The titular character of Superman The franchise ranks among the likes of Batman and Spider-Man as one of the superheroes with the most iconic rogues galleries in the entire genre. However, the Man of Steel live-action movies have failed to fully explore his roster of enemies.
To date, the only two Superman villains to receive significant big-screen roles are Lex Luthor and General Zod, with Darkseid and Doomsday only receiving relatively brief appearances in the DC Extended Universe. It’s not the most impressive track record, especially when compared to other contemporary superhero movies. The following list will spotlight a handful of Superman comic book villains who would be perfect antagonists for a future film adaptation.
Besides Brainiac, the famous Superman villain who has yet to make his movie debut is Kal-El’s demented look-alike, Bizarro. A flawed clone of Krypton’s last son, Bizarro was created by Lex Luthor to be the perfect weapon against his nemesis. Bizarro possesses all of Superman’s powers, but none of his morality or intelligence. Although he rarely acts out of actual malevolence, Bizarro is nonetheless a dangerous destructive force, often driven by a twisted sense of logic that causes him to act as the opposite of Superman. For Bizarro, evil is good and down is up. Bizarro’s unbalanced worldview is reflected in his distinctive speech patterns, which overturn the rules of grammar.
Bizarro has often been portrayed as a comedic character, more of a well-meaning nuisance than an actual villain. He even ruled his own Bizarro World, a cube-shaped planet inhabited by other Bizarro duplicates from the rest of the DC Universe. However, other stories have presented Bizarro as a tragic figure similar to Frankenstein’s monster, seeking to do good but forced into evil due to cruel fate. It may seem silly at first, but Bizarro could easily feel right at home in a serious adaptation.
Like Bizarro, Parasite is the kind of antagonist that rarely plays the role of the big bad. He is often presented as the pawn of another villain, such as Lex Luthor or Darkseid. But if he is not the smartest adversary, Parasite is nonetheless a formidable opponent.
True to its name, Parasite has the ability to drain the life force of anyone it touches. He has an insatiable thirst for more power – preferably from Superman. He’s not a nuanced villain, but this monstrous menace has a unique gimmick that gives him the strength to take on the Man of Tomorrow.
Metallo is yet another villain who’s more of a henchman than a big bad, but he’s such a memorable lackey that he’s earned a spot on this list. Originally a normal human named John Corben, this rogue was rebuilt as a mechanical menace – sometimes by Lex Luthor himself, depending on continuity – with a Kryptonite heart and the strength to trade blows with Superman.
Metallo is more likely to take orders than give them. However, between his striking Terminator-like design and his deadly Kryptonite core, Metallo has become one of Superman’s most notorious foes.
A relatively recent addition to Superman’s rogues gallery, alien conqueror Mongul is the despotic ruler of Warworld, a planet-sized space station where enslaved gladiators compete in bloodsports for the amusement of their sadistic master. If Superman is an alien who uses his immense power for the good of others, then Mongul is the opposite. He is a vicious megalomaniac who delights in smashing his opponents, abusing his power to subjugate everyone around him.
Mongul’s best-known story, “For the Man Who Has Everything” by legendary comic book writer Alan Moore, features him trapping Superman in an illusory world where he leads a peaceful, ordinary life as a family man on a Krypton that never died. When Superman breaks free, he is enraged by the unimaginable cruelty of Mongul’s trap, making Mongul one of the few villains who managed to infuriate the Man of Steel. Of all the foes Superman has faced, Mongul ranks among the most vile of them all and deserves a ride on screen.
Finally, one of Superman’s most enduring comic enemies is also perhaps the strangest member of his rogues gallery. Mister Mxyzptlk (pronounced “mix-yes-spit-lick”) is a Fifth-Dimensional Imp who wields near-infinite power, allowing him to rewrite reality with a thought. If he wanted to, Mxyzptlk could bend the entire universe to his will. However, he’s usually content to make Superman’s life more difficult. Mister Mxyzptlk is more of a con man than a traditional supervillain, his schemes taking the form of petty pranks against the Man of Tomorrow.
Mxyzptlk is essentially a wild cartoon character in the real world, usually giving his stories a comedic and irreverent tone. However, the mischievous pixie is more than capable of getting serious whenever he wants, shedding his playful personality, and unleashing the true cosmic power of a fifth dimensional entity. Capable of both cartoonish comedy and cosmic horror, Mister Mxyzptlk would certainly be a difficult character to adapt to live-action. However, a successful film could be a truly unforgettable experience.
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