If you’re a comic book fan, you know this already: Batman has the greatest rogues gallery in comic books. From the Joker, the Riddler and Penguin to weirder threats like Hugo Strange, Doctor Hurt and Professor Pyg, there are so many colorful villains to choose from, you could easily make the case that they’re the best part of Batman comics. Even newer threats to the Bat, like Bloom, the Stag and the brainwashed Gotham, have been formidable and memorable additions to the gallery. Perhaps we love these villains so much because we know Batman will always stand in their way and defeat them. Or maybe their over-the-top powers and manners simply make an interesting juxtaposition to the Dark Knight.
It’s really a testament to Batman’s strength, determination and wisdom that he’s been able to take down even his most powerful opponents. Let’s face it: the odds are almost always stacked against the Caped Crusader. We’re not talking Kite Man, Crazy Quilt or Condiment King here. Batman’s more overpowered villains are those who are basically immortal, have unlimited control over the elements, come from a completely different dimension, or are actual gods. In one case, there’s even a villain that’s a combination of several superheroes!
He might not be what you call a “fighter” per se, but there’s no villain who has more of a psychological hold on the Dark Knight than the Clown Prince of Crime. Not only that but he’s also the Batman’s most important and sinister villain due to the fact that his role is to show the hypocrisy of the Dark Knight’s mission and the futility of it.
But why is the Joker truly overpowered? Well, for one, he can’t seem to die. When a cave came down on him at the end of “Endgame,” that wasn’t enough to put the Clown out of the commission. During Grant Morrison’s run, the Joker was also shot in the head and survived that! And who can forget the time Joker had his face sliced off by the Dollmaker so that he could wear it as a mask?
Although Basil Karlo is fighting for the good guys these days, there’s no denying that Clayface has a rich history as one of Batman’s most infamous rogues. Of course, he might not be as much of a household name as the Riddler, Penguin, or Two-Face, but he has an ability that arguably makes him more powerful than most of Batman’s rogues gallery: shape-shifting.
Clayface can basically emulate any DC hero or villain that he chooses with ease. The fact that Batman’s able to beat him every time might have more to do with Karlo’s smarts than his abilities. If Clayface wasn’t such a berserker, he’d definitely pose more of a challenge to the Dark Knight. For now, Gotham should thank its lucky stars that Clayface is one of the heroes now.
13. THE DARK KNIGHTS
The newest additions to Batman’s rogues gallery are also some of the most vicious villains the Dark Knight and the Justice League have ever faced. Why? Because they’re twisted versions of Batman himself, from the Dark Multiverse. All of these nightmare Batmen have been driven mad by grief and loss and have turned into bloodthirsty villains.
As revealed by DC’s Dark Nights: Metal event, these villains all killed the rest of their respective Justice Leagues while trying to either bring back a deceased loved one or in retribution for the loss they suffered. Basically, they’re Batman who went where our Dark Knight is too afraid to go. What makes them truly overpowered is that, on top of containing all of Batman’s darkness, they each have a power belonging to one of the other Justice League members… What a combo!
12. DOCTOR DEATH
When Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo decided to create the definitive Batman origin story, “Zero Year,” they devoted the entire second act of the arc to one of the first villains the Dark Knight ever faced: Doctor Death. The original character, who was first introduced in Detective Comics #29, was reimagined by Snyder and Capullo as a terrifying monster with grotesque bone structures.
Doctor Death’s bones are able to grow in gruesome ways and to seemingly infinite sizes. His bones automatically heal themselves when fractured, twisting into even more grotesque shapes in the process. Doctor Death is the kind of villain who grows larger the more you try and break him, making him an almost unstoppable adversary. It was only through a stroke of luck that Batman was able to defeat the villain the last time they met.
11. RA’S AL GHUL
Speaking of characters who are pretty much invincible and immortal, there’s no greater threat in that category of Batman rogues than the Demon’s Head, Ra’s al Ghul. This supervillain has been alive for centuries and has led his League of Assassins from the shadows through countless world conflicts. This is not even mentioning that he’s a formidable swordsman on his own and can go head to head with the Bat.
The secret behind Ra’s power is the Lazarus Pit, which can bring people back from the dead. So every time he meets his demise, his followers just drop him back into the magical pit and he’s good as new. Basically, Ra’s will haunt Batman for the rest of his life, especially now that he’s the grandfather of his child. Oof, talk about an awkward Thanksgiving.
Tom King has recently brought this deep cut out of the DC vaults for his Batman run and we’re glad he did. While Psycho-Pirate is sort of a wacky character with a truly awful costume, he’s been at the center of some of the biggest moments in the multiverse, including Crisis on Infinite Earths, in which he played a pivotal role, as well as the events of Infinite Crisis. You see, Psycho-Pirate has a pretty sought-after power. He can manipulate people’s emotions.
This came in particularly handy recently when Hugo Strange turned Gotham City and its heroes upside down. The mad scientist had Psycho-Pirate turn the superpowered vigilante Gotham into a raging villain, making him Batman’s first big foe of the Rebirth era. While Psycho-Pirate isn’t really a fighter himself, he can turn anyone he wants to his side, which makes him incredibly powerful.
9. THIRD BATMAN
Things got really weird in Gotham when Grant Morrison took over the main Batman book for a run that was as surreal and psychedelic as it was action-packed. One of the most bizarre storylines involved the Three Ghosts of Batman, who were originally created by the dastardly Doctor Hurt in an attempt to prepare replacement Batmen were the Dark Knight ever to fall. Of course, this turned out rather poorly and the Three Ghosts lost their minds during Hurt’s twisted experiments.
Michael Lane, also known as the Third Batman (or Bat-Devil), was the worst of them all. In a story called “Batman in Bethlehem,” the Bat-Devil claimed to be the Anti-Christ and planned to unleash the Armageddon on the city. It’s unclear if the Bat-Devil is the son of Satan, but if he is, that makes him one of the most powerful threats that Batman has ever faced.
There was no way that Dracula, the greatest of all vampires, wouldn’t make this list. Dracula appears in a couple of Batman stories, including a straight-to-video animated movie called The Batman vs. Dracula. But his most famous appearance in a Batman story is definitely in Red Rain by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones. In that Elseworlds tale, Dracula and his family of vampires are committing grisly murders in Gotham and it’s up to Batman to stop them.
In fact, Batman is the ONLY person who can stop the vampire lord. Dracula is so powerful that he’s immune to all of the vampires in his brood. So, after he’s bitten by a vampire, Batman gains the strength to kill Dracula, but not before the vampire drains the Dark Knight of all his blood and effectively turns him into a full-fledged bloodsucker! Dracula basically killed the Batman.
7. SOLOMON GRUNDY
Born on a Monday, christened on Tuesday, married on Wednesday… you get the picture. Solomon Grundy is one of the most bizarre villains in Batman’s rogues gallery. When you get down to it, Solomon is a zombie — a really strong and big one — but a shambling member of the undead nonetheless. That’s never stopped Batman from defeating him, of course, especially in that awesome scene in Tom King’s Batman where the Dark Knight throws the giant zombie over his head!
What makes Solomon truly powerful is that he’ll always come back. No matter how many times he’s been defeated over the years, this villain has always been able to heal himself and/or risen from the dead once more to terrorize Gotham. He’s one of the bad guys who will certainly outlast Batman in the long run.
6. POISON IVY
Every rose has its thorn, as the song goes, and it’s a perfect way to describe Poison Ivy, a villain unlike any other in Batman’s rogues gallery. She’s perhaps the deadliest female villain in Gotham, as well as the most seductive. Of course, part of the reason Poison Ivy is so irresistible is because her skin produces a special pheromone that allows her to manipulate those who come into contact with her. Oh, and her lips are full of toxins that can kill anyone she kisses, so she’s a femme fatale if we’ve ever seen one.
Her greatest power of all is her control over nature. She can trap her enemies in a web of thick vines, make giant plants sprout out of the ground instantly that can swallow up her enemies and can even communicate through plants. Poison Ivy basically has control over all of Mother Nature, which makes her a devastating enemy.
The bat demon Barbatos is not only the biggest threat the Batman has ever faced, but also responsible for the creation of the Dark Knight in the first place. In Peter Milligan’s “Dark Knight, Dark City” storyline, it was revealed that Barbatos (then Barbathos) was behind much of the development of Gotham City and may have even influenced the murder of Bruce’s parents in order to push him towards his destiny. Barbatos next showed up as a weapon unleashed by Darkseid to haunt Bruce throughout history in The Return of Bruce Wayne by Grant Morrison.
Barbatos is at the center of Batman’s rogues gallery once more, as he unleashes the Dark Multiverse’s forces on the cities of Earth-Prime in Dark Nights: Metal. In Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s big event, it is revealed that Barbatos had been preparing Bruce all along to become a portal through which to invade the DC Multiverse!
So perhaps this mischievous imp isn’t exactly a villain — or at least not quite as malicious as Superman’s Mister Mxyzptlk — but his devotion to Batman does cause quite a bit of trouble for the Caped Crusader. There are two possible origins for Bat-Mite. He could be from the far-out fifth dimension or is actually a figment of Bruce’s imagination. Either way, Bat-Mite’s appearances are usually concerning.
While the character has usually been played for gags over the years, his reality warping powers making him a big nuisance to Batman. It’s ironic that a character who can decide what’s real and what’s not comes in such a silly little form. Batman’s usually annoyed by Bat-Mite, but he should truly be glad that the imp is on his side.
3. COMPOSITE SUPERMAN
The Composite Superman could have only come from the early ’60s era of comics. Through a convoluted set of events, a normal guy named Joseph Meach was bestowed the combined powers of all of the members of the Legion of Super-Heroes while working at the Superman Museum. Meach used his shape-shifting power to morph himself into a “hero” who was half Superman and half Batman, a gruesome physical combo you can see above. (Modern renditions have only made the character look more gross over the years.)
Bent on taking over the world, Composite Superman sets out to defeat the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader once and for all. Fortunately for the World’s Finest, Meach’s powers were only temporary and he was eventually defeated.
2. MR. BLOOM
While Mr. Bloom has only appeared in one Batman story thus far and much of his backstory remains a mystery (not to mention his identity), he is without a doubt the most poignant of Gotham’s newest villains. Bloom is Gotham’s twisted version of an internet troll, helping divisions grow in the city. The villain was able to amass a giant army of metahumans by offering criminals and people who’d been wronged robotic seeds that would give them incredible powers.
But Bloom’s most terrifying power was his ability to grow into a giant kaiju and morph his fingers into sharp claws in order to impale his enemies. As you can see from the picture above, the results are gruesome. At the end of the “Superheavy” arc in which Bloom appears, Batman had to fight the villain in a giant mech in order to defeat him!
Come to think of it, there are quite a few undead or immortal villains in Gotham City. The Talon is perhaps the most formidable of them all. Created as the elite assassins of the Court of Owls, the Talons were humans injected with a chemical compound known as Electrum that allowed corpses to rise from the dead as well as regenerate when injured. Move over, Alexandria, Gotham City has zombie assassins!
Batman encountered several of these soldiers during “The Court of Owls” by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. They were almost impossible to defeat. The first Talon Batman fought was the great-grandfather of Dick Grayson and could basically come back to life every time he was seemingly defeated. The Court of Owls and the Talons are perhaps Snyder and Capullo’s greatest addition to Batman lore, and one of the most powerful.
Can you think of any other Batman villains who should be on our OP list? Let us know in the comments!
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