Batman is a very iconic character when it comes to fiction and superheroes. However, the only thing more iconic than Batman is his extensive rogues gallery. There are so many iconic characters in his rogues gallery, but the question arises, which are the best Batman villains?
Since his debut in 1939, many great characters have appeared in Batman comics, and the media attached to these comics. However, there’s no doubt that the villains are what makes Batman stand out from the rest of the comic book characters.
Since there are many Batman villains, we will list down the top 25 best Batman villains of all time. These are the villains that have a big fanbase and are quite well-written.
Best Batman Villains
Before we begin this list, I’d like to clarify that we will only discuss the Batman villains in comic books. We will be neglecting any movie or animated-only characters. With that said, we will include the characters that made the transition from animation or film to comic books.
Starting off our list of the best Batman villains, we have Man-Bat. This scary Batman villain was created by Neal Adams and made his debut in 1970. As his name suggests, Man-Bat is quite literally a human-sized bat with legs and arms.
Dr. Kirk Langstorm was developing a serum that would give humans sonar vision, similar to bats. However, once he tests this serum on himself, it leaves him with horrible side effects that turn him into a monstrous bat-like creature.
Man-Bat hasn’t appeared in many storylines that solely present him as the main antagonist. However, his concept is unique, which has appealed to many comic book fans. Hence, he has appeared in many Batman adaptations.
24. Mad Hatter
Jervis Tetch, AKA Mad Hatter, made his debut in 1948. He mainly uses mind control as his primary tool to commit crimes. He has been described as a schizophrenic psychopath who has no remorse for what he does.
Even though he hasn’t gotten many great comic book storylines, his personality is enough to consider him one of the best Batman villains. Some of the iconic storylines featuring him are Hats and Bats, a story from All-Star Batman #8, and Batman: Madness
23. Solomon Grundy
Solomon Grundy is more of a henchman than a fully-fledged evil mastermind. However, he still gives Batman a tough time whenever they share the same panel or storyline.
Cyrus Gold was murdered and buried in a swamp just outside Gotham City. However, due to some supernatural processes, he was reanimated as a zombie-like creature. Soon after his reanimation, he took on the name “Solomon Grundy,” based on the popular nursery rhyme.
Solomon Grundy is more of an underrated character. His backstory is actually quite sad, but writers do not utilize him enough. He has also made his live-action appearance in Gotham, where he was portrayed by Drew Powell.
22. Black Mask
The next character on this list of the best Batman villains is Black Mask. He made his debut in 1985, so he’s a Bronze Age character. Black Mask was recently popularized by the video game called Batman Arkham: Origins.
Roman Sionis was born into a wealthy family, but his parents neglected him throughout his childhood due to their busy schedules. As he grew up, his hatred toward his parents grew. After the downfall of his family’s company, he grew jealous of Bruce Wayne and his company. Hence, he carved a face from his father’s tombstone, which became permanently etched on his face.
Black Mask has appeared in some good storylines and has an interesting history. The best stories include Batman #386 and War Crimes. Roman Sionis was also the main antagonist of the DCEU movie Birds of Prey. He was portrayed by Ewan McGregor.
Clayface takes the next spot on our list of the best Batman villains. There are actually multiple people who have used the alias Clayface over the years. However, we are sticking with the original one, Basil Karlo.
In the current timeline, Basil Karlo was an actor who got heavily disfigured in an accident. However, he uses a makeup chemical to cover his injuries. He is completely doused with this chemical accidentally, which leads him to become Clayface.
Clayface has shape-shifting abilities and is also quite hard to fight since he can regrow every part of his body due to his clay-like structure. He can also copy anyone with their DNA. Feat of Clay is considered the best Clayface storyline. It is an episode of Batman: TAS.
20. Calendar Man
Making his debut in 1959 with Detective Comics #259, Calendar Man has appeared in numerous Batman storylines but hasn’t been established as an A-tier villain. All this changed with his appearance in Batman: The Long Halloween, in which he was portrayed as a serial killer.
Calendar Man’s involvement in the “Batman: The Long Halloween” storyline is enough to put him on this list of the best Batman villains. Apart from The Long Halloween, he has made noticeable appearances in the Arkham video games.
19. Carmine Falcone
Carmine Falcone is the most realistic character when it comes to the best Batman villains. He made his debut in Frank Miller’s iconic storyline “Batman: Year One.” He has been inspired by Don Vito Corleone from the iconic film The Godfather.
What makes this character interesting is his history with Bruce Wayne. Despite being a renowned criminal, his life was saved by Bruce’s father, Thomas Wayne. He has a way of getting into Bruce’s head, and he has manipulated him multiple times.
Carmine Falcone has been a part of many Batman storylines, but “Year One” remains one of his highlights.
18. Hugo Strange
Professor Hugo Strange made his debut in 1940 as a criminal scientist who uses an artificial fog to help his gang rob banks. The evil and sadistic genius we know today started out as a bank robber. Later on, he actually became the first villain to uncover Batman’s identity.
Hugo Strange has been closely associated with Arkham Asylum. Many stories have portrayed him experimenting on different inmates. He is also well-known for his obsession with Batman, going as far as to make his own Batsuit.
Strange has caused a lot of trouble for Batman, and his most notable stories are Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight issues #11-15, issues #137-14, and Batman and the Monster Men.
17. Killer Croc
The next entry on our list is Killer Croc. Depending upon the writer, Killer Croc can be an excellent villain. That’s why we have included him on our list of the best Batman villains.
When it comes to Killer Croc, his origin story is as simple as they get. He was simply born that way. Waylon Jones’ condition is described as a mutation. Despite looking like a monster, he does have a softer side, but since society didn’t treat him correctly, he developed a grudge against it.
Killer Croc made his live-action appearance in Suicide Squad and also appeared in the Arkham video games. In my opinion, the best version of his story comes in Batman and Robin #23.4.
Speaking of Suicide Squad, another member of that team of supervillains makes its way to our list. Floyd Lawton, AKA Deadshot, is a lethal assassin. He made his debut in 1950, but today’s modern version didn’t appear till 1977.
Interestingly, Deadshot presented himself as Batman’s successor during his first appearance. However, his plan was to eliminate his competition and become the top crime lord.
Floyd Lawton is well-known for his accuracy. He never misses a shot, making him one of the best Batman villains. He also made an appearance in 2016’s Suicide Squad, played by Will Smith. His best storylines include Suicide Squad #21-22 and Deadshot #1-4.
Deathstroke is truly an iconic villain in Batman’s rogues gallery. Making his debut in 1980 as an antagonist to the Teen Titans, he has transitioned to become a regular nemesis to Batman as well.
Slade Wilson was an exceptional soldier. Known for his combat and technical skills, he received many awards. During one of his missions, he was gravely injured and had to undergo treatment which left him with enhanced physical traits and a healing factor.
Slade has appeared in many storylines, including Judas Contract, City Of Assassins, and Batman vs. Deathstroke. He has also made live-action appearances in Titans, Arrow, and the DCEU.
14. The Court of Owls
The Court of Owls made their debut in 2012, so they’re a fairly recent addition to Batman’s rogue gallery. However, they have quickly managed to become one of the best Batman villains due to their power and influence. Their only purpose is to control and corrupt Gotham City.
With a fleet of lethal assassins known as Talons, the Court of Owls proves both dangerous and cunning in their evil schemes. The Court of Owls made its live-action debut in Gotham.
13. Talia Al Ghul
Talia Al Ghul is the daughter of another dangerous Batman villain, Ra’s Al Ghul. However, she’s not only a love interest for Batman, but she’s actually the mother of Damian Wayne. So her relationship with Batman makes her one of the best Batman villains.
Talia is part of the League of Assassins but also serves as their leader from time to time. She has not only fought Batman physically, but she is a master when it comes to getting under his skin (and his sheets as well).
Bane, AKA The man who broke Batman’s back. If you’re familiar with comic books, you would’ve understood that reference correctly. Bane is our next entry on this list of the best Batman villains. He made his debut in 1993.
Bane was born and raised in the tough Caribbean jail known as Pea Duro. He was exposed to Venom drug testing, which improved his physical abilities while simultaneously fueling his addiction.
Despite his humble beginnings, Bane became one of Batman’s most formidable adversaries, renowned for his extraordinary strength and intelligence. Bane is well-known for breaking Batman’s back during the events of Batman: Knightfall.
11. Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy is the second female character on our list of the best Batman villains. Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley was a botanist, but she was betrayed by her senior professor, who poisons her. However, she survives the poison and becomes immune to all kinds of toxins.
Poison Ivy made her debut in 1966, so she’s one of the early villains of Batman. However, she quickly became popular and has played a part in many iconic storylines, including Fruit Of The Earth, Hush, and Ashes of Eden.
Ivy has also appeared in other media, including Batman & Robin. She was also a prominent character in Gotham.
10. Harley Quinn
Since we have already talked about Poison Ivy, let’s talk about her current love interest. Harley Quinn made her debut as part of Batman: The Animated Show. However, she became increasingly popular, so she was continuously paired with The Joker in comics as well.
Dr. Harleen Quinzel was a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. She was manipulated by the Joker, who eventually threw her in a vat of chemicals. She became obsessed with the Joker, and a complex relationship began.
Margot Robbie’s performance across the DCEU movies has spiked the popularity of this character. She’s also one of the only characters who successfully transitioned from animation to comics.
9. Mr. Freeze
Mr. Freeze takes the next spot on our list of the best Batman villains. He made his debut in 1959. He was actually called Mr. Zero in the early comic books. However, the 1966 Batman TV show renamed him Mr. Freeze.
Victor Fries was a scientist whose wife, Nora, was diagnosed with cancer. In order to save her, he began experimenting with cryogenics. However, his experiment went wrong, and an explosion took his wife’s life and left him stuck in an ice suit.
Mr. Freeze’s emotional backstory makes him an amazing villain. He was the original Walter White. Overall, he’s a really well-written villain.
Hush is one of the best Batman villains despite only appearing in a handful of storylines. He’s not a typical villain. His every move is carefully planned and targeted directly toward Bruce Wayne.
Hush made his debut in the 2003 story Batman: Hush. The story is regarded as one of the best Batman stories to date. Thomas Elliot was a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne. However, they went down different paths when they grew up, and Elliot became a sociopath.
There’s not much to say about Hush’s caliber as one of the best Batman villains. It is pretty self-explanatory. If you are starting out your journey in comic books, then you must read Batman: Hush.
7. The Penguin
The Penguin is probably one of the most famous villains of Batman. His real name is Oswald Cobblepot. He first appeared in an issue of Detective Comics in 1941. Oswald is usually presented as a mob boss in Gotham City.
Oswald Cobblepot was the only child of a wealthy family. However, he was bullied throughout his early life due to his appearance. This led to his transition into crime. He started with theft but eventually formed his own gang and became a proper gangster.
The Penguin has been an important character throughout Batman’s history. He’s one of the toughest and most persistent criminals in Gotham. Colin Ferell played The Penguin in The Batman and is set to be a part of his own spin-off show.
6. Ra’s al Ghul
Ra’s Al Ghul takes the next spot on our list of the best Batman villains. Even if you’re not a fan of comic books, you might be familiar with him thanks to Liam Neesan’s performance in Batman Begins.
Created by Julius Schwartz and Dennis O’Neil, Ra’s Al Ghul made his debut in 1971. He’s one of the few enemies that can match Batman’s strength and keep up with him in terms of fighting. Moreover, he’s almost immortal, thanks to his access to the Lazarus Pit.
Selina Kyle is not only one of the best Batman villains but also a love interest to Batman. Catwoman has been a part of Batman’s universe ever since her debut in 1940.
Batman has a lot of villains, but he has a soft spot for Catwoman. The main reason might be that she doesn’t resort to killing people and that her past also aligns with Bruce’s. Batman tries his best to mend Selina’s ways, and they even get married at one point.
It is kind of unfair to put Catwoman on the list of the best Batman villains. More often than not, she helps Batman out with his cases. However, since she started out as a villain, we have decided to put her on this list.
Fear can be a great tool to win any battle. Scarecrow proves this true as he uses fear to get the upper hand in any fight. He made his debut in 1941 and has been haunting Batman and his allies ever since. Quite literally.
Dr. Jonathan Crane had an abusive father growing up. Due to his traumatic experiences, he grew up to be a psychologist. However, he used his knowledge to produce a substance called Fear Toxin. This substance is his main weapon.
Scarecrow’s best storylines include Cycle of Violence and Fear of Success.
You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain. Those are the words spoken by Gotham’s most ambitious D.A., who turned into Gotham’s worst nightmare. Two-Face made his debut in 1942.
Harvey Dent was a firm believer in the right way of justice. However, he met with a horrific accident that burnt half of his face. This accident, coupled with a few deranged thoughts, led him down the life of crime.
The best stories featuring Two-Face are Batman: Dark Victory, The Long Halloween, and Eye of the Beholder.
2. The Riddler
Edward Nygma, AKA The Riddler, made his debut in 1948. He is a criminal mastermind who has caused a lot of trouble for Batman. He purposefully leaves small hints and riddles for Batman whenever he commits a crime.
Nygma was always obsessed with riddles and puzzles. Moreover, he had an abusive family, which left him with lifelong trauma. Eventually, he started out with petty crimes but soon unlocked a dark side of his personality.
The Riddler is one of those purely evil characters. There’s not much remorse in him which makes him one of the best Batman villains.
1. The Joker
When we started this list of the best Batman villains, you might’ve already guessed who would be in the first spot. The Joker is not only the best Batman villain but also one of the best comic book villains overall.
There’s not much information when it comes to his backstory. We do have a faint idea that he used to be a comedian who fell into a vat of toxic chemicals, which drove him absolutely insane.
The Joker’s unpredictable nature makes him truly terrifying. He’s a sadistic psychopath who doesn’t have any feelings at all. He enjoys pain and suffering. The moral conflict between him and Batman makes him such an interesting character.
Batman has come a long way as a character and so have his villains. As you might’ve seen all of them started small and eventually got their breakthrough.
We have covered all of the best Batman villains in this list. Moreover, we’re excited to see where these villains head in the future.