By the Last Token Gaming Staff
Editor’s Note: Please keep in mind that this is a list the Last Token Gaming has heavily subjective. In the comments below, tell us if you agree or disagree with our list or who you think should be taken off the list or added!
For as long a run as DC icon Batman has been on, he’s had his fair share of baddies along the way. With such an extensive list ranging from obscurities like Pig Man to the universally known Joker, there’s so many to choose from. As you know, we at Last Token Gaming love to make lists consisting of a Top 10 (or more) of a specific category. For the Batman: Arkham Knight feature, Marshall, Jake and I present to you our Top 10 Batman Villains:
- Doctor Hurt – Ah, Grant Morrison, you oddball you. Your writing was oftentimes hard to follow and keep track of given how much you were trying to connect ALL of your Batman writing together. Whether it was the quasi-psuedo science behind your work, or the supernatural elements blending with reality, all of it was just…surreal. However, one of the more notable storylines (aside from Damian Wayne, the bastard son of Talia and Bruce Wayne) was the Black Hand organization. Black Hand was a secret crime syndicate led by none other than Doctor Hurt, whose identity is still up for interpretation. Some speculate he’s the devil incarnate, others argue he could be Thomas Wayne, Sr. (which he says he is). But his character was undeniably equal parts cunning and mysterious. The Black Hand’s work also lead to one of my favorite Batman reads, Batman R.I.P. – Terry Randolph
- The Court of Owls (aka Thomas Wayne, Jr.) – I’ve been a huge fan of Scott Snyder’s writing for the New 52 Batman series, particularly the new additions he’s added to the Batman lore. While the Court of Owls doesn’t sound like much of a villain group, they’re actually one of the harshest opponents Batman has had to face. Killer undead assassins and an ancient underground society? Check. The possibility of a Bruce Wayne having a younger brother who’s hellbent on vengeance against him? Check. What makes the Court of Owls a terrifying force to be reckoned with is the lengths they’ll go to establish their legacy within Gotham. This crime syndicate will go to any length to eradicate the legacy Batman is carving in order to maintain the legacy they’ve had for so long. The Talons, who are the killer undead assassins, give Batman and friends a run for their money in fighting. Not to mention, Scott Snyder does a wonderful job incorporating “the Family” into this storyline (Nightwing, Robin, Jason Todd, Batgirl, etc.). There’s a reason Scott Snyder is the head helmer of Batman lore in the modern era, and the Court of Owls is a fine example. – Terry Randolph
- Mister Freeze – Poor, poor Mr. Freeze. The guy just can’t catch a break huh? Freeze is a classic villain that has earned his spot as a Top 10 villain. Smart, cold (hah, get it?), calculating, and sympathetic, Freeze has proven to be a very formidable opponent for Batman (aside from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance in Batman and Robin). At the same time, he pulls at your heartstrings with his devotion to saving his wife. He also proves to be one of the most fleshed out characters in the Batman: Arkham series. In Arkham City, he makes for one of the best and most uniquely challenging boss fights in video game history. Like most boss fights, you’re forced to utilize every skill you’ve learned in order to beat him. But in this instance, once you use a certain move, Mr. Freeze immediately adapts to it, meaning you can’t use it a second time. That’s how a boss should challenge you. – Terry Randolph and Marshall Garvey
- Bane – I’m sure you’re probably wondering, “Why? Why Bane?”. If you’d read Knightfall, or watched The Dark Knight Rises, you’d know why. Both the comic and movie showcase a villain who’s not only physically strong thanks to Venom (which was created by Batman in this comic), but is also strategically tactical. In Knightfall, Bane not only knew who Batman was, but knew the perfect strategy to take him down. First, he released all the inmates in Arkham Asylum to create unrest. Batman, being Batman, had to go and take care of the major villains that were out on the streets of Gotham. Once Batman was exhausted, Bane broke into Wayne manor and broke him in half (literally). While the plan eventually breaks, the fact of the matter is Bane did extensive damage to Batman in a way no other villain managed. He hasn’t had as great a role as Knightfall in a while, but man, did that arc paint Bane to be a terrifying figure. – Terry Randolph
- Riddler – While Riddler has been a secondary villain throughout most of his tenure as a Batman nemesis, he’s also proven to push Batman’s mental stamina in fantastic “chess-like” battles. Riddler’s enigmatic personality and penchant for mental games is a dual edged sword; his challenges are a visual spectacle to behold. However, his focus on creating these mentally stimulating challenges oftentimes leads to his downfall. This is really noticeable in the recent Zero Year: Dark City storyline written by Scott Snyder (go figure), Riddler is ever the cunning, ruthless, intelligent villain that keeps Batman guessing. His work, which brought Gotham to a primal state of living, was equal parts nefarious and genius. However, his eventual downfall was dropping his guard down for the sake of taking on Batman. That said, Riddler’s wittiness is fun to read and exciting to solve. His challenges have almost always been fun in the Batman: Arkham video game series, with the character receiving arguably his best portrayal yet from the veteran voice actor Wally Wingert. – Terry Randolph
- The Red Hood – This gets a little on the spoilery side of Batman, and is easily debatable to many fans of the series. However, I believe Red Hood to be an amazing villain for Batman…especially the Jason Todd version. With a thirst to take down those he believed have wronged him, Jason Todd doesn’t play around. First, he destroys the Joker with a crowbar (like Joker had done to torture him before killing him), and then starts a war with the Black Mask syndicate. At the same time, he’s trying to clean up Gotham, albeit in his own anti-hero sort of way. In his eventual showdown with Batman and co., it’s clear just how much he can hold his own against Batman. Red Hood knows and can predict Batman’s movements, he also knows Bruce Wayne on a personal level. Jason Todd’s anger at Batman for letting him die, the guilt Batman feels for his death also adds an emotional depth to their battles unseen in other fights. Red Hood is one of my favorite anti-heroes out there. – Terry Randolph
- Ra’s al Ghul – Look, I understand why Joker is considered the best villain of Batman’s rogues gallery, and rightly so. One reason is his yin-yang, “we can’t live without each other” relationship with the Caped Crusader. But honestly, I think the villain that has by far the most intriguing and complex relationship with Batman is Ra’s al Ghul. A criminal mastermind who hails from the Middle East, his life spans centuries thanks to his revitalizing Lazarus Pit. (Although in a brilliant touch, it has a decaying, drug-like effect on his body the more he uses it.) In terms of relations with Batman, Ra’s is arguably his toughest adversary because he’s the one that can tempt him the most. He not only shows a rare level of respect for Batman (honorably referring to him “Detective”), but has even trained with him, giving Batman a chance at a father figure he never had. To heighten the stakes, his daughter Talia is one of the few women the World’s Greatest Detective has truly fallen for. But as long as he plans to wipe out Gotham (and even humanity itself), Batman must remain dedicated to stopping him all the same. In addition to Liam Neeson’s fantastic portrayal of him in the franchise-saving Batman Begins, the master of the Lazarus also made for a brilliant boss fight in Batman: Arkham City, albeit one you’d better have your best reflexes for if you want to avoid tossing the controller through the window in anger. – Marshall Garvey
- Scarecrow – One of Batman’s premier villains, Jonathan Crane (aka Scarecrow) has seen his stock rise tremendously in recent years. Cillian Murphy’s portrayal of him helped Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins reboot the franchise on the big screen in 2005, followed by cameos in the next two films. Yet, it’s the Master of Fear’s appearance in Arkham Asylum that left an even bigger mark, and helped solidify it as the first truly outstanding superhero game. The game’s basic premise involves Batman having to survive a night trapped in Gotham’s notorious insane asylum, which has been taken over by a host of his most dangerous villains. Scarecrow joins in with a healthy dose of his fear toxin, but he does more than just make Batman see frightful visions of his dead parents in the asylum’s morgue. He manages to trap the Caped Crusader in a series of very real nightmares, in which he looms over disjointed levels and can take out the world’s greatest detective with one swipe of his Freddy Krueger claws. These moments are not only challenging, but also genuinely frightening, and show what an intimidating foe Scarecrow truly is. And even though he doesn’t appear in Arkham City, Batman still comes across an encoded message from him that serves as a reminder that as long as Jonathan Crane runs free, Gotham is always in serious danger. – Marshall Garvey. Author’s Note: The above paragraph is entirely excerpted from my Top 20 Video Game Characters list from back in 2013.
- Hush – Underrated and underutilized, Hush is easily one of Batman’s greatest foes. A childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, Hush (aka Dr. Thomas Elliot) were the perfect reflections of each other: Bruce being the good, caring boy and Elliot being the dark, sociopathic one. Elliot attempted to kill his parents to inherit their fortune, successfully killing his father via car accident. However, thanks to Dr. Thomas Wayne’s surgical skills, his mother lived. Seeing Bruce inheriting his fortune the way that Elliot had hoped to, and having to wait years to eventually get what he wanted, Elliot blamed Bruce for his struggles. Through the help of the Riddler, Thomas Elliot began to carve out a plan that would destroy both Batman and Bruce Wayne. His plan, which involved numerous DC villains and heroes, worked to shake the very core of Batman. The emotional cost of the Hush comic was a lot on Batman, even when he was able to defeat Hush. I recommend reading Hush and Hush Returns to see just why I believe he deserves the #2 spot. – Terry Randolph
1. Joker – Quickly, without thinking about this list, think of a Batman villain. If one of the first villains you thought of was the Joker, you’re not the only one. After all, the Joker has made his mark in the Batman universe as well as many people’s minds, for good reasons. While villains like Bane and Solomon Grundy used their strength, and others like Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy use their powers, Joker is the kind of villain doesn’t need to rely on any sort of powers (maybe except Arkham Asylum…..we can forget about that, right?). As much of a homicidal maniac that we all know him for, he always relies on his wit to help him execute his misdeeds. Any sort of conflict between Batman and the Joker always turns into an unpredictable battle of wits, where no one can really predict the Joker’s next move. Which is why Batman needs to be on top of his game if he wishes to best the Joker. Indeed, he and Batman are the exact opposites since their ideals always clash. Throughout the years, Joker has established himself as his yin to Batman’s yang, where one cannot exist without the other. The constant clashing between the caped crusader and the villain is what made The Joker one of the best recurring villains, if not THE best recurring villain, of any media. – Jake Rushing