Who is the better villain? Joker or Luthor?

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#1 Posted by sinestro_GL (3322 posts) - - Show Bio

Here's a topic I often ponder: who is the better villain for their respective superhero? The Joker or Lex Luthor?

The Joker is the perfect ying for Batman's yang. The Joker represents everything that Batman is not. The contrast between night and day shows more similarity than the contrast between personalities of the two. Over the years, the two have been through a lot, and the Joker has been at the root of some of the most heinous atrocities to occur to both the people of Gotham and Batman himself.

Lex Luthor on the other hand, is a (distorted) reflection of Superman. Humanity have seen them both as their saviours (one more so than the other...y'know, because of the super-villain thing) - however - is that the only distinction between them? One is good and one is evil? Both have the ability to change the world, but in the case of Lex, it has been his obsession to be better than Superman which has prevented him from achieving this.

So, who do you think is the 'better' villain for their hero?

#2 Posted by TheWitchingHour (1340 posts) - - Show Bio

Lex Luthor is the most incredibly nuanced and dimensional villain when coupled with his traditional rival Superman. Every facet of his existence serves as a perfect antithesis and obstacle to the man of steel. And Lex's villainy has a purpose. His vision of having mankind reach the stars and unlock their fullest potential is threatened by the last son of Krypton which makes for a very interesting hero/villain dynamic.

The Joker is one of the greatest villains of all time, but he is reactionary poetry. Lex is intellectual prose.

#3 Posted by PhoenixoftheTides (3631 posts) - - Show Bio

@TheWitchingHour said:

Lex Luthor is the most incredibly nuanced and dimensional villain when coupled with his traditional rival Superman. Every facet of his existence serves as a perfect antithesis and obstacle to the man of steel. And Lex's villainy has a purpose. His vision of having mankind reach the stars and unlock their fullest potential is threatened by the last son of Krypton which makes for a very interesting hero/villain dynamic.

The Joker is one of the greatest villains of all time, but he is reactionary poetry. Lex is intellectual prose.

I agree. Thank you for saying this so well.

#4 Posted by Gambit1024 (9843 posts) - - Show Bio

@TheWitchingHour said:

Lex Luthor is the most incredibly nuanced and dimensional villain when coupled with his traditional rival Superman. Every facet of his existence serves as a perfect antithesis and obstacle to the man of steel. And Lex's villainy has a purpose. His vision of having mankind reach the stars and unlock their fullest potential is threatened by the last son of Krypton which makes for a very interesting hero/villain dynamic.

The Joker is one of the greatest villains of all time, but he is reactionary poetry. Lex is intellectual prose.

I was about to come in here and say "Joker curbstomps," but after reading this, Joker vs. Luthor seens like its a pretty valid battle in terms of who the better villain is. Well stated.

#5 Posted by Tunsieon (316 posts) - - Show Bio

@sinestro_GL said:

The Joker is the perfect ying for Batman's yang.

Seems to answer the question pretty well.

#6 Posted by DEGRAAF (7918 posts) - - Show Bio

Honestly that is hard, I think they are both great villains but Lex is a jealous man who wants to be the hero and savior. Joker on the other hand is only out to cause chaos. I think he is the better villain because he is more unpredictable. He is still very smart even though he doesn't show it.

#7 Posted by The Poet (8169 posts) - - Show Bio
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#8 Posted by joshmightbe (24757 posts) - - Show Bio

Luthor is smarter, in better shape and has far more resources to work with but Joker is more interesting

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#9 Posted by Morpheus_ (29696 posts) - - Show Bio
Miracles don't exist. But Lex Luthor does.
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#10 Posted by zackattack529 (1404 posts) - - Show Bio

to me jokers is cool...but he is only a cool villain to BATMAN or any serious character like Spawn, Rorschach etc.

lex luthor can be anyones villain! in my opinion he is THE villain. he's rich, sadistic, smart, and powerhungry...these are traits that define your typical villain. but lex's personality defines him as his own chaacter and to me puts him at the top of the list.

for example..take someone like batgirl..or green lantern flash or spiderman ..these are characters that usually are funny charters themselves at times how would joker be an acceptable villain for them. it wouldnt make sense having witty banter and theatrics against these hero. itd be really cheesy fights or conflicts.

well this is just my opinion i know everyone loves joker so obviously he'd be at the top but i say LEX should be at the top

#11 Posted by BlackArmor (6138 posts) - - Show Bio

Lex

#12 Posted by Lvenger (21233 posts) - - Show Bio

@Morpheus_ said:

Miracles don't exist. But Lex Luthor does.

I read the Boy of Steel in trade last weekend. I never expected Lex to actually cure his sister only to render her invalid again. That act made him for me one of the greatest villains in comic book history as he proved he could improve the world but allows his obsession with Superman to override all the good he could contribute to the world. Though admittedly Luthor is one self centered prick.

#13 Posted by Morpheus_ (29696 posts) - - Show Bio
@Lvenger said:

@Morpheus_ said:

Miracles don't exist. But Lex Luthor does.

I read the Boy of Steel in trade last weekend. I never expected Lex to actually cure his sister only to render her invalid again. That act made him for me one of the greatest villains in comic book history as he proved he could improve the world but allows his obsession with Superman to override all the good he could contribute to the world. Though admittedly Luthor is one self centered prick.

Lex uses Kal-El as an excuse. Superman does not really hold him back from improving the world - Lex himself does.
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#14 Posted by Lvenger (21233 posts) - - Show Bio

@Morpheus_ said:

Lex uses Kal-El as an excuse. Superman does not really hold him back from improving the world - Lex himself does.

Yes I can see that. Lex started down his path a long time ago. He talks about how much he can improve the world if it weren't for Superman but simply cannot bring himself to do anything truly worthwhile. In Action Comics #900 he couldn't overcome his hatred of Superman in order to make the universe into a utopia so that really highlights how flawed Lex truly is.

#15 Posted by sethysquare (3842 posts) - - Show Bio

Lex obviously.

#16 Posted by sinestro_GL (3322 posts) - - Show Bio

@Lvenger: Also quite tragic how in the instance that Lex uses his power for good (Earth 2), he lives in a dimension where the villains are the ones that are prevalent.

#17 Posted by Billy Batson (58343 posts) - - Show Bio

BB

#18 Posted by sinestro_GL (3322 posts) - - Show Bio

@Billy Batson said:

BB

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words...and "great Scott" this one speaks volumes!

#19 Posted by The Stegman (26046 posts) - - Show Bio
Tie for me, they're both great in different ways. 
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#20 Posted by RedK (2521 posts) - - Show Bio

has to be Luthor, because what makes a villian great is that they see themselves as a hero, but in some cases including Luthor, Magneto and Sinestro that you can see that they are in their own way trying to do whats best, where as the like of Joker or Carnage know that their the villian and just wana make other people miserable

#21 Posted by Z3RO180 (6712 posts) - - Show Bio

i really dount know who is the best ''Villan'' but i can tell you the most evil one out the two is the joker.

#22 Posted by DeathpooltheT1000 (12588 posts) - - Show Bio

ZOD!!!

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#23 Posted by CaptainCockblock (3650 posts) - - Show Bio

In matter of motivation and thought process, they're both pretty fascinating. Joker is hard to pin down, sporadic, always switching between different variations of himself for the sake of what's funny to him. His chaotic nature is his most intriguing characteristic, but I give Luthor a slight edge because he's clear, concise and, in some scenarios, absolutely right. Where everyone else sees a savior, he sees an end to human innovation and self reliance. And as a beacon of those qualities, Superman is his greatest nightmare, and he wants nothing more than to save the world from the Man of Steel. The Joker sees Batman as a force of good to corrupt, Lex sees Superman as the Apocalypse in all possible forms. Point, Lex.

Just my opinion.

#24 Posted by PurpleCandy (791 posts) - - Show Bio

Joker as funny as it seems, is an every-man villain (what he does is somewhat possible if you set your mind straight to it), Lex Luthor is the idol of what all anti-liberal "weak die and strong survive" type people wish they can be. Also I don't think Joker is the polar opposite of Batman, Owlman is. Lex Luthor if he were Batman's enemy would be a perfect villain aswell (save for that repusler ray suit thing)

#25 Posted by tomlikesfries (4883 posts) - - Show Bio

Joker is a better villain.

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#26 Posted by Imagine_Man15 (1801 posts) - - Show Bio

I came into this thread ready to scream "Joker!" But some of the commenters have swayed my opinion. Both are truly fascinating, from a psychological standpoint even, and its amazing how they've both come to develop such distinct philosophies in their history of publication. I'd still have to say that Joker is the better villain, because he not only epitomizes everything we perceive as evil but glorifies it. Luthor, on the other hand, is more than just a personification of evil because he could just as easily be the hero.

Conclusion: Joker is the better villain, but Lex is (and I never thought I'd say this) the better character.

#27 Posted by Video_Martian (5562 posts) - - Show Bio

It's a tie for me.

#28 Posted by ssejllenrad (12790 posts) - - Show Bio

Luthor in comics and DCAU are better than Joker IMO but Luthor in every other media just sucks. Overall Joker takes it. But only because some awful depictions of Lex pull the character down.

Comics-wise only, Luthor all day every day.

#29 Posted by Brazen_Intellect (1144 posts) - - Show Bio

the better villain = Lex

the better villain for their respective hero = Joker

#30 Posted by Eternal19 (2076 posts) - - Show Bio

I dont know I Think they are both equally good villians.

#31 Posted by JShiv (15 posts) - - Show Bio

Luthor is interesting but in a subtle way, the Joker is a show

#32 Posted by Mega_spidey01 (3078 posts) - - Show Bio

@TheWitchingHour said:

Lex Luthor is the most incredibly nuanced and dimensional villain when coupled with his traditional rival Superman. Every facet of his existence serves as a perfect antithesis and obstacle to the man of steel. And Lex's villainy has a purpose. His vision of having mankind reach the stars and unlock their fullest potential is threatened by the last son of Krypton which makes for a very interesting hero/villain dynamic.

The Joker is one of the greatest villains of all time, but he is reactionary poetry. Lex is intellectual prose.

i agree with your statement.

#33 Posted by Joygirl (19954 posts) - - Show Bio

Joker, hands down. More iconic, more amazing, more perfect.

#34 Posted by Bruxae (14008 posts) - - Show Bio

Im going to go with Lex on this one, he just seem to be much more capable against greater odds and smarter, stronger.

#35 Posted by GodDamnIronMan (1553 posts) - - Show Bio

Lex Luthor. He gives a Globalize impact, which his crime will involves more people than Joker...

but Joker on the other hand is a Wicked, clever, sociopath...For Gotham, Joker is the greatest threat, but for the World, Luthor is greatest threat.

We all know that the more powerful, Wealthy and Intelligence the man has, the greater threat he will make.

#36 Posted by fodigg (6136 posts) - - Show Bio

Hmm. I'd have to say Luthor. Joker is such a force of chaos he's entertaining but not always sympathetic, and I think the best villains have more character than "I'm just chasing cars."

#37 Posted by sunhawk (550 posts) - - Show Bio

Luthor would kill Joker if it furthered his plans.

#38 Posted by salamatsabi (216 posts) - - Show Bio

Lex in my opinion has better potential than Joker. Joker is a one dimensional villain which some might say is boring but people have shown such villianry before and it is by no mean a diluted version of evil. Take Vlad the Impaler which has shown levels evil which is comparable only to the Joker and sometimes even worse that made the less evil vampire Dracula. Now, If we consider Lex's evil, it is straight and somewhat weak but being a villain isn't only about how much lives you could ruin but the overall effects and that's why people like the zodiac killer ain't comparable with guys like Joseph Stalin. We don't consider them in tie with those that are dictators since dictators can almost kill thousands sometimes millions of people while the world watches with indifference(Until you piss off any of the United Nations then they'll talk about stopping you which might take a while and sometimes it never happens). Lex is in every way equal to Joseph Stalin smart,ambitious,calculative, handsome, rich and cruel while Joker is like Vlad the Impaler Unpredictable,Evil,Smart,Psychotic, and very very ugly (Which is why he kills anyone talking about his looks) based on that Lex wins by the amount of bodies he would leave behind but Joker wins if we just consider how miserable he can make someone,

#39 Posted by Thorcules (68 posts) - - Show Bio

@Imagine_Man15 said:

I came into this thread ready to scream "Joker!" But some of the commenters have swayed my opinion. Both are truly fascinating, from a psychological standpoint even, and its amazing how they've both come to develop such distinct philosophies in their history of publication. I'd still have to say that Joker is the better villain, because he not only epitomizes everything we perceive as evil but glorifies it. Luthor, on the other hand, is more than just a personification of evil because he could just as easily be the hero.

Conclusion: Joker is the better villain, but Lex is (and I never thought I'd say this) the better character.

This more or less & nice reasoning

#40 Posted by guttridgeb (4832 posts) - - Show Bio

Luthor

#41 Edited by drgnx (3566 posts) - - Show Bio

Joker hands down. Lex has often relied on Kryptonite and Lead and other plot devices over the years (what I have gotten sick off), as well as others, to beat Superman at his main game before relying on a suit. Jokers does use thugs but his M.O. has not changed much over the years because it has not needed to. Don't get me wrong, I like Lex, it just seems they have had to tweak him a lot because his match-up with Superman was always questioned.

Joker seems to match Batman at his own game, in terms of wits, while Lex can't do it for Superman in terms of powers. I have personally found that the closer the character is to the villain, in some way, the more engaging the match-up is if done well, in some ways Lex could be an awesome match-up for Batman. Because Lex and Batman are in the same bout, in terms of their M.O., their allies, and relation to Superman, Lex just comes up short to me in the larger picture. Batman pretty much overshadows all non-powered beings in DCnU which also takes some glean off Lex.

Something to think about. does not influence my opinion above too much: The following scan is not cannon to Main DCU but it is how I have always felt about the joker...at least someone else does.

In the scan, Joker had gotten Superman to kill Lois, Lois was also implanted with trigger which activated nukes in Metropolis when a heart beat was no longer detected. There is more details, to make things more tragic for Superman, and it is interesting how joker ticked superman, but you'll want to read it yourself.

I mean across continuities this is at least the 2nd time joker has gotten a Superman to kill him, I think an Alt Lex has one, in the Animation? But Joker has gotten Batman to kill him a few times too. The characters were not drastically different, so overall I think the joker gets points for that.

#42 Posted by lightsout (1836 posts) - - Show Bio

IMO both are the perfect arch-nemesis to their respective heroes, and thus are the 2 greatest villains in the universe of super-heroism. Joker's "chaos (aka evil) for chaos sake" and Lex's god-complex are both great foundations of villainy.

#43 Posted by TeamUnitedNerds (402 posts) - - Show Bio

They're both basically perfect for their respective heroes, so I'm not sure

#44 Posted by THORSON (2518 posts) - - Show Bio

lex luther.

he has no powers yet he gives superman a run for his money.

#45 Posted by The_Tree (7974 posts) - - Show Bio

Luthor. I just have a thing for villainous, manipulative humans with god complexes that rely on pure intellect to trump their all powerful foes.

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#46 Posted by ComicStooge (14026 posts) - - Show Bio

Lex Luthor is the most incredibly nuanced and dimensional villain when coupled with his traditional rival Superman. Every facet of his existence serves as a perfect antithesis and obstacle to the man of steel. And Lex's villainy has a purpose. His vision of having mankind reach the stars and unlock their fullest potential is threatened by the last son of Krypton which makes for a very interesting hero/villain dynamic.

The Joker is one of the greatest villains of all time, but he is reactionary poetry. Lex is intellectual prose.

Just this.

#47 Posted by Dextersinister (6512 posts) - - Show Bio

@drgnx: The match up between Joker and Batman has actually been questioned far more than Supes/Lex. They've lampshaded it countless times with Batman questioning why he let this man live when he knows he will just kill again.

The Superman/Lex dynamic is different as although Lex can be portrayed as a monster at times that isn't one of his main characteristics with the deaths of innocents being a byproduct of his escape rather than an inevitable result.

The biggest problem is that unlike the Joker Lex can change (temporarily) displaying moments of humanity, the Joker can't a fact highlighted by a terrible moment in comics when the Specter claimed the Joker was not responsible for his actions.

He may has well have said the Joker is a killbot.

#48 Posted by Joygirl (19954 posts) - - Show Bio

Joker is by far the more iconic, interesting, breathtaking, and bank-breaking villain.

#49 Edited by drgnx (3566 posts) - - Show Bio

@dextersinister said:

@drgnx: The match up between Joker and Batman has actually been questioned far more than Supes/Lex. They've lampshaded it countless times with Batman questioning why he let this man live when he knows he will just kill again.

The Superman/Lex dynamic is different as although Lex can be portrayed as a monster at times that isn't one of his main characteristics with the deaths of innocents being a byproduct of his escape rather than an inevitable result.

The biggest problem is that unlike the Joker Lex can change (temporarily) displaying moments of humanity, the Joker can't a fact highlighted by a terrible moment in comics when the Specter claimed the Joker was not responsible for his actions.

He may has well have said the Joker is a killbot.

I don't agree with this part, Batman not killing Joker is more of a characteristic of Batman than some dynamic of their relationship because Batman does not kill anyone, just like Superman. It does not matter who deserves to die more out of these villains because Superman and Batman both have other foes who would better serve the universe by being eliminated and don't kill them either. So questioning their match-up in any context related to Batman's rule not to kill (anyone) just won't work, especially when comparing this relationship to another match-up where the hero does not kill either.

#50 Posted by Reignmaker (2235 posts) - - Show Bio

Joker. Much more original. Luthor has definitely grown over the years from his "jealous mad scientist" roots, but there are a plethora of characters who are based on a similar premise.

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