Although lacking at the box office with the DCEU, DC’s Animated Movie Universe is doing something that few thought possible: beating Marvel’s. In 2013, on the heels of what Marvel was doing in live-action format, DC started their Animated Movie Universe which was chock full of great original films with villains as captivating as, and in some cases even better than, Marvel’s. The universe was even able to accomplish this without excessive use of household names like The Joker, who, spoiler alert, is not on this list.
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, the DCAU is a shared universe of DC superhero animated series and movies. It began with Batman: The Animated Series in 1992 and with Justice League Unlimited in 2006. By extension, the DC Animated Movie Universe (DCAMU), a sort of “reboot” of the DCAU, began in 2013 with Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and ran until 2020, where it ended with Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. Here’s a look at the best villains from the DCMAU.
10 Ocean Master – Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
Orm, or Ocean Master, presents a medicore threat in the comics and other media such as Young Justice but in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis he is amped up by a little bit. While he is able to contain the league, nearly defeating them, it’s his own words that ultimately cause his defeat. He needed help in the form of Black Manta to help orchestrate the attacks on Atlantis, attacks he blamed on the humans but was recorded by Cyborg saying he was the culprit. A massive plan that would have ended up with Atlantis in charge was ultimately undone by his own arrogance and deceit.
9 Nergal – Constantine: City of Demons
Nergal really puts John Constantine through the ringer in Constantine: City of Demons. John’s longtime friend Chas Chandler finds his daughter Trish kidnapped by an entity that later reveals itself to be the villain Nergal. All he wants to do is to force John into helping him create a new branch of Hell. Doesn’t seem like a big deal right? Well, this notion gets under John’s skin and he proceeds to unveil a double-edged curse to destroy the omnipotent being. Nergal’s plan to only stop once his cosmic goal might be realized falls a little short compared to altering realities, but is still dangerous.
8 Hank Henshaw – The Death of Superman
Hank is an unusual villain for the list as he starts off as a hopeful human. In The Death of Superman, Henshaw believes Superman will save him and his crew as they hurtle towards the sun, only to be saved by Darksied instead. Darksied ‘reformats’ Hank into a dangerous version of his formal ideal, Superman. He plays the part of the hero, but becomes increasingly unstable. When the Justice League disapears, Hank enlists volunteers to join his Cyber Corps, which is sadly comprised of ordinary humans who are transformed like he is. After Superman returns, he has no chose but to stab Henshaw in the head with the Eradicator crystal, which helped power the Eradicator Superman. This action does indeed eradicate Henshaw who had to be stopped, but it also kills the volunteers he enlisted.
7 Destiny – Justice League Dark
If an entity can destroy Constantine’s House of Mystery, the entity deserve to be on this list. This is precisely what occured at the hands of Destiny in Justice League Dark. Destiny was defated by Jason Blood with the help of his bound demon Etrigan in medival times, but not before latching himself to the dreamstone. By the time the darker powered Justice League catches up to him, he has already had them fight Felix Faust, who had no involvement in the scheme. Destiny destroys the House of Mystery and then turns the original Justice League against each other. Constantine eventually is able to trick Destiny into dropping his guard, but not before Jason Blood is killed, leaving Etrigan as his own entity instead of having a shared vessel with Blood. Batman destroys the Dreamstone, but at great cost.
6 Hush – Batman: Hush
Batman: Hush rewrites the origins of one of the most dangerous members of Batman’s famous rogues gallery, Hush has traditionally been Dr. Thomas Elliot, a childhood friend of Bruce. In the movie though, the audience is led to believe it could be Elliot, but the assailant turns out to be Edward Nygma. This is an instance where the rewritten origin improved the villain over the source material. This version of Hush was created due to The Riddler’s lack of respect as a villain. The Riddler ups his game, however, and even kidnaps The Joker, of all people, and even frames The Joker for a murder he doesn’t commit. Batman proceeds to savagely beat The Joker, who actually pleads with the Caped Crusader that he is innocent. Bruce deduces that Hush knows his identity, which leads to the realization that The Lazurus Pit revealed to The Riddler Bruce’s identity as the Dark Knight.
5 Deathstroke – Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
Deathstroke is the so-called secondary villain of Teen Titans: The Judas Contract which may cause question as to his inclusion on the list, but he more than deserves to be here. Brother Blood enlists the help of Slade Wilson, Deathstroke, to collect six Teen Titans for him to power his machine. Deathstroke plants a Judas amongst the team in the form of Terra, whom he later betrays when he is unable to get a sixth Titan. Bloods machine works giving him great power, but he is ultimately dispatched by Raven. The real threat here is arguably Slade who does is fact betray Terra who does deal with him. The fact remains that Blood was unable to collect the team himself which makes Deathstroke all the more dangerous.
4 Doomsday – The Death of Superman
The living killing machine makes its debut in the Animated Movie Universe in The Death of Superman which is adapted from the comic of the same name. This beast really needs no introduction, recently adapted in Batman vs Superman, Doomsday is known as the creature who ultimately ‘kills’ Superman. In the movie, the monster has no purpose or goal outside of killing anything in its path starting with scouting expeditions from Atlantis and a private crew sent by Lex Luthor. The ultimate weapon then dispatches the Justice League easily until Superman shows up. Superman matches the villain blow-for-blow until it threatens Lois Lane. This is when Supeerman has enough and snaps the creatures neck, impaling himself in the process and taking him out until his return in the next installment Reign of the Supermen.
3 Trigon – Justice League vs. Teen Titans
Trigon finds himself on the list for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, his actions in turning the Justice League against the Teen Titans in the animated film Justice League vs Teen Titans. The god takes over almost the enture league, sans Batman, in order to persuade Raven, his daughter, to join him. Damian Wayne as Robin is one of the key peices that leads to Trigon’s ultimate defeat here, freeing Superman, but the threat of Trigon is never dispatched here. Instead, he is imprisoned in a crystal that Raven keeps attached to her. Trigon also makes an big impact in a duel with Darkseid in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. The fight is a literal clash of two of D.C.’s most powerful beings, one that Darkseid himself struggles with.
2 Thawne – Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Thawne is a critical villain in the Animated Movie Universe, and like Trigon, appears in multiple installments. Thawne kicks off the new universe that D.C. was going to establish starting with Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. He bullies Flash so much, and gets into his head so that the hero races in time to save his mother, in doing so creates a terrifying new reality where war has broken out among all factions: meta humans, Atlanteans, Amazons, etc. Thawne proceeds to stalk the Flash throughout this reality before Thomas Wayne, that reality’s Batman (Bruce was killed the night of the play instead of his parents, and his mother became The Joker) puts a bullet through his head. This stops Thawne for the moment, enough that Flash is able to reset the timeline as Captain Atom was detonated, an action that would have destroyed the world. Thawne reappears in Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay as the main villain looking for the Get Out of Hell Free Card, a card that has one use and allows the possesor to bypass Hell and gain acess to Heaven, Thawne reveals he used the Speed Force to stay alive, an action he cannot maintain and wants the card to gain access to Heaven before he passes.
1 Darkseid – Justice League Dark: Apokolips War
Set up as the ultimate threat of the DC Animated Movie Universe, Darkseid appears directly and indirectly over several installments of the franchise until its end with Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. The New God is a constant threat. Although he is dispatched fairly easily with Justice League: War , he keeps at it, giving Hank Henshaw his powers, supplying Intergang, sending Doomsday, and much more. Superman finally decides for some reason that attacking Darkseid head on would be the best idea. He was wrong and really wrong. Darkseid’s new parademons mixed with Doomsday genetics created a more fearsome force than the League had dealt with before leving Constantine to clean up the mess. The League were transformed into Darkseids gladiators, an action which Batman forsaw which helped him use Zatanna to persuade John Constantine into action. After a fearsome fight with both Trigon as Superman and Trigon as himself, the villain is slowed down enough that Constantine convinces Flash to set the timeline straight one last time.
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