Superheroes are here to stop supervillains. If the heroes are mythic embodiment of what’s good and righteous in humanity, then villains are the devil, the stand-in for our worst impulses and our darkest desires. The wish we have that power really is the ultimate good, and that we had the ability to exert it. Or the wish that doing what thou wilt really could be the whole of the law.
In other words, superheroes and their villains are inextricably connected, two sides of the same coin. As much as the hero that they choose to fight defines the villain, so does the villains and their pushback against them define the hero.
The bastards and broken people that fight Batman are a reflection of his own psyche, and more specifically that he rose above his pain to become something greater. His villains allowed themselves to give into the darkness and sink into it. Part of the reason they attack him is that he repudiates the monstrosity they’ve become.
The best villains of Superman are all reflections of his power. People who are strong enough to have done good, but chose to exert it against the world rather than work for it. Lex Luthor is the peak of humanity, yet he chooses to spend his vast intellect and resources battling Superman rather then bettering humanity as he could, out of nothing but petty spite and jealousy.
So, with all that in mind, we’re left to ponder why the hell the modern superhero movie seems to have such a villain problem.
Namely, that the modern superhero movies seems to completely neglect the supervillain.