Skip to main content

50 Greatest Batman Villains

Talia al Ghul

The Villain: The daughter of Ra's and a fellow member of the League of Assassins, Talia enjoys the same complex relationship with Batman as her father does, with things made more complicated still by the romantic tension that exists between them. Whether she counts as a full-blown villain is up for debate, but she's certainly one of the more intriguing characters in Batman's life.

Movie Potential:
Will she be making an appearance in The Dark Knight Rises , as rumours would so persistently have it? You'll have to wait until Friday to find out...

The Penguin

The Villain: Oswald Cobblepot, a pint-sized gangster who runs Gotham's premiere night-spot for hoods, thugs and general undesirables, The Iceberg Lounge. Carries an umbrella with an in-built machine gun, one of our favourite gadgets of all time!

Movie Potential: Danny DeVito played him as a gothic grotesque in Batman Returns , but we could see him fitting into a new version of Gotham as a Mob kingpin in the vein of Falcone and Maroni. Christopher Nolan is famously not a fan, but we still reckon he would have fitted into the director's universe nicely.

Bane

The Villain: Batman's most physically overwhelming foe, Bane was born and raised in a nightmarish Caribbean prison, where he became a test-subject for the volatile Venom formula. Granting him irresistible physical strength, Bane is now dependent on the drug, withdrawal from which would be catastrophic. That said, it did grant him the strength to break the Bat in half…

Movie Potential:
Having been relegated to bungling henchman duties in Batman & Robin , Bane looks set to receive his definitive big-screen treatment through Tom Hardy's portrayal in The Dark Knight Rises . We can hardly wait…

Mr. Freeze

The Villain: A villain shrouded in pathos, Victor Fries was a brilliant scientist specialising in cryogenics, who married a beautiful young woman named Nora. When Nora fell prey to a degenerative condition, Fries placed her in cryo-stasis and has dedicated his life to finding her a cure. Sadly for him, his mental state has deteriorated drastically as a result…

Movie Potential: Arnie's pun-tastic performance was a bit of an insult to the multi-layered character of the comics, and we'd love to see his tragic backstory explored with the considered approach it deserves.

Hugo Strange

The Villain: Deranged psychiatrist Hugo Strange is a character just aching to be brought to the big screen, his morally suspect methods of practice allying with an all-consuming obsession with Batman to make for a genuinely troubling villain. His recent appearance in Batman: Arkham City gave us a taste of his potential, and now we want more.

Movie Potential:
We'd love to see an adaptation of the Prey storyline, in which Strange hypnotises psychotic cop Max Cort into becoming the vigilante Night Scourge, in order to draw the Bat out of the shadows. Would we be laughed out of town for suggesting Robin Williams for the role? Yes? Okay, then...

Two-Face

The Villain: A white knight brought down to the level of the thugs he'd worked so hard to fight against, Harvey Dent's character arc is one of the most heartbreaking of all Batman's adversaries. A former ally of the Dark Knight, his horribly scarred visage is a constant reminder to the Bat of one of his greatest failures. Could his psychological collapse have been averted had Batman reached out to him sooner? We'll never know…

Movie Potential: Taking Tommy Lee Jones' twitching panto routine out of the equation, the most successful presentation of Harvey's story was in The Dark Knight , although even then, the Two-Face side of his journey felt a mite rushed. He deserves to be the main villain in a future instalment, somewhere down the line.

The Riddler

The Villain: Edward Nashton (or Edward Nigma, depending on your backstory of choice) is Gotham's foremost egomaniac, determined to prove himself superior to "the world's greatest detective" by outwitting him with his fiendish puzzles and mysteries. He once managed to deduce Batman's secret identity, only for a head injury to send that knowledge back into the ether. Curses!

Movie Potential:
Jim Carrey's uber-camp portrayal might have been entertaining, but we'd love to see the character played as a brilliant but psychologically damaged character with a darker edge. Not for nothing was the Riddler thought to be Nolan's villain of choice for the third film…

Catwoman

The Villain: Selina Kyle… master thief, ultimate survivor, leather fetishist. One of the most intriguing villains on this list, largely thanks to her frequent flip-flopping between the sides of good and evil. Superhero stories don't tend to deal in shades of grey, but Catwoman is forever walking the tightrope with suitably feline grace…

Movie Potential:
We'll soon see how Ann Hathaway's version measures up to Michelle Pfeiffer's slinky incarnation, but as far as Chris Nolan is concerned, she's a knockout. He's even suggested she receive her own spin-off film! Although that didn't work out so well last time...

Ra's al Ghul

The Villain: The centuries old figurehead of the League Of Assassins (or "shadows" in the films) works as an excellent foil to the Dark Knight due to the fact that their world-views are largely the same. Both men have dedicated their lives to eradicating criminality, but while Ra's believes villainy should be punished by death, Batman retains some degree of faith in humanity. Or at least that no man can be judge, jury and executioner…

Movie Potential: Liam Neeson played the character as a wily old mentor in Batman Begins , which made much of the duality between master and apprentice. However, there's still plenty of scope to explore the character's more supernatural side, should the franchise move away from Nolan's ultra-realistic framework.

The Joker

The Villain: The Clown Prince Of Crime is undoubtedly Batman's greatest nemesis, and arguably the greatest comic-book villain of all time. Despite the vast array of rogues available to screen and comic-book writers alike, the finest Batman stories are inevitably those in which the Joker is pulling the strings. The yin to Batman's yang, you can't help feeling that both men would be lost without the other. After all, they're not so very different are they?

Movie Potential:
To our minds, the character has already received three iconic portrayals on the big screen. Heath Ledger's version is probably the most terrifying, while Jack Nicholson brought plenty of charisma to proceedings, and Mark Hamill's animated version is probably the most faithful to the comics. It would be a difficult character for future filmmakers to return to, unless they were to present an entirely different version, such as the aged-up antagonist of The Dark Knight Returns .

George is GR's resident movie news person, based out of London. He understands that all men must die, but he'd rather not think about it.