When a hero takes on the role of protecting others, they’re always going to make enemies. In the case of comic book properties, the villains can be just as important, if not more important, than the actual protagonist. With all the superhero-related TV shows that aired during the past year, unusual villains popped up from all corners to give our heroes hell, and viewers wouldn’t have it any other away. Without engaging and unique enemies to deal with, comic book TV shows, as well as almost every other genre of series, wouldn’t be any fun to watch.
We had a variety of antagonists appear during 2014, from mob enforcers to traitors to super powered psychos. This was the live-action debut of some villains and a new interpretation for others, but either way, they all had one thing in common: they put our protagonists through a world of hurt. So step over to the dark side and take a look at who we’ve picked as the best villains that were introduced on our favorite Marvel and DC TV shows during 2014.
As usual, there are some spoilers for both DC and Marvel TV shows ahead.
10. Isabel RochevSlade Wilson may have been the main antagonist in Arrow during Season 2, but Isabel Rochev was key to the revenge campaign against Oliver Queen. Biding her time at Queen Consolidated for the first half of the season, she was eventually able to seize control of the company and take it away from Oliver. It wasn’t just in the boardroom where she was a threat. Already a skilled fighter, once she was pumped full of Mirakuru, she donned a Deathstroke-inspired costume and took part in the siege against Starling City. We won’t be seeing her again due to a fatal case of snapped neck, but she’ll go down in the Arrow history book as someone Oliver should have kept a closer eye on.
9. Victor ZsaszHe’s only appeared in one episode so far, but Victor Zsasz has been one of the more entertaining characters on Gotham. As a hit man for Don Falcone, you can tell he’s more unhinged than most people in his line of business, as demonstrated by his habit of cutting a mark in his arm for every person he kills. With his odd appearance and bizarre personality, he’s both terrifying and fun to watch…quite an unusual combination. Having him in a recurring role might be too much for the series, but in small doses, Victor is a breath of fresh air among the criminals and the corrupt in Gotham City.
8. Ra’s al GhulWe haven’t seen much of Ra’s al Ghul this season, but so far he’s living up to his legendary reputation. He’s killed thousands of men during his life, and as the leader of the League of Assassins, his goal in this world is to “replace evil with death.” Because Oliver Queen decided to “protect” Malcolm Merlyn, he incurred Ra’s’ wrath, which eventually led to the two of them facing off in a trial by combat. After an intense battle, Ra’s claimed the title of being the only person to have killed our protagonist, even if it is just temporarily. We still don’t know what Ra’s plans are and what his backstory is, but one thing is clear: he may be a Batman villain in most media adaptations, but on Arrow, he is shaping up to be Oliver’s most dangerous enemy yet.
7. Captain ColdMost of the villains Barry Allen has faced so far on The Flash have been metahumans like him, but Leonard Snart, nicknamed Captain Cold, proved that you don’t need to have superpowers to be a danger to the Scarlet Speedster. Using Cisco’s cold gun and his sharp mind, Leonard was able to defeat Barry and pull off his greatest heist yet in one episode. His cool demeanor is an ideal trait for planning robberies, and now that he’s realized that Flash has changed the game, he’s taking the necessary precautions to deal with Central City’s superhero. This includes partnering with Mick Rory again, the beginning of what will eventually become The Rogues. Needless to say, many of Flash’s troubles in the near future are going to be this guy’s fault.
6. John GarrettHe was introduced as an ally to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. protagonists, but once the HYDRA storyline kicked into gear, John Garrett’s true loyalties were revealed. Not only was Garrett the mastermind behind the Centipede Project and secretly The Clairvoyant, but he was also the one who corrupted Grant Ward at an early age. In a season full of mostly-forgettable bad guys, Garrett was one of the few antagonists that was fun to watch, especially as he grew more and more insane. As an added bonus, he also had one of the funniest death scenes when he was blasted into oblivion by Coulson after replacing his damaged body parts with cybernetic enhancements.
5. Calvin ZaboFor most of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s second season, the character has been known as “The Doctor” or “Skye’s father,” but in the midseason finale, we learned that Kyle MacLachlan’s character is the MCU’s version of Calvin Zabo, a.k.a. Mr. Hyde. Although an experienced medical doctor, Zabo’s primary characteristics are his super strength and anger issues, a nasty combination for anyone that inadvertently sets him off. He claims to have his daughter’s best interests at heart, but his unhinged nature puts everything he says into doubt. Not only has Zabo been more entertaining to watch than most of the HYDRA villains this season (example: cleaning blood off the table after murdering a guy), but with Skye’s transformation into an Inhuman, he will likely play a big role in the future with convincing her to accept her “destiny.”
4. Grant WardBefore the episode “Turn, Turn, Turn,” Grant Ward was a fairly dull character. All he did was fill the role of handsome, talented secret agent who they tried to make interesting, but failed. However, once his allegiance to HYDRA was uncovered, he became one of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best villains. Unlike most of the other villains on the show, Ward is only out for himself. He keeps his true goals close to the chest and is constantly double-crossing the good guys and bad guys. Whether you’re a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent or HYDRA grunt, you’d be wise not to trust him. The only thing we know for sure is that he still has feelings for Skye, and no matter what happens, he won’t hurt her or lie to her. Unfortunately, that means that anyone who crosses him, including his own family, is screwed.
3. Reverse-FlashWhether it’s Harrison Wells under the mask or someone else, the Reverse-Flash is being set up as Flash’s most dangerous adversary. He’s so set on ruining Barry’s life that he went back in time and killed his mother before Barry was even a superhero. The twisted doppelgänger’s exact plans are still unclear, but he won’t stop until he sees our hero defeated, or as he put it, “lose to him.” Even if we ignore his basic motivations, his physical attributes are enough to earn him a spot on this list. That blurring effect, those glowing eyes and that demonic voice all make him one of TV’s creepiest villains, and that includes non-comic book shows.
2. The PenguinWho would have thought that the most engaging storyline on Gotham would be Oswald Cobblepot’s slow rise to power? While most of the characters are dealing with the problems that pop up in front of them, our tuxedoed villain is working behind-the-scenes to steer things in his direction. It’s a joy watching him take on the role of unassuming underling in public while in private, his true nature as a ruthless, power-hungry schemer is unleashed. Forget Fish Mooney, Carmine Falcone and Sal Maroni, the Penguin is the one who is the true danger in Gotham City. It will be many years before Oswald becomes the crime boss we know him as in the comics, but for now, it’s fun just watching him play both sides against each other.
1. DeathstrokeWhile Slade Wilson has been on Arrow since the latter half of Season 1, it wasn’t until the final episode of 2013 that it was revealed that he is the mastermind behind Oliver’s troubles in his second year as the bow and arrow-wielding vigilante. In 2014, we saw two narratives of Slade unfold: the present day, where he exacts his revenge on Oliver for letting Shado die, and the past, where he learns he is slowly being corrupted by the Mirakuru. While his motivations in the series may be different than in the comic books, his mission to take away everything and everyone Oliver loved (which resulted in Moira Queen’s death) was one of the main reasons Season 2 was so enjoyable. Slade may not have his Mirakuru abilities anymore, but being an experienced fighter and mercenary, he’ll find new ways to torment Oliver once he escapes his imprisonment. This is a man who has nothing to lose, and that’s especially dangerous.