Over the past 75 years, Batman has squared off against a colorful array of enemies that have made his war on crime seemingly never-ending. We select a few that we consider his most memorable adversaries because, after all, what would Batman be without his bad guys?
There was never any doubt about this one. From his first appearance as “the Red Hood” to his campy phase in the 1960s, the “laughing fish” era of the 70s, and his return to psychosis in the 80s and beyond, the Joker has been the quintessential Batman villain. One of the measures of a good writer and artist is if they can craft a Joker story that develops his relationship with Batman even further. The clown make-up and his utter disregard for human life have combined to make the Joker not just unforgettable, he’s downright deadly.
The complex relationship that Batman has with Catwoman instantly boosts her near the top of this list. He’s been battling with her for nearly seven decades, and he’s placed her in jail on several occasions. At some point though, the antagonism turned into flirtation, and even a straight-up relationship. Before 1986’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” the older Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle of Earth-2 were even married and had a daughter, Helena (who later became The Huntress). The appeal of Catwoman goes beyond the skintight leather and the rocking body she’s drawn as having. Though Selina cares for Bruce and wants to do good by him, her innate need to walk on the wild side keeps her from ever fully staying with the Bat.
Just looking at Two-Face will leave an impression on your brain. The dichotomy of good and evil, light and dark, are embodied in the scarred face of former District Attorney Harvey Dent. Once a trusted ally of Batman, his own pursuit of justice resulted in acid being thrown on his face by a mob goon. The scarring, however, went deeper than cosmetic as it unleashed a madness and psychosis that had no room for gray areas. The suit that was split down the middle, the fascination with duality and multiples of two, and the reliance on a scarred double-headed silver dollar have all contributed to the fascination with this tragic figure.
You don’t break Batman’s back and get left off this list. Only created in the 1990s, Bane was more than just a thuggish brute when he left Peña Dura prison where he grew up on the isle of Santa Prisca. Fluent in at least six languages and creating his own fighting style, the addition of the drug Venom into his system enhanced his strength but left him addicted to it. Bane’s obsession with Batman began with the fear that the latter inspired throughout Gotham City. Their physical battles would eventually prove to be psychological as well, the most famous of which resulted in Bane literally breaking the back of Batman. The Christopher Nolan movies veer away a bit from the comic origins, but the dangerous nature of this monster has remained in every medium he’s been seen in.
Ra’s al Ghul
When you lead a group of assassins, are hell-bent on world domination, periodically immerse yourself in a pool that restores your life energy, and are determined to groom Batman to become your successor, you must be a bit of a whack job. His name is translated as “Demon’s head,” and as leader of the League of Assassins, is a criminal mastermind who wants to purge the Earth of most of its population and rule what is left. His daughter Talia eventually falls in love with Batman and, like any potential father-in-law would do, determines if the Dark Knight can be his heir. On top of being a skilled fighter gained from his living over 600 years, al Ghul has amassed a considerable fortune, and all his resources have brought both him and his League in direct conflict with Batman.
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