Most people you talk to will all say the same thing ; “Batman has the best rouges gallery.” The reason they say this is because it is true! For whatever reason Batman’s villains are the most recognized and he has a large quantity of quality villains. What makes this the case though? Superman has been around longer, yet his rouges gallery is unheralded outside of Lex Luthor. It may be because almost all of Batman’s villains are simply human with some sort of disfiguration, and maybe there is some appeal to that. In addition they have a wide array of quirky characteristics which make them fun to read… or maybe it is that they are all crazy and we like crazy. Whatever the case may be, We The Nerdy decided to make a list of the top 10 Batman villains. The list is based of many factors, from all sorts of appearances, including the books and film, impact, popularity and other sort of factors. Without further ado here it is the top 10 in ascending order.
Honorable Mention: Catwoman
Identity: Selina Kyle
First Appearance: Batman #1
Notable Appearances: The Long Halloween, Dark Victory, Hush, Batman Returns, Catwoman when in Rome, (film),Catwoman (film), The Dark Knight Rises (film)
Info: Cat burglar Selina Kyle has always been a tough advisory for the Dark Knight, however she also has played the role of good guy as well. Being a femme fatale, she actually manages to make Batman have feelings for her and becomes a never ending love interest dilemma for the Dark Knight.
Why is Catwoman not ranked? Simply put she is too much a good guy now. She was a member of the Justice League of America for petes sake. She also earned enough trust for Batman to reveal his identity to her (Hush). Yes she has been a villain for a long enough period, however we believe her good as a hero as outweighed her past, thus calling her a villain would be a disservice to what the character she has become. A true praise of how the character has changed.
10: The Court of Owls
Identity: A group of annoymous people who control Gotham City
First Appearance: Batman (2011) # 1
Notable Apperances: The Court of Owls, The Night of Owls
Info: The Court of Owls are a secret exclusive society, who run Gotham city from the underground. Their reach is ever so powerful, and their presence in Gotham city is a long standing one, well preceding that of Batman’s. They also managed to elude Batman for years on end until the Dark Knight finally discovered their true location. They use super soldiers who are cryogenically preserved , known as Talons, to carry out their dirty work.
As a very new entity in the Batman universe it is remarkable the impact the court has made in such a short time. Yes we are kind of melding a entire society into one spot, but these guys are worth it. They unlike many of the other Batman villains actually have a edge on Batman in one key area…they know Gotham city..much better than the Dark Knight THINKS he does.
The thing that makes the Court such a compelling foe is they attacked Batman in his prime, and used what he believed was his strength (his knowledge of his city) and turned it against him. They demonstrated to the Dark Knight, that Gotham is more than just Batmans city, it will be around longer than he will and it has things to throw back at him. It is this notion, a veyr powerful one that earn the Court a spot on this list despite their short length of existence.
Identity: Dr. Johnathan Crane
First Appearance: Worlds Finest Comics # 3
Notable Appearances: Batman Haunted Knight, Knightfall, Hush, Over The Edge (Batman TAS, T.V) Batman Begins (Film), Blackest Knight, Arkham War
Info: Johnathan Crane grew up under constant fear, after being bullied most of the time. He channelled this fear into a passion and became a professor of psychology, specifically for fears and phobias. He became addicted to fear based experiments and lost his job for conducting them. As a fear addict he began to realize Batman was the only one who could scare him, as his body became immune to his own fear toxin. He uses his fear toxin to create havoc in Gotham city.
The Scarecrow is a villain who definitely has received a huge spotlight in the New 52. He was one of the few villains who were in the Crime Syndicate’s inner circle, and is one of the head honchos of the Secret Society. He lead the Arkham inmates in Arkham war. Point is the man has received a lot of exposure lately, and its not too hard to see why. The concept around Scarecrow is pretty solid and his mastery of fear will always make him pose a threat.
Fear is a emotion we all can relate to , which is one of the reasons the Scarecrow is such a great villain. He taps into a part of our body we all have but try to conceal. His need to create chaos make him a worthy adversary and deserving of a spot on this list. Heck, the guy is the only Batman villain to appear in 3 different movies, albeit 2 were cameos but still it is quite a feat.
# 8 Bane
First Appearance: Batman: Venegence of Bane #1
Notable Appearances: Knightfall, Batman and Robin (Film), The Dark Knight Rises (Film), Arkham War
Info: Born in Santa Prisca prison, Bane was ruthless and filled with hate, his primary objective was to overtake the world and by doing so taking out the top man. In his eyes this was Batman. Bane equipped with the powerful steroid Venom, used a barrage of Arkham inmates to tire out Batman then crushed his back. Though Batman rebounded, Bane will always have this victory.
For sheer impact, it is hard to top what Bane did, the man who broke Batman. Bane was simply put a force of nature in Knightfall eliminating all sorts of threats, and this one victory will always earn Bane a spot on lists like this. Outside of Knightfall however Bane’s stories are not nearly as impactful, which is why he does not rank higher. He had moments to shine in Secret Six and Arkham War,but as a advisory to Batman his impact is really only in one great story.
Bane also appeared in two films. In Batman and Robin he was a brute for Poison Ivy,but in Dark Knight Rises we got to see a true cunning Bane who was more than a worthy foe. Banes presence has had a uptick since Dark Knight Rises, and it will not be surprising if the villain continues to gain more steam.
Identity: Dr. Tommy Elliot
First Appearance: Batman # 619
Notable Appearances: Batman: Hush, Batman: Streets of Gotham
Info: Long lost childhood friend of Bruce Wayne’s , Tommy Elliot was very much like young Bruce. In fact he was always one step ahead. So it is no surpirse that despite losing contact with Bruce for many years he was able to deduce that Batman was in fact his old friend. Teaming up with the Riddle, Elliot who became the villain known as Hush made a gauntlet of Batmans foes for him to defeat, in order to best his old friend once and for all. His resentment towards Bruce stems from him being envious of Bruce being a billionaire orphan. Hush has no superpowers , but incredible wits and the ability to decieve and manipulate others to do his heavy work.
The Hush storyline is revered by many Batman fans, and this guy is the mastermind behind it all. The main appeal to Hush is he out Batman’s Batman. He is the one villain who attacks Batman with clear calculation and a desire to best his every move. He is a chameleon of sorts, he takes what he needs from each person, whether it be Dent, the Riddler, Ivy, Croc etc, and only gives them just enough to do what he wants. As a villain who is able to deduce the true identity of the Bat AND use his weaknesses against him (such as Jason’s death etc) the man deserves a lot of props. His connection to Bruce Wayne make him all the more compelling and a great read whenever he pops up. With the next Arkham game set to feature the character prominently, you should check out Hush (though you should regardless)
#6 Talia Al Ghul
Identity: Talia Al Ghul
First Appearance: Detective Comics #411
Notable Appearances: Son of Batman,Batman Incorporated, The Dark Knight Rises(Film)
Info: Daughter of the infamous Ras Al Ghul, Talia is a woman torn. She does not know whether to aid her father, or Batman, as she is in love with her “Beloved”. She actually uses Batman’s DNA to create Damian the son of Batman. She ends up going the route of her father and creates Leviathan a evil terrorist group set on destroying society.
As a woman who managed to take Batman’s heart, Talia is always a dangerous threat. Perhaps the biggest reason why she lands on this list is because she managed to give Batman a great joy in their son Damian, but in the ultimate act of spite, be indirectly responsible for taking away Damian from his life. A woman who can attack Batman at his most vulnerable spot, his heart, is definitely a worthy foe. Her spitefulness make her a match for even her father. Though currently dead in the comics, being a Al Ghul it would not surprise us to see her come back with a vengeance.
#5 The Riddler
Identity: Edward Nigma
First Appearance: Detective Comics #140
Notable Appearances: Hush, Zero Year, Batman Forever (Film)
Info: Edward Nigma was a under appreciated genius who decided that he was smart enough to challenge Batman in a game of wits. Using riddles he would mark his crimes with clues in order to test the Dark Knight, this gave the persona of the Riddler. In the old continuity, he actually held the secret of Bruce Wayne being Batman due to the fact he knew the more people who knew it , the less valuable the riddle would be. In the new continuity he is responsible for the time in Gotham known as Zero Year.
Despite being around for quite the while, the Riddle has recently gained a lot of steam in becoming a much more developed character. Lets be honest the concept of the Riddler is kinda silly. This is a genious….who gives Batman the tools to help defeat him. However sometimes its the nuances of the character that make him work. Take the recent work with Snyder in Zero year….that is a Riddle who quite frankly is bad-ass (excuse my French). This is a man who knows he is better than everyone and will stop at nothing to shove it in their face. The fact that he views the Dark Knight as a worthy opponent makes his dynamic different, as he is not necessarily in it for the money, but for the challenge. Yes that is crazy! BUT SO IS HE…but crazy does not mean stupid.
The Joker said it the best about the Riddler, that he is the sword sharpener, he keeps Batman’s greatest weapon on point, his mind. The Riddler is a massive fan favorite, and was even the central villain in a Batman movie in Batman Forever. Though the gimmick may not make much sense, the execution in making the character a great villain for Batman is on point. We challenge you to read Zero Year and tell us the Riddler is a joke!
#4 The Penguin
Identity: Oswald Cobblepot
First Appearance: Detective Comics # 58
Notable Appearances: Penguin Pain and Prejudice, Arkham War, Detective Comics Emperor Penguin, Batman Earth One, Batman Returns (Film)
Info: Born with a odd physical apperance, that of a Penguins, Oswald Cobblepot always grew up tormented. After his father died of pneumonia his doting mother always made him carry a umbrella, this did not make Oswald anymore popular. With he lack of friends Oswald turned to birds to keep him company. With the ultimate napoleon complex, Oswald would use this drive to work his way up the ranks as to one of Gotham’s most notorious crime bosses. Unlike the insane villains of Batman, the Penguin controls things behind the scenes essentially running all the street crime. The Penguin is verse in some hand to hand combat in a pinch, but mostly does not get his hands dirty.
The Penguin, very much like the Riddler is a villain who has been around for quite some time, but has only recently been getting a lot of the spotlight. In fact the New 52 has given The Penguin a huge jolt, very much like the Scarecrow. This guy is everywhere and the emphasis seems to be to make this guys power on Gotham known. He is essentially DC’s version of the Kingpin, when Batman is fighting crime on the street he is more than likely in some way fighting the Penguin.
What makes Penguin a threat is unlike Batman’s other Rogues his intentions make sense. He is in crime to profit and not for gimmicks or kicks. He has the influence and cover fronts to avoid jail and is always a thorn in Batman’s side.
A story that really gives the Penguin mythos much credibility is Penguin Pain and Prejudice. Writer Gregg Hurwtiz captures the very core of that character. He is the ultimate bullying victim turned ultimate bully. He will never let go off the abuse and turn it into anger and violence on everyone else. He knows people will not like him, thus he would rather be respected and feared than liked. The story has tinges of sympathy for the character, and is very much the pinnacle of a Penguin centric story.
#3 Ra’s Al Ghul
Identity: Ra’s Al Ghul
First Appearance: Batman # 232
Notable Appearances: Batman: The Demonds Head, JLA Tower of Babel, Batman Begins (Film)
Info: The leader of an ancient organization known as the League of Assassins, Ra’s Al Ghul’s main intention is to better the world, but at any cost (whether it be lives or freedoms). Ra’s is over centuries old, being able to escape death via Lazarus’ pit, which rejuvinate the body. He views Batman as a potential successor and seeks him out to marry his daughter. Batman can not agree with he way the League conducts their business and becomes Ra’s’enemy. Ra’s is one of the few rogues who is aware Bruce Wayne is Batman.
In a way Ra’s is the most foil adversary of Batman, essentially being Batman without a costume. Being able to match Batman in almost everything makes this rogue a ver compelling character. Unlike many of the other villain his intentions are to better the world, however his idea of a better world may leave some interpretation. His spot on this list was unquestionable due to the iconic moments he has had with the Dark Knight, such as their epic sword fight in the desert, and him even using Batman’s knowledge in order to threaten the entire JLA. He is unlike any other Batman villain out there and his influence and power will always be a sword hanging over the Dark Knight’s head.
Identity: Harvey Dent
First Appearance: Detective Comics #66
Notable Appearances: The Long Haloween, Dark Victory, Batman and Two-Face, No-Mans Land, Batman Face to Face, Batman Forever (Film), The Dark Knight (Film)
Info: In the old continuity Harvey Dent was a district attorney of Gotham City who along with Jim Gordon and the Batman was working to clean up Gotham of organized crime. In his crusade he had crime boss Sal Maroni on trial, in which he managed to sneak acid into the court room and scar half of Dent’s face. The acid also warped Dent’s mind allowing him to develop a second personality which was Two-Face. Two -Face has a obsession with duality often centralizing his crimes around the number 2. Tw0-Face also uses a dual headed coin which is scratched on one side to make all his decisions. In the New 52 Two -Face’s origin differs slightly. He was a former defense lawyer, persuaded by friend Bruce Wayne to become DA. A former client of his ; Erin Mckelleon was responsible for the scarring and dementing of his mind. In the New 52 continuity Two-Face deduced that Batman is Bruce Wayne.
Yes we see the irony of putting Two-Face in the #2 spot but this villain is well deserved of the spot. His impact on Batman’s life in either continuity is undeniable. He is the one villain Batman feels true responsibility for creating, and considers his transformation into the monster he became one of his greatest failures. The fall from grace is always a compelling story as well as the dichotomy aspect. We all have our moments of dark angry thoughts, and Two-Face represents what life would be like if we had no ability to control them.
With his large in role in several great stories including Face to Face, Dark Victory, Long Haloween and the recent Batman and Two-Face ( a highly recommended read) as well as his depiction in things such as Batman the Animated series and TWO (how perfect) major motion pictures, Two-Face is a villain with plenty of great material centered around him. As of now…spoilers….he is dead in the new continuity but we would not be surprised to see him get a second chance (ok we will lay off the bad puns).
#1 The Mad Hatter
Identity: Jervis Tech
#1 The Joker
First Appearance: Batman # 1
Notable Appearances: The Dark Knight Returns, A Death in the Family, The Killing Joke, The Man Who Laughs, Hush, Batman: Under the Red Hood, Joker, Death of the Family, Batman (Film), The Dark Knight (Film)
Info: Though his origin is often debated , and several versions have been depicted, the most common one is a strapped for cash failed comedian served as a watchmen distraction in a robbery of A.C.E chemicals. Disguised as “The Red Hood” (in order to distract Batman for the main robbers), he engages with Batman, he slips in the altercation into a vat of chemicals which permanently bleaches his skin, gives him a clownish appearance….and makes him permanently insane. He becomes psychopathic killer who ends up being obsessed with Batman, he almost enjoys fighting the Dark Knght more than killing innocents. There is very little rhyme or reason in all of his crimes, as he prefers to be a agent of chaos. He is responisble for several major crimes including the original killing of Jason Todd the second Robin, the crippling and possible rape of Barbara Gordon, and the possible rape of Jim Gordon. His victims haunt Batman more than anything else, and he remains Batman’s most classic and deadly foe.
Was there any real debate on who would take this spot? The Joker is easily one Batman’s most iconic villain and arguably the most iconic villain in all of comics. The mystery around who the character is exactly just adds to the allure of the character. Stories with him involved just have more weight and everything gets amped up a notch. Take the recent Death of the Family, that was a story that shows the potential for one specific villain to have on a entire family of heros. It seems that many writers have given their own spin on the Joker and made the legend grow to the point where it is now.
Along with the numerous stories we also get the two amazing potrayals in 2 different films, being Batman and The Dark Knight (Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger). We get Mark Hamils voice talents for the animated stuff and video games. Simply put the Joker is everywhere.
The main appeal to the Joker is he is Batman’s hardest foe to tackle, because he truly has no fear about it and will kill without a seconds thought. Though a capable fighter, he is far from Batman’s most intimidating foe, but his relentlessness and inability to be reasoned with make him more deadly than say a bruiser like Killer Croc of Clayface. The Joker also feels a special kindred connection to Batman…and even loves him..without Batman there is no Joker…Batman completes the Joker. The fact remains the only villain Batman has ever legitimately thought about killing (and possibly did in the Killing Joke) is the Joker…and for one villain to even allow Batman to entertain crossing that line, he definitely deserves the top spot.
SOOOO there you have it ladies and gentlemen…that the best of the bad. With such a great rouges gallery some like Mr. Freeze , Clayface etc could not even make it..which just goes to show what a great set of villains Batman has. What do you think of the list? Let us know in the comments. Happy 75 years Batman!