Over the years, the Joker has done a lot of things to go against Batman. Some of these actions are so horrific and terrifyingly clever, that it is easy to see the Joker as Batman’s biggest nemesis. Throughout the two’s violent history, they have each managed to pull off some clever maneuver or counter plot against the other, forever locking the two in battle. However, while Joker may be Batman’s greatest and deadliest foe, he isn’t one of his smartest. In being the World’s Greatest Detective, Batman has come to fight many incredibly intelligent opponents. Obvious ones include the likes of Riddler and Hugo Strange, but there are still some lesser villains that are incredibly smart as well. To look at some of those villains, here is our list of the 10 Batman villains who you wouldn’t think are smarter than the Joker, but actually are.
Though KGBeast doesn’t look or sound like the most intelligent Batman villain, but he is still incredibly smart. Over the years, KGBeast has proven to be one of the best assassins in the DC Universe. In fact, by the time he had made his first appearance, he was rumored to have killed 200 people. While KGBeast definitely isn’t the smartest villain, he is still one of Batman’s more calculated foes. Likewise, he is such an expert combatant and marksman that Batman himself has had trouble fighting him. Though he may not seem like it, KGBeast is definitely more calculated and arguably more effective than the Joker himself.
9 Harley Quinn
For all the abuse Joker has put Harley through over the years, it definitely feels like Harley doesn't offer much in terms of Joker’s war against Batman. For a long time, Harley was treated like trash by her beloved Mr. J. However, while she may not be the best criminal, Harley Quinn is actually very intelligent. Before falling in love with the Clown Prince of Crime, Harleen Quinzel was actually a great psychiatrist working at Arkham Asylum. After she got far too close to her patient, she was eventually driven insane and broke him out of captivity. Hence Harley Quinn was born. For all of Joker’s own master plans, getting Harley’s input may actually prove to work more in his favor.
Throughout his history as a character, Dr. Jonathan Crane has been depicted in several ways. Sometimes, he is completely insane and speaks mostly in nursery rhyme. Other times, he is depicted as slightly more sane, but incredibly brilliant as well. Regardless of the interpretation, Crane is still an incredibly smart foe of the Dark Knight’s. With a PhD in Psychology, Crane certainly knows what he is doing and how his subjects will react. Furthermore, Crane is a brilliant chemist, deriving his own “fear gas” from scratch. He continually modifies the serum to have different effects as well. Perhaps, if Dr. Crane were just a bit more sane and calculated, he would be far more dangerous than he has been over the years.
7 Ra's al Ghul
Over the years, Joker has dealt far more damage to Batman and Gotham than Ra’s al Ghul has really even come close to. As a result, the Joker can often come across as far more clever. In actuality, Ra’s al Ghul is one of Batman’s smartest enemies. For starters, he is centuries old, constantly using a Lazarus Pit to resurrect or restore his body. With years of experience under his belt, Ra’s al Ghul is one of the smartest and most dangerous minds in all of the DC Universe. He is also an incredibly skilled fighter, marksman, and assassin. As one of the more calculated of Batman’s foes, it is surprising that Ra’s isn’t seen more often in Batman comics.
Media hasn’t exactly been kind to Bane’s character. Of course, Batman and Robin (1997) depicted the character as a mindless brute. However, even in cartoons or films like The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Bane hasn’t been depicted as the incredibly intelligent character that he actually is. During the Knightfall storyline, Bane famously broke Batman’s back after waiting months for him to round up escaped Arkham Asylum inmates. Recently, Bane has even been smart enough to break Batman by making him happy. Tom King’s massive Batman run has culminated to the City of Bane arc in which the villain makes his final play against Batman. While Bane may not always seem to be the brightest character around, the comics certainly portray him as one of the Dark Knight’s smartest opponents.
5 Mr. Freeze
Victor Fries himself is not actually a bad guy. His desperation to save his wife is primarily what drives him to crime. While he is certainly misguided in this sense, he actually doesn’t set out to cause chaos. Furthermore, Victor is an incredibly brilliant scientific mind. While he is partially responsible for the accident that created him, he also designed his own suit, allowing him to venture out into the world, despite his condition. He also continually does research, looking for a cure for his wife. While Freeze is far from Batman’s biggest or most deadly adversary, he is still one of the smarter ones.
Hush is one of Batman’s deadliest, yet least-known foes. As children, Thomas Elliot and Bruce Wayne were actually best friends. However, Thomas had a significantly darker upbringing, even going so far as to attempt to murder his parents. After Thomas Wayne was able to save Mrs. Elliot, Tommy Elliot swore vengeance on the Wayne family. With an equal amount of money and a reputation as one of the worlds best surgeons, Thomas Elliot is essentially an evil version of Batman. Though he isn’t as sharp as the Dark Knight himself, Elliot is far from stupid and easily one of the smartest villains in Batman’s rogues gallery.
3 Man Bat
Whenever he isn’t the monstrous Man Bat, Dr. Kirk Langstrom is actually fairly brilliant. Langstrom is actually a good person. It is whenever he is under the influence of the Man Bat serum that he loses his mind. While Man Bat himself is far from intelligent, Langstrom is one of the most brilliant doctors and chemists in Gotham. He is also constantly trying to improve his work, though it typically results in some new form of the Man Bat Serum. Even though Joker is far smarter than Man Bat, Kirk Langstrom is far smarter than the Joker.
2 Black Mask
Roman Sionis was actually a childhood “friend” of Bruce Wayne’s when the two were growing up. Roman despised his parents for being “fake” and “wearing masks” to hide the kind of people they really were. In actuality, his family only spent time with the Waynes to maintain social status. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Sionis fortune allowed Roman to receive one of the best educations possible. As an adult, Roman would come to build one of the largest criminal empires in all of Gotham. For a time, he even controlled most of the criminal underground in Gotham, until Red Hood took it away from him. Doing something like this is no easy feat and requires an incredible amount of brain power to accomplish. Hence, Black Mask is certainly smarter than the Joker.
At the time of his creation, Anarky wasn’t expected to be as popular as he was. However, the character managed to persevere, eventually going on to be a relatively popular Batman villain. Lonnie Machin holds Anarky’s identity and was actually 12 years old at the time of his debut. Despite his inexperience, Lonnie was always depicted as incredibly smart. He understands political philosophy and designed and built a lot of his own technology to assist him. From there, he set his plan in motion, nearly succeeding against Batman. Lonnie is so smart, that he has nearly beaten the Dark Knight on several occasions. Even for a 12 year old, Lonnie is far smarter than the Joker.