The 25 Greatest Batman Villains Of All Time


Summary

  • Batman villains represent the diabolical best of Gotham City, standing in perfect opposition to the crime-fighting Caped Crusader.
  • Deadshot, Punchline, and other Batman villains have complex relationships with Batman, often balancing a code of honor with their criminal activities.
  • Each Batman villain has their own unique backstory and motivations, adding depth and complexity to the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery.


When it comes to the supervillains of DC, it doesn’t get any better than Batman villains. Representing the diabolical best of the dim, gritty, and disturbing Batman’s Gotham City setting, these delinquents stand in perfect opposition to the crime-fighting Caped Crusader; whereas the world of Superman is exemplified by shining heroics.

Batman is defined by the evildoers that terrorize it from within its deepest shadows. What makes them stand out is that they are all just a few shades of grey away from the Dark Knight himself. That, and they enjoy dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight.


25 Deadshot (AKA Floyd Lawton)

First Appearance: Batman #59 (1950), created by David Vern Reed, Lew Schwartz, Bob Kane

While Deadshot over the years became most known for his membership in The Suicide Squad, he started out as a Batman villain. He also became a main Batman villain over the years, although the two shared reluctant respect for each other. While Deadshot is a killer, and Batman will never accept that, he also lives by a code of honor.

Deadshot is always a dangerous villain, as he is the Man Who Never Misses. While he doesn’t battle Batman as much as he used to, he debuted as a Batman villain and the two often ended up deadlocked in their battles.

24 Punchline (AKA Alexis Kaye)

First Appearance: Batman #89 (2020), created by James Tynion IV, Jorge Jiménez

With Harley Quinn and the Joker officially over, it was only a matter of time before the Clown Prince of Crime found a new gal Friday. Alexis developed a fixation on the Joker after an encounter with the villain in high school, leading her to see him as an entity of change. Punchline is more than just a good fighter and right-hand woman. She’s also quite handy with poisons, and has even developed her own brand of Joker Venom.

While Punchline was extremely helpful to her obsession in Joker War, Alexis has decided to branch out as a more independent villain. Not only has she replaced the Joker on the Legion of Doom, she’s also gained control of the Royal Flush gang, giving her a meteoric ascent among Gotham’s villains.

23 Carmine Falcone (AKA The Roman)

First Appearance: Batman #405 (1987), created by Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli

Carmine Falcone in front of the bat symbol.

Carmine Falcone is getting a lot of attention thanks to The Batman movie, but he is a villain who has been a dangerous bad guy for Batman since the 1980s. The new movie is based on Batman at the same age as he appeared in Year One, and that is where Carmine Falcone made his debut in DC Comics.

There have been many villains in Batman comics when it comes to the Gotham City underworld, but Carmine stands above most others. His origin in the movie helps him surpass them all thanks to The Batman possibly making him responsible for Bruce Wayne’s parents’ death.

22 Killer Croc (AKA Waylon Jones)

First Appearance: Detective Comics #523 (1983), created by Gerry Conway, Don Newton, Gene Colan

When written right, Killer Croc is as good as Batman villains come. As of late, the character has been reduced to a large mutated reptile with little ambition beyond eating Batman. However, in his debut, Killer Croc started off as a far more interesting villain, so much so that some believe his backstory was the true inspiration for Tim Burton’s Penguin in Batman Returns.

When Waylon Jones was born with a rare scaly skin condition and relentlessly abused, it was only natural he’d become a murderous cannibal. After a quick stint finding acceptance with a traveling circus, he ended up in Gotham City. By letting his condition dictate his life, Croc has transformed himself into one truly scary rogue.

21 Black Mask (AKA Roman Sionis)

First Appearance: Batman #386 (1985), created by Doug Moench, Tom Mandrake

Born Roman Sionis, he was the by-product of self-absorbed wealthy parents who cared more about their social standing than his well-being. Because of this, he became obsessed with the idea of masks. After killing them both, he not only inherited the family fortune but took the opportunity to forge a new identity by carving a black mask out of his father’s casket and becoming a leader of Gotham’s crime world.

While many of the top Batman villains resort to over-the-top dramatics and wacky gimmicks to fuel their crimes, the Black Mask retains a creepy dignity rooted in good old-fashioned sadism and the use of a well-fired gun.

20 Mister Bloom (AKA ‘The Anti-Joker’)

First Appearance: Batman #43 (2015), created by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo

Mr. Bloom DC Comics

One of Batman’s more modern villains was actually first encountered by Jim Gordon during his time as the Dark Knight. Bloom sees himself as a necessary force of nature that needs to eliminate the life in Gotham in order to allow something new to grow in its place. Despite his lithe appearance, Bloom is overwhelmingly powerful, able to survive the harshest punishments and control technology.

Even among the many strange villains in Batman’s rogues’ gallery, Mister Bloom is an outlier. His past, his powers, and his ultimate goals are almost all wrapped up in mysteries, making him quite an intimidating villain.

19 Hush (AKA Dr. Thomas Elliot)

First Appearance: Batman #609 (2003), created by Jim Lee, Jeph Loeb

Hush and Freeze as Batman Villains

Hush could rank higher if he was more than just a villain in one key storyline. However, considering how iconic Hush was for Batman, this villain deserves his spot on the top Batman villain lists. Hush is a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne and was born to wealthy parents like Bruce. However, while Thomas and Martha Wayne were caring parents who raised Bruce to be a hero, Hush’s parents were cruel and he grew up hating his life and the life Bruce had. This was a mystery, and the revelation made Hush such a memorable villain.

18 Clayface (AKA Basil Karlo)

First Appearance: Detective Comics #40 (1940), created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane

Clayface in battle in the comics

Any superhero who’s worth his cape has got at least one shape-shifting villain. For Batman, it’s Clayface, a hulking mud monster with the ability to reshape his body, turn his limbs into a menagerie of weapons, look like anyone he chooses, and render nearly all forms of physical attack useless by melting.

Though his backstory is as shifty as he is, Clayface has provided Batman with a compelling enemy since the ’40s. However, the best and most tragic version of the character comes from the ’90s Batman: The Animated Series, which fused his past comic counterparts and ended up becoming the visual template for future appearances.

17 Poison Ivy (AKA Dr. Pamela Isley)

First Appearance: Batman #181 (1966), created by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino, Sheldon Moldoff

Those who’ve been punished by 1997’s Batman & Robin may have forgotten that the eco-terrorist, Poison Ivy, is one of the most iconic Batman villains. With her ability to pretty much do whatever she wants with plants, this Gotham City siren is a lethal foe. She can entice any man to do her bidding, even Superman.

After being forced to consume – or was injected with, depending on the origin story – a poisonous plant, she grows into the ravenous Poison Ivy, obsessed with protecting the planet’s plant life. While this may seem like a noble cause, she plans to do so by eliminating all human life, forcing Batman to intervene.

16 The Penguin (AKA Oswald Cobblepot)

First Appearance: Detective Comics #58 (1941), created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane

Penguin firing a gun.

Batman villain campiness at its best, the Penguin has been a long-time mainstay in the Caped Crusader’s rogues gallery. Having debuted in 1941’s Detective Comics #58, Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot III originally got his start as your run-of-the-mill crook. Over the many years, the character evolved into a notorious Gotham crimelord.

Despite being the grotesque face of the city’s criminal underworld, Penguin has also shown a practical, sometimes even quasi-legitimate business side, committing his treacherous acts less out of a need to wreak havoc and more out of a pursuit for personal and financial gain. Adding to his dangerousness, the man of a thousand umbrellas has displayed refined intelligence and sophistication.

15 Deathstroke (AKA Slade Wilson)

First Appearance: The New Teen Titans #2 (1980), created by Marv Wolfman, George Pérez

Though he began as a Teen Titans villain, Deathstroke has evolved to become a top Batman villain after the likes of Batman: Arkham Origins and more recent comics. He is one of the few fighters to win against Batman multiple times. Slade Wilson was the subject of a failed super-soldier project that turned him into the world’s greatest assassin.

Deathstroke’s rivalry with Batman has had several incarnations. Usually, though, it involves Deathstroke being paid to kill the Bat or getting payback for a previous defeat. Deathstroke is unrelenting when he has a target and his tactical abilities match that of Batman which is why he is even capable of defeating heroes like the Flash.

14 Mr. Freeze (AKA Dr. Victor Fries)

First Appearance: Batman #121 (1959), created by Dave Wood, Sheldon Moldoff, Bob Kane

Batman's Mr. Freeze in DC Comics' One Bad Day

Mr. Freeze couldn’t care less about riches or power, despite all outward appearances, he isn’t a cold-blooded killer at heart but he is instead one of the most tragic Batman villains. All Mr. Freeze cares about is saving his sick wife, Nora. After the gifted scientist Victor Fries’s wife contracts a rare terminal illness, he puts her into cryostasis. Interference from the company’s corrupt owner leads to Fries being transformed by his own technology.

Now Fries cannot live outside of sub-zero temperatures or the special suit he develops. The willingness to commit terrible crimes has earned Freeze the title as one of the top Batman villains; not because he is evil but precisely the opposite. He’s just a desperate man trying to get his wife back by any means, even if that means fighting Batman.

13 Scarecrow (AKA Dr. Jonathan Crane)

First Appearance: World’s Finest Comics #3 (1941), created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane

Scarecrow with his fear toxins in Batman.

The result of an abusive upbringing that left him forever traumatized, an unhinged Dr. Jonathan Crane still somehow managed to become a professor of psychology and a clinical psychologist. However, after firing a gun in class, he’s dismissed, driving him to become the Master of Fear.

Equipped with a terror-inducing gas that forces victims to face their worst fears, the Scarecrow preys on the citizens of Gotham with a commandeering creepiness. Though fear may be Batman’s greatest crime-fighting tool in striking terror in the hearts of criminals, he has met his match in Scarecrow’s abilities to release its dreadful powers.

12 Hugo Strange (AKA Dr. Strange)

First Appearance: Detective Comics #36 (1940), created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane

Hugo Strange DC

One of Batman’s earliest adversaries, Hugo Strange made his debut in 1940’s Detective Comics #36. As far as backstories go, Strange’s is a mystery. He pretty much just appeared on the scene and started creating problems from day one. Since then, he’s become an iconic foe for his appearances in the comics, games, and even TV shows.

He’s definitely insane, but he’s also incredibly smart, being one of the few to surmise Batman’s secret identity. If that’s not enough, Batman himself has called this villain the most dangerous man in the world. This is terrifying coming from a man who was once called the same by Superman.

11 Professor Pyg (AKA Lazlo Valentin)

First Appearance: Batman #666 (2007), created by Grant Morrison, Andy Kubert

Professor Pyg DC Comics

Batman has plenty of disturbing villains, but Lazlo Valentin is undoubtedly one of the Dark Knight’s most unsettling. Once an agent of the secret network Spyral, Lazlo destroyed his mind with drugs he developed turning him into the vicious Professor Pyg. As Pyg, he’s determined to make the world ‘perfect’, and does so by plying the world with his drugs.

Pyg is also known for getting hands-on to make the world perfect. Using extreme forms of surgery and mind-control, he turns unfortunate souls into his ‘Dollotrons’, mindless puppets who obey his every whim. Batman is used to sick villains, but as Damian Wayne once said, Pyg has “redefined wrong“.

10 Talia al Ghul (AKA ‘Daughter of The Demon’s Head’)

First Appearance: Detective Comics #411 (1971), created by Dennis O’Neil, Bob Brown, Dick Giordano

Talia al Ghul sitting on a throne.

Talia al Ghul has done a lot more to destroy Batman mentally and emotionally than almost anyone on his villains’ list. She was the only Batman villain to steal Bruce Wayne’s heart outside of Catwoman. Not only that, but she brought Batman’s child into the world, Damian Wayne.

Talia continued to torment Batman, and he soon learned that his son was raised with Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins. When Batman’s son finally came home, it was Talia that had him murdered, cementing her spot as one of Batman’s most hated villains.

9 Simon Hurt (AKA Dr. Hurt)

First Appearance: Batman #156 (1963), created by Sheldon Moldoff, Charles Paris, revised by Grant Morrison

Featured Image: Simon Hurt from DC Comics, holding up an enlarged blue heart

Many of Batman’s villains want to break him in body, mind, and spirit, and Dr. Simon Hurt nearly succeeded. Born Thomas Wayne in the 1700s, Hurt is a devil-worshiping ancestor of Bruce who gained near-immortality and used it to try and destroy his family. After centuries of planning, Hurt emerged with a plan to destroy Batman with a series of coordinated attacks on his mind.

Hurt attacked Bruce with lethal Batmen and formed a secret society known as the Black Glove to bring him and the rest of the Bat-Family down. While his initial attack wasn’t successful, he managed to slip back into the shadows, undoubtedly to return one day.

8 Bane (AKA ‘The Man Who Broke The Bat’)

First appearance: Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 (1993), created by Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan

The pinnacle of physical and mental criminality, he is literally the Bane of Batman’s existence. The by-product of a hard life spent growing up in a corrupt prison, he spends his youth killing people using a knife concealed in a teddy bear. After nearly dying from an experimental super-soldier program that hooks him on Venom and lets him escape his confinements, Bane sets his sights on Gotham.

Not only is Bane a titan of a metahuman but he is a strategic and tactical genius. This is how he was able to infamously defeat Batman and break his back. Bane has since evolved into one of the deadliest Batman villains made in recent years due to his relentlessness.

7 The Riddler

Riddler tipping a hat in Batman.

The Riddler seems to be in a class of villains all his own. He’s not exactly scary or brutal – at least most of the time – but rather a playful addition to the otherwise dark, gritty world of Batman. At his best, this enigmatic evildoer is a riddling madman hellbent on pitting his wits against the world’s greatest detective.

At worst, his intelligence and obsession to take down Batman allows him to keep up with the Gotham Guardian. His manipulations throughout Batman: Hush and his disastrous reign in Batman: Zero Year are proof positive that the Riddler can be terrifyingly deadly.

6 Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn Josh Middleton DC Comics

Rounding out the Gotham City Sirens is the bubbly killer, Harley Quinn. It’s quite a testament that a sidekick who got her start on a children’s animated TV show has quickly become one of the top Batman’s most popular associates, considering that Harley was originally intended as a one-off for the Batman: The Animated Series episode Joker’s Favor.

The character was such an overnight hit that she was brought back several more times. From there she broke into comics, quickly becoming a best-seller. A solo series followed, along with a spin-off comic with the aforementioned Sirens. To top off her mallet-wielding success, Margot Robbie’s portrayal in the DC Extended Universe has turned the character into a movie star. Harley’s recent romantic involvement with Poison Ivy has brought both to the forefront of DC Comics’ popularity.



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