Who Is The Best Batman Villain?*

So, I've had something I've been wondering for a while now and I thought I might as well put the question to the community. You see, when it comes to discussing the best Batman villain, there's always one single answer. Joker. And that answer is probably right. He's the guy who's been around the longest, is the most recognisable and has done the most to hurt the Dark Knight out of any of his numerous enemies. But just saying Joker is the best does hurt the discussion of what is The greatest rogues gallery in any medium (comics, film, TV, video games, books you name it). So what I want to do is pose the question, who is the best Batman villain (not including Joker)? Think of it as we're deciding the number 2 spot as it were. I've put together a fairly comprehensive list of the Dark Knight's greatest enemies and I want you guys to tell me who is best.

You can add your own entries, but I'm not accepting any villains who are famous for fighting Batman but were originally villains for other characters (e.g. Soloman Grundy, who was originally a Green Lantern villain, or Deathstroke, who started out as a Teen Titans villain and is generally more of a Justice League adversary more than anything). You can vote for your top 10 once a day over the next week.

JR19759

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10 Responses to Who Is The Best Batman Villain?*

  1. The Atomic Punk

    So many factors. Which era do you consider the villain’s prime? Which writer(s) brought out the best (or worst) in the villain? Was there a defining story arc or series that was monumental? What impact did he or she have on the Bat Family? Bane’s singular triumph shoots him to Numero Uno instantly. Whereas Hugo Strange’s activities are methodical but long-term.

    For me, it depends on which version of the villain comes to mind. The Penguin in the comics was more of a gadget-user. Burgess Meredith brought the comic to life. Danny DeVito suffered under Joel Schumacher.

    Then there is Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot in Gotham. Holy psychopathic mob bosses, Batman! I so love to hate him. Plus, Cory Michael Smith as Edward Nygma. They are so good as mortal enemies and back-stabbing allies. Almost forgot, there’s that whiny Bruce Wayne kid. I think he’s like cousins with Anakin Skywalker.

    Then I consider the multiple personalities of Harley Quinn. A surprisingly brilliant addition to the art-deco Batman: The Animated Series. She plays well in the cartoons and the comics. Alas, Harley has been reduced to cheesecake with a baseball bat, fanfic (especially shipping Poison Ivy), and a lovable but accident-prone goofball in DC’s Superhero Girls.

    I’m just going to pretend that Suicide Squad didn’t happen.

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  2. Tim Burton directed DeVito’s turn as penguin.

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  3. The Atomic Punk

    djuby:
    Tim Burton directed DeVito’s turn as penguin.

    Mea culpa. I still consider the performance a low point in the history of Batman and especially Danny DeVito’s career.

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  4. DeVito’s performance as the Penguin was more impressive to those who have extensively studied human psychology. The ‘magical thinking’ of his past, the delusions of grandeur and persecution, and the obsessive and antisocial behavior were an interesting mix. DeVito’s narration and asides were on point.

    Obviously the script and dialogue left much to be desired . . .

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  5. imbatman123459

    It’s a really tough call, because Batman is one of the only guys with a rogues gallery as interesting as he is. I feel the best Batman villains (or any villain, for that matter) are the ones that directly reflect a certain part of him, either as a parallel or a foil. While Freeze, Harley, or Croc are great characters in their own right, it’s the ones that challenge a part of Batman that work so well. Two-Face challenges Batman’s idea of justice and what right and wrong is. Riddler challenges his intellect, Scarecrow his ability to instill and overcome fear, Bane challenges his physical power, and Ra’s challenges his entire philosophy to crime-fighting. And then of course Joker, who IS the best, challenges all of it at once by challenging Batman’s worldview itself. It kind of just comes down to preference, because all of his villains are good.

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  6. William Peterson

    Sorry, dude, but you seem to be forgetting someone. YES, Batman has A Rogue’s Gallery, and if you only consider personalities, one of the best. If you stop to consider powers, Batman’s basically got a lineup of Dick Tracy villains… and if you include Detective Tracy the two galleries are about on a par!
    But the one you’re forgetting is the one who has THE Rogue’s Gallery… The Flash!
    Mirror Master, Heat Wave, Captain Cold, Golden Glider, the Top, Gorilla Grodd, Rainbow Raider, and I’m probably forgetting a few….
    Yes, Barry used to be able to defeat most of these by grabbing them by their ankles, holding them upside down, and shaking them until their gadgets fell out (Grodd excluded, of course!). Oh, same for Reverse Flash.
    But, WHAT a collection of gadgets they had! {As memory slowly returns, let us add Mister Element, and Doctor Alchemy, even though they were the same person…} {AND, speaking of the Elements, how about Weather Wizard?}
    You didn’t get much in the way of Dick Tracy psychopaths, but that was because The Flash was a Science Hero, not a Detective…

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  7. @William Peterson- First let me go on the record as saying I have always said Flash has a fantastic rogues gallery (which is why he made up part of the top 3 best rogues galleries alongside Batman and Spider-Man when I did a list on the subject last year). However, Flash having a fantastic rogues gallery is completely irrlevant to the conversation, because we’re not talking about who has the best rogues gallery (we’ve already done that, see the aforementioned list) we’re talking about who people think is the best villain in a specific rogues gallery. There’s no need to bring up any other heroes unless you’re actively trying to be disruptive, which I’m sure you’re not, but please don’t either way. I asked the question because I wanted peoples opinions on Batman villains. If I feel like asking about Flash villains, I’ll ask about Flash villains, ok.

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  8. The Atomic Punk

    Herr D:
    DeVito’s performance as the Penguin was more impressive to those who have extensively studied human psychology. The ‘magical thinking’ of his past, the delusions of grandeur and persecution, and the obsessive and antisocial behavior were an interesting mix. DeVito’s narration and asides were on point.

    Obviously the script and dialogue left much to be desired . . .

    I understand what Tim Burton was going for but it just didn’t click for me. Because of your last point, the script and dialogue just overwhelmed character development – for everyone. I had high expectations after being so pleased with the first Batman. Maybe if I re-watch from the perspective as another Batman story rather than a sequel.

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  9. When I’m looking for a best Batman villain, other than Joker, I have to see who has either come the closest to ending Batman or manipulated him the best. Of course Bane comes to mind, but I’m biased against him because he was solely created to beat the crap out of Batman and he had super-strength with the Venom juice. To me, that’s not the basis for a good story; plus, it led to one of the worst versions of Batman of all time, Azrael. For manipulation, there’s Ra’s Al Guhl, but ever since the Babylon storyline in the comics, he feels more like a Justice League level villain. Also, he’s never translated well to the small or big screen in my estimation. He never seems intimidating enough; although, I think if anyone can pull it off it will be Alexander Siddig on Gotham. Hugo Strange also comes to mind, but no.

    What makes Joker so good is because he is the complete opposite of Batman in every way, much like Luthor is to Superman. So that only leaves an Anti-Batman, which, for me, is someone who shares many of the same qualities and/or history with the hero, but it’s twisted in some way. Someone who not only hates Batman but wants his legacy completely destroyed and for that there can be only one, Hush.

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  10. William Peterson

    Sorry, I was responding to what Imabatman had to say, which seemed to claim that no one else had as good a gallery. My comment was NOT intended to answer the original question, as it seems everyone realizes who the ‘Top Dogs’ are, with very little disagreement…

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