WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!
The CW has given us fresh, accessible takes on some of our most beloved DC heroes, but the show has also provided some excellent takes on the DCU’s most iconic villains. The CW shows demonstrated to legions of fans both old and new that there was more to DC villains than The Joker and Lex Luthor.
With this in mind I humbly present my Top 5 Flarrowverse villains…
Slade Wilson (Deathstroke)
Back on Lian Yu, most commonly known between the character’s on the show as “The Island”, Slade Wilson helped to train the shipwrecked Oliver Queen. During this time he also fell in love with the beautiful and mysterious Shado.
Shado was killed after Oliver was given an impossible choice by Dr. Ivo, the choice of whether to save Shado or Sara Lance from a bullet in the head. Slade was injured during Ivo’s attack, so was injected with Mirakuru; a super soldier serum which would give him great strength but cause him to become unstable. After learning of the decision Oliver had made to save Sara while sacrificing Shado, Slade’s frienship with Oliver became bitter emnity.
Slade eventually showed up in Starling City after vowing to destroy Oliver’s life and he did a pretty damn good job of it.
Notable life ruining acts included injecting would-be team Arrow member Roy Harper with Mirakuru, causing Oliver to lose his family business and killing Moira Queen after giving Oliver the same choice he had on the island. This time, Queen had to choose between saving his mother Moira and sister Thea.
Finally he unleashed an entire army of Mirakuru infected soldiers on the city. Few villains have tested Oliver’s skills (and sanity) to breaking point in this way.
Adrian Chase/ Simon Morrison (Prometheus)
For me, the third and fourth seasons of Arrow really took a dip with Ra’s Al Gul and Damien Darhk as the main antagonists. Both are great villains in the history of DC Comics, to be sure, but the their handling in their respective seasons left me feeling relatively underwhelmed. Honestly, at times I struggled to find the motivation to keep watching.
Season 5, however, started with a bang. Along with the influx of new characters as members of Team Arrow, a large part of the return to form was that of the latest villain, Adrian Chase a.k.a Prometheus.
Back in season one Oliver Queen had returned home from the island with one goal, “to save his city”. To do this he used his deceased father’s trusty notebook of names and crossed each name off as he (more often than not) stuck an Arrow through them.
In season 5 it was revealed that one of these names belonged to the father of the new big bad, Prometheus.
For a long time known as the Throwing Star Killer, Prometheus had been targeting and murdering people whose names formed anagrams of the names of the people that populated the list.
It was revealed that Oliver’s close friend and District Attorney Adrian Chase (now Mayor of Star City) was in fact Prometheus, and hiding his real name of Simon Morrison.
He knew that his “friend” was The Green Arrow as he had spent the years following his father’s death at the hands of ‘The Hood’ studying the vigilante’s history and skill set.
Ra’s Al Ghul’s eldest daughter Talia had spent time training Oliver, so she was tracked down by Prometheus and agreed to help train him once she found out his mission was to seek revenge on Oliver Queen, who had killed her father.
The season concluded with Oliver, his son William and Prometheus on a boat just off the coast of the island. The entirety of team Arrow (including the now reformed Slade Wilson) remain on the island which Prometheus reveals has explosives planted all over that would detonate upon his death.
After some back and forth, Prometheus pulls a gun out and kills himself thus setting off the explosives leaving the season on a cliff hanger that kept us guessing as to who would survive.
Eobard Thawne (The Reverse Flash)
Eobard Thawne was a speedster from the future who traveled back in time to murder his arch rival The Flash’s mother, Nora Allen framing her husband in the too the process.
He found himself stuck in the 21st century after travelling back in time after his powers had weakened because of one too many time jumps. After murdering scientist Harrison Wells, he cleverly disguised himself as the scientist and began working on the particle accelerator that would eventually explode giving Barry Allen his powers and Eobard a way back to his own time.
After thinking he was working with Harrison Wells, and building a friendship with him, Barry learns the truth of who he really is and the truth about his mother’s death. This led Barry to set out to try and prevent his mother’s death.
Thawne met his season one end when Iris West’s boyfriend Eddie Thawne (Eobard’s ancestor) took his own life in order to remove the evil Reverse Flash from existence… For now.
Thawne would later return from another time to wreak havoc for the Legends of Tomorrow, travelling through time snatching up Malcolm Merlyn, Damien Darhk and former Legend Captain Cold to form The Legion of Doom.
What can we say about the longest running villain in the whole of the Arrowverse, other than that there is a reason he has lasted so long.
He is just a great bad guy.
Of course, sometimes he will work with Oliver and the team when their backs are against the wall but Malcolm will always have his own agenda. His truly villainous ways began back in season one when he killed his own son Tommy after he found out about Malcolm’s “Undertaking” which would go on to claim over 500 lives by destroying the glades (the roughest neighbourhood in Starling City). In a deluded way, Merlyn believed that he was cleansing the bad from the world.
It is also revealed that Malcolm was the one who caused the Queen’s Gambit accident that killed Robert Queen leaving his son Oliver and Sara stranded on the island thus beginning the origins of The Green Arrow and The Black Canary.
Like Sara, Malcolm had previously been trained by the League of Assassins. It was revealed that it was Malcolm and not Robert who was the biological father of Oliver’s sister Thea. Saving her from the attack on Starling City by Slade Wilson she left with him, and he trained her to become a killer, even going as far as too drug her into killing Sara Lance hoping it would lead Oliver to kill Ras Al Ghul, relieving Merlyn of his blood debt to the League.
However, after Oliver had killed Ra’s, there was a power vacuum that Malcolm and Nyssa fought to fill. Malcolm lost, so he joined forces with Damien Darhk which indirectly led to the murder of the current Black Canary Laurel Lance at the hands of Darhk.
Malcolm then went onto join The Legion of Doom with Damien Darhk and Eobard Thawne, facing off against The Legends of Tomorrow.
Hunter Zoloman (Zoom)
When the particle accelerator exploded on Earth 2, it caused Hunter Zoloman to receive his powers much like our very own Barry Allen. Becoming obsessed with his speed, Hunter developed a serum that would make him go even faster. A side- effect of the serum caused Zoloman to become gravely ill, so he began searching the multiverse for a cure.
He first captured and locked away Earth 2’s Flash, Jay Garrick and stole his identity. he used this to infiltrate team Flash, posing as a friend and even developing a relationship with Caitlin… But the real mission was to steal Barry’s speed.
Eventually, though, he was unmasked as the season’s big bad, Zoom Hellbent on conquering every other version of Earth with his group of meta-human villains.
Honourable Mention… Barry Allen
No I’m not even talking about evil time remnant Barry( Savitar), even though the season 3 villain was a result of what is to follow.
I am talking about our “hero”, Earth 1’s Flash.
Yeah ok this may be a lighthearted jab. but just think back over all the times Barry has done the one thing he was told not to do… With disastrous consequences for others.
His reckless time-travelling antics wrought changes all over the Flarrowverse. Lyla and Diggle’s daughter Sara suddenly becoming a little boy was but one of the changes that appeared after Barry caused Flashpoint (hope they didn’t paint the bedroom pink).
Barry’s good friend and colleague Caitlin Snow was struck down with the evil, icy cold powers of Killer Frost after Barry had returned from Flashpoint, and after a season of battling with her powers in an attempt to keep them in check, she finally gave into them as her frosty side came to the fore (with the help of Savitar, the time remnant that Barry caused in Flashpoint).
Oh Barry…. What have you done?