The DC Universe features some of the most prolific and recognised supervillains in pop culture. From the insanity of The Joker, to the cold intellect of Deathstroke, DC have a knack for creating compelling villains with a dark magnetism. Another supervillain that has tested the might of DC’s greatest heroes is Vandal Savage.
An immortal who has plagued humanity since its earliest days, Vandal Savage is a man with a singular purpose of crushing anyone who gets in his way.
From caveman to conqueror
What makes Savage such a dangerous villain is that he’s lived for thousands of years and faced heroes across the ages. His path towards evil started in 50,000 BC. Back then, he was known as Vandar Adg, the leader of the Cro-Magnon Wolf Tribe. After being exposed to the radiation from a meteorite, he gained immortality and a deep lust for power.
From that point on, he cut a bloody swathe through history and shaped events to his will. Savage has claimed to rule over hundreds of civilisations and gone by various names: Alexander the Great, Khafre, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar and Vlad the Impaler. But as his notoriety grew, he decided to work behind the scenes.
Other notable events he was involved with include advising William the Conqueror to invade England, serving Otto von Bismarck in the invasion of France, leading the Spanish Armada against England and using the French royal family as Guinea pigs for syphilis experiments.
In the modern day, Savage battled against the Justice Society of America and the Justice League on many occasions. He developed a hatred for them because they routinely ruined his chances to take over the world. With his regenerative abilities and intelligence, Savage has proven to be a match for heavy hitters like Wonder Woman and Superman. And it is interesting to note that he has served as a foil to several members of both teams, rather than being an archenemy.
Savage’s true nemesis is the Immortal Man, another caveman who was exposed to the meteorite radiation. While Savage lived on, the Immortal Man was reborn as a new person every time he was killed.
While Savage has worked with other villains like Lex Luthor, his self-interest has inevitably won through. His desire to be the smartest person in the room has made him butt heads with his compatriots, further demonstrating his narcissistic qualities.
Despite being functionally immortal, Savage is still capable of feeling pain and he’s not without his weaknesses. The same radiation that gave him his powers also proved to be a curse, as he developed cancer. So, while the cancerous cells in his body cannot kill him, they still cause him immense pain. Ironically, he’s not able to remove them because they are as much a part of his body as his healthy tissue.
But this curse has arguably made Savage even more deadly. His bitterness at being unable to cure himself has intensified his hatred for the world. His goal is to inflict as much punishment as possible and achieve his objectives no matter the cost.