Every great hero needs a great villain and, of course, vice versa. The constant yin and yang relationship between great rivals leads to compelling drama as well as a greater appreciation for both sides of the rivalry.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the five greatest comic book rivalries:
Professor X vs. Magneto
Long-time friends became long-time enemies and now seem to go back and forth every couple of years. Both are champions for the cause of mutant rights in Marvel Comics, but differ greatly in how to go about a coexistence with “normal” mankind. However, even when working as allies, Professor X’s magnanimous and understanding approach always seems to clash with Magneto’s more radical and aggressive philosophies.
Batman vs. The Joker
The stoic vigilante and psychotic, giggling clown are actually two sides of the same coin, dealing with the pathology of vengeance in two very different ways. Maybe this is why the two clash so frequently and seem to affect one another so deeply. To Batman, The Joker represents that part of his own psyche forever lost to insanity. To The Joker, Batman represents that last painful, ugly attachment to civilized society. Each is forever trying to destroy an unpleasant part of himself by eliminating the other.
Hulk vs. Thing
There have been many battles between Marvel’s two powerhouses and all have been memorable tussles. While the Hulk is clearly the stronger of the two, the Thing more than holds his own by employing outstanding street fighting skills and his own natural Ben Grimm toughness.
Spider-Man vs. The Green Goblin
The Green Goblin has tormented Spider-Man throughout the years like no other villain. Striking hard and in very personal ways, The Green Goblin’s greatest offense was murdering Spider-Man’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy in one of the most memorable storylines in comic book history. The battles between the two Marvel Comics characters have been legendary and, despite recent storylines splitting them apart, odds are pretty good that they’ll eventually be clashing once again.
Superman vs. Lex Luthor
Lex Luthor has managed to survive and occasionally thrive in his feud with DC Comics’ mightiest super hero despite possessing no super powers of his own. Using only his genius intellect and drawing from raw ambition, Luthor has created plenty of problems for the Man of Steel. Superman’s long-time nemesis is as dangerous a villain as any super-powered brute or alien invader and the long list of rough battles between the two characters serves as proof.