Comic books have been around for a long time, and have been an integral part of popular culture for nearly a century. Over this time we have been introduced to hundreds of super heroes and thousands of villains. While there are many that have been forgotten (and rightly so), there are at least 10 terrible villains that writers and artists have made great. What this means depends on your definition of “terrible” and “great”, but this list covers them all!
It took a very long time for DC’s Deadshot to become as cool as he is today. Well before Will Smith portrayed him in Suicide Squad, Deadshot was a villain in an “Old West” style Batman comic story in the 1950s. Furthermore, it took several decades for the villain to live up to his name. For the longest time, despite his whole schtick of “never missing a shot”, Deadshot had a surprising amount of trouble making sure his bullets ended up where he intended.
Deadshot finally began living up to his potential (and name) in the 1980s when the character finally became part of the Suicide Squad. That comic series and its many story arcs finally made him a master assassin and added nuance to his character – a cold-blooded killer who doesn’t care if he survives the mission, as long as the mission is completed.
Deadpool started off as a villain in the X-Men universe. Well, “villain” is putting it both mildly and strongly at the same time. Deadpool’s whole MO is being a ruthless assassin that (nevertheless) sometimes does his killing on the “good” side. Wherever the bounty is – that’s where Deadpool goes. Only when Deadpool started having a stand-alone comic did the character really get fleshed out. At this point both the good and the bad within him was explored.
For someone whose main goal was defeating Superman and becoming the most powerful man on earth, Lex Luthor did have a story arc in which he was the good guy! In the New 52 series of DC comics, Lex Luthor, Black Adam, and Captain Cold actually worked together to form a new Justice League.
Of course, when three evil characters take over what is supposed to be the biggest source of good in the world things get complicated. And this was the case for Luthor’s Justice League as well. The villainous Justice League did not last long in the New 52 series, but their run sure was a memorable one.
Although the character started off as a super villain in the X-Men universe. As the son of Magneto, it’s no surprise that Quicksilver had quite a bit of evil inside him as well. However, after a few issues of X-Men, Quicksilver was eventually recruited by Tony Stark to join The Avengers. Then, every once in a while, he would also show up in Professor Xavier’s mutant superhero X-Men squad!
Of the many questionable choices Daredevil made, few are as memorable and important to the Daredevil comics as Elektra. Through many twists and turns of Daredevil’s fate, Elektra became a villain in the Marvel universe. However, over time, Elektra slowly transitioned from “baddie” to “goodie”. Over the past several story arcs that involved her, Elektra is seen helping Daredevil more often then she’s shown fighting him.
After watching Captain America and Avengers you’d think that Falcon was always a good guy. However, the creators of the MCU have skipped quite a bit of backstory when it comes to the supportive and friendly companion of Rogers.
Falcon’s backstory is very similar to Batman’s. His parents were murdered. However, unlike Batman, Samuel Wilson’s choice was to turn to a life of crime. It wasn’t until Red Skull caused Falcon to forget his troubled past that he became friends with Captain America and fought the good fight with The Avengers. Eventually he would take over Steve Rogers’s shield and become Captain America himself.
As was the case with Falcon, the MCU movies glossed over a lot of Black Widow’s backstory. However, unlike Falcon — we did get a glimpse of Black Widow’s past through some key lines of dialogue. Before she was an integral part of The Avengers, Black Widow was a Russian spy and assassin. And not in a good way either. She was an orphan, and she was trained to be an assassin from her early childhood. Some of the training tactics involved torture and invasive surgery (Black Widow can’t have children). In the end, she made the choice to apply her skills for the greater good and became the agile superhero we know and love today.
Just like Black Widow, Hawkeye had a very dark past. He was a gun (or should I say “bow”?) for hire, and would serve as a hitman or bodyguard to whoever was able to pay him the most. On more than one occasion, Hawkeye was sent on missions with Black Widow. This was the beginning of their long friendship, and was the cause of the good dynamic between the two in later story arcs of the Avengers comics (and movies).
The Joker was always terrible (i.e. evil) in the Batman comic books. However, over time, as the character got more and more fleshed out, he became an iconic (i.e. great) villain that to this day serves as a benchmark for Chaotic Evil on all D&D character alignment charts. From his evil laugh to his unpredictable antics — the Joker is a force to be reckoned with and arguably the best villain to ever have been created.
What happens when you have a large roster of average villains and some super villains that Batman and Superman are too busy to fight? That’s right — you take the average villains and turn them into great superheroes. This is just what happened with Suicide Squad. And although the end result might be a mediocre movie, it might also be a thrilling series of comic stories that propelled characters like Deadshot to villainous stardom!