The 10 best DC characters, ranked

We have strong thoughts on the best DC characters, so strap into our batmobile and hear us out on our list of caped crusaders, from Batman to Harley Quinn.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey

Who are the best DC characters? With multiple eras of stories and another on the way from James Gunn, DC movies span decades. When they conceived some of the most famous characters in pop culture history, comic book writers in the early days of DC Comics changed entertainment forever.

There are multiple iterations of a few characters, different angles on the darker fables belonging to DC, and a lot of fun lore inspired by Greek mythology.

Who enchants us the most, though? We’ve raked through DCU films, the best TV series, and even the best DC animated movies to put together our unique list of the best DC characters. There may be some surprises ahead, but we’ve got our reasons.

The best DC characters:

  • Dr Manhattan
  • Amanda Waller
  • Batwoman
  • Catwoman
  • Poison Ivy
  • The Joker
  • Superman
  • Wonder Woman
  • Harley Quinn
  • Batman

Best DC characters: Dr Manhattan in Watchmen

10. Dr Manhattan

Dr Manhattan is the crux of the highly influential Watchmen graphic novel and its adaptions. We’ve seen him on screen in a Zack Snyder movie and in a Damon Lindelof TV series.

Dr Mahattan is one of the most powerful characters in the DC universe after having survived a radioactive particle test that transformed him into a god-like being.

His existential musings, slow decay of empathy, and inability to connect to humanity’s emotional framework make him fascinating, but unreliable as an ally.

best DC characters: Viola Davis in the suicide squad

9. Amanda Waller

One of the nastiest characters in the DC canon, Amanda Waller is a ruthless girlboss who would probably press a red button to have the bomb in your neck go off if she heard you refer to her in that way.

Viola Davis brought the Suicide Squad character to the DCU and did so in a way authentic to the source material. Waller ultimately is just doing her job, but although she’s not cruel just for the sake of it doesn’t mean she isn’t vicious.

She’s set to get her own show, more on that in our Waller release date guide.

best DC characters: Batwoman

8. Batwoman

The trouble with being a Kate Kane die-hard is that you’re always having to explain that she’s not just ‘Batman with a bob’. In actuality, she’s different from her cousin Bruce in combat style, motivation, and social dynamics.

Kate is even more of a loner, and more protective of her identity. Wearing a long, red wig to throw adversaries off of her tom-boyish real looks, she’s standoffish, angry, and a hand-to-hand combat expert who takes joy in throwing punches, sometimes even looking slightly terrifying with her paper-white skin and scary cowl. Forced to leave the army because of homophobia towards her, Kate turned to crime fighting.

We’re yet to have a great live-action Kate, with the Arrowverse shows being the only venture, but she’s one of those characters you get a bit scared of creatives getting wrong. Luckily, there are animated appearances.

best DC characters: Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman in The Batman

7. Catwoman

Catwoman’s best quality is how well she catwalks the anti-hero fine line. Often providing aid when things are truly egregious, but taking something for herself along the way.

We’ve had multiple actors play Catwoman on-screen, from Michelle Pfeiffer‘s sexy 90s turn to Zoë Kravitz’s shot in The Batman. Catwoman historically makes glamourous theft her number one priority but in her best origin story branched out when she decided she needed to protect sex workers the police wouldn’t.

In comics, she’s among the most radical of Batman’s lineup with a strong ethical code, even if it only makes sense to her — you can see the influences of this in Matt Reeves’s take on her, but some folks still feel Michelle Pfeiffer is the best Catwoman yet.

best DC characters: Poison Ivy

6. Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy is difficult to get right, with the real expansion of her identity beginning in the Batman animated series, which positioned her as an alluring eco-terrorist who is mean even to the one person who digs her (Harley)

She has gone through different iterations on-page and on-screen but is at her best when she’s still sort of unlikeable but with an Achilles heel, seen in the DC animated universe‘s Batman and Harley Quinn movie.

More recently, she received an alternative characterization on the HBO Max Harley Quinn series, the first piece of canonized media to fully go the distance with the obvious: they’re more than friends. We can’t wait for the Harley Quinn season 4 release date.

Best DC characters: Joker in The Dark Knight

5. The Joker

The best DC villain, the Clown Prince of Crime is chaos personified. Emotionally manipulative, abusive, and with an abstract identity that allows him to move through the world with reckless abandon.

He loves a good laugh but enjoys getting under Batman’s skin in teasing (slightly homoerotic) ways even more, not wanting their conflict to end, feeling that they’re destined to be at odds.

With lots of versions to choose from, Heath Ledger’s unforgettable turn as The Joker in one of the best movies of all time, The Dark Knight, takes the cake for us.

Best DC characters: Christopher Reeve in Superman 4: A Quest For Peace

4. Superman

Boy Scout, journalist, and man of tomorrow, Superman runs the risk of being plain as bread, but at his best evokes a feeling of being held tightly in the arms of goodwill.

Whether you enjoy the more grounded takes on him seen in the likes of Man of Steel, or consume him like a bowl of comforting hot soup, there’s no denying Clark Kent’s place in pop culture. One of the first mainstream immigrant stories in fantasy entertainment, he’s popular enough that fans often shout out at each other over how he ‘should’ be portrayed. The best thing about him, though, is that (AU stories like Injustice aside), he truly doesn’t value himself over anybody else.

Find out who we think the best Superman actors are right here.

Best DC characters: Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

3. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is a fun character because one might assume she takes after Superman’s traits because of her high power level, stature, and Greek-god-inspired mythology, but the reality is she has more of an edge to her. Often diplomatic in her stories, she is no doubt a hero, but she’s also willing to take a life if she sees it as necessary, and doesn’t get held back by the mental cages Superman willingly lives in.

Hailing from the idyllic island of Themyscira, she lives by different rules but chooses to devote her time and gifts to trying to bring more peace to humanity.

There’s a great Wonder Woman movie out there ready to watch, and a just-OK sequel, and you’ll also find her in many DC animated flicks.

Best DC characters: Kaley Cuoco in the Harley Quinn animated series

2. Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn started out as one of the most one-dimensional yet fun characters in DC. Her origin was in Batman: The Animated Series and she’s the brainchild of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, the brand’s most iconic creative talent.

Spending many decades fettering next to her deeply-sadistic boyfriend, The Joker, writers began to toy with more evolved versions of her as time went on, and by the time Margot Robbie stepped into her clown shoes for Birds of Prey, or Kaley Cuoco into a recording booth for her HBO show, Harley had become one of the most popular characters in DC’s catalog.

Harley exists in that weird and wonderful space of characters who can commit atrocities but still be entertaining and vulnerable. She has a mean streak of her own, but she’s not sociopathic in the way her ex is.

Best DC characters: Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne in The Batman

1. Batman

When you think of DC, you likely think of Gotham’s streets, sparkling with rain, littered with news shreds, and watched over by Batman.

Grumbly, sad, and an expert who can take on even the most absurdly powerful foes, Batman is the most prolific DC character. He’s probably over-exposed, actually, with Christopher Nolan‘s trilogy, Robert Pattinson’s version (explore his take with our The Batman review), and the slew of other projects in various formats which spotlight him. Somehow, he’s still captivating.

DC just doesn’t quite work without him, he’s that integral. Whether you think the best Batman actors portray him as older and worn down (Tankfleck), polished and incisive (Christian Bale), or nuts (Michael Keaton), he’s the coolest.

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Those are just some of the brightest stars who made the leap from page to screen, and who knows how many more we’ll get when the new movies in James Gunn‘s Gods and Monsters era fire on all cylinders. Until then, check out the best superhero movies, the DC movies in order, and the Superman Legacy release date.

We’re also counting down the days until The Flash release date. If you want to know more about Barry Allen’s first solo movie, then check out our The Flash review. We’ve also got a list of everyone in The Flash cast and answered a surprisingly difficult question, ‘How fast is The Flash?