Superman – “The Mad Scientist.”
In the very first episode of the Superman cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios in the early 1940s, Superman battles a mad scientist who attempts to destroy Metropolis with an energy cannon.
This villain is based off Nikola Tesla, who in the mid-1930s began proposing an energy weapon to be used for defense in war. Tesla was portrayed as the bad guy but in reality he was opposed to war. He just understood the necessity for defense against brutes who have no morality. His proposal was to make war impossible by giving every country equal defense against the evils of this world. Tesla’s intentions were to promote peace and to end war.
Still… pretty sweet he was the first television villain in the Superman series.