The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: The Biggest Rivalries In The DC Comic Book Universe


Unequivocally, the DC universe has brought to life some of the most iconic and memorable characters ever conceived. These characters have evoked many emotions within us and have fuelled our imaginations. These renowned, famous, and infamous characters alike, have sparked some of the greatest and most memorable rivalries. 

Batman And Joker

Arguably the most famous rivalry, not only in the DC universe but throughout the entire comic world. Their rivalry, which can be traced back to as early as the 1940s, is the epitome of the unstoppable force meets an immovable object. 

Having witnessed the cold-blooded murder of his parents as a young boy, Bruce Wayne dedicated his life to justice and fighting crime. Assuming the veneer of Batman, Bruce Wayne fights injustice with superior mental and physical prowess. Often called the world’s greatest detective, he employs an array of high-tech gadgets, vehicles, and weapons to assist him in his unwavering pursuit of justice. 

On the other side of the spectrum, we have the very antithesis of Batman: the Joker. Being a complete enigma, Joker is utterly unpredictable and relishes destructive chaos. Wearing his perpetual, manic smile, he is Batman’s ultimate arch-enemy and formidable foe. But what exactly makes this rivalry stand out and to be so unique? 

Is Batman responsible for creating The Joker?

Throughout the years’ Joker’s backstories have undergone various changes, but each of them has left the blame on Batman. We got the first glimpse of Joker’s backstory in The Man Behind the Red Hood!, which debuted in 1951 and gave us our first taste of Joker’s vengeance for Batman. Joker, who was then known as Red Hood plotted to steal millions from Ace Chemicals. In an attempt to escape the grasp of Batman and Robin, Red Hood plummeted into a tank of chemicals, which ultimately transformed him into the Joker. Does this mean Batman is solely responsible for creating one of the greatest villains in comic book history?  

Each plot twist of Joker’s background reveals that underneath the manic laughter, facetious jokes, lust for chaos, and psychopathy, he is a really broken man. One can argue that Bruce Wayne is just as broken from all the traumatic experiences in his life. However, we can make the assumption that the fundamental difference between these two broken rivals is that one embraced madness and the other chose to fight it. 

The Biggest Rivalries In The DC Universe of Comic Books
Source: Pexels

Destined For Each Other

These two formidably matched characters seem to be destined to be pitted against one another in perpetuity. As the late Heath Ledger’s iconic Joker remarked in the Dark Knight, “I think you and I are destined to do this forever”. 

Superman And Lex Luthor

Superman and Lex Luthor have a rivalry spanning almost eight decades in the DC Universe. 

The Biggest Rivalries In The DC Universe of Comic Books
Source: Imgur

These two individuals have gone head to head time and time again. The rivalry stems quite simply from the fact that Lex detests Superman. Superman is the personification of selflessness and the embodiment of righteousness. He uses his seemingly limitless powers to uphold truth and continuously perseveres for justice. Superman’s heroics have made him loved and revered by humankind.

Luthor, however, views Superman as an aberration and complete insult to his existence. Lex Luthor has an unparalleled level of intelligence but is afflicted with gross levels of narcissism and megalomania. Believing that he never gets the appreciation that he deserves for his achievements, he developed irrational levels of resentment towards the Man Of Steel. He views Superman as an alien with unnatural powers who achieves unsurpassed renown unfairly and effortlessly. All this jealousy and resentment fuels his hatred towards Superman and his desire to destroy him. 

From Hatred To Brotherhood

While these two characters will forever be mortal enemies, there have been times in both the comics and Superman novels where the rivalries have shown a bit of brotherly appreciation for each other. One example is when Luthor turns over a new leaf after falling in love with Angela Blake in the Action #510 comic. Superman even lands up being Luthor’s best man at the wedding! But alas, all good things come to an end, and the rivalry still continues.  

Wonder Woman And Cheetah

Flying the flag high for the ladies is this next rivalry. Wonder Woman is one of the strongest characters in the DC universe. She was born on the paradise island called Themyscira as Princess Diana. Her mother is the illustrious Hippolyta, Queen of the immortal and formidable Amazon warriors. Wonder Woman possesses godlike powers of strength, speed, agility, and dexterity. Armed with The Sword of Athena, the Bracelets of Submission, and her Lasso of Truth, she is a champion for justice, truth, equality, and peace. 

A worthy and undeniably ferocious adversary for Wonder Woman comes in the form of Cheetah. Barbara Ann Minerva, an archaeologist, became obsessed with an African tribe whose guardian possessed mystical powers. Barabara subsequently misappropriated those powers for herself and became the notorious super-villain known as Cheetah. These powers endowed her with immense strength, feline agility, and speed, which can be compared to the likes of The Flash. Just to give you an idea of her immense strength, Cheetah can single-handedly push Bane into a wall, the very villain who is able to lift at least 1,500 lbs and also just happens to be much stronger than Batman. Although Cheetah puts her intelligence and capabilities to nefarious uses, she is continually thwarted by Wonder Woman. 

A Reflection Of The Super-Ego and The Id

Wonder Woman stands for justice and fairness and uses her powers for the betterment of humankind. Cheetah, however, is narcissistic, using her powers purely for self-interest. The two conflicting psyche’s between these powerful women make them naturally ferocious rivals. These two women are wonderfully matched adversaries, and their long-running rivalry seems destined to continue for a long time yet. 

Aquaman And Black Manta

Arthur Curry is Aquaman. He is the King of the resplendent underwater City of Atlantis and the ultimate defender of Earth’s oceans. Half-human and half-Atlantean makes him a force to be reckoned with, both on land, and underwater. Being a founding member of the Justice League, he portrays the King of Atlantis’ prowess and powers.

You Killed My Father, Prepare To Die

David Hyde, aka Black Manta’s animosity towards Aquaman is deeply personal. Manta and his father were ruthless underwater treasure hunters. However, a ferocious encounter between them and Aquaman led to the death of Manta’s father. Since then, Black Manta has made it his most solemn vow, to destroy the King of Atlantis. Armed with exceptional technology and weaponry, the Black Manta hunts Aquaman with an irrepressible vengeance. 

Black Manta has utter disregard for the seas and all her creatures. He wishes to exploit the bounties of the oceans with a complete lack of regard for any living creature. In one instance, Black Manta planned to wipe out the city by destroying Atlantis’ dome with a robot that was engineered by Weisbogg, the former chief scientist under Aquaman’s reign. With Aquaman as the champion of the oceans and all of its inhabitants, there is no doubt that this rival is destined to continue. 

It Can Last Forever

In conclusion, it doesn’t matter what side you personally like, these rivals will always remain enemies and are clearly depicted in most comic books. There’s certainly a taste of animosity and ego-stricken behaviors and this is why we love DC comics as these ongoing ignited rivalries keep us on the edge of our seats!