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Batman Villains

Updated on June 26, 2015

"Batman" is an interesting story because for one thing you had no idea that a dedicated cadre of acrobats (Batman and his friends) could have such a large perceivable effect on the life of a city. Crime already exceeding police presence in the first place, you'd think that the self contradictory escapades of one gifted athlete where he tries to avoid being noticed by swinging from building to building like a ninja while trying to be noticed by dressing in flowing symbolic garb as he does this would the content of his habits notwithstanding become lost in the shuffle of city life, even if here were to defeat every criminal he pursued, because at the rate he he beats them he's still not going faster than the police force. Also, Batman is weird because it's his job to catch the criminals who are easiest to catch. He fights people who make themselves easy to spot, who send excessive messages to law enforcement about their location and capabilities, and who drain their own resources unnecessarily by investing in equipment and methods that adhere to a theme. Of course that's who he fights, it's ridiculously easy, why waste your energy.

Clayface

Clayface is one of the few Batman characters who is a true super - this means he's not using equipment, his abilities are embedded in his being. Nonetheless, he hangs back in the Batman pantheon, a big fish in a small pond, probably because no one finds clay very challenging. He's literally the man of clay, this would be compared to Superman being the man of steel, so he needs the right context to remain viable. if his body held together in water he'd be scary to anybody, but instead like all Batman foils he's just tragic, though unlike the majority of them in a way that portends tremendous scientific implications that no one ever cares about. also real clay holds together in water and also real clay doesn't hold electric charge and Clayface can be beaten with water or electrocution because Clayface got his powers from radioactive stage makeup and not clay. Hey wait a minute, he's not Clayface, he's makeup face.

The Joker

The Joker is a man who got in an industrial accident permanently giving him the appearance and all the powers of a clown which means he has no powers except maybe being funny because this fact is funny. Honestly though, the Joker's powers are weird. He's a kind of crappy, kind of amazing fighter, meaning he cycles between going sickhouse on people in ways that if they happened in real life would cause an announcer in a gravelly voice to talk about him on A&E documentaries (making that announcer the second person in the world other than Batman who did that) and getting beaten nearly to death which happens whenever Batman gets angry at him. Also though whenever this happens Joker laughs the whole time, which denotes his other power, the sometimes kind of mentioned fact that his brain damage separates his consciousness from pain or at least from being able to indicate that he's experiencing it, it also causes his motivations and future actions to be unpredictable based either on his behavior or previous recent events, so he doesn't act like a normal person which he then makes work by laughing through the pain. When he does this I am nearly brought to tears. We can all learn something from this man. Batman's always waxing grandiloquently about the Joker's mindstate, and when he does the dialogue is the same as if he's yelling it at someone he's sick of reminding about the way the Joker thinks, the only thing missing is caps lock and exclamation points which I'll provide here for effect. Batman'll be alone and he'll start talking about the Joker and eventually he'll get to the point of saying "BUT THE JOKER'S MIND DOESN'T WORK LIKE THAT!!!!!!!!!!!! HE DOESN'T OPERATE WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF REASON!!!!!!!! TO HIM THERE ARE NO RULES!!!!!!!!!!" So anyway basically what the Joker has ended up being over the years is a kind of stock criminal figure who is empowered literarily by having the appearance of a clown Because There's Just Something About Clowns (TM).

Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn is the female joker. Nothing happened to her, she just follows him around because she thinks he's great, so in a way she's more stupid than he is because he has brain damage and leading the same life is fully her decision. She like Joker also has no powers, and demonstrates the fighting prowess of your basic Bonnie and Clyde / Natural Born killers outlaw woman, though she's a bit of a humanitarian, usually using nonlethal gag weapons that only work half as well as real ones and which as I've discussed must be prohibitively expensive but I guess that's how it's fun for her. For example instead of a gun she'll often shoot at people with a boxing glove on a coiled spring inside a pistol-like device, or hit people with a large wooden mallet that looks like it came out of a cartoon, which I know you're thinking is a perfectly logical way to hurt someone but it's not because a hammer with a smaller metal head would do worse damage and be easier to find. She has no problem with the Joker killing people and probably does herself sometimes, but you don't often find yourself contemplating the mortal threat of Harley Quinn. There aren't a lot of Harley solo stories, as she usually appears as Joker's accomplice, and I think she was probably written to remind male Joker fans that they ought to try to find a girlfriend.

Killer Croc

Killer Croc is exciting but at the same time lame when you realize he's the big bruiser Batman villain who seems only to exist as the bar to show how strong the other ones are when they beat him. Bane beat him up in a subway, and I thought maybe Hush beat him up in a swamp, maybe he didn't I don't give a damn. I'm not actually sure of whether Killer Croc is a "super" or not, sometimes he is and sometimes he isn't, there's no unanimous agreement on his attributes or appearance and no one has ever seemed to care. The consensus is that he's as strong as a captivating cup of bold rich coffee and at some level of looking like an crocodile, sometimes these things are connected and sometimes they're both just happening in his life. I at some point read that he grew up in a swamp, wrestled crocodiles, and had crocodile-like skin, which is such an unlikely coincidence that I guess he decided he'd use it as inspiration to name himself what he did. This doesn't really explain his strength at all. Gator wrestling is a real life sport, and the contestants are strong but it's mostly a trick of getting your arms around the jaw and locking your hands because from what I've been told the opening muscles on the jaw are weaker than the shutting muscles, five to six foot tall guys do this, you don't have to be as strong as Killer Croc to do it. In one comic I read, he was a man with bad skin who actually had brown hair on his head and went around in a suit. Often lately he looks like The Lizard from Spider-Man, and they say he's been in a lab somewhere using chemicals that enhance the improbable circumstances of his life. So, no one knows where his base strength level comes from or if it's in any way connected to the appearance or if the appearance is in any way connected to being near crocodiles. No one has ever said he got that way from crocodile auras or bites or whatever, they just lay out the facts and let you draw your own conclusions. Also they don't say how strong he actually is, it's kind of vague. He's strong enough to beat Batman arm wrestling, probably not as strong as Solomon Grundy but it's hard to gauge, he might be. Also he can breathe underwater, or could in Batman The Animated Series, which I'm sure you're aware crocodiles can't do since they're lizards and not fish, like everything else about the character I'm not sure how this is supposed to work factually into anything about him, though this last power is more set apart because its totally random and isn't even hinted at by his identity, you want to contradict me and say you'd let it slide because crocodiles appear near water, well so what according to Google, wild boars appear near water in the swamp, how about if there were wild boar man and he could breathe underwater?! Wild boars don't breathe underwater! End of story!

Killer Croc after having ripped off his own hands, something which in this case was not an issue for him, who even knows why.
Killer Croc after having ripped off his own hands, something which in this case was not an issue for him, who even knows why.

The Penguin

Okay this dude is a midget and nothing redeems it. He's pretty smart, like about as smart as other smart people who have better chances of winning a fight against the world's angriest ninja. I think Marvel Comic's character the Kingpin was based on the writers wondering how successful the Penguin would be if he were not a very short man but a very tall man. Anyway, the Penguin tries to have a gimmick by wearing tuxedos (people used to, possibly still do call these "Penguin suits") and having birds, physical penguins, stand next to him, but the closest he comes to having a power is hiding a machine gun in an umbrella. He loves doing this and will make a new machine gun umbrella as soon as he loses the last one, and no one ever questions if he's holding an umbrella if it might be a machine gun, it is always assumed that it is not. I think he's usually said to have webbed hands, which kind of kills my argument that he's not really anything like a penguin, but if you want to make an argument for a supervillain having less than powers having no fingers is a pretty good one. Dick Tracy, which was based on a comic that began eight years prior to Batman introduced the idea of gangsters who have nicknames based on their strange appearances, which actually might have been the original concept behind characters like The Penguin and the previously mentioned Killer Croc and The Joker. That in turn would have been based on people in real life having nicknames based on quirks, but what makes it funny in comics is the way they do it would be like if the musician Lil John wore a bear suit and lived in the forest.

Catwoman

Okay, Catwoman is pretty bad. Bad in the sense of being good and kind of sassy. In some ways she's the closest thing there is to being a female Batman, because she appeared well before Batgirl(who you might have heard of but I'll fill you in, she's Batman's longest running female protege), and she actually does about the same things Batman does though with far less equipment. Where Batman has a utility belt, Catwoman has a whip. She hits people with the whip, grabs things with the whip, swings from buildings with the whip, she's great with that thing, she should have won an award. Maybe she gets to plan her jumps more carefully though, because she's a cat burglar and isn't trying to follow up on all the crime in Gotham city. Sometimes she's an antihero but her life never features the exhaustive obsession with keeping up with things that Batman's does. Her main obsession is Batman who she usually acts like she wants pretty bad but he's not into it because she won't stop stealing. Batman is to suddenly disappearing when you back is turned as Catwoman is to suddenly kissing Batman while he's trying to talk to her. He's like "Stop it Catwoman, you slut." and she's like "No Batman, I want to grab your nuts." and then she really grabs his family jewels, if you know what I mean, and I think you can see how things go from there and also she says pussy a lot. Usually she's just this kind of eccentric woman with a natural gift for acrobatics who's a career criminal, though Tim Burton directed a story where she only started doing that after she went into shock because her boss shoved her out a window, so that was pretty interesting. That guy appears nowhere else in the Batman universe but actually lasted through that whole movie, dying only a few moments before the Penguin, who though he continues to be featured did die in that story because for a while in the 90's everyone in Batman movies had to die for some reason. Catwoman probably can't summon cats, though she usually appears to own one or more, I mean she can probably get them to come but just to pet them or have them eat, they don't fly off her arms and punch people or anything.

The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow is a scientist who manufactures poisonous gas that he weaponizes and uses to commit crime. The gas, which he uses in lieu of a gun, has the effect of immobilizing his victims with fear while they experience horrifying hallucinations. This incapacitates them until the drug wears off or unless the person who has been gassed is able to meditate very intently, such as in the case of Batman. The Scarecrow does kill and could surely create a gas that was actually lethal, but he never does, we will have to assume because he's a horrible planner. It's probably actually because Scarecrow's entire demeanor is explained away using the stock excuse used for all Batman villains, which is that he's an insane person, which in comics means even if you do kill people you never get killed, you just get sent to an insane asylum where nothing happens and you eventually escape in about the same shape you went in. Gotham city is probably the only city in the world where the insane asylum has more patients than the prison does inmates, either that or it's just Batman's foils who go to the insane asylum so no one has made much of the fact that the entire city is critically menaced by a small cadre of individuals who the justice system can't help but agree are despite this fact, mentally incompetent. So the Scarecrow is crazy, actually yeah he's obsessed with how frightened he can cause people to do be, all he does is try to up the ante on that and raise money to do so, so really killing people would be beside the point. Of course he emphasizes this by wearing the most frightening costume known of, that of a Scarecrow, since looking like a farmer with a burlap sack over your head is the scariest damn thing apparently. Maybe he had a moment in his life where he saw birds not eating corn because of a scarecrow and decided that's how the world should be, and every time he uses fear gas on people he offers them corn to see if they'll eat it but they leave that panel out because it's already obvious that he'd do that.

Mr. Freeze

The premise of Mr. Freeze, as it is being described to you, is a difficult one to comprehend. He has a life support system, he can't take it off or he dies, and he's completely enclosed in it. It's filled with a gaseous element that he needs to survive, there's a finite amount of it on him at any time and it's attached to a tank on his back. This person probably sounds severely compromised to you already, but it gets worse because if he ever wants to attack you, the first thing he'll do is let the gas out, then the gas when it hits the air behaves kind of like liquid nitrogen so he has a freeze gun. Yeah he'll just spray it all over the place, whatever he doesn't need it right?(?!) This is like a person on oxygen unscrewing the cap to their breathing tank when someone comes near and then lighting a match. I'll go as far as to agree that this is one way to hurt somebody but it's a lot of work to go through just to be a suicide attacker. Explaining this away by assuming he knows some science trick that makes it possible, there are other funny things about Mr. Freeze. His entire existence presupposes that not only he, but everyone, can make unlimited cold, because since he dies without it when he goes to the insane asylum they put him in the cell where it snows all the time. They just have that there. Also we're expected to believe that he can make unlimited cold but can't reverse having made himself need it. Maybe this is a hard problem but he never works on it, pretty much just steals crap, but because he's angry about his condition. Also he always acts stiff and detached, implying some nonexistent connection between emotional coldness and the temperature, unless it's modeled after some archaic pattern of people who lived in snow who's manner was actually affected by the cold, alright I could be wrong about that one, if I'm not just enjoy the joke. He's famous for making easy puns about his own name because of the dialogue he was given in the movie "Batman and Robin", though actually this is a staple of the Batman rogues gallery, they all do this, and I'm not sure if anyone knows how it helps the... the lesson or whatever.

Bane

Bane is a latecomer to the Batman universe, but can't be ignored because the comic sales the character generated were enough to justify two movie appearances. Bane is all things considered pretty fucking exciting and badass but good news for you if you're reading this totally stupid and boring too so you're gonna love these jokes. Bane is, as far as I can tell, a wrestler. He "grew up in an insane asylum" and he wears a wrestling mask and he has a vendetta against Batman which he culminates with a speech given to a large audience. He even takes steroids. Bane kind of introduced the idea that it would be easy to beat Batman if someone bothered to try to do it correctly. Okay so he's a huge dude in a wrestling mask who makes speeches and takes steroids lol but he's also kind of a special ops / strike force guy, he likes using rocket launchers and helicopters and machine guns, and when he gets things going it's intimidating. Basically his plan is to create more of a problem than Batman can solve without jumping the gun, and that works, because he doesn't get overexcited and mess things up. He's one of the few Batman villains who goes to prison instead of the insane asylum. So that goes super well for him but then later he loses because he's a juicer, and even after he kicks Batman's ass a temporary replacement Batman kicks his ass while he mumbles about needing steroids, by punching him in the face with a knife.

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy is a mad female botanist who has managed to get some really scary results from her work. Her abilities are probably a more serious threat to Batman's well being than are those of most of the villains who face him, also there's the fact that she always wear a green leotard, which accomplishes nothing. Poison Ivy is clearly interested in gaining power and influence through ill gotten means, and then also in being erotic. And it's not like Madonna either where she's this singer who shows you her butt and makes twice as much money, because at one point or another Poison Ivy's going to have a big plant vine strangle you and that's going to decide the matter in question, she's just while getting that ready also, in relative seclusion because whatever she's doing is a major crime so it has to be a secret saying to herself, "I am a strong, sexual woman, and this is how I choose to express myself". Anyway her powers are pretty good, in a way she can control all plants, creating mutations and hybrids and plant monsters and causing them to do surprising and deadly things, but she's limited by conventional obstacles to home gardening, ie if you kill the plants she's up a creek. Still, Poison Ivy has a pretty extensive bag of tricks, though over the years hasn't gotten much in the way of character development. She's just this woman who appears standing in front of a greenhouse wearing a green swimsuit and making threats from time to time, that's Poison Ivy in a nutshell.

Two Face

Two Face gets a lot of use, he's not a big favorite of mine because his powers aren't impressive, but he does show up a lot. Two Face is actually an awful lot like the Joker, because he has no powers, he's just a street tough in a suit. "A street tough in a suit" isn't something you hear of a lot anymore but apparently there were a lot of them in the 30's when Batman was created. Half of Two Face's body is disfigured which causes him to be evil half the time and good half the time, which makes him evil, I guess because in the eyes of the law you're expected to be good all the time. I guess the way this works is that being in pain from the disfiguration causes him to lash out at people, but only while he's in pain, which is half his waking moments, because half his nerves are damaged. Obviously they play this different ways, sometimes it's his idea of poetic justice, sometimes he behaves more derangedly, but he always makes decisions by flipping a coin. He doesn't make all his decisions by flipping a coin, because human life is controlled by thousands of minute decisions and he doesn't flip for it every time he makes one, so it's basically just whenever he remembers to. It doesn't preoccupy his thoughts all the time, but if he decides he wants to flip the coin it's so important that if you screw it up for him he'll usually quit whatever he's been working on. Two Face's powers really only hold him back. Also, if he's making a decision about you and the coin lands on heads, you automatically win. He alters his plan, lets you go, and abandons whatever evil he's been doing. I guess he also uses the coin to decide whether to begin a criminal caper or not but maybe he doesn't bring it out until later which if it's true surely must make Batman glad Two Face considers this a fun and worthwhile idea. It's funny that Two Face can be dissuaded by causing him to lose track of his coin flip, because he could get the same results by just remembering to do or not do anything he considers only half of the time. The reason Two Face does what he does is he used to be a district attorney, a strict adherent to the justice system, believing it's principles to be what ordered the universe, but lost faith in it when he was involved in a random accident. Since blind luck overcame him and his life's work, he now bitterly guides himself with a mechanism of random chance, assuming it must certainly lead him to some greater goal than his current miserable lot. This is a lot like being "Blindfold Man" and running around everywhere blindfolded because everything else is bullshit, which no one has done yet, but fingers crossed.

The Riddler

Finally we come to the crown jewel of Batman's worthless illogical villains, the Riddler. Two Face will help you sometimes. The Riddler will always help you beat him. He leaves clues at the scenes of his crimes in the form of riddles that tell you where to look for him, and they aren't reverse psychology either, the clues are always helpful. Like all of Batman's villains, he's an avante garde psychopath, in this case one who abandons the mundane notion of getting away with crime because he realizes not getting caught is just an illusion created by the man. See really on a psychological level The Riddler is that criminal we're all afraid of because he might get punished for his crimes this doesn't make any sense. Maybe the Riddler is really only about as hard to catch as any average criminal because he's pretty smart about coming up with all the trademark weaponry and dorky puzzles he has and he's just as excited to personally avoid pursuers as he is to keep them in pursuit, so maybe those two things balance out and make him roughly as challenging as the average suspect on foot. He must present some kind of a threat, because only Batman, who's abilities are needed in special situations, can ever catch him. You can only imagine Commissioner Gordon had a moment with the Riddler where he said FUCKING CLUES I HATE THIS BULLSHIT CALL BATMAN because the shit was too helpful. In the Riddler's second movie appearance where he was played by Jim Carrey, he was an inventor who built a machine that gave him the power to suck the power out of people's brains and give it to himself. Usually he's just a clever narcissist who would probably get away with most of what he does if he didn't give himself away. As the Joker is to the Joke, the Riddler is an homage to the enduring form of the riddle, except riddles aren't nearly as popular, and their popularity is reflected in the popularity of the Riddler as well their interestingness in the interestingness of everything he does. Fighting the Riddler is exactly like when someone is trying to vibe you and you don't care and you can easily leave if you want, as in for Batman the way out of the situation is clear, but intrinsic to it there's also this superfluous moment where the dude is like "whoah, hey, this is important."

When Batman realized that bats were the opposite of crime and made the right decision by becoming obsessed with them, he really made a major breakthrough in the field of crimefighting. Sure we all know his parents are dead, but reading the total work subtextually we can also assume several key hints that indicate he consumes fruit or blood, which is his "secret". How does he get those results at the gym? What's his secret? Fruit or blood, that's what I mean. He doesn't starve himself, he eats whatever he wants as long as it's fruit or blood, as part of the bat success protein method that gets you a ripped, lean torso that lasts for seventy years. This has already gone on too long. But when Batman cast the shadow of man, that shadow which is the shadow of a bat, he did not know that into that cooling shade would huddle the ghosts of man's demons, enfolded right in there like ham inside a biscuit. The Batman villains represent profiles of madmen, sociopaths, and pathological liars, and crocodiles, for those are also frightening, and wrestlers, they're scary too, wrestlers are strong. Like an inspiring dog with a beetle wiggling in each nostril, the symbol of Batman faces the world and seems to say, whatever, something.

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    • Oliver Stark profile image

      Oliver Stark 24 months ago from Sacramento, California

      I am a big Batman fan and this was an interesting read.

    • Taylor Gibbons profile image
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      Taylor Gibbons 24 months ago from Arlington, TX

      Thank you, I'm glad you liked it.

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