We've been hearing rumors that a couple of Superman villains will fight Supes, Wonder Woman and Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. But not all Superman villains are really up to the task of fighting Superman, let alone the Trinity. Here are 10 Superman villains who really should have picked on a lesser hero.
The villain of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is sort of a gimme, what with Superman IV achieving the astonishing feat of being worse than Superman III. Nuclear Man is created by Lex Luthor to represent for nuclear power, and he's basically a kind of Bizarro Superman, only nuclear. Except that he runs out of power if you cut him off from direct sunlight, and he has an unfortunate habit of getting crushes on random women and getting his King Kong on with them. He's basically a less fun version of Bizarro, who falls apart if you put an umbrella over him. Also worth mentioning: all the villains of Superman III, including the wonderfully named femme fatale Lorelei Ambrosia.
Remember Terra-Man? Of course you don't. He's an environmentalist cowboy. That's his whole schtick. There are a dozen or so pre-Crisis stories where Terra-Man zooms around on his flying horse, trying to lasso Superman, and break the Man of Steel like a bronco. There's also a post-Crisis version, who has cooler weapons and stuff, but he's still essentially disposable — as shown by the fact that he's killed off randomly during 52, meeting the usual fate of a ninth-string character and being killed off during an "event" comic.
Basically, they're just gangsters. They do get some fancy weapons from Darkseid, via a complicated turn of events that takes dozens of issues to unspool — but they're never really a serious challenge to Superman, see? They're just a bunch of wise guys, see? The comics have to introduce a whole new character to fight Intergang, the Gangbuster — just so there's someone who can actually be hurt by them. In a massively overcomplicated plot twist, Superman himself has a mental breakdown and starts dressing up as the Gangbuster and pretending to be powerless, just so he can be challenged by these guys. More recently, Bruno Mannheim has resurfaced, trying to get everybody to follow his Bible of Crime, but nobody can ever read past the Begats.
He's a former children's TV show host who lost his job and started unleashing deadly pranks on Metropolis — but he's often portrayed asa very cut-rate sort of Joker, who makes people laugh using ultrasonics instead of gas. At one point, he makes a deal with the Devil (or Satanus) to get extra powers and a new body, but he still never feels like much more than a cheap Joker knock-off, even down to trying to pull weird copyright/patent schemes along the lines of "Joker Fish."
The villain of several Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman episodes, Tempus is a time-traveler from a utopian future where Superman and Lois have created an ideal society. He hitches a ride on H.G. Wells' time machine and comes back in time, determined to prevent this utopia from ever happening. Which is a neat idea for a villain, to be sure — except that Tempus is a total bumbling moron. He knows Clark's secret identity and tries to reveal it to people over and over, failing every time due to wacky mishaps. He has access to a working time machine, but can't manage to change the timeline at all. Worst of all, we later learn that Tempus is actually just the reincarnation of someone who fought Lois and Clark in a previous lifetime. Bleh.
We never need to see Clark facing another "Meteor Freak" again. The villains of many Smallville episodes, these teenagers who gain superpowers from the massive concentration of Kryptonite meteorites falling on Kansas are generally one-off baddies who get dealt with inside of a single 42-minute episode. And despite having Kryptonite in their bodies — like so many other similar villains, like Kryptonite Man and Metallo — they're mostly just an annoyance to the juvenile Clark. The grown-up Superman would barely bat an eye at them.
Basically a hunter who hunts the most dangerous game: Superman. Sometimes he's an African American Vietnam veteran who's been tricked into hating Superman. Sometimes he's a white supremacist hunter guy who just wants to kill Superman for reasons. Sometimes, he's both, and they fight each other. Generally, Bloodsport's main powers include teleportation and Kryptonite weapons, but he's basically just a hunter/soldier guy with a very 1990s name.Other one-trick human villains worth mentioning: the Archer, aka Fenton Quigley, who's like a weaker version of Green Arrow. And Deathtrap aka the Master Jailer, who just builds traps that Superman has to escape from.
She's an evil sorceress who has magical mists, and she sells fake Kryptonite to people. Not even real Kryptonite, fake Kryptonite — even though real Kryptonite often appears to be more common than rhinestones in the Superman universe. She's mostly a huge femme fatale, who's more interested in kissing Supes than actually doing him any damage. Also noteworthy: the Scarlet Widow aka Spider Lady, a crime boss from the 1940s radio/TV serial who sells Kryptonite and schemes against Superman with the help of her Cockney henchman, Sniggers.
He's one of Superman's most often recurring villains, and I'm never sure why. Like Lex Luthor, he's a technological genius — but unlike Lex, he's not super versatile and he doesn't particularly think big. Lex Luthor poses a major threat to Superman because he's constantly coming up with huge, crazy schemes and using super-science to back them up. Meanwhile, Toyman pretty much just creates toys — which are cool robots, to be sure, but still just toys. There's a reason why so many Toyman stories have to introduce a little kid for Toyman to menace, such as Cat Grant's son Adam — because Toyman can't actually pose a credible threat to Superman, or even to the adults in his life.
Yes, he killed Superman. But that's because Superman was having an off day. I just re-read the Death of Superman graphic novel the other day, and Doomsday doesn't come out looking that well. Doomsday basically has one note: he walks around smashing stuff. When he first arrives on Earth, a bird lands on his hand, and he looks at it and then smushes it. And then laughs: "Ha ha ha." That's basically Doomsday's whole deal. He probably also breaks a kid's tricyle and knocks over a lemonade stand. And then Doomsday does take out the Justice League with one hand tied behind his back (literally) — but they're the 90s Justice League, so that barely counts. In any case, Doomsday's powers consist of being really strong and really invulnerable. As Superman notes, he can't fly, nor does he have superspeed, heat vision, freeze breath, super-ventriloquism, or any of Superman's myriad other powers. All Superman has to do is drop stuff on Doomsday from a great height. Or tunnel under Doomsday. Or run around Doomsday at superspeed, hitting him too fast for Doomsday to react. The one thing Superman doesn't have to do is stand there and let Doomsday punch him. Bane, the character introduced for the sole purpose of breaking Batman's spine, has cunning as well as superstrength — but Doomsday pretty much only has one thing going for him. Later, Doomsday was retconned to be an ancient Kryptonian ultimate weapon called the Ultimate, who was created by a scientist called Bertron. (Ernie-tron was busy that day.)