Batman is a superhero that has been heavily scrutinized over the years, whether it’s the actors that have been chosen to portray him or his categorization as a superhero at all. While other superheroes have some sort of supernatural characterization, Batman is often criticized for his lack of special abilities beyond his fancy gadgets and financial means. While superhero fans often get all riled up over the details surrounding the Caped Crusader, it’s important to note that the villains he faces are equally as important. There would be no storyline surrounding Batman if he didn’t have some formidable adversaries to fight against.
Over the years, there have been numerous villains that have been created to keep Batman fans enthralled in the world of Gotham City. Although it’s one thing for Batman to fight common criminals on the street of the city, it’s quite another to have him face off against an actual supervillain. From physically stronger opponents to masterminds trying to run a criminal underworld, Batman has certainly had his hands full in order to keep the Gotham City citizens safe. While the world has seen some of these villains portrayed on both the small and big screen, there are still plenty of stories still left to tell regarding the adversaries of the Caped Crusader. The 2016 film, Suicide Squad, helped to bring some of these villains to the big screen and the film’s huge success undoubtedly shows how much audiences want to see more of Batman’s villains told. Check out our list of the 15 of Batman’s deadliest villains and see how sometimes the bad guys are even more interesting than the superheroes.
15. The Scarecrow
Oftentimes, the most dangerous villains are the ones that are able to use their minds rather than their physical strength. Because of that, Scarecrow is one of the most devious villains Batman has to face since he is highly educated as Dr. Jonathan Crane. As a professor of psychology and psychiatry, he had the prestigious position of being in charge of the Arkham Asylum. There is something to be said for his decision to work alongside the most heinous criminals of Arkham, either he purposefully chose that work environment because he had a propensity towards criminal activity or he was directly influenced by the patients he treated. Regardless, Dr. Crane ultimately adopted the Scarecrow persona to produce fear-enhancing drugs to engage in psychological warfare. These drugs were even difficult for Batman to overcome and Scarecrow is thought of as a formidable opponent because of that.
14. Ra’s Al Ghul
When it comes to terrorism, the most dangerous individuals are driven by a deeper ideology. This has caused them to think that any horrific crime they commit is forgiven because it is for the greater good. While there are those that commit terrorism in the name of their distorted and radical religious beliefs, Ra’s al Ghul commits his crimes in the name of his dystopian worldview. In an effort to cleanse humanity to create an environmental balance, Ra’s al Ghul often uses biological weaponry to try and kill an extraordinary amount of people. Batman and Ra’s al Ghul have quite a complicated relationship since there was a time when the two weren’t completely at odds. In fact, Ra’s al Ghul tried to groom Batman to be his successor and had continued hope that Batman would eventually adopt his ideology on humanity.
Not all of the stories about Harvey Dent’s horrific disfigurement have been the same since there is some discrepancy from the comic book to the big screen adaptations. Yet, the main premise behind his persona has always remained. There is a split in his personality that is a stark contrast from what Harvey Dent was prior to the incident that caused his disfigurement. He is known for leaving things up to fate by using a coin to make decisions for him, which is perhaps the most maniacal element of his being a criminal mastermind. In The Dark Knight film series, Two-Face was derived after the heartbreaking death of Rachel Dawes. It seemed like he lived the rest of his life with nothing left to lose, which is the worst enemy for Batman to fight since that is someone that is beyond negotiation.
12. The Joker
The Joker is one of Batman’s most notorious foes and has consistently been portrayed as maniacal in a way that goes without reason. In the 2008 film, Alfred described it best when he said, “Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” This is a huge factor in what makes The Joker one of Batman’s deadliest villains since his only goal is to bring on anarchy to the world. There have been a number of different actors that have portrayed The Joker on the big screen and everyone seems to have their own favorite in who did the best job in their portrayal. Although many agreed that it would be incredibly difficult to fill the role after Heath Ledger’s iconic performance, Jared Leto did the role justice in the 2016 film, Suicide Squad.
11. Hugo Strange
Hugo Strange first appeared in the Detective Comics #36 and quickly became a huge supervillain that Batman had difficulty maintaining. Unlike some of the other villains that don’t seem to have any ambitions towards financial gains, Huge Strange started off his criminal career with a bank robbing scheme. As a chemical genius, Hugo Strange was able to create an impenetrable fog that was able to hide his trail of bank robberies. Once Batman thwarted his bank robbery plans, he vowed revenge on the Caped Crusader. Yet, Hugo Strange was more than just a criminal mastermind that had a deep knowledge of chemistry because he was also a psychologist that was able to figure out Batman’s true identity. The worst part of Hugo Strange and his evil genius was that his ultimate goal is to kill Batman and take his place as a new and improved (albeit, evil) Batman.
10. The Riddler
There are a number of misconceptions about The Riddler, especially after the cartoon-like portrayal in the 1995 film, Batman Forever. Obviously, The Riddler was going to be more comical than dangerous since they got Jim Carrey to play him on the big screen. Yet, true Batman fans know that The Riddler is actually much more like The Joker than many will realize. His real name, Edward Nashton, was changed to Edward Nigma to put more of a mystery into the real person behind the persona. He was the son of an abusive father and has a myriad of psychological disorders despite being highly intelligent. There were a number of head injuries that caused him to flip back and forth between the good and bad side of the law but during the height of his mania, The Riddler was known for being ultra-deadly in his endeavors.
Oftentimes, the henchmen and underlings of the supervillains are never given their due respect. Instead, all of the glory goes to the supervillain and the individuals helping them in their crimes are completely expendable. Yet, the case regarding Bane is completely different. Bane was the field commander of the League of Shadows and was also extremely close with the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, Talia. He wasn’t just a brainless henchman and was known for both his mental and physical strength. This makes him one of the deadliest villains since he is able to inflict his own brand of horror, even without the direct help of the supervillains he has aligned himself with. He was depicted in The Dark Knight Rises and it became blatantly clear that he was a huge adversary for the Caped Crusader.
8. Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn is another example of how the Arkham Asylum seems to pump out more villains than it keeps contained since she worked there as Dr. Harleen Quinzel. While other villains were enticed by the criminal lifestyle or the fortune that could come, Dr. Quinzel fell in love with The Joker. Her transition to becoming Harley Quinn was very much a female version of The Joker, with the same maniacal persona. She is considered just as deadly because of her utter devotion to her “Puddin.” The character was recently brought to life on the big screen for the 2016 film, Suicide Squad, but fans will undoubtedly get to see more of her ruthless side once the spin-off film gets released starring Margot Robbie. Sometimes people don’t realize how dangerous Harley Quinn actually is because of her beautiful exterior but the fact that she is aligned with The Joker should tell it all.
7. Killer Croc
Moviegoers haven’t become too familiarized with the ruthlessness of Killer Croc because he hasn’t had much screen time depicting his background. There was a very limited depiction of him in the 2016 film, Suicide Squad, but there was no real interaction between him and Batman. The real background between his feud with Batman is much more physical than the other villains Batman typically faces. This makes him much more appealing to fans that like a bit more action between their superheroes and villains. Killer Croc started off with a genetic condition that gave him crocodile-like qualities but he went through a variety of other mishaps that helped to increase his animalistic-like properties. He is often portrayed with cannibalistic tendencies and often resorts to brute force to deal with Batman and his other foes.
6. Black Mask
Black Mask is another supervillain in the Batman comics that has yet to be given real screen time for moviegoers but true fans of the Caped Crusader are looking forward to the day when Black Mask will finally become a mainstream character. While he has been a huge adversary in the animated series and video game franchise, it will take quite a lot to bring his character to the big screen. Black Mask ran a criminal force that revolved around masks in some way or another with an organization called the False Face Society. Known for the gang’s ruthless crime spree, Black Mask also went into a drug trafficking ring with heinous tactics throughout his criminal career. Often known for his propensity towards torture and murder, Black Mask is a force to be reckoned with for Batman.
Anyone familiar with the comics or animated Batman series knows that Clayface is a formidable opponent for the Caped Crusader. While there are other villains that have some sort of supernatural ability or appearance, Clayface is unique in his ability to reshape his body. On top of being able to reshape his body to become weaponry, it’s near impossible for him to be hurt or captured because of his melting ability. The backstory involves contact with a radioactive protoplasm and the scientist, Preston Payne, trying to use tainted blood to procure a medicine. The clay monster is the result of this scientific experiment gone awry and one of the side effects was insanity. There is nothing more deadly than a failed science experiment with a monster that has gone insane.
4. Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy is actually one of the favorite villains in the Batman universe because of her sex appeal and ability to conjure up a variety of different poisons. When the character was brought to the big screen, it was highly scrutinized for Uma Thurman to portray her in the 1997 film, Batman & Robin. Batman fans are notorious for heavily scrutinizing casting choices and that film, in particular, seemed to hurt the franchise more than any other. While Uma Thurman did as much as she could with the cartoon-like portrayal, fans are really looking forward to the remake where Poison Ivy has a much darker persona like in the comics. Similarly to Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy is able to use her sexual appeal and pleasing physical appearance to draw in her victims and it only makes her even deadlier.
3. The Penguin
The Penguin is one of the most recognized villains in the Batman universe, even though the character hasn’t been reprised on the big screen after the portrayal of Danny DeVito. It’s difficult to judge the ruthlessness of his character based on the cartoon-like portrayal by Danny DeVito. Yet, fans got to see a little more of The Penguin character once the TV series, Gotham, showed audiences a much younger version of him. Like many of the other Batman villains, there is a definite gimmick to The Penguin but that doesn’t take away from his willingness to kill and partake in a vast criminal underworld. He’s considered one of Batman’s most long-standing foes and will inevitably be reprised on the big screen. There’s no telling whether or not the next film that portrays The Penguin will focus on his penguin-like features or delve deeper into his maniacal personality.
2. Talia Al Ghul
For those that aren’t familiar with the Batman comics or animated series, Talia al Ghul was seen as an ultra-mysterious character when she was first introduced in The Dark Knight film series. As the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, she has the same ideology about eliminating the majority of humanity in order to “save” it. She is seen as even deadlier than Ra’s al Ghul because she has a sexual appeal that hides her true devious nature. She was portrayed by Marion Cotillard in The Dark Knight Rises but her character seemed to be overshadowed by Tom Hardy’s portrayal as Bane. Batman fans didn’t get to see as much of Talia al Ghul that would give her justice as a formidable villain but there is definitely a great spin-off film that should be in the works for this supervillain character.
1. Mr. Freeze
Like many of the other villains in the Batman universe, Mr. Freeze has an ultra-sad backstory that makes fans feel sorry for him. Unlike other villains that are out for anarchy or fortune, Mr. Freeze created the bulk of his havoc because of the love he had for his wife, Nora. A scientific incident caused him to have to maintain a sub-zero temperature for him to survive. There’s a bit of discrepancy in how he has been portrayed in comics, the animated series and on the big screen. Regardless, Mr. Freeze feels no remorse for killing any amount of people in order to save his wife Nora or to avenge her death. Depending on the storyline, Mr. Freeze is a deadly villain because he has nothing to lose and will kill anyone in pursuit of his goal.