When it came down to it, we found that the most obvious choices were obvious for a reason. There are a few things you should know about this list. First, it's not necessarily a list of the most iconic or most heinous Batman villains of all time, it's a list of our favorites. These are the villains that we enjoyed the most throughout our lives.
For Chad and Jason, it's the bad guys they got the biggest kick out of seeing on the big screen or in video game form. For Tristan, it's the villains that he couldn't wait to read about every week in the comics. This meant that some fan favorites such as Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, Two-Face and Solomon Grundy missed the cut. You should also know that no one character is tied to a role, we tried to look at as much of their history as possible when piecing things together.
If you want to find out exactly how and why each person landed where they did, check out Behind The List at the end of this article or grab the podcast here. This is our list, let us know what yours looks like down in the comments.
One of the smartest Batman’s villains of all time, The Riddler loves to throw puzzles and riddles into his criminal actions. While we knew about The Riddler from the 1960's TV show, he really came to mainstream prominence thanks to Jim Carey's performance in Batman Forever. That performance mixed with what we are seeing today on Gotham proves that the character has some lasting appeal. What's more impressive than how long he has been in our lives is the fact that he manages to come up with these crazy riddles while being totally insane. To be honest, he might have ended up higher on the list if his riddles weren't so damn annoying and his challenges in the Batman games so damn time consuming.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was a terrible Mr. Freeze...in a great I can't look away from the screen, holy crap I need to watch that again kind of way. Knowing what we know today about Mr. Freeze, Arnold had no business being cast in that role. Freeze is a deeply emotional character who, in the right hands, could make some solid movie time magic. A cryogenics expert who's sole goal in life is to curing his dying wife, who he keeps on ice in the hopes that he can find said cure, is cool motivation for a bad guy. While we didn't think Arnold was that great, we do love all of the Mr. Freeze stuff from the Arkham games and think that his turn in the animated series was solid. Truly though, the main reasons he hit number six was because of the comics story-line where his wife is finally cured, and promptly decides to leave him. We love a good tear jerker almost as much as we love ice guns and cheesy one liners. Because of that, Mr. Freeze makes the list.
He broke Batman's back and destroyed an entire football stadium. Need we say more? Despite an up and down appearance in the final chapter of the Dark Knight Trilogy, Bane has been historically bad ass. Outside of being one of the most powerful of Batman villains of all time, he doesn’t seem to have much else going for him. He doesn't have any true ambitions and seems to just wander through life thirsting for venom (the stuff that fuels his strength). His only true accomplishment in life was defeating Batman that one time. Lucky for him, this is more than most of the other people on this list can say, thus he lands at number five.
And now we come to the polarizing middle portion of our list. Poison Ivy is known for her ability to manipulate anyone to do her bidding. With Ivy it all boils down to whether or not you are messing up planet earth. Much like Captain Planet, if you screw with Mother Earth, Poison Ivy is going to mess you up any way she can. Using plants, toxins, pheromones and manipulation, she is all sorts of dangerous. Someone on our team would go as far as saying she is the most dangerous villain on our list. While we are split on that, there is no doubt she belongs at number four.
If you listen to Adapted then you know that the crew thinks that Ra's al Ghul is absolutely terrible in Arrow. A few of us also think he was equally bad in The Dark Knight trilogy. So, how then does he end up at number three? Well, his badass level in the comics is so high it kind of canceled those two things out.
First off, Ra's al Ghul is so old, over 600 years, that he actually doesn’t even know how old he is any more. Yeah, he has been kicking ass for so long, he probably forgot how many people he has taken out. How can he do this? Well, he possesses something called the Lazarus Pit. This pit of youth allows him to heal his wounds and stay young, sort of. The one caviet being that if he uses it too much, he will completely crazy.
On top of owning a fountain of youth, he also knows Batman’s secret identity, has torn down and then rebuilt entire societies, took out the entire Justice Leauge and is constantly trying to get Batman to take over his mantle. If you only know Ra's al Ghul for TV and movies, you are missing out.
Danny Devito made The Penguin one of the most iconic Batman bad guys of all time. While some people want us to forget that role, as it was a very literal take on the character, the scene where he is eating a fish will forever be burned into our brains. This is however only one small taste of one of the greatest Batman villains of all time. The rare villain that isn't entirely crazy, Penguin is known for using his genius in all things crime to cause all sorts of trouble for Batman. His appearances in the Arkham games was a great example of this more grounded version of The Penguin.
No matter how he is interpreted, one thing always remains the same, he rocks a bad ass umbrella that doubles as any number of weapons. The Penguin was really the only other character that had a chance to top this list, but the fact that he turns informant, for Batman, from time to time, really hurt him.
The debate for who should land at number one was as easy as us saying his name out loud. During our lifetimes no villain has seen more air time than The Joker. Everything he has been in has been pure money. The Tim Burton Batman movie starring Jack Nicholas was classic. The Heath Ledger version was legendary. The Batman: The Animated Series version starring Mark Hamill was more captivating than any cartoon villain before him. The video game versions, also starring Mark Hamill, created some of the most lasting images from the Xbox 360 and PS3 era of gaming. The jury is still out on Jared Leto's version, but the outcry over his appearance proves just how much the world cares about this character. These versions of The Joker don't even take into account his unbelievable run in comics with Death in the Family, The Man Who Laughs, Mad Love and The Killing Joke to name a few.
It may seem like we took the easy way out here but you can't say the name Batman without immediately thinking of The Joker, which is why we didn't even need to debate putting him at number one.