The Batman franchise hosts an impressive rouge gallery with popular characters most people will recognize whether they are a part of the fandom. Gotham gives us some of DC’s darkest villains with questionable motives and interesting gimmicks. When we take the Joker out of the game, who are the best Batman Villains?
10. Ra’s al Ghul
The leader of the League of Assassins has made several noticeable appearances throughout animated series and the Arrowverse. Father of Thalia and grandfather to the most recent Robin, Damian, the ruthless warrior, has had his fair share of drama with Bruce Wayne.
Although this “near-immortal” villain has butt heads with DC heroes in the past, he always finds a way to crawl back into the Lazarus pit and back into story arcs. He’ll do whatever it takes for the sake of his legacy, even pushing Batman himself to threaten to kill.
Edward Nygma is another famous villain that is no stranger to the spotlight. In addition to several recurring roles in the animated universe, he was the main villain in Gotham, Batman (1996), Batman Forever, and will appear in Matt Reeves’s upcoming The Batman movie.
He’s a genius who puts a lot of effort into his antics, turning every crime into a game meant to be solved. His obsessive premeditation almost makes him a strong opposite to Joker’s chaos. Don’t misunderstand; colorful costumes and quickly riddles aside, the Riddler is no joke.
8. Killer Croc
This Suicide Squad member is one of the more terrifying of the Batman villains, even managing to scare the formidable Damian Wayne in Batman: Battle for the Cowl. Although this reptilian-like metahuman has a long history of murder, he has a soft side that you can’t help but appreciate.
Several depressing storylines highlight how Waylon Jones struggles with his condition and how people perceive him. Waylon just wants to be recognized as a person rather than a monster, sometimes even requesting fellow Batman villains to use his real name in lieu of his criminal alias.
Between depressing “love” connections and sad origin stories, his recent mentorship to Roy Harper also makes him a complicated villain that almost makes you forget he’s a ruthless cannibal.
Two-face is another high-ranking villain with a lot of screen time and a painful past. Although his origins were changed a couple of times over the years, they all pretty much break down to the tragedy of district attorney, Harvey Dent, being driven to insanity following the devastating mutilation that left half his face unrecognizable.
Admittingly inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dent’s person was ripped in two, leaving behind a homicidal monster obsessed with flipping coins and the remnants of the original Dent desperate to recover. Although the Rebirth comics had Batman “cure” Dent in 2020, we’ll have to see whether the upcoming Infinite Frontier relaunch will keep it canon.
6. Professor Pyg
Professor Pyg may not be as notorious as the other contenders on the list, but this villain deserves a lot more attention. Introduced back in the 2000s, he’s a fairly new character considering much of Batman’s rouge gallery’s debut dates.
Lazlo Valentin is a schizophrenic scientist obsessed with his art and perfection. He easily has the scariest costume of any comic character, wearing a butcher’s apron and a pig mask. His eerie mannerisms and creepy costume are nothing compared to the surgical torture he performs when behind the mask.
Although he was pretty disturbing in Gotham, his tv portrayal cannot hold a candle to his brutality with his Dollotrons in the comic books. His trademark gimmicks come a lot closer to the “Saw” franchise than many other Gotham criminals.
5. William Cobb
The Court of Owls served a significant role in the comic series for both the New 52 and Rebirth launches. Hiding in Gotham’s shadows since the foundation of the city, the secret organization served the social elites’ interests through reanimated warriors known as Talons. Infused with a chemical known as Electrum, Talons exhibit superhuman strength, regenerative abilities, and immortality.
Known as the “finest” Talon the court has, William Cobb worked under the organization murdering countless Gotham inhabitants since the early 1900s. What’s more upsetting than revealing he murdered several members of the Wayne family over the century was that he is the great grandfather of Dick Grayson.
It turns out, the perky, retired Robin had a secret dark history and was “destined” for a much different life. Cobb’s introduction opened the door to some dark realities of “what could have been” for the first Robin if Bruce Wayne hadn’t taken him in following his parents’ murder.
4. Poison Ivy
On a more positive note, not all of Gotham’s criminals are evil. Some characters earn their notoriety by fighting crime by breaking Batman’s cardinal “no kill” rule. Poison Ivy is an excellent example of an anti-hero that uses questionable tactics to achieve reasonable goals.
Dr. Pamela Isley is a botanist and biochemist who gets who powers after being poisoned with specific plant toxins that give her supernatural powers over plants (which is a lot cooler than it sounds).
Not driven by wealth or power, Poison Ivy uses her supernatural plant powers to protect the environment. A more violent version of Captain Planet, she often gets tangled in messy situations that leave her on the wrong side of the law in Batman’s eyes.
She occasionally teamed up with the caped crusader over the years (along with other classic anti-heroes like Catwoman and Harley Quinn). She was even an occasional love interest for Batman in some renditions. Her well-received portrayal as a main character on the Harley Quinn TV series as the cynical and introverted best friend to Quinn won over fans everywhere.
Another notable villain that plays a major role in the Harley Quinn series, Bane is a topped rank Batman Villain best known on the screen for The Dark Knight Rises. Unlike his dopey and soft character on the Harley Quinn show, Bane is a brutal foe who often crosses the line in the Batman universe (we won’t spoil – just read City of Bane).
Brought up in a life behind bars, every minute of Bane’s life was a struggle. With the help of a well-toned physique, genius tactician skills, and the power of the drug “venom,” Bane brags that he is the only character that ever “broke the bat.” His iconic introduction in the Knightfall storyline is considered a classic among Batman fans and serves as the Dark Knight Rises’ inspiration.
2. Mr. Freeze
Dr. Victor Fries is another Batman villain often portrayed in a black suit hooked up to tubes. Unlike the ridiculously jacked Bane, who is hooked up to an experimental drug for brute strength, Mr. Freeze needs his suit just to stay alive.
In an effort to cure his terminally ill wife, Nora Fries, the cryogenic expert gets caught in a medical experiment gone wrong. Forced to wear a cryogenic suit and heated goggles to stay alive, Victor is still determined to cure his wife.
Despite his heroic aims, his lack of empathy for others and passion for human experimentation force him to come at odds with Batman on several occasions. Although his portrayal is generally brooding and depressing, everyone can appreciate his comedic “woke” version from the Harley Quinn show.
1. The Scarecrow
There are a surprising number of Batman villains who hold doctorate degrees. While we won’t argue that the Joker isn’t a great villain, the Scarecrow was always a personal favorite.
Dr. Jonathan Crane is the self-proclaimed “master of fear” who uses a specially designed toxin to elicit panic in his victims. His origin involves an abusive background with a fanatic grandmother and a lot of school bullying. His interest in violence and murder peaked back then – although he got away with it long enough to earn a doctorate in psychology.
After losing his job as a professor when he takes a phobia seminar too far, he becomes a masked villain. Unlike many of the other educated Batman villains, the Scarecrow has a more deranged manner, often speaking in riddles and committing crimes without a “noble” goal. His fear toxins lead to terrifying and humbling storylines that force fearless characters, like Batman, to confront their darkest moments in pretty depressing ways.
Any fan of Batman: The Animated Series remembers the traumatizing episode where he “killed” batgirl or made Robin terrified of heights. Just the thought of running into that mask in a dark alley is enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine.
Final Thoughts on The Best Batman Villains
From the Joker to Condiment King, Gotham’s extensive rogue gallery is full of interesting characters that are sure to leave an impression. While Joker steals the show for most Batman fans, it’s important to remember a colorful cast is always waiting in the shadows to wreak havoc on the citizens of Gotham city.