Supervillain was a term coined to criminals who were able to perform their crimes using methods that would seem extraordinary or different. Although many supervillains were often aliens or villainous Metahumans, several were simply mere humans with an extra genius, a dangerous method or high formidability. However, as these supervillains were able to go toe to toe with several "superheroes" who were aliens or Metahumans, they too were called supervillains or "super-criminals" by precincts and other institutions.
Evolution of Crime
In the United States of America, where Supervillains would become the most evident, crime in the late 20th Century was mostly facilitated in the big cities as Metropolis or Gotham City. In both areas, crime was changing from how it used to be. Although it used to be simple gangsters or mobsters running a gang, with their acts being run rampant through the streets, new forms of criminals began to emerge. By the 21st Century, crime had evolved in both cities to a degree that it was far more extraordinary or different than it had been before:
- Metropolis: In the City of Tomorrow, the crime had changed so that it was not as visible to the public eye, being committed mostly through legal atrocities. In the 21st Century, all crime was controlled by businessman Glen Glenmorgan who carried out crimes through masked goons, though there was no gimmick, and kept them active through legal loopholes. He also used and endorsed publicly known gangsters, as Gus Grundig, to committ felons and keep them active, again, through legal loopholes. It was this evolution in white collar crime that called for a stand against corruption and the need for Superman.
- Gotham City: The rise of the Mob in the 20th Century had caused the atypical image of crime to be the normal in Gotham. However, in the 21st Century, the crime allowed the Red Hood Gang to take control of the scene. The Red Hood was the first in the line of a villain with a gimmick, predating any known superhero, despite this type of supervillain being a common in years to come. The Red Hoods were arranged numerically and the Gang itself only consisted of a group of core members. However, the Gang was able to be so dangerous because the fear of each of the core members allowed "Red Hood One" to manipulate anybody he wanted into becoming a Red Hood. The members of the gang could be anybody from rival gangsters or mobsters, bank tellers, a housewife to a relative of the mayor. It was this evolution in street crime that called for a stand against gangs and the need for superheroes as the Batman. There were several gangs inspired by the costumed villains, such as the Black Mask Gang.
The evolution of crime which had made Superheroes necessary spread quite quickly. Such gases and chemicals as the Fear Toxin and Venom allowed criminals to possess unique qualities through which they organized their gangs and crimes. Other villains created such technology to allow themselves to better accomplish their activities. Few criminals were from outer space and their presence alone gave them the advantage. These forms of crime, both blue and white collar, were quite reminiscient to crime before Superman's debut, but just found far more often than previously.