Batman is well known in the world of comic books. Even those who have never read one comic book in their life will know who he is. This is not something every comic book character can say, making him unique among the thousands of characters DC Comics has created and the potential millions in comic book history. Of course, there cannot be a true hero without a villain, right? The Batman Rogues Gallery Villains are likely the best in the comic book world. Only Spider-Man and The Flash could claim to have a rogues gallery anywhere close to Batman’s. Seriously, that is how good his list of villains are, yet we’re going to do the potentially impossible task of trying to rank the absolute best. We obviously understand not everyone will agree with us, and we’re prepared for that.
It is tough to pick his most notable villains for the “original” Batman. This led us to break things down a bit to make life easier on us. Therefore, here is our list of “rules,” if you will. If a character was only really an associate alongside another major villain, they did not make the cut. This eliminated Harley Quinn, Lady Shiva, Black Spider, and Sensei. We also wanted to eliminate specific “villains” who often operated as an anti-hero who helped the bat, such as Red Hood. Obviously, we eliminated any lover for Bruce Wayne or Batman, such as Catwoman and Talia al Ghul. This led us to our official ranking for the best rogues gallery members. Don’t worry, we’ll explain why we ranked them where we did. With that out of the way, let’s get started!
Debut:Batman #49 (October 1948)
Created By: Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Lew Sayre Schartz
The Mad Hatter character is inspired by the character of the same name from Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He even has the same hat the Alice character had too, except it has impressive abilities. While Hatter is a literal genius, he’s also a talented neuroscientist. This allowed him to infuse hit infamous hat with mind-controlling technology. His real name is Jervis Tetch, and one could say that he kinda fell into crime. He had already developed the technology but moved into a boarding house where he befriended the owner’s daughter. The daughter ends up getting pregnant years later, and she fears her mother’s reaction.
Thus, she chose to lie and say she was “sexually violated” by a member of the high school baseball team, the Gothan Hawks. The girl asks Tetch to use his technology to convince her mother the Hawks are “bad kids.” He has one of the team members do a bad act, which turns out to be setting off a pipebomb that killed every member of the team. It was his first criminal act, but not his last. Ultimately, once he got started, the Mad Hatter couldn’t stop. The power to control minds is powerful, and someone like Jervis could get anything he wanted with the power he possessed. It should not surprise anyone that he tried to get as much as he could with it.
The Penguin is one of the most notable villains in the world of comics, and that is certainly due to his run-ins with the caped crusader. What makes him one of the best Batman rogues gallery villains? The “Gentleman of Crime” might seem like a short, overweight blub of a human being. Yet he uses some impressive technology to get his way. In particular, he is known for his umbrella. It tends to have numerous gadgets equal to what Batman might have in his toolbelt. Pretty much anything that could help him at the time will be present. Whether on the old animated series or in the comics, it was always cool to see what that umbrella provided.
The umbrella is bulletproof, yet can shoot bullets itself. It has become a sword, mini-helicopter, shot gas, and countless other things. Penguin has also shown to be relatively skilled at unarmed combat too. He owns and operates the “Iceberg Lounge,” a major nightclub for the criminal underworld. Batman often uses it to gain information. However, Penguin often utilizes this himself… which is probably the very reason he has the club. One important note is that, unlike most other rogues villains, Penguin is completely sane. He knows what he’s doing and has no problem with it. Making him a bit more difficult for Batman to handle sometimes.
The Court of Owls is a collective enemy that Batman has been battling quite a lot since their debut in 2011. While their debut in DC Comics is relatively recent, the group has been operating in the shadows for decades. Who are they? Apparently, the group involves most of the elite in Gotham. The “elite,” in this case, are those with money and power positions. Thus, the oldest and wealthiest families in the city itself. The Court can even be traced back to the 1600s. The collective uses murder and money overall to enforce its will on Gotham City, but not through the Court itself fighting. They are in the shadows, unlike other villains Batman has faced off with most of the time.
This means that most of the Batman Rogues Gallery villains were potentially placed by the Court of Owls to do exactly as they did. With the end game always ending up in the Court’s favor. All while the Rogues and Batman were unaware of their affiliation. However, usually, they cannot rely on Rogues to do their job and thus breed highly trained assassins they refer to as “Talons.” These Talons are nearly superhuman and do not care what life they end, as long as it serves the Court of Owls. Making this powerful collective a true problem for the Dark Knight. Yet it is also just as big a problem for “Bruce Wayne,” as he is one of the types the Court of Owls would want in their collective. How far will they go to make that happen?
Professor Hugo Strange has been altered several times over the years. In DC Comics, there is something known as the “Pre-Crisis” and “Post-Crisis” continuity. This is due to a major crisis event that reshaped the entire DC Universe. Thus, several characters were changed or altered from their previous versions. A similar situation happened with the New 52 and the recent Rebirth movements. Usually, Strange is depicted as a man of genius-level intellect. He uses his knowledge of biology, chemistry, and even psychiatry to help him commit criminal acts. Some of his inventions or uses of biological beings can be horrific! Let’s just say “#Zombies.”
At one point, he was put in place as the head of Arkham and used the villains to do his bidding. On top of this, Strange is among the first of the Batman Rogues Gallery villains to find out Bruce Wayne is Batman. This was a shocking thing, as only those such as Catwoman really could say they knew. Batman usually avoided letting anyone find out his secret identity. However, Strange is a genius who became obsessed with learning the true identity. Not only did he learn it, but he made sure Batman knew he found out. Yet in spite of this, depending on the universe, Strange usually kept that identity a secret.
Killer Croc is unlike most villains that Batman has faced off with. He was originally a wrestler named Waylon Jones. However, he suffered from a rare genetic condition that actually made his skin scale-like, giving him the appearance of a crocodile. This transformation drove him insane, causing him to adopt the “Killer Croc” moniker and turn to a life of crime. Croc was not initially like a crocodile in multiple aspects, and only had the appearance of a reptile-like being. Yet he eventually developed animalistic tendencies, which made him very dangerous to deal with. That also included a nice taste for humans, which is never a good thing for us.
The original version stopped there, but later versions would give Killer Croc not only the appearance of a crocodile but also the same type of teeth and claws reptiles are known for. On top of this, his overall body became enhanced in the strength, speed, stamina, senses, and durability categories. He also somehow developed accelerated healing, which makes him nearly impossible to put down for good. Batman often had to find clever ways to outsmart Croc rather than battle him in a normal fight. Croc does become an anti-hero later, but he has often remained a solid villain and never got along with Batman.
Slade Wilson has often been the arch-enemy of the Teen Titans, yet he’s really Dick Grayson’s arch-enemy. Grayson has heavy connections to Batman, resulting in the character becoming a big part of Batman’s comics over the years too. In fact, he once put a control chip on Robin to control him in an attempt to end Batman’s life. There is even a comic called Batman vs Deathstroke where it is revealed Bruce Wayne is not Damien’s father, rather, Slade Wilson is. Thus, Deathstroke and Batman tend to have MANY battles that become incredibly personal. Slade is well aware Bruce is Batman, but his identity is not really what he cares about.
Deathstroke is an assassin for hire and Batman often stops him from achieving his goals. This costs him money and that affects his reputation and his bank account. We do not know until later on about his children, to who Slade sends part of his money. This could be why he takes Batman’s interference so personally. When in the Army, Slade nearly died on a mission and that led to an operation that gave him superpowers. He currently has enhanced intelligence, strength, and reflexes along with a regenerative healing ability. Along with amazing swordsmanship, marksmanship, and fighting abilities, he’s one of the best Batman Rogues Gallery villains.
Created By: Bob Kane, Sheldon Moldoff, Dave Wood (original) Paul Dini, Bruce Timm (current)
What would you do to save a person you love? If your name is Victor Fries, you’d do literally anything. Dr. Fries is a genius who happens to be a cryogenics expert that never had a desire to get involved in crime. Fries’ wife, Nora, is terminally ill and Victor was trying to find any way he could to save her. Sadly for him, a mishap happens at his laboratory. The accident lowered his body temperature to sub-zero levels, which then forced him to wear a specialized cryogenic suit to survive. Victor keeps trying to cure Nora, but he needs money to do this.
Thus, he adopted a life of crime to steal either money or special supplies to use for her. He could not simply go by his own name, so he took on the ironic yet apropos Mr. Freeze name. Of course, his identity does not stay secret for long as Batman found out without much effort. Obviously, due to being in Gotham City, Freeze’s criminal activity consistently puts him in conflict with Batman or members of the Bat-Family. Due to this happening quite often and the technology he uses to combat the Bat, Mr. Freeze has become one of the most well-known Batman Rogues Gallery villains of all time. People can understand why Freeze does what he does, and even Batman gets it. However, the “Caped Crusader” still cannot let crime happen in his city.
Clayface has become incredibly beloved by comic book fans, and this is likely due to how he has been used in animated television or streaming shows. However, it is clear that Clayface has been one of Batman’s most notable villains. Of course, many comic book fans will likely ask: which Clayface are we talking about here? It is true that there are quite a few versions of the character. We are going with the most notable version of Clayface, Basil Karlo. For those unaware, Basil was a B-list actor who might not be getting the big roles he believes he deserves. Yet he’s not a bad person, or so we assumed. However, when he finds out that a remake of his classic horror film, Dread Castle, is being remade without him… he loses it.
He played a character named Clayface in another film and put the costume for that character on as he went to the set. Basil then began ending the lives of the actors he killed in the same order they were ended in the movie. He then plans to end the actor’s life playing the “Clayface Killer.” However, he is stopped by Batman. In the Post-Crisis version of Clayface, he gains the power to shapeshift, duplicate, and melt. Often appearing like a huge mud glob with incredible durability. While there are times his mental health is in order, thus allowing him to be completely sane of his actions, he often remains a villain. Although, with at times less ending of lives compared to his psychopathic tendencies from before.
Life isn’t as easy as flipping a coin and going with the choice the coin lands on. Well, we thought that before Two-Face came along. Originally, Harvey Dent was a bright, young district attorney for Gotham City. However, Dent is scarred terribly on the left side of his face when a mob boss, Sal Maroni, throws acidic chemicals at him during a court trial. This causes a huge mental breakdown for Dent. Now insane, he becomes obsessed with the number two, duality overall, and the good and evil paradox. Of course, this origin is fleshed out a bit where a similar incident happens but Harvey actually has dissociative identity disorder (or D.I.D.).
He adopts the Two-Face name, as the other side of him is now the alter to his condition. It is connected to the abuse he dealt with from his father as a child. Thus, the mutated version of him seems to take on the personality of his father. Of course, Two-Face makes every important decision by flipping a coin. He gives himself two choices and goes with whatever the coin lands on. Yet this coin has a head on each side, except one of the heads is scarred to separate it from the other. Harvey might not have superpowers but he is a genius, skilled marksman, and fighter. The latter two even increase as he is trained by more experienced fighters.
Poison Ivy technically does not have bad aspirations. She wants mankind to take better care of Mother Earth, which seems like a fair ask. However, mankind is not exactly proving today that they are willing to do this. Originally just an Earth-loving scientist named Dr. Pamela Isley, she is always upset at how mankind treats Earth but clearly cannot do much about it herself. The botanist is working at a local university when she is seduced by her professor, Dr. Jason Woodrue. The normally shy and reserved Isley is injected with poisons and toxins by Woodrue as an experiment. These toxins and poisons nearly kill her twice, but Isley manages to live. However, she is now transformed but insane from the experiments.
This is something that Woodrue found out the hard way. Her shy nature is gone in favor of an open, seductive woman who uses pheromones or kisses to get humans to do as she commands. Those kisses if held long enough can end lives too due to their toxicity. Pamela also finds she can control plants and other Earth-based materials, making her a massive meta-human threat. Taking on the Poison Ivy moniker, she becomes an eco-terrorist with the goal of forcing normal humans to take care of the Earth. Of course, this makes her a big problem for the Dark Knight. Her constant run-ins with him make her one of the biggest Batman Rogues Gallery villains he has!
The Riddler might not have superpowers, but he has constantly been a difficult problem for Batman. The reason? He is just as smart as Batman, but a complete wildcard who is sometimes impossible to read. That makes Riddler a true threat every time. His name alone sort of foreshadows this. His real name is Edward Nigma, which is meant to be a play on the word “enigma.” This is defined as a person or thing that is difficult to understand. People assume Riddler is only about being obsessed with elaborate riddles and puzzles. It is true that he enjoys testing Batman and attempting to prove his intellectual superiority, yet it is so much more than that.
Riddler is also obsessed with everyone knowing how smart he is. This is why he makes a theatrical production of sorts out of his crimes. Everything is over the top for him. Thus, he is begging for Batman or anyone else to try and stop him. Ultimately, his obsession leads him to even utilize other villains to help him pull off his insane plans. The interesting part is that usually, Riddler is committing a crime while he is putting Batman or the cops through his riddles and death traps. Thus proving his criminal mastermind tactics hold up well. There is a reason he’s one of the most notable Batman Rogues Gallery villains.
Bane is not a big dumb moron-like the character has been presented at times. Bane’s story originally began badly. His father had been a revolutionary that escaped Santa Prisca before he could go to prison. Therefore, the court decided that his son would serve his father’s life sentence. This forced Bane to live out his entire childhood and part of his early life in prison. In spite of being imprisoned, Bane developed impressive skills as he learned from others. He also read as many books as he could, then spent any spare time bodybuilding in the prison gym. Of course, Bane ended up learning 6 languages due to the many prisoners that came through.
But he had to grow up early, ending the lives of prisoners due to the merciless nature of prison. Bane’s social standing in the prison made officials take notice, leading him to be a test subject for the “Venom” drug. One of the few to survive its use, Bane used the Venom to help him escape prison. Interestingly, Bane is terrified of bats so upon escaping he wanted to go to Gotham City. As they feared a bat too, the Batman, and now Bane wants to end Batman’s life. He seems to believe Batman is the personification of a demonic bat. Bane nearly does this as he iconically “broke the bat” when he broke Batman’s back, putting him out of action for a while.
Dr. Jonathan Crane was mentally abused in school by bullies, many of which claimed he looked like Ichabod Crane from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This actually gave Crane a lifelong obsession with fear, and somehow weaponizing it. After being humiliated by a bully and rejected by a cheerleader, he shows up to the Senior Prom wearing a stereotypical Scarecrow costume with a gun. In all of this chaos, the bully gets into a car accident and is paralyzed permanently while the crash ends the life of the cheerleader. Still obsessed with fear, he earns a psychology degree and ends up taking a position at Arkham Asylum.
There, he performs many fear-inducing experiments on the criminals. He ends up perfecting the infamous “fear toxin” there and often uses it on others, including Batman, to avoid being caught. Utilizing fear forces people to see things that are not really there, as they see the very thing they are afraid of. Also, unlike the other Batman Rogues Gallery villains, Scarecrow is not committing crimes for money. Rather, it is for the ultimate thrill and power of making people fear for their lives. Of course, while he is smart, Scarecrow is also very experienced with multiple weapons and has shown impressive hand-to-hand combat skills too.
Created By:Dennis O’Neil, Neal Adams, Julius Schwartz
Whether he is called “the demon” or “the demon’s head,” Ra’s al Ghul is certainly a massive threat. As the leader of the League of Assassins, he helped to train several notable villains Batman has fought over the years. In some versions of Batman’s history, Bruce Wayne actually trained with the League to become the superhero he is today. While other villains are experienced, Ra’s al Ghul goes well beyond that as he has been alive for a very long time. The length will depend on the story, but it usually tends to be several hundred years. Thus, he has learned from many major warriors throughout history. How does he stay alive so long?
He is about to achieve this through a series of Lazurus Pits, which can heal the body and even bring some back to life. Due to his long life, he’s one of the greatest tacticians Batman has ever faced. Ra’s is also a better hand-to-hand fighter than Batman, as he knows nearly every martial art to ever exist. He has gotten in Batman’s path several times over the years, with one incident involving al Ghul trying to level Gotham entirely. Ra’s is not without honor and usually refuses to lie as a result. In spite of being one of the best Batman Rogues Gallery villains, Bruce Wayne is his grandson’s father. Thus, he often refuses to end Batman’s life.
Joker has done some horrific things in his long history, but he has no true origin that helps us know why he is as he is. Yet often, he realized he could not really ever hurt Batman physically enough for it to matter. Thus, he went after others he loved. In the infamous “Death in the Family” storyline, Joker ends Jason Todd’s life. Of course, Todd was Batman’s newest Robin. This was a massive blow, but Joker didn’t care. During The Killing Joke storyline, The Joker finds out Barbara Gordon is Batgirl. This leads him to track her down and “sexually assault” her, while also beating her to an inch of her life.
She was also paralyzed in the incident, and DC Comics kept this canon for the mainline universe. It does not stop there, as Joker has also done things like blow up a school and hospital. Perhaps his most recent horrifying action was making Superman think Lois Lane was Doomsday, thus resulting in the Man of Steel flying into space with her. Lane was pregnant and contained a timer connected to her heart. If her heart stopped, the timer would too. Which had been connected to several bombs all over Metropolis. Which meant he lost his wife, unborn child, and Metropolis in minutes all due to a joke by The Joker. He is the greatest villain, so how could he not be the best of the Batman Rogues Gallery villains?
Where do we find this stuff? Here are our Sources: