There’s no denying it: comic books are officially mainstream. But not everyone is in love with this trend.
Much as been made in recent years of the concept of superhero movie fatigue, or the notion that the film industry has become so over-saturated with comic book films that the genre will soon fade out of existence. Steven Spielberg recently expressed his less-than-optimistic view on the future of superhero movies, with a predictable response coming from Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder shortly after. Whether or not comic book movies will lose their muster in the years to come, the genre and the paper-based medium that spawned it has undoubtedly gifted us some of the greatest characters in modern fiction.
And what’s a great character without a great adversary? History’s most legendary heroes are often measured by the greatness of their enemies. Perhaps if fan-favorites like Namor and Blue Beetle regularly faced off against the sort of bad guys you’ll see here, they’d have more prominent live-action appearances on their resumes. Here’s our list of the 12 Best Superhero/Supervillain Rivalries of All Time.
Batman and the Joker
Who better to kick things off than the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime? Batman has dozens of noteworthy bad guys in his rogues gallery, but these two have been squaring off in the comics for over 75 years now, and have come to epitomize the comic book archrivalry. George R.R. Martin once expressed boredom with the idea of similarly-powered showdowns between heroes and villains, but that certainly doesn’t apply here; the Joker and Batman are exact antitheses of one another.
Bruce Wayne is a billionaire playboy/world-class martial artist with a genius-level intellect who seeks to rid Gotham City of crime, while the Joker is a psychotic criminal mastermind whose lone desire is to stoke the fires of chaos and anarchy. The dissimilarities between the two are precisely what make them so great together.
Batman and the Joker have gone toe-to-toe on on many, many memorable occasions within the comic book world, but it’s the TV and film adaptations that have brought these nemeses to the forefront of popular culture. Whether you identify most with the duo of Keaton/Nicholson, Bale/Ledger, or even Conroy/Hamill, there’s little doubt that these two polar opposites have cemented their place in superhero history forever. With Ben Affleck and Jared Leto set to bring the pair to life once again—possibly even sooner than we thought—this rivalry seems to have a very bright future ahead.