Since his inception nearly 80 years ago, Batman has racked up a plethora of capable and combative villains worthy of toppling the Bat. Some villains, despite being rather innocuous upon their inception, actually become much more dangerous as time goes on and different writers develop the character into something capable of truly scaring ol’ Bats. So whether it’s old villains that have followed Batman around for nearly 80 years like the Joker, newer villains like the Evil incarnations of the Bat that popped up during the course of Dark Knights Metal, or simply an old, mildly annoying, villain that is finally getting his due, there’s a lot to consider. But who among Batman’s creepy rogues' gallery is the worst? Let’s find out.
10 The Dark Knights
Imagine if Batman could take over the powers and roles of all the members of the Justice League. Pretty sweet, right? Awkward, yes. Scary, yes. But still pretty cool. Now Imagine if all of those Batmen had one really bad day. That’s basically the idea behind the Dark Knights of the Dark Universe that Bruce manages to unleash during the events of Dark Knights Metal. While they may not have been around for a long time, these Batman, including the Batman Who Laughs (a version of Batman undone by killing the Joker), have certainly caused some massive problems for the Bruce and the rest of the Justice League.
There’s something to be said about the one guy in Gotham using fire to fight fire when it comes to Batman. While Scarecrow may now have the martial arts skills that Batman has, he’s the only man (straw or otherwise) that can stand his ground with the Bats when it comes to fear. There’s a reason why Scarecrow keeps popping up in all the different adaptations of Batman. From the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy to the Arkham Asylum games, wherever you find Batman you’re likely to find Scarecrow not far behind, frightening the poor folks of Gotham.
8 Dr. Hugo Strange
Many people may not know this, but while Dr. Hugo Strange is one of Batman’s greatest foes, he’s also one of his oldest. So old, in fact, that he showed up before the Joker and was even along for the ride way back when Batman was protecting Manhattan rather than Gotham. Despite being such an old nemesis, Dr. Hugo Strange has in no way been slowed down in his efforts to thwart the vengeance, the night, Batman. Or as Hugo might call him, Bruce. Yes, that’s right. Hugo is one of the few people that are actually aware of the true identity of the Bat. Just another thing that makes him such a dangerous enemy.
While Hush has yet to make his way to any of the films or animated series, he has certainly left his mark on the Dark Knight in both the comics and the Arkham Knight video game. Most heroes have a dark reflection (or reflections) of themselves in their rogues’ gallery, Superman has Bizarro, Doomsday, Jor-El, and Lex. Flash has Eobard Thawne.
But none take it quite as far as Hush does with Bruce Wayne. Tommy Elliot, or Hush, as he would later be known, grew up with Bruce when they were both children. But after Thomas Wayne botches an attempted patricide on Tommy’s behalf, saving only his mother after Tommy had cut the brake lines of his parents car, Tommy swears revenge on the Wayne family. An oath he’ll assemble and reassemble his face over and over again to keep.
While Harvey Dent may not be one of the most powerful villains Batman has ever faced, he’s certainly one of the most long-lasting and heartbreaking. Various villains have tried to utterly break the few heroes Gotham has over the years. Bane has broken the Bat. Joker took his shots at Jim Gordon. But it was Harvey Dent that actually fell hardest to Gotham’s criminal underworld and just like his face, Gotham hasn’t been the same since. Part of what makes Two-Face one of Batman’s greatest foes is that he was also such a good friend. Time and time again we see Batman try, and fail, to save Harvey from himself.
5 The Riddler
While previous incarnations of the Riddler have reduced him to a lame gimmicky villain too obsessed with telling a good riddle to actually be effective as a villain, recent runs, especially that of Tom King’s The War Of Jokes And Riddles have elevated the character far beyond his simple gimmick. Edward Nigma has certainly been getting his due thanks to Tom King and series like Gotham adding more depth to the twisted and quirky character. It can be easy to forget that beyond all the riddles Nigma is actually an incredibly skilled tactician. Even rivaling the Bat himself.
4 Ra’s Al Ghul
It’s hard to name a villain more devasting to the Batman than the nigh-immortal leader of the league of shadows and father-in-law of Bruce Wayne himself, Ra’s Al Ghul. Ra’s breaks the top five just based on his position alone. Nevermind the fact that he’s one of the few people that are aware of Bruce's true identity, he’s somehow managed to insert himself into Bruce’s family.
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The guy practically raised Bruce’s only biological son. Ra’s has certainly accumulated some wisdom in his many years, but even with a few centuries under his belt, he’s still not number one baddie material. He’s more of a dark parallel than a true evil-doer.
While Ra’s Al Ghul may be the leader of the league of shadows and father-in-law to the Bat, Bane is the man that broke the Bat. Some casual fans may look at Bane and assume that he is the roided out muscle of someone like, well, Ra’s Al Ghul, but Bane is so much more than the muscle. He is a brilliant tactician, merciless mercenary, and a man that will stop at nothing when it comes to dominating fear and fighting for survival. Christopher Nolan’s Bane says it best when he says “You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it; molded by it.”
I mean, you had to expect that the Joker was going to make an appearance somewhere near the top of this list. The Joker has made a name for himself as the man that will push Batman far more than any other villain in Gotham. While Bane may have made his mark by breaking the Bat, Joker has made his mark over and over again by devoting his life to destroying Batman. So whether it’s beating Robin nearly to death with a crowbar before giving him an explosive going away present or simply spinning up chaos all throughout the decrepit streets of Gotham, the Joker is always ready to teach ol' Batsy the lighter side of homicide.
Ever Since Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, comics fans can hardly get enough of watching the Dark Knight and the Kryptonian Boy Scout beating the absolute pulp out of each other. There are villains on this list who have betrayed Batman, fallen from grace, killed hundreds, if not thousands of people, but Superman is the only person on the list to do it all. It stands to reason that the worlds greatest hero (at least according to DC Comics) would logically make an equally good villain. And boy does he. When Supes goes off the deep end, he really goes for it. Especially if Injustice is to be believed. Yikes.