It’s hard out there for a villain. Between finding a gimmick that hasn’t been taken to planning the perfect crime, few rise to the A-List status and even fewer climb their way up that ladder. For every Joker and Cheetah there’s a Condiment King and a Crazy Quilt. But sometimes a low-level crook gets vaulted up a few rungs. After all even a literal Z-list character like Zebra-Man went farther than anyone expected in this year's Meta Madhouse. So let’s celebrate these characters who have gone from zero to hero… well, villain actually. Here are 5 Z-List villains who have made it to the A-List!
Z-List: "Look What the Cat Dragged In"
Once a wealthy socialite who trained as a big game hunter, Thomas Blake quickly burned through his fortune. In order to get it back, he turned to a life of crime. He kept with his theme, only stealing cat adjacent items. He survived many brushes with death due to the magical cloth his suit was made from, granting him nine lives. Blake evetually hit rock bottom, drinking heavily and growing fat and lazy, and was beaten handily by Green Arrow and Arsenal.
A-List: "Grumpy Cat"
In Villains United, Catman re-emerged after hitting rock bottom. He was recruited by the Secret Six where he became friends with Deadshot and became even friendlier with Cheshire. This petty thief graduated to badass anti-hero practically overnight!
Charles Brown had been fascinated with kites since a young boy and used them as tools to aid in his crimes… good grief! He’s fought against heroes like Batman and Hawkgirl and the likes of villains such as Bruno Manheim and Deathstroke. Poor Chuck!
A-List: "Flying High"
Kite-Man recently caught an updraft and is soaring right now. He was given a more tragic backstory in "The War of Jokes and Riddles" having lost his son at the hands of the Riddler. He teamed up with Batman to take down the two warring foes. He is also a recurring character in Harley Quinn. While still the butt of the joke, he gets a lot of screen time and saves the day once or twice. Hell yeah!
Z-List: "April Showers"
Fascinated by dates and holidays, Julian Day’s crimes correspond to significant events during the year. Originally, he wore a lavish red and white costume with calendar dates flowing off of the shoulders. If anyone should know not to wear white after Labor Day, it’s him. His fashion wasn’t the only crime he committed. He often used large gadgets to execute his schemes.
A-List: "May Flowers"
Starting with The Long Halloween, Calendar Man was revamped to be a simpler, sleeker villain, ditching his old costume for a more minimalist look. He still committed crimes based on dates, however; he just opted to lean more into murder than before. Murder: a great way to update and upgrade your look!
Z-List: "Monkey Business"
The first appearance of Giganta is in Wonder Woman #163… as a gorilla. Dr. Psycho uses her to battle Wonder Woman. After the battle, Professor Zool uses an evolution ray on the gorilla to turn her into a giant blonde woman.
A-List: "Larger Than Life"
There have been significant improvements made to Giganta’s story, first she was a human scientist who experimented on herself resulting in her giant size. She now can adjust her size to over 100 feet making her a true threat. She has served as an agent of S.H.A.D.E. and a member of the Secret Society.
Debuting in The Brave and the Bold #78, Copperhead uses his contortionist and escape artist talents to commit crimes. He is able to slither in and out despite wearing an unnecessarily large snake costume. He has fought against Batman, the Flash, and the Justice League as a member of both the Secret Society of Super Villains and the Suicide Squad. Copperhead shed his old skin and became a serial killer and later was killed at the hands of Kate Spencer in Manhunter #1.
A-List: "Toxic Avenger"
Copperhead was redesigned in the Arkhamverse for Arkham Origins. This version of the character has a better understanding of how snakes work as she is an expert in toxicology. She coats her dangerous claws with toxins. This assassin for hire has gone up against Batman several times and held her own. Most recently, she made the jump to the mainstream continuity in All-Star Batman #2.