Top 10 Batman Movie Villains

This post is for the Great Villain Blogathon hosted by Silver Screenings, Speakeasy, and Shadows and Satin. For my part, there are plenty of great villains out there that I could have picked from, but in the superhero universe I don’t think there is any greater rogues’ gallery than the ones that live in and around Gotham city, so I decided to make a top 10 list of Batman’s greatest foes that have graced the silver screen or the home video screen. Yes, I am including the DC Animation direct-to-video films but I’m not including any of the television series, animated or otherwise. So here… we… go!

Talon

Batman vs Robin Talon

Film: Batman vs. Robin – This is a very recent entry as the movie he appeared in just came out on DVD yesterday. He’s the head of the soldier branch of the Court of Owls: a secretive organization made up of Gotham’s rich and powerful who seek to control the city. He was the son of an abusive cat burglar who turned on his father at a young age only to be raised by the Court of Owls as an assassin. Through the course of the film, he ends up being a pseudo-father figure to Batman’s actual son Damian Wayne. It makes sense to have a villain of Batman resemble an owl which is one of the few predators that hunt bats, which will come into play again later. He even follows through with his own twisted ideals to the very end.

Darkseid

Superman Batman Darkseid

Films: Superman/Batman Apocalypse, Justice League: War – While Darkseid is typically more of a Superman and/or a Justice League villain, Batman does manage to play a major part in defeating him. He is one of the most powerful villains in the DC Universe, though his major power are these relatively ridiculous Omega beams which are basically homing laser beams that only move in right angles. While he is one of the most powerful villains, he’s also one of the least interesting as he generally just floats around and acts like nothing can defeat him, and then is surprised when he is.

Harley Quinn

Arkham Harley

Films: Assault on Arkham – I’m not ashamed to admit that Harley Quinn is my favorite Batman villain. She’s crazy, she’s sexy, and she dresses like a playing card, what’s not to like? The main reason why she isn’t higher on the list is because she’s not really a big threat to Batman, she’s much more of a nuisance. This movie really showcases a bit of her deviousness when she plays off being a jilted lover to the Joker, and yet she’s actually creating the means for his escape. Brilliant.

Superman

Film: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 – This might be a little bit of a stretch to call him a villain, but in the timeline of the Dark Knight Returns he is definitely an opponent of the Dark Knight. And of course he will be again, likely briefly, in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And while it really is a bit of a stretch to think that Batman in a mech suit could really prove to be any sort of match for the Man of Steel, even if his heart might not entirely be in it, this film really milks this fight for all its worth, and for that spectacle alone, I had to include him in this list.

Catwoman

Batman Catwoman

Films: Batman Returns, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman: Year One, Batman: The Movie – And we finally get to our first live action villain! As far as Catwoman goes, I must say that I like Anne Hathaway’s overall performance and character better, but I like the look of Pfeiffer and her chemistry with Keaton better. I also have to give a quick shout out to Lee Meriweather who also makes tight leather look pretty good. Anyway, Hathaway never gets a line like “Mistletoe is deadly if you eat it, but a kiss can be even deadlier if you mean it.” And those high tech cat ear goggles don’t hold a candle to the stitched together leather/vinyl/rubber/whatever catsuit in Batman Returns. It helps that she is more than a little bit crazy rather than just a very well trained con artist.

The Red Hood

batman red hood

Film: Batman: Under the Red Hood – This was one of the first animated films where I really started to think that DC Animation was telling stories for adults rather than just for kids. They’ve gotten a lot darker over the years, but this was one of the first that really dealt with blood and death with one of the darker moments of Batman’s history with the death of Jason Todd. The Red Hood was one of the several vigilantes in Gotham that took things too far, he killed some of the criminals, and worked with the others. And to top things off, he ended up being Jason Todd himself, resurrected by Ra’s Al Ghul in the Lazarus Pit only to come out wrong. It’s a great story, and he’s a great sympathetic villain when all is said and done.

Ra’s Al Ghul

Batman Al Ghul

Films: Batman Begins, Batman: Under the Red Hood, Son of Batman – While he appeared in a couple of the animated films, he wasn’t much of a villain in either of them so I will be focusing on his appearance in Batman Begins. He is the interesting case of the villain who initially started out as Batman’s friend and mentor, teaching him the ways of the League of Shadows under the guise of being Ducard. And while Nolan’s universe did away from the Lazarus Pit, he did find a way to have Liam Neeson briefly return for the Dark Knight Rises as a memory. But he is one of the most powerful villains as the leader of the League of Shadows, one of the few who knew Batman’s secret identity and one of the first villains that he let die in a move not entirely fitting with his character.

Owlman

batman owl man

Film: Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths – One of the only parallel dimension villains on this list, Owlman comes from an alternate Earth where he is the analogue of Batman in his world, only he and the rest of the Justice League analogues are villains and part of the Crime Syndicate. And while he isn’t the leader, he is the one who masterminds the overall plan that would destroy the entire multiverse. Certainly a step up from robbing a bank. It helps that he is voiced by the incomparable James Woods. While the film itself does lack a little something to make it spectacular, it’s a fun film and Owlman is one of the more memorable parts of it.

Bane

Batman Bane

Films: Dark Knight Rises, Batman & Robin – Getting close to the end there just has to be a mention of Bane. The way he played off of Poison Ivy was just incredible. Of course, I’m joking and the actual Bane that makes this list is the one played by Tom Hardy in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. While I do think that the Dark Knight Rises is the weakest of the three films, there is still quite a lot there to impress, and one of those things is Hardy’s Bane performance. He is intelligent, strong, and determined. Not to mention memorable, while it may have seemed like an odd choice for him to have that mask and accent, it’s not something that is easily forgotten. Bane makes an impression, and it is a strong one. He also happens to have the entire city of Gotham under his thumb for months on end. Impressive doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The Joker

3 Jokers

Films: Batman, The Dark Knight, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Under the Red Hood, Assault on Arkham, etc – When I started this list, I imagine that there was little doubt as to what villain would make the number 1 spot. Out of his entire rogues’ gallery there is one villain used more often than any other, and that is the Joker. And while there are many different incarnations, the ones that I want to focus on for this list are Mark Hamill’s portrayal in Mask of the Phantasm, Jack Nicholson in 1989’s Batman, and Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight. They all have their place on this pedestal and they are all worthy of it. The Joker is such an interesting character, above all else he just wants to see the chaos unfold around him and have a little fun while he’s at it. He can be a bit more on the psychotic side of things like in the Dark Knight, and he can be a bit more on the silly side of things like in Tim Burton’s Batman. But there’s always a sense of chaos while at the same time there’s this incredible intelligence behind the chaos that makes it that much more terrifying.

I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I enjoyed making it. There were a few villains that I am disappointed that I had to leave out for one reason or another, I’m a big fan of Clayface and the Riddler, but Clayface has yet to make a notable appearance in a movie, and the less said about Jim Carrey’s Riddler the better. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.

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About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 300 superhero and comic book movies in the past four years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on April 14, 2015, in Blogs, Lists and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Love the inclusion of Superman. Everything you write about hia fight with Batman is 100% true. Also thrilled to see Red Hood. Haven’t seen the one with Owlman. Have to ask this: what about Talia Al Ghul? She was controlling Bane in TDKR (plus an appearance in Son of Batman, but that wasn’t villainous at all). And Michelle Pfeiffer is the correct answer to that question. Easy. In Friday, my entry in this blogathon will examine Batman himself.

    • Crisis on Two Earths is decent, worth checking out if you come across it. I thought about Talia, but I’m more familiar with her as more of a kinda ally to Batman as she was in the animated series and I didn’t much care for her villainous turn in the Dark Knight Rises. And Pfeiffer is always the answer to that question.

  2. Great list! I really need to watch the animated films! Joker being #1 is obvious but accurate, so no shock there. Catwoman is probably my favorite, but that’s a personal thing.

    • I tried to make the list a split between how good of a villain they are as well as my personal preference. Catwoman would be a little higher for me (and Harley way higher) as my personal faves as well, but neither are very effective villains.

  3. Great List. Joker is undeniably the King of Batman villains.

    I’m not surprised that he wasn’t on the list as he hasn’t appeared in many Batman films but did you even consider Scarecrow? Thought his appearance in BB was excellent and a great way of portraying a wacky character on screen.

    None the less, great list and I’m excited about discovering Owlman and Talon

  4. Excellent list and I couldn’t agree more. Joker is always #1 and Bane was so great in TDKR. I love that you included Ra’s Al Ghul and Harley Quinn. They’re wonderful characters

    • Loved Harley Quinn from the start in the animated series. Ra’s Al Ghul is a great character too, both in the series, some of the other animated movies, as well as Batman Begins.

  5. Doh! I’ve only heard of THREE of these villains! I really need to brush up on my Batman knowledge.

    I really enjoyed your post. I had no idea there were so many villains besides the old cheesy standbys, e.g. the Riddler, Penguin, etc. That Batman must be a very busy fellow.

    Thanks for joining the blogathon with this terrific post!

    • That’s ok, I’m way behind on my classic film knowledge so you’ve got that on me. There are TONS of Batman villains, many I’m not even familiar with that have only shown up in comics. It was fun, thanks for having me!

  6. Loved your unique pick — although, like Silver Screenings, I’m woefully lacking in Batman info. I was thinking you might have The Penguin or Poison Ivy — but any villain with the voice of James Woods is just all right with me! Thanks for contributing to the blogathon!

    • Owlman is pretty great in that movie, love James Woods as a voice actor! Danny DeVito’s Penguin came pretty close to making this list, but just didn’t quite cut it, and the less said about Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy the better.

  7. Great list – glad to see The Red Hood on there. Popped into my mind before I even started to read this post.

  8. Popped over here from the Great Villain Blogathon—what an awesome list! I love that you included Superman—-and of course Catwoman. 😀

    • Yes, that is such an epic fight I had to include him. Extremely curious how it will be handled in live action. And every Catwoman (except Halle Barry, but that one has nothing to do with Batman) is purrrfect.

  9. Yes fine list, Joker must be tops, and Bane was scary enough in the comics but Hardy aced it, and that’s where I first started noticing him as an actor. Red Hood and even Supes are good to see on here too! Thanks for bringing these into the Villain event!

    • Sure thing, it was a fun list to come up with and a little tougher than I first thought it was going to be. Luckily Batman has been in a ton of animated movies so there was a lot to choose from.

  10. Yep, The Joker had to be number one, but that’s for very good reason. Great list, all told. I enjoyed reading about the villains I didn’t know much about.

    • There are plenty of Batman villains out there, there’s also plenty that even I have never heard of before. Glad I was able to share a few of my favorites here that aren’t quite so widely known.

  11. Victor De Leon

    Awesome Post! Loved this! All great picks! Good to see Darkseid up there. Nice work 🙂

  12. Great post, Bubbawheat. While I don’t agree with all the choices — and I think you can probably guess a few I disagree with — I understand the reasons. And it’s a fun read regardless.

    I understand your concerns with Darkseid, especially since he seems to be a character who is often written poorly, but handled well he’s a great villain. What too many writers seem to forget is that he isn’t just stronger than Superman… he’s also smarter than Lex Luthor. Darkseid being surprised at someone beating him shouldn’t come about just because of his invulnerability… it should come about because it’s surprising that anybody gets far enough past all his machinations to be in a position to derail his plans.

    • Yeah, I haven’t seen too much of Darkseid. I’ve only seen him in Apocalypse, War, and the second Lego Batman straight to video movie, and he wasn’t all that impressive in any of those three.

  13. What an excellent entry. I enjoyed reading this.

    I would also like to invite you to participate in my upcoming blogathon in August. The link is below with more details.

    https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/in-the-good-old-days-of-classic-hollywood-presents-the-barrymore-trilogy-blogathon/

    • Thanks for the invite but the only comic book connection I know of to the Barrymore’s is Drew’s brief cameo in Batman Forever. Good luck with it though!

  1. Pingback: The Great Villain Blogathon Schedule | Silver Screenings

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