Superman is easily the most powerful character in DC Comics, the original superhero for the company and someone who has few equals in all of comics. That means that creating villains for the Man of Steel is not easy. While he has some that match up well, it is always for reasons other than pure power.
Lex Luthor is a man whose brains might equal the brawn of Superman, making him a continuous threat. Doomsday is an almost unbeatable monster that can go blow to blow with Superman on most days. Even some of the stranger villains, like Bizzaro, have that one thing that keeps fans interested. With that said, some Superman villains are nothing more than pathetic members of a relatively weak rogues’ gallery.
Toyman, as a villain for Superman, makes little sense. Throughout his time in Superman comics, Toyman has mostly been a nuisance. How much danger is Superman in from a toy created to be a weapon — unless the toy had Kryptonite in it, which most didn’t? When it comes to Toyman, he is an annoyance who Superman quickly stops every time. It is a head-scratcher why he appeared so many times as a foil for the Man of Steel.
9 LA ENCANTADORA
The artistic design of La Encantadora was a product of the ’90s excess craze in superhero comics. The actual character was a massive disappointment when it comes to her worth as a supervillain. She had the power to manipulate the perception of others, and that was about it. She used this power to sell fake Kryptonite to Superman’s other rogues and then later convinced Superman it was real Kryptonite. That was the extent of her stint as a Superman villain.
Sleez is one of the most pathetic villains in DC Comics, much less Superman comics itself. Sleez is a deranged villain who is more famous for what he made Superman do, rather than ever beating him. He made Big Barda dance for him and then tried to force Superman to made a risque tape with Barda for Sleez’s pleasure. The fact that his main powers are to dominate someone’s mind and amplify their depraved desires shows why he isn’t around much in today’s society.
Moving to the world of television, Tempus was a villain on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Tempus is a time-traveling supervillain from the TV show that was brought back to Metropolis by H.G. Wells to prove time travel was real.
However, his real goal was to kill a baby Superman to prevent the peaceful utopia that existed due to Superman’s descendants. After this didn’t work out, he shows up repeatedly throughout the series in an attempt to reveal Superman’s secret identity to the world and fails every single time.
The way that the supervillain Kancer was created was to have Superman develop cancer thanks to General Zod. When he had the cancer cells removed, using Kryptonite, the cancer cells became sentient and created a giant monster that hated Superman for rejecting it. That was bad enough. Kancer then was able to give anyone it touched cancer as well as mindlessly followed Zod, his creator. The entire thing was a mind-boggling mess.
5 GUS GORMAN & ROSS WEBSTER
The worst thing about Superman III was that the focus of the film was not on Christopher Reeves’ Superman, but Richard Pryor’s Gus Gorman. At the time, Pryor was one of the top funnymen in the world, and he was the selling point of this movie as its villain, albeit a very pathetic on.
Gus was suckered into creating a supercomputer by wealthy businessman Ross Webster that would battle Superman. The fact that the doppelganger of Superman was more interesting than either villain is telling.
4 THE PRANKSTER
It is almost hard to believe that one of Superman’s earliest rogues was an annoying and hapless supervillain known as The Prankster. His entire gimmick revolved around his name — he pulled pranks, and while people were distracted, he pulled off sly crimes.
Maybe Prankster could have been a good Batman villain, but Batman already had The Riddler and Joker, who were greater than Prankster ever strived to be. He first appeared in 1942 and has been around for way too long for a dime-store Joker.
Terra-Man is kind of a crazy Superman villain. He is a superpowered cowboy who comes from the future. Instead of regular six-shooters, he has futuristic weapons that could have made him very cool and unique. Instead, he was a pathetic joke for almost his entire DC Comics existence. His one-liners come from bad westerns, which makes no sense since he is from the future. Post-Crisis, he was reinvented as a businessman and was worse than before.
2 MICROWAVE MAN
Microwave Man was a product of his time and would be considered even more pathetic as a villain if it wasn’t for his tragic backstory. At the time he was introduced, which was the ’30s, microwaves were still a mystery to the general public, so this villain had those powers, and it made him almost unbeatable.
He ended up leaving Earth for space and returned as an old man to battle Superman again. However, he was dying of cancer, so Superman let him think he beat him so he could die a happy man.
1 NUCLEAR MAN
The one thing that keeps Superman III from being the worst Superman movie ever made was Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. This film had so much wrong with it, but at the very top was the worst villain Superman ever faced — Nuclear Man. Not even Gene Hackman returning as Lex Luthor could save the movie.
The film decided to have Superman solve one of Earth’s biggest problems — the threat of nuclear war. That ended up creating a villain that fit the same danger. Sadly, actor Mark Pillow was not up to the task, and everything about the villain fell short. Reeves chose to leave the cape behind after this big-screen disaster.
Superman is nearly unbeatable, which makes it more lame than usual when he faces off against a particularly weak villain.