. This virus was found only in a tiny island, located in the South Seas. Guess being an international mercenary isn’t that cool after all, since it makes one more susceptible to ‘exotic’ diseases.
Because Corben went to jail while helping out Luthor, Luthor returned the favor by helping him escape. He also did this in exchange for Corben’s discretion. He was taken to LexCorp where the scientists transferred his mind into an android body that was indestructible. The body was made of Metallo and had strength that rivaled that of Superman’s, mainly because its source of power was a Kryptonite heart.
Of course, he went on to fight the Justice League in the future. On returning to Metropolis, Metallo, along with Livewire, Kalibak, Toyman, and Weather Wizard joined a group of villains. When fighting the Justice League, J’onn J’onzz defeated Metallo. He later joined the Legion of Doom after Grodd founded the organization.
Alongside possessing super-strength, Metallo was also insanely durable, since his powers were similar to that of Superman. With his Kryptonite heart that powered him, he was also technically immortal because it worked as a ridiculously powerful battery for his android suit. He could also concentrate Kryptonite radiation and blasts in his chest and project them to attack. This ability was extended to his eyes after Intergang improved his abilities.
Jax-Ur climbed up the ranks from being the Kryptonian military’s supreme commander to its High General. Of course, he is not one to be messed with!
In the comics, he was a mad scientist who conducted reckless and dangerous experiments which landed him a spot in prison. Nonetheless, his character in the DC Animated Universe is modeled around General Zod.
As a warrior, his skills are simply impeccable. He ruled the council for several years and had the people’s trust but eventually became power-hungry. And similar to all power-hungry people, he detested weakness.
He seized control of Krypton as he thought that the council was too weak. He attempted a coup d’état but was stopped by Jor-El. In the end, Jax-Ur was imprisoned in the Phantom Zone for eternity as he was found guilty in his trial.
Naturally, he did not stay in prison for eternity. His second-in-command, Mala, was super faithful to him and had a shorter sentence. She helped Jax-Ur get his release from the Phantom Zone. Both of them went on to develop powers that made them stronger than Superman, not individually but as a unit. They fought Superman and succeeded in overpowering him and subsequently sent him to the Phantom Zone. Then, they proclaimed themselves to be the rulers of the Earth as their main motto was seeking power. All did not remain sunshine and rainbows for this villainous duo, because they were sent back to the Phantom Zone following Superman’s retrieval.
Fortunately for them, they escaped following a rift in the Zone that released them into space. They seized another planet and attempted to redesign it in the image of Krypton. Superman was initially reluctant to do anything about it because the people were happy under Jax-Ur’s rule. After meeting the underground resistance who told him that they planned to invade Earth, Superman intervened. In the end, the duo fought a battle with the Kryptonian fleet and got sucked into a black hole. They were never seen ever again.
Jax-Ur was Kryptonian and thus had the same powers as Superman. Exposure to the Earth’s yellow Sun gifted him with super-strength, invulnerability, super-speed, enhanced sight, enhanced hearing, X-ray vision, heat vision, and last but not the least, flight.
This alongside his technical skill as a warrior, brilliance as a strategist and a tactician, made him a formidable foe.
Hailing from Apokolips, Granny Goddess is the first female villain to make it to this list, unless you’re counting Mala. She was the commander of the Female Furies. Don’t be fooled by her kind old lady act though, she’s as ruthless as they come. In fact, Granny Goddess was cruel, tormented her enemies, and was extremely loyal to Darkseid himself.
Granny Goodness was a Lowlie at first. She was recruited to Darkseid’s Hounds. Being one of his elite shock troopers, Granny went on to have a ‘good’ reputation. Goodness had a war dog named Mercy (the irony), who was one of the most skilled Hounds.
During a final test, Granny had to follow the command of taking Mercy’s life but she killed the instructor instead. While explaining the situation to Darkseid, she said that she did not do this out of sentiment for the dog but because Mercy was too skilled and loyal for Darkseid to lose. Even though Mercy was loyal to Granny first, it was loyal to him foremost.
Darkseid wanted to test this loyalty so he ordered Mercy to kill Granny. The two of them fought one another and in the end, Granny ruthlessly killed Mercy and emerged as the victor. Mercy’s loyalty to Darkseid impressed him and he gave Granny the position to head Armagetto’s orphanages.
She indoctrinated soldiers from their childhood, training them in combat and their loyalty to Darkseid. She trained her Female Furies like Mercy, in the sense that they had to be loyal to Granny first, but Darkseid foremost.
Following the discovery of Kara or Argo by Superman himself, Granny had to create an asteroid magnet. This magnet would help draw a comet towards Earth. The adolescents recruited by Intergang were responsible for getting Granny the necessary equipment to do so. But her parade was rained on when Supergirl found her hideout.
To deal with this situation, Granny summoned her Furies. Superman joined the party but was subdued by the Furies. Granny had completed creating her magnet, and so she took Superman to Apokolips. Her Furies accompanied her of course and together, they gifted Superman to Darkseid. He was later rescued by Supergirl and together, they successfully removed the comet out of Earth’s atmosphere.
Because Granny failed her mission, Darkseid was pissed off. He made the Furies torture Granny. Rough.
Following the death of Darkseid in Brainiac’s asteroid, Granny was promoted. She went on to become one of the strongest and most revered warlords on Apokolips, thanks to the Female Furies’ help. However, Virman Vundabar opposed her position.
Granny’s and Vundabar’s forces were supposed to battle one last time. But before they could begin their final battle, Darkseid (resurrected by Lex Luthor) intervened. He appeared before both the armies and Granny, being one of his most loyal followers, renounced her position as a warlord. She once again pledged her loyalty to Darkseid.
This villain suffered from daddy issues, thanks to Darkseid’s bad parenting. He constantly sought his approval but much to Darkseid’s disappointment, Kalibak did not hit the mark as the ideal child. His slow nature was a disappointment for his father. When Apokolips broke out into a Civil War, Kalibak was imprisoned on Earth.
He was Darkseid’s first son and had a pretty rough childhood, one that was full of abuse and neglect by his overly ambitious, power-hungry dad. He had a half-brother Orion and a foster brother, Mister Miracle. All he wanted was Darkseid’s approval. He wanted to take Superman down because Darkseid had turned his sight towards the Earth and Superman. Kalibak thought that it would be a great opportunity for him to prove himself. But he was denied.
Kalibak’s mother was Suli, Darkseid’s wife who was killed by Desaad because Darkseid’s mother had ordered it. Talk about a family feud. Unlike the Kalibak from the DC Animated Universe, he was a lot more formidable in the comics. He often acted as the second-in-command for Darkseid, trumping the likes of Granny Goodness. However, due to Darkseid’s preference for Orion, he had a pretty bitter relationship with his half-brother.
After Darkseid’s death, Kalibak traveled to Earth and joined a group to kill Superman. When the battle began, he took down Wonder Woman with ease but Batman successfully stalled him long enough until Superman showed up. However, Kalibak did end up accomplishing his mission to some extent because Superman was ultimately warped to the future, so he was just presumed to be dead.
Being the son of Darkseid, Kalibak had superhuman strength and durability. He was strong enough to match top-tier fighters such as Wonder Woman but Superman had defeated him several times. In fact, he was once defeated by even Lobo. His power levels have been inconsistent in the DC Animated Universe in the sense that during his first fight with Superman, Kalibak sustained a prolonged battle with him but in every other fight, he lost quite easily. This could be due to the fact that the Man of Steel held back during their first fight.
Even though Superman was able to take him out with just a punch, Kalibak could survive missile blasts of dozens of cars on top of him. What he could not withstand was Darkseid’s Omega Effect. His fighting skills were limited to brute strength because even Batman outdid him in a fight and Batman has no superpowers (except being a multi-billionaire is probably better than having superpowers).
Karkull was a magical creature; a demon, who was powerful enough to hurt someone as strong as Superman himself. He was the seventh-level Lord of the Inner Pit and used to be a rogue of Doctor Fate.
Karkull escaped the Inner Pit but how he achieved this fate is unknown. However, Doctor Fate foiled his first escape and trapped him in the Artifact of Lorta, which is basically a tablet that compresses whoever it captures.
He was freed almost after a century, thanks to a thief who did so accidentally after coming across the Artifact of Lorta and reading its inscriptions aloud. Once he was free, he crushed the Artifact and rampaged across Metropolis. This caught Superman’s attention and the two engaged in a brief battle.
Once he was safe from any opposition, he cast a powerful spell of protection around the Daily Planet, transforming the building into a realm of his own. After completing the spell, Karkull opened a portal that helped him summon his demons. He went on to use the demons to possess and transform the people of Earth, into demon slaves.
But of course, this plan was thwarted by Superman because he arrived before Karkull had extended his magic outside the building. Superman nearly fell flat in this battle and was unable to defeat Karkull by himself. After Doctor Fate arrived to stop him once more, Karkull discovered that the Artifact of Lora had been reconstructed. He was horrified and desperate to not be captured again so he attacked Fate, causing the tablet to drop down the portal. However, Superman retrieved it and Fate was able to finish his containment spell.
Once again, Karkull was compressed into a tablet and so were his demons. The Daily Planet got rid of his spell and he is still presumed to be trapped in the Artifact.
He was a demon under the Lords of Chaos’ protection. Karkull possessed a wide range of magical abilities, with which he could fire bolts of green magic. These bolts were strong enough to harm Superman as the Man of Steel was weaker against magic. He could control the intensity of his magic blasts and also demolish police units. The spell he casted around the Daily Planet was one of his strongest magic feats, as he transformed it into his own realm and opened a portal to summon demons.
Magic aside, Karkull also possessed super strength that almost rivalled Superman. During their battle, Karkull scratched Superman and made him bleed. He was also incredibly resilient.
Bizarro was a tragic figure who was a deficient clone of Superman. To be honest, he was not evil per se but rather, manipulated and misguided.
Lex Luthor had manufactured an army of ‘Supermen’ and Bizarro was its prototype. The clone looked and acted exactly like Superman at first. However, it was not aware of Clark Kent, Superman’s alter ego, as he had rescued him from falling off a cliff.
As the cloning process was unstable, the clone’s form and mind mutated, turning him into a messed-up version of Superman. And that’s how the name Bizarro was born. He was bizarre, duh! He also tried to imitate Superman’s heroic actions but the results were more than disastrous. Despite the similarities with Superman, his DNA was way too unlike Superman or any Kryptonian in general. The Green Kryptonite had no effect on him.
After activating Brainiac’s Orb, Bizarro asked it about his origin, questions like who he was and where he was from. The orb thought he was Superman and told Bizarro that he was Kal-El from the planet of Krypton. Naturally, Bizarro believed it and wanted to remake Krypton in Metropolis, hoping to be home again. The way he did it was…bizarre. He went around throwing scrap metal to replicate Kryptonian architecture.
Superman took Bizarro to a different planet that supported non-sentient life. He told Bizarro that he could defend that world like Superman protects Earth. Despite Bizarro having a mutated, unintelligent brain, he understood that Superman was bluffing him because the planet was empty. But on getting ‘Krypto’ as a pet, Bizarro was overjoyed. This also shows us how Bizarro isn’t inherently evil.
Later, Bizarro returned to Earth and allied with Giganta to help break Grodd out of imprisonment. Sometime in the future, he went on to become a member of the Legion of Doom where Grodd and Luthor experimented with his mind.
Being a clone of Superman, Bizarro had similar powers and abilities, such as superhuman strength, speed, resistance, and senses. Plus, he had Superman’s invulnerability, flight, heat vision, and X-Ray vision. He was so fast that he could near a speed of Mach 3 and his durability helped him survive massive blasts and explosions.
A very interesting detail in the DC Animated Universe was Bizarro’s theme song. It was basically a warped version of Superman’s theme and the wrong notes were intentional. This was symbolic of his warped Superman-like form.
Before becoming Luminus, he was Edward Listener. He was an inventor at LexCorp. His specialization was light-based technology such as lasers. He was also a top-flight scientist.
When LexCorp was being investigated, Lytener saved himself by becoming a whistleblower. This helped him fall in the good graces of none other than Lois Lane aka Superman’s girl. But things did not go smoothly for this one-sided lover. Superman’s involvement, in this case, was basically the catalyst to his villain origin story into becoming Luminus.
When Lois Lane investigated the corruption at LexCorp, Lytener fell for her and spoke about this with Lex Luthor, with the hope that Lane would notice him. He became a whistleblower to get Lois, which is why she was able to write an award-winning exposé on Lex Luthor’s company. This obviously resulted in Lytener being fired.
Lois always remained oblivious to Lytener being in love with her, but her involvement did result in him losing his career so he grew to resent her and became revengeful. He plotted to kill her and in one instance, he had trapped Lois in a shrinking cage with laser beams. Fortunately, Superman arrives at the nick of time to save her and overpowers Listener.
He was imprisoned in Stryker’s Prison. Luthor provided Lytener with the equipment to continue with his research for LexCorp. With that equipment, he also prepared his revenge plan to take down Superman.
Lytener was extremely intelligent and brilliant. His skill with electronics, technology in general, and lasers were impeccable. He had some pretty interesting inventions under his belt, such as a harness that emitted red-sun radiation which powered him enough to land strong blows on Superman. He could also turn himself and objects invisible.
As a scientist who excelled in light-based technology, Lytener came to be known as Luminus. He was equipped with a laser pistol and his battlesuit allowed him to levitate. He could also project compelling illusions of people and other objects. He could even project his own image.
Once, he had created an entire building with hard-light illusions which could hurt Superman. His invulnerability would’ve prevented him from sustaining any injury but Luminus had filtered the sunlight in a way that Superman received only the radiation from the red sun. This is a solid testament to his skill as a scientist as well as his superior intelligence.
This massively potent giant was not from Earth but was released here instead. It had the ability to absorb all the heat it could possibly find. He was an artificial creature. An unnamed alien race had created him, not for any antagonistic purpose but for heavy labor. It would absorb the heat from the twin suns of that planet to fuel itself.
The alien race had also granted the creature named Prometheon with intelligence. Even though it was minimal, it could make its own decisions to some extent. With better understanding, it began to seek greater sustenance. So, it went on a rampage and destroyed everything around it for fire, to fuel itself more and more. The higher heat absorption made it stronger.
The alien race subdued Prometheon by strapping it to an asteroid and sending it to space. They also attached a warning transmitted to it so that other creatures in the galaxy did not release him.
That asteroid reached the Earth at some point. It was on a collision course with Metropolis. The asteroid had to be destroyed to save the people of the city. General Hardcastle was assigned to execute this job.
After seeing Prometheon strapped to the asteroid, Hardcastle still stuck to his plan and detonated the charges. The Sun helped Prometheon awaken from its coma. It fell to Earth but remained unharmed because it just absorbed all the heat that was released following the detonation as well as the heat from the Earth’s atmosphere. Prometheon also grew stronger in the process.
Since it was impossible to defeat it with explosions, considering that Prometheon was absorbing heat from several places and even Superman was unable to take it down, S.T.A.R. Labs handled the situation by dropping chemicals into the lake where Prometheon was. Those chemicals reacted to freeze it in the lake.
Prometheon was strong enough to move mountains as well as cause damage to Superman. It could also hold a nuclear submarine that ran at full throttle. It grew stronger with heat and weaker with cold.
It was invulnerable to some extent, mainly due to its ability to absorb heat. Superman caused it to take some damage but still, it did not make too much of a difference. It could cool down nuclear reactors, turn molten steel into solid and absorb fire owing to its abilities.
It is interesting to note how a creature with powers connected to heat and fire is called Prometheon. This is a clear connection to Prometheus from Greek Mythology, who was the Titan who introduced fire to humans. He was also bound to a rock by Zeus for transgressing him. Similarly, Prometheon was bound to a rock as well, in its case, an asteroid.
Brainiac is not a person or a creature but rather, a Kryptonian planetary-wide supercomputer. It sought knowledge and traveled the galaxy in pursuit of it. It also destroyed the sources of that knowledge, to be the only one in possession of it, increasing its value. He attempted to do this throughout the entire universe and believed that it was its function. This attracted Superman’s attention and Brainiac became his nemesis.
When Jor-El had discovered that Krypton was nearing its end, Brainiac had dismissed his claims ahead of the crisis and instead, called it a temporary orbital shift. Jor-El discovered the lie after breaking into Brainiac’s central unit. There, he learned that it intended to download itself into a satellite secretly and escape Krypton’s destruction. If it spent time trying to prepare for an evacuation plan for the Kryptonians. It also wished to protect all of the planet’s records instead of its people.
Brainiac successfully uploaded its core program and data to an artificial satellite before Krypton’s explosion, even though Jor-El made attempts to resist Brainiac’s plans. Brainiac then traveled the universe. It uploaded the knowledge of every inhabited planet it touched down upon, after subsequently destroying it, for it to be the sole possessor of its knowledge.
After Brainiac came to Earth and pretended to ally with LexCorp, it gained Superman’s attention. Superman figured out Brainiac’s true purpose of uploading Earth’s knowledge to its program and destroying the planet. He ended up destroying the ship with Luthor’s help, but Brainiac had already uploaded a copy of its programming into the computers of LexCorp.
Following an altercation involving Batman, Brainiac escaped to space and found his way to Apokolips. With Darkseid proposing a bargain for capturing Superman to please Brainiac in exchange for not destroying Apokolips, the both of them became allies.
Later, Darkseid hacked into its controls and took over the program. Brainiac had to obey Darkseid after that and they attacked the Justice League. Luckily, Batman defeated them by disrupting the program.
Brainiac had also possessed Lex Luthor via nanotechnology in one instance. After the year 2979, it passed down its code biologically, creating the Brainiac 5, which opposed the Legion of Superheroes.
Since it is an artificial intelligence program, Brainiac has no superpowers as such. Its abilities are focused on bodies and programs it can develop and control. And the knowledge it can absorb. It could also transfer its programming to other computers. Thus, despite being destroyed, it could ‘resurrect’. This is basically what happened when it uploaded its programming into the LexCorp computers. It could also use nanotechnology to transfer its programming into humans (for example, the instance with Lex Luthor).
Brainiacs could fashion robotic bodies with superhuman strength and resistance. However, those robots could not rival Superman. But they did have the ability to project metallic tendrils and use electricity as an offense. Brainiac also used energy blasts.
Lex Luthor is one of the most popular enemies of Superman, if not the most popular. He was a super-powerful businessman and even though he wasn’t one with superpowers, he was a criminal mastermind. To be Superman’s arch-nemesis without superpowers, you would need to have one of the most brilliant minds ever. And that’s exactly where Luthor excelled and delivered.
Apart from being intelligent, rich, and successful, Lex Luthor loved to be admired and recognized by ‘lesser beings’, i.e., the common people. He had a highly-inflated ego and considered himself to be the pinnacle of personal achievement. His over-ambitiousness was the root of his antagonistic tendencies. He also wanted to be seen as the ‘savior’ of Metropolis.
He lacked conscience but made up for it with his abundance of genius. He founded LexCorp and turned it into one of the largest corporations in the United States with his ruthless business strategies. He erected several hospitals, schools, and libraries in his name in Metropolis, and donated millions to charity. Nevertheless, that was all a facade. In reality, he was devious, cold, and basically evil.
Luthor used LexCorp to monopolize the markets in Metropolis, hoarding more and more wealth and becoming the most powerful man in the city.
There’s nothing Lex Luthor hated more than the idea of an overtly powerful alien living amongst humans. So, he schemed to cause the downfall of Superman on a regular basis and eventually became his arch-nemesis. He was hell-bent on ruining Superman’s reputation. In several instances, Luthor would hire psychopathic villains such as the Joker to kill Superman. Even though his plans were almost always thwarted by the Man of Steel, Luthor had somehow managed to cover his devious trail and avoided being prosecuted.
He would also carry a small piece of Kryptonite with him as a precaution against Superman but the radiation caused him to develop Kryptonite poisoning.
Luthor was exposed as a criminal to the public in the DC Animated Universe after a merged Luthor and Brainiac failed to destroy the Justice League and Superman.
Luthor’s insanely vast technological know-how and brilliance were rivaled only by the likes of Bruce Wayne and Mr. Terrific. However, he lacks skills in combat.
He developed several customized devices which could neutralize his enemies as well as his allies. This also helped him get into the good books of numerous powerful villains from the Legion of Doom, including its founder Grodd.
Lex Luthor has also rivaled Superman in other areas of life, such as romance. Before dating Clark Kent, Lois Lane dated Luthor. She eventually broke up with him because she severely disliked his personality, and rightfully so.
Lex Luthor is not the only uber-popular nemesis of Superman. His popularity is rivaled by none other than the ruler of Apokolips, Darkseid himself. Not just an enemy of Superman, Darkseid was one of the greatest adversaries of the Justice League, as a would-be conqueror of the entire universe.
He has conquered innumerable planets in the universe and got a kick out of feeding on others’ pain. His origins are not very well known because it has been lost over time, but Darkseid has always been the iron fist ruling over Apokolips and its inhabitants.
Darkseid was another highly ambitious antagonist who wished to control the entire universe. He seeked the power of the Anti-Life Equation to fulfil his desire. This power was theoretically supposed to let him control all life in the universe.
Apart from Superman, Darkseid had another rival, Highfather, who was the leader of Apokolips’ sister planet – New Genesis. He wanted to acquire his desired power without the intervention of Highfather. After chancing upon Earth, Darkseid took an interest in its vast resources and ‘weak’ human population. He also took an interest in Superman, a Herculean being living amongst the vulnerable and ‘unworthy’ masses.
Darkseid aided Intergang and supplied them with powerful weapons from Apokolips, to take Superman down. He orchestrated several attacks against the Man of Steel but he had also given him his word that he would avoid invading Earth.
Despite having an ancient peace treaty with New Genesis, Darkseid violated it after he invaded a New Genesis-protected sector while seeking the Anti-Life Equation.
He allied with Superman during a battle in Apokolips, as they both intended to defeat Brainiac. In the end, he asked the League to kill him, and so they did. But that does not mean he remained dead. He had initially promised Brainiac that he would help it capture Superman. So, Darkseid boom-tubed inside Brainiac’s headquarters and vanquished the Justice League.
He also used Brainiac’s program to get the Anti-Life Equation. However, his efforts were thwarted by Orion, Wonder Woman, and Batman. Darkseid won against Orion but was later intercepted by Superman, who ultimately killed Darkseid.
He was resurrected back to life when Lex Luthor attempted to bring back Brainiac. Since Darkseid had overridden Brainiac’s program, he came back to life.
Darkseid is possibly one of the most powerful beings in the universe, to the point that he is an enormous threat even to Superman. His strength is monstrous and resilience shocking, making him immune to almost any physical injury. His speed and stamina are also on par with that of Superman.
However, instead of indulging in hand-to-hand combat, Darkseid prefers to use his Omega, Beam. It is a deadly red beam of light that Darkseid projects from his eyes to take his target down. It is intensely hot. Plus, it has the power to disintegrate its opponent. It can also teleport several beings and is often used by Darkseid to dispatch his disgraced servants to the slave mines of Apokolips.
Apart from being ridiculously potent, Darkseid’s mind in itself was a force to be reckoned with. He was cunning but also patient. Since he was able to comprehend the Anti-Life Equation, Darkseid was known to possess the 12th level intellect.
He carried a Kryptonite knife and Agony Matrix with him in his arsenal of weapons, when he invaded Earth the second time.
Steppenwolf was a part of Apokolips’ military and acted as their military general. His master was Darkseid.
Initially, he served as a commander for Darkseid’s Parademons. He spearheaded the invasion force to Earth during Apokolips’ first invasion. He was also given one important task in particular – capturing Superman. With the help of Dan Turpin who headed the Metropolis Special Crimes, Superman was able to turn the tide of the battle against Apokolips.
Steppenwolf also led an invasion on another planet and commanded the army as a part of Darkseid’s search for the Anti-Life Equation. However, an armada from New Genesis ambushed his forces and Steppenwolf was forced to retreat when the New Genesis fleet gave them a chase.
The only surviving warship was destroyed and only Steppenwolf’s flagship remained. Escape was made near impossible as New Genesis’s fleet crippled Steppenwolf’s ship. To save themselves, he informed Darkseid about the dire situation.
The main issue here was that Apokolips and New Genesis had a peace treaty and the invasion to acquire the Anti-Life Equation violated this. Towards the end of this exchange, Steppenwolf was killed and his flagship was sent back to Apokolips by Orion via a boom tube.
Similar to Superman, Steppenwolf’s arsenal of abilities consist of super strength, super speed, high resistance, durability, and agility. He wielded an electro-ax and a cable snare. He also rode a hover-bike into battle, which added some style.
Once, Darkseid had persuaded Steppenwolf to hunt the people of New Genesis for sport. Darkseid wanted to take power and used this chaos as an opportunity to do so. Steppenwolf ended up taking the life of Izaya the Inheritor’s wife. Izaya later went on to become the Highfather.
This act was what sparked the bloody war between Apokolips and New Genesis, and Izaya killed Steppenwolf to avenge the death of his wife. However, Darkseid later used Apokoliptian technology to resurrect Steppenwolf and make him the commander of his military once again.