Superman films have never been ones to branch out on villains. Christopher Reeve's Superman went with Lex Luthor, then Luthor/Zod, then a Luthor clone, and finally Luthor/Nuclear Man. Then Superman Returns showcased Lex Luthor once more, and 2013's Man of Steel gave us another iteration of General Zod. So that would be 6 films and only 3 main or interesting villains.
However, Superman has always had a formidable rogues gallery. Sure, it isn't anything on the level of Batman or Spider-Man, but it does contain many fantastic and wonderfully cosmic characters yet to be showcased. So without further ado, here are five hitherto unseen Superman villains who all deserve a shot at being the antagonist in the Man of Steel sequel headed our way.
An ancient extra-terrestrial being and literal God who rules over the planet Apoklips, Darkseid is arguably one of the best villains in the whole of the DC universe. A master manipulator, talented military general and wielder of omega energy, which bolsters his natural strength and abilities to make him easily more powerful than Superman, and that's without his army at his back.
Darkseid is often viewed as a Justice League villain, but while he is definitely a Justice League level threat, he works best when he's established as a Superman villain and then, later down the line, faces the League. This is mainly due to his intricate history with the last Son of Krypton where he brainwashes him and sets him loose on countless worlds before Superman can break free of Darkseid's control. Starting with this story, or at least some form of Superman encounter (there are dozens to choose from) means that when the JLA has to go up against him, the stakes feel very real thanks to the personal tension between himself and the Man of Steel. Previously, it would have been difficult to get as cosmic a villain as Darkseid on the big screen, but with the DC expanded universe set to embrace all the weird and wonderful things that make it so great, the time is ripe to showcase the powerhouse that is Darkseid.
A Kryptonian artificial intelligence gone rogue, Braniac digitizes and/or shrinks every species and civilization he comes across in order to store the information that they possess. Braniac's ties to Superman's home planet have always given the two and interesting relationship, as Braniac holds all the data Krypton was built upon, meaning that he represents a longing to know his home planet that dwells within Kal-El. The other element that Braniac brings to the table is that he's all about brains, meaning that his rivalry with Superman is one of the most classic tales of brains vs. brawns in comics, and often ends with Supes showcasing his surprisingly sharp intellect in order to defeat one of his greatest enemies. Also, I know what I said earlier about Superman films always having Lex Luthor in them, but the Luthor-Braniac team-up is always fun to watch. Braniac also has the interesting ability to regenerate from a single shard of his remains, meaning that when he is defeated, he comes back even more powerful.
3) Bizarro Superman
The brilliant thing about Bizarro Superman is how beautifully simple he is. Hailing from a dimension where everyone and everything is the opposite of what they are on Earth, which was created by this Bizarro Superman (originally the result of Lex Luthor's duplicating ray), this is the version of Superman from said world. All the power of Kal-El, yet evil to the absolute core. This presents a simple method of reminding us why Superman is a character we all love: showing how pathetic a character an inversion of him is. Some iterations even show Superman helping Bizarro discover the humanity inside of him, a take which can be equally engaging, and makes him a much more interesting and sympathetic antagonist. Bizarro also works because he's simply FUN. Speaking in opposites makes his casual and cliched threats against Superman and innocents pretty damn hilarious and delivers some levity to every situation.
There have been many iterations of the Parasite, so bear in mind that the one I give here may be vastly different to the one that may be used eventually. The usual origin is that some run-down janitor at a research center opens a container with the hope that something valuable is stored inside, but discovers that it actually contains harmful chemicals that turn him into the Parasite: a monster with the ability to absorb the powers (and sometimes personality) of whoever he touches, causing extreme pain - and occasionally death - to the victim. This makes him a worthy foe of Superman as he has to find some way to defeat the Parasite without touching it. The version of the character that is my personal favourite is Rudy Jones, because in his version the focus is heavily put on the monstrous nature of what he becomes as it destroys his relationship with his family, making him a tormented yet tragic super-villain.
There have been many different takes on the notion of an evil Kal-El from a parallel universe. The best of the bunch however, is probably Injustice: Gods Among Us, a spin-off comic series that acts as a prequel to the video game of the same name. It tells the story of how the Joker managed to break Superman by drugging him into destroying all of Metropolis, including his wife; Lois Lane and their child. This causes him to kill the Joker and then establish a tyrannical reign over Earth. So, if parallel universes gets introduced to the DC movie universe then having Superman face off against a twisted version of himself would be very interesting to see. It allows for us to see the potential he has to wreak havoc upon Earth and even the entire galaxy and see him react to the fact that he could so easily cross a line and become the most powerful villain of all. Bringing this story to life would also show us how difficult it is for Superman to be the constant all American hero that we all just assume he finds inherently easy.
Metallo is one that I wouldn't be against having show up, but he rarely works when he's not a lackey for Luthor, and I've never been a fan of kryptonite. Assuming Doomsday isn't in Batman v. Superman, then I suppose he could make an appearance, but he is a quintessentially uninteresting villain who is only remembered because he "killed" Superman. So if he were to show up it would only be as a plot device for a re-imagining of the death and return of Superman, which would need some work to make it any good, because the actual comic arc sure isn't. Besides these guys there's also Mongul, Imperiex, the Elite, Toyman and others that I'm sure someone out there wants to see.
Thanks for reading guys, if you're interested feel free to check out my YouTube channel over at Eneition, and if you're not interested then just give it a look anyway. Please? But anyways, enjoy your life.