For four seasons, Gotham has been bringing Batman's classic villains to life on the small screen. Even though the Caped Crusader has not yet arrived to fight them, they have been wreaking havoc all over the city, making their names among the criminal underworld. Now, with the show coming to a close after season five, it's a great time to look back on all of the great villains that have graced the screen on Gotham. Some of them have been truly threatening, striking fear into viewers and thrilling fans with their spot-on portrayals by a talented cast. Others, though, have been given short shrift, ultimately letting down the people who might have been excited to see their favorite villains brought to life.
Some Gotham villains look almost exactly like their comic book counterparts, while others aren't even close. That's just the nature of making a TV show based on existing material. Even though the production team has done a really great job with some of the members of Batman's rogues gallery, they haven't quite hit the mark on some of the others. There are villains who appear to be pulled straight from the pages of Detective Comics or other Batman series. Then there are some who have obviously been changed to match the tone and style of the show, often for the worse. Still, a show like Gotham usually does a great job bringing their villains to life. Even if they don't look perfect, the performances are often great, and the actors really seem to be having a good time in their roles. These are 10 Gotham villains that look great on-screen (and 10 that don’t look anything like they should).
Professor Pyg has never really achieved the kind of status among Batman's rogues gallery as people like Catwoman or the Joker, but that doesn't make him any less scary. He even earned a spot in Arkham City, where players really got to see just how sick, crazy, and completely insane this guy is.
The version of Professor Pyg that appears on Gotham is a picture-perfect match for his comic book counterpart. The scarred pig mask, the jaunty bowtie, and the white apron all come together to give this singing, theatrical villain a visage that would be right at home in someone's nightmares.
Season 5 of Gotham will see the introduction of one of Batman's most formidable adversaries: Bane, played by Shane West (Bane West?). While this particular incarnation of Bane has not yet been fully revealed in trailers, behind the scene photos have captured his look for the show, and it is... not great.
This version of Bane is a clunky, plastic, garbage heap. He looks like he had Darth Vader's chest plate melted with a blow torch and hot glue gunned onto his body. Not to mention those shoulder pads would put the women of Dynasty to shame. Hopefully, West's performance can elevate the character above his completely disappointing appearance.
Firefly is one of Batman's oldest adversaries and yet has never achieved the kind of status as other villains. It may be due to the sort of on-the-nose name and obsession with fire, but there really is something scary about someone who is so obsessed with burning things down that they model their entire identity around it.
Gotham's version of Firefly absolutely looks the part, complete with giant bug eyes and a dangerous blowtorch. This version of Firefly also went on to be somewhat more of a successful villain than her comic book counterparts, managing to form a gang of her own by the end of season 4.
Ivy Pepper, otherwise known as Gotham's version of Poison Ivy, has had one of the weirdest character arcs in the show. She began her life on the show as a very young girl. Then, through "science," she somehow became an older woman. This was a blatantly obvious way to retool the character. So why did they leave her so bland after all of that?
The Poison Ivy of the comic book universe is intricately connected to plant life. Her green skin tone and leafy features show that she is more than just the average human. Yet on Gotham, Ivy Pepper is given an appearance more in line with Uma Thurman's in Batman and Robin. Couldn't they have at least used her real name, Pamela Isley?
Mr. Freeze may be one of the most tragic villains in Batman history, owing his rewritten backstory to Batman: The Animated Series. Across all mediums, from comics to video games, his look has not changed that much (except for the weird robotic Arnold Schwarzenegger, but the less said about that the better).
The Victor Fries of Gotham carries on the Mr. Freeze legacy by maintaining his classic look (albeit without the glass helmet). Still, he has the icy blue eyes, the red goggles, and the impressive freezing gun. This is one Batman villain that the show put a lot of effort into, and it really paid off.
Victor Zsasz is one of the most ruthless and unhinged villains in Batman's history. He's not superpowered, and he doesn't have any gimmicks besides tallying his "victories" on his skin. Despite the fact that he is usually a bit player in Batman stories, Victor Zsasz is highly dangerous and a threat to the innocent people of Gotham City.
It's truly disappointing, then, that Gotham's version of Zsasz is a low key jokester who just loves to do his boss's dirty work. Gone are the scars to count up his crimes, and the only remaining feature is Victor's bald head. Overall, this is a rather disappointing depiction of a character who really deserves so much more.
Theo Galavan becomes the villain known as Azrael in season 2 of Gotham, and although there was a change to his look from the comic books, it was fairly close to what fans could expect of the character. This incarnation of Azrael believes his a reincarnated warrior, so some of the wardrobe choices actually make sense.
For instance, this Azrael is less technologically augmented and given a more medieval look. However, he does wear a mask similar to the one he wore in the comics. In addition, he carries a sword as his main weapon (even though it does get totally destroyed by a pipe).
The Executioner was an extremely obscure Batman villain to bring to the world of Gotham. His only activity in the comics occurred very early on, with his first (and only) appearance in Detective Comics #191 in 1953. In that appearance, he wore a classic executioner's hood, as well as a cloak with a big capital "E" on the front. Not exactly subtle.
Unfortunately, as silly as that look was for the character, Gotham seems to have doubled down on how badly they can make the character look. This version of the Executioner looks like a Mad Max reject who couldn't afford a mask so he just rubbed some extra eye shadow around his eyes.
Gotham may get its fair share of criticism for being a little bit over the top and campy, but there's one thing it did better than any Batman film: create a truly haunting and comic-accurate version of the Scarecrow. While Christopher Nolan may have been the first person to bring the villain to the screen, fans were disappointed with the "burlap sack and three-piece suit" look.
Gotham's version of the Scarecrow is the far superior incarnation of the villain. This Scarecrow has the full costume, complete with frightening mask and raggedy clothing. This Scarecrow even carries a scythe, giving him an edge over the original on-screen representation of Jonathan Crane.
Clayface is one of the scariest of all the Batman villains. Not only can he take the shape of anyone he wants, but in his real form, he's a giant monster made out of clay -- he's not exactly the kind of person you would want to meet in a dark alley. Unfortunately, Gotham's take on the character doesn't hold a candle to his traditional appearance.
In Gotham, Clayface is no more than one of Hugo Strange's experiments. He is given his powers through the use of "octopod DNA," and it results in a man with weirdly stretchy skin, who can pull off the Clayface ability to pose as other people, but is not a giant clay monster. Truly, the inclusion of Clayface in this way is just a giant let down.
Edward Nygma has been part of the fabric of Gotham since the very beginning, working as a crime tech with the GCPD. However, over time, he begins to take on the persona of the Riddler. While there isn't much to his appearance besides a green suit, it's actually a modestly fresh take on the character's appearance.
The Riddler has had many different costumes over the years, the most ridiculous of these being his green tights adorned with question marks. However, those over the top looks in no way match the intellect and cunning of the character, which is why his more toned down look in Gotham actually works really well.
Solomon Grundy is a classic Batman villain, steeped in not only the mythology of comic books but also a historical nursery rhyme. His origins have changed over time, but mostly retains the same story of a man being brought back to life from the swamp. This hulking gray monster then recites the nursery rhyme while committing crimes, usually at the order of other, smarter villains.
Despite his more muscular and monstrous appearance in the comic books, the version of Solomon Grundy seen on Gotham is unfortunately average. On top of that, it's hard to get past the fact that he just looks too made up, rather than actually looking like a ghostly figure.
The Mad Hatter has never been known as one of the more threatening Batman villains -- he definitely wouldn't be able to take the Dark Knight in a direct fight. However, he often has a few tricks up his sleeve to give Batman trouble, and the same goes for his portrayal in the world of Gotham.
This version of Jervis Tetch translates very well to the screen. His look is a blend of the familiar, over the top Alice in Wonderland look and something a little more conservative to fit into the world of the show. Overall, he's a great fit along with the rest of Gotham's villains.
The Court of Owls is a lesser known and more recent group of villains in the DC Universe. They mostly reside behind the scenes, training an assassin known as "Talon" and funding Hugo Strange in an attempt to find a way of bringing people back to life. They are a secretive cabal of manipulators who are eventually taken down by their own creation.
While the general appearance of the Court of Owls doesn't change much in their translation to Gotham, it's disappointing that the owl masks were made more feathery and specifically owl-looking, rather than the plain, white abstract masks they wore in the comics. Those ones made the group look more like a criminal cult than some rich people waiting for the masquerade ball to start.
Hugo Strange is a great Batman villain because he doesn't fight with brute force, but rather his superior intellect. His intelligence is on the level of Batman's, which even allowed him to figure out his secret identity. In Gotham, Hugo Strange is played by B.D. Wong, who brings an air of sophisticated malice to the role.
This version of Hugo Strange looks pitch-perfect in almost every way. The facial hair and red, circular glasses are a great representation of the character's classic look. Along with the distinguished suits and the coldly distant attitude, this version of Hugo Strange is a fantastic and accurate portrayal of the character.
Ra's al Ghul is one of Batman's greatest foes. Behind the Joker, he may be the one person who has tested Batman's mettle more than anyone else. His tendency to keep coming back to life, combined with his knowledge of martial arts and mysticism, make him more than a reasonable challenge for Batman.
That being said, Ra's isn't always the most visually distinctive Batman villain, and that tradition continues to his appearance in Gotham. While the crew of the show went to some length to give him some defining physical traits, such as the gray accents in his beard and hair, he's pretty much just a generic older guy in a cloak.
The Harley Quinn most fans know is a combination of fun and danger. In her first appearances, she was dressed in a jester outfit, complete with a painted face. Harley Quinn quickly became a fan-favorite and has since been wound into the overall Batman mythos. It was only logical then that she would be included in Gotham somehow.
This version of Joker's right-hand woman differs slightly from most common incarnations of the character. Ecco, Jeremiah's stoic assistant, takes on the Harley Quinn role when she dons a clown mask and jester hat to assist him. This version is much more frightening than other versions, mostly because of the expressionless mask and business-like approach to crime.
Oswald Cobblepot may be one of the most prolific villains in the world of Gotham, but he in no way resembles the Penguin. Whereas Batman fans will always picture the Penguin as a rotund, squat, old man with a monocle and a pointy nose, this Penguin looks more like he should be the lead singer of a '90s pop punk cover band.
That's not to say that Robin Lord Taylor does a poor job playing the villain (his penguin waddle is spot on). This Oswald Cobblepot is just as driven to take over Gotham City as any other version. It's just that his look is so far removed from what fans might expect that it's hard to picture him as one of Batman's most timeless enemies.
Jeremiah Valeska was the first Valeska brother to come close to being Gotham's Joker, displaying the classic character's sick, twisted tendencies and absolute madness. Other than the lack of a fully clown-like appearance, Jerome was about as close to the Joker as you could get on a television show.
Borrowing from the New 52 line of stories, Jerome's face is removed and then reattached, giving him the Frankensteinian Joker look from the comics (albeit in a far less disturbing way). His lips are also stretched out into an exaggerated grin, contrasting with the mad look in his eyes. Overall, despite the lack of clowniness, this "Joker" is a hit.
Hey may be the last Valeska brother left alive, and even though the writers on Gotham can't technically call him the Joker, make no mistake: Jeremiah is the Joker. Just look at him. He's got the pale white skin, the ruby red lips, and even a purple suit to match. Even if fans get the rug pulled from under them again, it's safe to say Jeremiah is at least a prototype for the Joker.
However, his appearance as the Clown Prince of Crime is, to a degree, disappointing. Where Jerome had the scars, stretched out simulated smile, and reattached face, Jeremiah's Joker appearance is far more low key. If anything, it is sort of reminiscent of the aging Joker from The Dark Knight Returns, but not the smiling, wiry insane individual fans have come to expect.