There are two sides to the Batman: the physical and the mental. Bruce Wayne has trained his body to the peak of human perfection and has learned nearly every fighting style and martial art. He's proud of his fighting ability, to a fault: Batman was once annoyed that Superman ranked the Karate Kid as a higher-level fighter than he! Several powerful villains, such as Bane, challenge Batman’s physical prowess.
But Batman is also the world’s greatest detective. He prepares for every eventuality and is always the smartest person in any room. He innovates and creates new technology as needed. There are a number of villains that may not be a physical match for him, but challenge the Batman on a purely intellectual level. Here are some of his enemies who may not look very imposing, but they're super dangerous regardless.
Edward Nygma was always obsessed with puzzles and riddles. He cheated to win a school contest by solving a puzzle and became a carnival gamester who cheated using rigged games. Looking for greater challenges and bigger paydays, Nygma began to commit crimes and leave elaborate riddles for the police and eventually Batman and Robin. Finding Batman his superior but unable to stop leaving clues, Riddler tried to go “straight” and became a high-priced private detective.
No physical challenge at all for Batman, Nygma’s threat is his brilliant mind and his capacity to create dangerous deathtraps and leave detailed and near impossible riddles and mental puzzles.
Alfred Wesker is a timid man who plans and carries out all his crimes through the dummy Scarface. Scarface is based on the stereotypical 1920’s gangster, complete with pinstripe suit, fedora, cigar and Tommy gun. Wesker is a member of a powerful mafia family and the Scarface persona emerged when his mother was killed by a rival family. Wesker lets Scarface do all the dirty work and is horribly mistreated by the dummy.
Alfred Wesker has no combat skills at all. He will do almost anything to keep from being separated from “Mr Scarface” or to save the puppet if it is in danger. Batman often takes advantage of the fact that Scarface and Wesker rarely get along and often argue.
8 Mad Hatter
Jervis Tetch is obsessed with hats and the Lewis Carroll books “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” . Tetch uses technology in the hats he wears to take mental control of his victims. Tetch also kidnaps young girls, makes them dress as “Alice” and attend tea parties with him.
Tetch is a diminutive man with an overly large head that must always wear a hat. Tetch is surprisingly agile and strong, but is no match for Batman. His greatest threat is the technology in his hats. Remove his hat and he will often fall into a harmless state, quoting rhymes from the “Alice” books or will chase after the hat, even if it means potential danger.
7 Calendar Man
Julian Gregory Day is obsessed with the calendar and holidays, no matter how obscure. He would plan his crimes and costumes around that day. Day also had a more general costume with calendar pages on his shoulders. Calendar Man was seen as one of Gotham’s “joke” villains. After years in Arkham, Day became a more calculated and manipulative person who toys with Batman.
Although Day is an experienced hand-to-hand combatant, he is no Batman. His main skills are his intelligence and ability as an inventor, having developed a number of holiday-themed machines. Day is reborn each Spring with the same memories, but ages rapidly throughout the year and dies each Winter.
6 Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Dumfree and Deever Tweed are cousins that look so similar that they could be identical twins. Being short, bald and portly men, they closely resemble the characters of Tweedledum and Tweedledee in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass.” They based their crimes on that imagery, with their Wonderland Gang. They also occasionally work with the Mad Hatter, given the parallel nature of their motifs.
Due to their rotund bodies, they are in no shape to take on Batman in a fight and allow henchmen to do all the physical work. The Tweedles have used rolling and bouncing as a method of attack.
5 Hugo Strange
Professor Hugo Strange has taken to wearing a replica Batman costume in private to understand the “darkness” that drives the Batman. Strange was originally hired by the Gotham Police Department as part of a task force to capture Batman. Strange consistently underestimated Batman’s strength and misinterpreted his motivations. He did correctly deduce Batman’s secret identity as Bruce Wayne.
Hugo Strange possesses no physical prowess but is a brilliant psychiatrist, chemist and biologist. He has used hypnosis and mental intimidation to great effect, but his obsession with Batman is often his downfall. If his theories are challenged or proven wrong, Strange tends to shut down.
4 The Key
The man called The Key was one of Gotham’s many gimmicky villains until he developed psycho-chemicals that greatly expanded his intelligence and enhanced his senses. The Key used a programmable psycho-virus to trap the Justice League in a shared dream world. His plan was to open a doorway to the center of creation. The Key would have killed the League, if not for the intervention of Connor Hawke. Next, he used the chemicals to force Batman to break his rule against killing so that he might learn the secrets behind death. Nightwing and Batgirl stopped Batman from killing the Key.
The gaunt Key is no physical threat and lets his android Key-Men do all the physical labor.His skills lie in his chemistry prowess. The Key has exhibited telepathy, thanks to the psycho-chemicals that he uses on himself and his victims.
Noah Kuttler had a costume that looked like a large pocket calculator, with buttons on the chest and an LED display on his forehead. By typing on the keypad, he could create hard light constructs similar to a Green Lantern Ring. At some point, Kuttler abandoned his costume all together and became an information broker and strategist to the villain community.
Calculator boasts genius-level intelligence and is a cunning strategist and manipulator. He prefers to stay behind the scenes, leaving the fighting to his clients and underlings. After absorbing some nanotech, Kuttler can wire his brain directly into the Internet and electronic machinery, which gives him vast technopathy and cyberpathy powers.
Jonathan Crane has been obsessed with fear his whole life. Crane became a psychologist and took a position at Arkham Asylum, where he performed fear-inducing experiments on inmates. He was also a professor at Gotham University but was fired. He killed the faculty responsible for his termination and began his criminal career.
While he is an unpredictable combatant with his scythe, remove that from him and Crane is a tall spindly man with very little muscle tone. Crane’s skill is as a biochemist. Crane created an infamous chemical concoction that creates terrifying hallucinations. Years of exposure to his own “Fear Gas” has made Crane incapable of feeling fear of anything except Batman.
Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot fancies himself a legitimate businessman and a gentleman of style, grace and refinement. The truth is quite different. Penguin is a mobster who uses the Iceberg Lounge as a front for various shady operations in Gotham’s criminal underworld.
Criminal strategist, tactician, businessman and a talented ornithologist, Cobblepot is certainly an accomplished villain. He is also a far better combatant than his size would attest. He is skilled in judo, fencing, ninjutsu and bare-knuckle-boxing and could best a regular foe. Against the Batman, however, it’s best that Penguin employs a very large number of very large henchmen.