The Five Best and Worst Batman Villains in Film

Photo Credit:

Batman is popular for a lot of reasons, but perhaps the biggest is his rogue’s gallery. The average non-fan can probably rattle off five names if not more. How many other superheroes can say that? Not many. But between the 1966 movie, Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, and of course Christopher Nolan, the villains portrayed on screen have ranged from Razzies to Oscars. So we decided to do a best and worst list. But which character appears twice on the same list? Which one appears on both lists? Which movie has a villain on each? Find out below.




Photo Credit: Penguin (Danny DeVito)- Batman Returns (1992)-

Penguin is very far from my favorite Batman villain, but even the ‘60s TV series did better than this. Burton gave the character actual flippers and turned him into a monster rather than a corrupt, yet classy, socialite. Danny DeVito was so disgusting when the character is supposed to be distinguished. All of these misfires make Penguin the worst thing in both of Burton’s films and probably had a hand in Warner Bros. wanting a different director for the third movie. And we all know how that went.


Photo Credit: Riddler (Frank Gorshin)- Batman: The Movie (1966)-

Or should I say the Joker except with riddles. That’s how Frank Gorshin played it way back in the 1960s. The riddles have never been more ridiculous. The costume has never been so horrible. The goofiness…oh the goofiness. This was a nightmare transition from comic book to movie and while Jim Carrey’s Riddler may have been inspired by this catastrophe, Gorshin is nowhere near as funny as Carrey.



Photo Credit: Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones)- Batman Forever (1995)-

Or should I say Joker…wait, I made this joke in the last one. Oh well, it applies in the end doesn’t it? Harvey Dent is a tragic character, but Tommy Lee Jones replaced tragedy with…goofiness. Aside from appearance, this version of Two-Face is nothing like his comic book counterpart. Prancing around, laughing, flipping his coin until he gets his desired outcome. I cannot think of another character handled so wrongly. Oh wait. There are still two more on this list. Moving on…



Photo Credit: Mr. Freeze (Arnold Shwartzeneggar)- Batman & Robin (1997)-

Seriously who thought this was good casting? Someone should fire them! What? They did you say? Good. Ice puns, ice puns, and more ice puns! The hockey playing henchmen. The ridiculous lair. The slippers. Mr. Freeze, like Two-Face before him, is another tragic villain to suffer from a case of Schumacher. When this reboot thing happens in a few years, Freeze is first on my list for a redo. This interpretation left me feeling cold (see writers, I can do it to), but Freeze wasn’t the worst villain in Batman & Robin


Photo Credit: Bane (Jeep Swenson)- Batman & Robin (1997)-

Something tells me that Chris Nolan watched this movie soon after finishing The Dark Knight and said “challenge accepted”. Portrayed as a hulking brute who can do little more than grunt as far as speech goes, this version of Bane is the worst villain in any Batman film. Any 30 second TV spot for the new film has proved that Tom Hardy has done better. Bane here is a worthless villain unnecessary to the script (if you can call it that). Bane means so much more to the Batman mythos than this catastrophe.




Photo Credit: Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson)- Batman Begins (2005)-

Ah, I can finally talk about Chris Nolan’s movies. Seven years ago he started his trilogy off with a bang and included one of Batman’s best rogues. Ra’s al Ghul threatened Gotham in a way that no villain had before in a movie. Plus he trained Bruce Wayne. It also seems that Ra’s’ goals from the first film may come into fruition as this version of Bane was trained by the League of Shadows. Or perhaps his daughter will show up. Miranda Tate my nerdy, white…



Photo Credit: Joker (Mark Hamill)- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)-

Hahaha, I don’t curse on here! Well sometimes I do but right now I’m talking about a cartoon so I’ll refrain from it. Many casual fans will be surprised to know that an animated Batman film even got a theatrical release. On the heels of Batman Returns, Batman: The Animated Series was created, and that is where this nearly forgotten gem came from. Casual fans will also be surprised that Luke Skywalker himself voiced the Joker! Crazy right? Want to know something even crazier? He was perfect. Sporting perhaps the most iconic Joker laugh ever, Mark Hamill actually played Mr. J as recently as last year in the video game Batman: Arkham City, and he was just as good as he was in this film.


Photo Credit: Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart)- The Dark Knight (2008)-

Well this is much better than that crap Tommy Lee Jones delivered! Eckhart’s Harvey Dent was a tortured soul just trying to be a hero. Sadly, the actor didn’t quite get the recognition he deserved, but more on the reason later. This is the definitive version of Two-Face. The make-up has never looked more chilling. The character has never felt so tragic. Christopher Nolan pulled off one of Batman’s best villains so perfectly four years ago, and it appears his legacy will have a lot to do with the upcoming film.


Photo Credit: Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer)- Batman Returns (1992)-

Tim Burton’s second foray into the world of Batman featured this amazing rendition of Selina Kyle. Pfeiffer got everything about the character down pat. Her creepy, yet sexy movements are exactly what I envision when I think of Catwoman. But the biggest reason the character works is how well she plays off of Michael Keaton’s Batman. Their relationship was pretty much perfect in this movie and it will be hard for Anne Hathaway and Christian Bale to top it. But if anyone can it’s them.


Photo Credit: Joker (Heath Ledger)- The Dark Knight (2008)-

Cliches are clichés for a reason. The late Heath Ledger gave the definitive take on Batman’s greatest foe. He commanded the screen in literally every scene he was in. In some ways you rooted for him. Just don’t let him show you a magic trick. Or ask him how he got those scars. His conversations with the Bat are the stuff that classic cinema is made out of. Nolan has Heath to thank for a lot of his success with The Dark Knight. Ledger’s Joker isn’t just the best Batman movie villain, he is the best movie villain of all time. Yeah, I said it.


Do you agree with my picks? Where do you think the new versions of Bane and Catwoman will measure up? Sound off below!

One Response to The Five Best and Worst Batman Villains in Film

  1. Noonshine says:

    I agree on everything except Danny Devito’s interpretation of the penguin. No, it’s not true to the comics, but neither was Heath ledgers joker, yet his performance was awesome! It’s called an alternate take. It didnt fit the general view of the character, but it still worked! It felt right too, as burtons world was a much darker batman, so thus it called for a nastier villain, akin to Nicholsons (slightly) darker Joker of the previous film. To be honest, I prefered devito’s take, as the penguin isn’t really menacing enough in, say, TAS to win me over, and the idea of a malformed freak cast out of society who
    Is generally looking for acceptance (at least initially) really appeals to me. I think a mix of this penguin and the sadistic gangster from Arkham City would, for me, be the perfect penguin. These alternative takes aren’t just limited to the films. Look up Arkham Asylum: A serious house on serious earth, considered to be one of the greatest graphic novels of all time. That book contained a sexually insecure batman, a sexually provocative joker, a literal AIDS on legs version of Preston paynes clayface, a crippled and withered doctor destiny, and a paedophilic mad hatter, and that books sold assloads!

    However, I realise its your opinion. I just thought you’d be interested to see mine. Other than that I agree with your listings (although I didn’t think pfeiffer’s catwoman was THAT good, and where is Nicholson? xD) and I’m glad to see that carrey’s riddler didn’t get any hate as per usual!

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