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DC always had phenomenal villains. They were able to develop characters that were unlike anything else in the Marvel universe. MCU has always been terrific at developing heroic characters, but they don’t have many memorable villains. On the other hand, there is a slew of fantastic DC villains. One of the main reasons I prefer DC over Marvel is that the antagonists are truly outstanding. Some of the most well-known DC Comics superheroes, like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, are the standouts. But it’s not just their heroic actions alone that makes these characters so remarkable; it’s also their rogues’ galleries! The Clark Kent/Bruce Wayne/Diana Prince dynamic would be far less compelling if Lex Luthor, the Joker, and Ares weren’t consistently prodding them.

There is no arguing that the classic Marvel villains like Venom, Loki, Mephisto, and Magneto exist, but they are no match for the meticulously constructed visionary of Scarecrow, The Riddler, Penguin, Two-Faced, Joker, Poison Ivy, and so many others. The best thing about DC villains is that they don’t need a superhero to oppose them. You can’t truly say the same with many Marvel villains. Most MCU villains employ their heroic equivalents as motivation to be the wicked person they are—they couldn’t exist without the need for an Ironman, Spider-Man, or Iceman. In my perspective, half of Marvel films are CGI remakes of previous flicks. It’s nothing new for me. Yes, the superheroes themselves are distinct, as are their powers and backstories, but that’s about it. It rapidly becomes monotonous. The MCU sticks to the same clichés and portrays everyone in the same way.

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The great majority of DC villains, at least, do what they do for wholly different reasons. Mr. Freeze sought to discover a cure for his wife, the Scarecrow’s fascination with terror drove him insane, and Bane’s mother’s death drove him to seek methods to grow stronger. Instead of relying on Batman or Superman to establish an origin story for these characters, Batman and Superman became interveners when they disobeyed the law. Even the characters who do eventually rely on the heroes have more of a backstory and character development than just saying, “Damn, Batman defeated me! Gotta try again!”

The Joker is really simply there to drive Batman insane, yet it works because of their extreme opposites. Their beliefs are so dissimilar that I don’t believe Joker views Batman as an adversary—rather, he sees him as a challenge to prove that his ideas are the ones that rule supreme and that he has moral concepts. Todd Philips, the director of Joker (2019), has retained the film’s distinctiveness by not using Joaquin Phoenix‘s Joker in other DC pictures. The exclusivity and uniqueness are admirable. Heath Ledger‘s Joker is well-known and will be appreciated, but Joaquin Phoenix’s will be recalled on a variety of levels.

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The interaction between the Joker and Batman is intriguing, and I believe that people don’t go as deep into it as they should because of how cartoonish the Joker has become in the media. There are no other characters in Marvel comics who have a more intricate and structured connection than the Joker and Batman. Perhaps Thor and Loki, but then we see Loki’s final transformation into an anti-hero. One may claim Thanos was a sophisticated villain who truly believed he was the hero of his narrative. Another may extol Killmonger‘s own motives for villainy, apart from any clichéd and baseless desire to put an end to heroism.

Bernard Bond

Bernard Bond is a leading expert in celebrity journalism and a television critic.