Why so serious?
The Batman is officially in theaters today! I hope you guys have fun watching it. It is a really good Batman film. Hopefully I'll go see it again soon. Anyways, accompanying The Batman are a bunch of rankings. And the second ranking I'm doing is the Batman villains. Batman has one of the greatest rogues galleries of all time, so this was a tough ranking. Now, there are some terrible Batman villains, but the top ten are all fantastic antagonists. So I hope you guys enjoy this ranking. Be sure to check out my ranking of all ten live-action Batman films by clicking on this link. That said, here is every live-action Batman villain, ranked worst to best. And no, Joaquin Phoenix's Joker is not on here.
23. Bane (Batman & Robin)
If you have seen Batman & Robin, I'm sure you forgot that Bane is in this movie. But he is. Instead of being awesome and intimidating, he looks like a rubber action figure that Poison Ivy uses to give Batman aggressive hugs. I don't know what comic Joel Schumacher read, but this is not how Bane is. He's this roaring idiot with no intelligence. Even though he can barely talk, he can somehow wear disguises and drive. This terrible version of Bane was redeemed by The Dark Knight Rises, but I don't want to remember that this adaptation exists.
22. Poison Ivy (Batman & Robin)
Poison Ivy is so over-the-top. She's obsessed with plants and stuff...but for some reason, she teams up with a dude who wants to freeze the world. How do you grow plants if the world is frozen? Besides that, she is unbearably cartoonish and stupid. Uma Thurman overdoes this drawling, seductive voice that doesn't work at all. Half of her powers come out of nowhere. I don't understand her origin. I just don't like this character. Or this movie.
21. Mr. Freeze (Batman & Robin)
Oh boy. Mr. Freeze sucks. The only reason he's not last place is because this film tried (and mostly failed) to replicate Freeze's arc from the Heart of Ice episode of Batman: The Animated Series. That is a compelling character, and elements of that transfer to Batman & Robin. However, Arnold Schwarzenegger gives one of the worst performances ever. This character is riddled with cliches and stupid lines. And, for some reason, every five or so seconds, Mr. Freeze will say a dumbass ice pun that makes you cringe. God. I hate Batman & Robin.
20. Two-Face (Batman Forever)
Tommy Lee Jones is a good actor. But Joel Schumacher must've given him, like, ten pounds of cocaine before shooting this movie, because he is just a screaming moron throughout this film. I get it. Two-Face is nuts. But he can also be compelling, as we see in The Dark Knight. This version is not compelling. This version is bad. This version is annoying. And I hate it. I don't even like the character design. He looks and acts like he was pulled straight out of the Looney Tunes. He sucks.
19. Lex Luthor (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice)
I never minded this iteration of Lex Luthor. But that was before I watched Smallville and the Christopher Reeve Superman films. And then I rewatched Batman v. Superman. And Jesse Eisenberg is just not fit for this role. He has this meek, timid voice that doesn't strike you as intimidating. He's quirky. He's weird. He's more like the Joker than Lex Luthor. I really, really don't like him. And I don't know where they pulled this adaptation of Luthor from. Because it definitely is not from the DC comics.
18. The Penguin (Batman Returns)
Some people really like the Penguin. And I don't get it. Yes, his backstory is mildly compelling. But he's so dark. He's so grotesque. He's so nasty and uncomfortable...and not in a good way. His plan is convoluted and makes the story of Batman Returns really puzzling. Danny DeVito is good, but I just really don't like the character. He goes from wanting to be mayor to wanting to kill all the firstborn sons of Gotham to just wanting to kill Batman in the course of, like, 20 minutes. It's like they re-wrote this character three times then closed their eyes and shuffled the papers that all three versions were written on. He's the main reason that I don't like Batman Returns.
17. The Riddler (Batman Forever)
I've never been a huge Jim Carrey fan. I appreciate his acting style. But his shtick just doesn't work for me. And I love the Riddler. He's my second favorite Batman villain. But when you make Jim Carrey the Riddler...it just doesn't work. Instead of being a menacing criminal genius, Riddler is this wacky, Dr. Seuss-like freak that is obsessed with Batman. He's not as unbearable as Two-Face, but he adds to the loud and annoying parts of Batman Forever that make it one of the Dark Knight's weakest outings.
16. Catwoman (Batman: The Movie)
I don't remember a ton from Batman: The Movie, but I remember Catwoman being the least impactful villain of them all. She has this fake romance with Bruce Wayne that just comes off as weird and cartoonish. She isn't really one of the masterminds and she doesn't really do anything to be memorable. I can't put her much higher because I simply don't remember anything she does in this movie.
15. The Riddler (Batman: The Movie)
Like Catwoman, I don't really remember this version of the Riddler from Batman: The Movie. Penguin and Joker are really the main villains of that film, and Riddler and Catwoman act more as henchmen. I remember his riddles being absolutely ridiculous. I remember him being punched in the face by Batman. But I really don't remember anything else. Frank Gorshin isn't as memorable of an actor as Cesar Romero or Burgess Meredith, so even that doesn't stand out. I just remember him more than Catwoman.
14. Talia al Ghul (The Dark Knight Rises)
Talia al Ghul is one of the weakest parts of The Dark Knight Rises. She takes on the alias of Miranda Tate for most of the movie, and you are left wondering what she was doing in the film for most of it. Her reveal comes in the last twenty minutes of the film. She threatens Gotham for about two minutes before crashing and dying. I like Marion Cotillard. She's great in other things. But she really is kind of forgettable in The Dark Knight Rises.
13. The Joker (Batman: The Movie)
Cesar Romero's Joker is better than Jared Leto's, but definitely not one of the best Jokers. It's a tamer take on the character, because Batman: The Movie is meant for kids, so I think that holds him back. He isn't a homicidal maniac. He's just a dude that plays some mean pranks on Batman and is recruited by the Penguin to do evil things. I also find Cesar Romero's unshaved mustache to be incredibly distracting. He's a very mediocre and slightly memorable villain, so I put him near the middle of this ranking.
12. Catwoman (The Dark Knight Rises)
Anne Hathaway is probably the weakest of the three main Catwomen (I don't really count the one from Adam West Batman). She isn't really a villain at all. She helps Batman out for most of the movie. She doesn't really have the seductive charm that both Michelle Pfeiffer and Zoë Kravitz have. She's a helpful ally to Batman, but she doesn't really feel like Catwoman. She feels more like Batgirl. So that puts her lower on this list.
11. Catwoman (The Batman)
This version of Catwoman kind of brought down The Batman a little bit. I enjoy Zoe Kravitz and I thought that her character was great in the first part of the film. You see her slowly grow into the Catwoman that we know and love, but as we moved into the back half of this movie, they built on a plot line involving her that I was not a huge fan of. I think she's good. I want to see more of her. Kravitz showed hints of being an awesome true Catwoman. So we will see. I'm excited to see what the future entails with this character.
10. The Penguin (Batman: The Movie)
Probably the most memorable part of Batman: The Movie, Burgess Meredith's Penguin is a true adaptation of the character from the comics. He's a squawking criminal mastermind that teams up with Joker, Riddler, and Catwoman to cause chaos and make life harder on Batman. He is the main villain of this movie, so that basically automatically makes him the best villain in the film. I really like Burgess Meredith in this role, and I like this villain overall.
9. Scarecrow (The Dark Knight Trilogy)
Scarecrow was kind of a weird character in Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. He appears in every single film, but only really makes an impact in Batman Begins. But, Jesus, is he scary in that film. Cillian Murphy gives a screwed up performance as this doctor that's obsessed with fear. He is always kind of overshadowed by better villains, but I really think that he could've been a great villain with some more development and more screen time.
8. Ra's al Ghul (Batman Begins)
Ra's al Ghul is the true villain of the entire Dark Knight trilogy. I love the moral dilemmas that Bruce has when confronting Ra's. He's a mentor to Batman but is also the first real test that Bruce faces. I love Liam Neeson, and I think he really brings the Neeson-ness to this role. For being the main antagonist of the trilogy, he doesn't have a ton of screentime, but when he does, he's awesome. I love the fact that he battles with Batman, but they both clearly respect each other, even when Ra's is trying to kill Bruce and Bruce is trying to stop him. It's a great dynamic. I do wish we saw some more of this character, but I love the amounts of him that we get.
7. The Penguin (The Batman)
Penguin was awesome in this movie. I didn't really expect much of him, and I was surprised by how much I loved this character. Colin Farrell disappears both literally and figuratively into this role. You don't see Farrell. You just see Oz. He was charming in a sense while also being a true adaptation of the Penguin from the comics. Definitely much improved over Danny DeVito's monstrous creature from Batman Returns. I am all for Farrell's Penguin getting a spin-off show. I can't wait for that.
6. The Joker (Batman)
Jack Nicholson takes Jack Torrance from The Shining, dies his hair green, makes his skin white, changes his last name to Napier, and gives himself a really creepy smile. That's basically what this character is. Utter insanity. Nicholson gave us the first truly disturbing Joker. The smile that's stuck on his face is genuinely unsettling. He can be really funny at times, but is also just terrifying at other times. The thing that holds him back is the love story he has with Vicki Vale. I think that that is just a weird plot line. Otherwise, this is one of the best Batman villains and a great interpretation of the Clown Prince of Crime.
5. Catwoman (Batman Returns)
Pfeiffer's Catwoman also isn't really an antagonist, but I'd definitely say she's a bad person. She really, really wants to kill Max Shreck, and nothing will stop her from doing that. Her relationship with Batman is the best part of Batman Returns, and I absolutely love that. Michelle Pfeiffer's performance is one of the best, with this drawling, sexy voice and a true cat-like demeanor. This is what Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy wanted to be, but failed miserably. Catwoman holds Batman Returns back from being the worst Batman film, so I really appreciate her for that.
4. Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)
Some people are mixed on Bane. I don't understand that. Up to this point, Batman has had two mental tests. Ra's al Ghul made him overcome fear, while Joker tested how far until Batman broke mentally. Bane tests Batman physically. He is super intimidating. I love the voice. I think Tom Hardy makes this character cool with the figure and the voice combined. This is the character that beats and breaks Batman. He nearly kills him. And he deserves props for that. Bane is one of my favorite Batman villains and one of my favorite villains of all time.
3. The Riddler (The Batman)
Paul Dano's Riddler is the best main Batman villain since Ledger's Joker. He's terrifying. I love the Zodiac-inspired outfit and personality. Dano's performance is amazing. He was a mix of the Joker, the Zodiac Killer, Jigsaw, and the Riddler. And it worked. I've wanted a dark interpretation of this character ever since Jim Carrey gave us his awful take. And I got what I wanted. I really, really hope they re-use Riddler. He was one of the best parts of The Batman.
2. Two-Face (The Dark Knight)
Two-Face has arguably the best character arc in The Dark Knight. He starts off as a symbol of hope for Gotham. Bruce hopes to use him so that Batman can retire. However, the Joker proves that chaos eventually breaks everyone and turns Harvey Dent into this monster that is Two-Face. Aaron Eckhart's heart-breaking performance works fabulously with Nolan's direction. I love what it does for the themes of the movie. I love the symbolism that Two-Face has. This character is incredible. He'd be number one on any other list and my favorite villain in any other movie.
1. The Joker (The Dark Knight)
What did you expect? The Joker is one of the best fictional characters of all time, and Heath Ledger's take on the character is iconic for a reason. The writers of this film understood the character of the Joker: he's nuts. He doesn't have a motivation. He doesn't have a compelling reason for killing. He thinks that causing people pain is fun. And this works as a polar opposite to Christian Bale's Batman. There's nothing to be said about this character that hasn't been already said. Heath Ledger gives an all-time performance with a character that is written to absolute perfection. No Batman villain and certainly no other Joker will top him. Even though Joaquin Phoenix came close, Heath Ledger makes one of the greatest characters of all time.