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The Ultimate Top Twenty Batman Villains.

Updated on September 1, 2016

The Villains

One of the main reasons that i believe Batman has been able to stay popular and current is due to the quality of the bad guys and gals that feature in the Batman stories. No other superhero has a list of antagonists like the Dark Knight indeed some of these villains have spawned comic books of their own. In this article we shall take a look at some of the main foes that have plagued Batman's life since 1939.

Solomon Grundy
Solomon Grundy

Number 20 - Solomon Grundy

Solomon Grundy has been around in comic books for almost as long as Batman. Grundy made his first appearance not in a Batman comic but in All American Comics # 61 in 1944 as an enemy of the Golden Age Green Lantern. Grundy is a reanimated corpse that is mostly made up of plant matter that has been growing around his dead body for fifty years and is possibly the very first depiction of a zombie in comic books.

The Mad Hatter.
The Mad Hatter. | Source

Number 19 - The Mad Hatter

Dr Jervis Tetch is The Mad Hatter a mad genius with an obsession for hats. Tetch is known for his obsessive compulsion for hats and is normally seen wearing one that is slightly over sized in order to hide his mobile mind altering devices he carries with him which can amplify his already powerful hypnosis skills. Tetch has an immature self image and often identifies with children more than adults. This mad man will often speak in rhyme especially when under stress and will often quote from his favorite author Lewis Carrolls books Alice In Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass. The Mad Hatter made his comic book debut in 1948 in Batman # 49.

The Red Hood
The Red Hood | Source

Number 18 - The Red Hood

Originally the man behind the red hood in Batman stories was the super villain The Joker, as told in Detective Comics # 168 1951 and also in Alan Moore's alternative Joker origin in the graphic novel Batman - The Killing Joke.

After being murdered by the Joker in the Batman A Death In The Family storyline, former Robin, Jason Todd, is resurrected and becomes the anti hero the Red Hood. The Red Hood wages a one man war against the criminal empires of Gotham City and at one point even takes The Joker hostage after beating him to within an inch of his life. Although the Red Hood usually seeks justice on the criminal elements of Gotham City, his methods are the antithesis of Batman's, Red Hood and his anti hero gang the Outlaws are not above killing, even the police if they get in his way, the Red Hood will often leave his calling card which reads " let the punishment fit the crime".

Man Bat makes his debut in Detective Comics # 400 from 1970.
Man Bat makes his debut in Detective Comics # 400 from 1970. | Source

Number 17 - Man Bat

After realizing he is going deaf, scientist Kirk Langstrom develops a serum designed to mimic the sonar capabilities of a bat, although the serum initially works the unfortunate side effect is that Langstrom is turned into a hideous human sized crazed bat. Man Bat first appeared in 1970 in issue 400 of Detective Comics which has become one of the most valuable comics of the Bronze Age ( 1970 - 1984 ), the Man Bat character was developed by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams. Man Bat featured in his own series drawn by Steve Ditko but it was to only last two issues.

Chill murders Bruce Wayne's parents.
Chill murders Bruce Wayne's parents. | Source

Number 16 - Joe Chill

As a child the young Bruce Wayne witnesses the murder of his parents Thomas and Martha at the hands of a mugger who flees when Bruce begins crying and screaming for help. Bruce Wayne never forgets the face of the killer. In issue # 47 of Batman 1948, Batman is hunting down crime boss Joe Chill, when Batman finally comes face to face with Chill he comes to the realization that this is the man that murdered his parents many years ago, in panic Chill turns to his goons for help but realizing that Chills actions are to blame for Batman's very existence they turn on him. After being shot by his own henchmen Chill dies in Batman's arms.

Chill has been portrayed in different ways in comics over the years, he has usually been shown as a desperate mugger,but in some origin stories he has been a hit man for the mob.

The Ventriloquist
The Ventriloquist | Source

Number 15 - The Ventriloquist

Quiet mannered Arnold Wesker is a ventriloquist who is completely controlled by his dummy Scarface the Puppet. Scarface was originally carved by a fellow prison inmate of Wesker's from a piece of former gallows wood. Wesker has multiple personalities and his crimes are planned and executed through the persona of Scarface.Wesker is totally controlled by his puppet who has even been known to physically abuse him. When talking as Scarface Wesker is unable to pronounce the letter B hence Batman is often pronounced Gatman by the dummy. The ventriloquist first appeared in 1988 in Detective Comics # 583.

Killer Croc battles Robin.
Killer Croc battles Robin. | Source

Number 14 - Killer Croc

Although when first appearing in DC comics Waylon Jones resembled a large powerfully built man who was covered in scales, over the years Killer Croc has become more and more reptilian in appearance. Killer Croc is determined to become the kingpin of Gotham City crime and is one of Batman's more powerful adversaries having superhuman strength, agility and razor sharp teeth. Killer Croc made his first appearance in Batman # 358 at the same time as Jason Todd the second Robin.

Victor Fries.
Victor Fries. | Source

Number 13 - Mr Freeze

Strangely Mr Freeze was originally named Mr Zero when he made his comic book debut in Batman # 121 in 1959, after the character was renamed Mr Freeze in the popular Batman television series the comic books followed suit. After a cryogenic accident that killed his own wife, Dr Victor Fries is left having to wear a cryogenic suit in order for his body to survive.

Mr Freeze is a rogue that usually likes to work alone and has a deadly weapon at his disposal in his freeze gun.


Number 12 - Clayface

Possessing clay like bodies and shape shifting abilities there have been numerous characters featured in the Batman stories to have been given the alias Clayface. The first character to appear as Clayface appeared in the June edition of Detective Comics in 1940 and bore the name Basil Karlo, obviously a play on the name of the famous horror movie actor Boris Karloff. In the late 1950s we were introduced to Matt Hagen a treasure hunter who after being exposed to radioactive protoplasm gains shape shifting and resilience powers and would become known as Clayface in Batman comic books for the next couple of decades.

Hugo Strange
Hugo Strange | Source

Number 11 - Dr Hugo Strange

Dr Hugo Strange became one of the earliest Batman protagonists when he made his debut in Detective Comics # 36 in 1940 indeed he appeared several months before the Joker and Catwoman. Strange has a genius level intellect and often uses various scientific methods to carry out his nefarious plans and was one of the earliest villains to discover Batman's true identity.

Beautiful but deadly.
Beautiful but deadly. | Source

Number 10 - Poison Ivy

Armed with plant toxins and pheromones that help control minds Poison Ivy has long proved to be one of Batman's most dangerous recurring foes. Dr Pamela Lillian Isley made her first appearance in Batman # 181 in June 1966 and has been causing the Dark Knight problems ever since. Originally Ivy was modeled on the famous model Betty Paige she was given the same haircut and Southern drawl by her creators Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff. Ivy is still very active in Batman stories today usually causing havoc alongside her best friend Harley Quinn.

An early appearance of the Scarecrow.
An early appearance of the Scarecrow.

Number 9 - The Scarecrow

Appearing first in Worlds Finest # 3 in 1941 the Scarecrow would only make a couple of Golden Age comic book appearances before being revived in the late sixties by Sheldon Moldoff and Gardener Fox in Batman # 189 in 1967. Since his Silver Age reappearance Scarecrow has been a popular and recurring villain. Dr Jonathan Crane is a villainous psychologist who uses a variety of drugs and also psychological tactics to strike fear into his opponents. The Scarecrow is a popular character in Batman The Animated Series and was played by Irish actor Cillian Murphy in Batman Begins.

Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn | Source

Number 8 - Harley Quinn

Unlike all the other villains on this list Harley Quinn did not appear first in comic book form but in televisions Batman :The Animated Series. Created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, Harley is the lover and accomplice of Batman's nemesis The Joker and best friend of Poison Ivy. Harley is very popular amongst younger and female Batman readers and is a favorite of many cosplayers at comic book conventions.

Bane | Source

Number 7 - Bane

Bane has been around since 1993 when he made his debut in Batman: Vengeance Of Bane #1. Bane is the character that broke Batman's back in the Knightfall storyline. Bane was born in prison where he learned many languages, fighting skills and built up his body to a huge size. During his time in prison a prison doctor experimented on Bane with a mysterious drug known as Venom, the drug had killed all other previous inmates who had been tested but Bane survived. The Venom drug increases Banes strength dramatically but it has to be pumped into his body through a series of tubes directly into his brain, if Bane does not receive a shot every 12 hours he can suffer debilitating side effects. Bane is one of Batman's most powerful enemies both physically and intellectually. Bane was portrayed by British actor Tom Hardy in the movie The Dark Knight Rises.

The Riddler as played by Frank Gorshin in the Batman TV series.
The Riddler as played by Frank Gorshin in the Batman TV series. | Source

Batman TV series The Riddler

Number 6 - The Riddler

Fondly remembered by many for his appearances in the campy 1960s Batman TV show played by the brilliant Frank Gorshin, The Riddler has been making trouble for Batman since 1948 and Detective Comics # 140. Known for his domino mask and green unitard usually adorned with question marks, The Riddler likes to leave cryptic clues to his flamboyant crimes and it often seems that creating the puzzles and the chase are more important to him than the proceeds of the crime itself.

Danny Devito plays the Penguin in the movie Batman Returns.
Danny Devito plays the Penguin in the movie Batman Returns. | Source

Number 5 - The Penguin

With a real name of Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot it is no wonder the Penguin became a villain! The "gentleman of crime" is known for his love of birds and his high tech umbrellas that he often uses in schemes as a mobster and all round thief. One of Batman's longest recurring protagonists Penguin first appeared in 1941 in Detective Comics # 58. The Penguin was memorably played on television by Burgess Meredith of "Rocky" fame and by Danny Devito in 1992s Batman Returns.

Catwoman | Source

Number 4 - Catwoman

In the same issue as we meet The Joker for the first time Batman # 1 1940 we are introduced to Selina Kyle then known just as The Cat. Although Selina is usually portrayed as an adversary of Batman's they do share a complex love hate relationship. Catwoman is often portrayed as a antiheroine classy catburglar who only robs from the very rich and well insured, more Robin Hood than traditional villain. With her tight leather cat suit and whip, Catwoman is certainly one of the sexiest villains in comic books and has been portrayed on television and on the big screen by such notaries as Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry and Julie Newmar.

Ra's Al Ghul
Ra's Al Ghul | Source

Number 3 - Ra's Al Ghul

Created by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams in the early 1970s, Ra's Al Ghul made his debut in the classic Batman issue # 232. Unlike the Joker and other Batman villains Al Ghul was created by O'Neil and Adams as a protagonist who would have designs to cause villainy on a global scale not just Gotham City. Batman's relationship with the environmental terrorist is further complicated by the emotional attachment Batman has shared with the daughter of " The Demons Head" Talia Al Ghul and the son they share Damian Wayne.

Batman issue 234 the first Silver Age appearance of Two Face.
Batman issue 234 the first Silver Age appearance of Two Face. | Source

Number 2 - Two Face

After being hideously scarred after having had acid thrown in his face by mob boss Sal Maroni, district attorney Harvey Dent becomes the insane villainous Two Face. Dent will always decide the outcome of his crimes whether good or bad simply on the toss of a coin and many of his crimes are based around the number two ie he will steel 2 million dollars. Dent has been played on screen by Tommy Lee Jones and Aaron Eckhart and first appeared in comic book form in issue 66 of Detective Comics from 1942.

The Joker alongside Catwoman makes his first appearance in 1940.
The Joker alongside Catwoman makes his first appearance in 1940.

Number 1 - The Joker

The Joker is probably the best known of all Batman's foes and indeed one of the most easily recognized bad guys in popular culture.. One of the inspirations for the look of The Joker was the character of Gwynplaine played by Conrad Veidt in the silent movie The Man Who Laughs. The Clown Prince of Crime has been a major part of the Batman mythos for three quarters of a century and has been featured in some of the best known Batman story lines for example Batman : The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight returns. The crazed comedian has committed some awful atrocities such as killing Robin ( Jason Todd ) and shooting Barbara Gordon leaving her wheelchair bound. The Joker was played by Caesar Romero in the television series and portrayed by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger on the big screen.


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    • Nathan Kiehn profile image

      Nathan Kiehn 

      8 months ago

      nuffsaid, great list. Batman's rogues gallery is so classic, so influential, and made up of really great characters. I would say his ranks among the top three greatest rogues galleries ever invented for comics (alongside Spider-Man's and the Flash's).

      A fantastic Mad Hatter story I just read is in Haunted Knight, by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. I know you mentioned The Long Halloween below--and Loeb uses him a bit in there--but his Haunted Knight take on the Hatter is downright creepy, probably the most sinister look taken at the guy ever. It's a good story, worth a read if you haven't checked it out already.

    • jupiter90 profile image


      4 years ago

      Thanks, nuffsaid, I will check those out.

    • nuffsaidstan profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Try, Superman/Batman, Batman : Shadow of The Bat and Batman: The Long Halloween.

    • jupiter90 profile image


      4 years ago

      Wow, I never knew Solomon Grundy was a Batman villain.

    • nuffsaidstan profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Yeah easy, Batman's the best!

    • trusouldj profile image


      4 years ago from Indiana

      Amazing hub. My 10 year old just asked me a few days ago who my favorite DC character was. The answer will always be Batman.

    • nuffsaidstan profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Thank Geekdom

    • Geekdom profile image


      4 years ago

      So many great villains!

      I love your use of multi media.

    • nuffsaidstan profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Hi Jayfort, yes i did note that in my write up on him.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Solomon Grundy was predominantly an enemy of the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott of the original Earth-2).


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