The Dark Knight’s Top 5 Foes

Every super hero has their dastardly devious and definitively evil ensemble of enemies.  The Dark Knight is no exception, and indeed, I can’t think of another super hero who has a list of arch enemies quite as extensive and well-known as The Batman.  After much heated debate about whether or not Bane was the right choice to conclude The Dark Knight Trilogy, we thought it would be fun to share our top 5 of Batman’s Most Wanted list.  Because each of these characters brings their own unique blend of intriguing back story and motivation, it would be an injustice to rank them among themselves. Here they are, presented in no particular order.

Mr. Freeze

MR. FREEZE

Mr. Freeze is an excellent example of a very comic-booky villain with an emotionally complex back story.  Motivated to criminal activity by the tragic illness of his beloved wife, Nora Fries, hoping to finance his research into his condition through his criminal activity, while at the same time exacting revenge on those he deems responsible for his own condition.  Victor Fries was a laboratory scientist who met with an unfortunate “accident” that left him unable to survive in an environment above subzero temperatures.  In virtually every incarnation of the character, Mr. Freeze keeps himself alive in a specially designed suit that keeps his body temperature very low.  In suitable comic book fashion, Mr. Freeze’s crimes usually involve some sort of “cold” theme, such as his plan to freeze the people of Gotham City in blocks of ice in 1997’s Batman and Robin, a film that most of us wish never happened.

While Mr. Freeze has appeared in many forms since his introduction to the Batman universe in 1959, his more memorable and chilling appearances include Batman: The Animated Series and the video game Batman: Arkham City.  One of the most notable aspects of his relationship with Batman is that Batman recognizes the motivation behind Mr. Freeze’s heinous crimes and has, on occasion, worked with him to secure legitimate alternatives to help cure himself and his wife of their conditions.

Mr. Freeze’s cold, ruthless genius and the depth of his personal story make him a powerful and worthy addition to The Dark Knight’s Top 5 Foes.

The Joker

THE JOKER

An agent of chaos if ever there was one, The Joker is beyond a doubt Batman’s arch nemesis.  The Joker is a man without a plan, a dog chasing cars.  There is no logical motivation behind his crimes other than the fact that he reviles in the suffering and chaos he can cause with a few drums of gasoline and some poison.  Over the years, The Joker has entertained Batman fans in many different capacities, including Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the character in 1989’s Batman, Mark Hamill’s very memorable voice talents in Batman: The Animated Series and the Arkham games, and Heath Ledger’s iconic performance of the character in 2008’s The Dark Knight.

The Joker has always had a substantial impact on the people in Batman’s life, including the murder of Robin and the crippling of Barbara Gordon in the comics.  In the 1989 film, The Joker was the shooter responsible for killing Bruce Wayne’s parents.  In the 2008 film, The Joker is responsible for the murder of Bruce Wayne’s one true love as well as the creation of another of Batman’s most famous villians, Two-Face.

Since his introduction in 1940, you can’t think the words “Batman Villain” without immediately thinking of The Joker.  His absolutely nutty schemes of chaos and the lethal consequences he has had within the Batman universe have earned The Joker a spot in The Dark Knight’s Top 5 Foes.

The Riddler

THE RIDDLER

One of the more unusual of Batman’s enemies, The Riddler delights in providing clues to his crimes before he commits them to continuously test the brain power of Batman and the police.  Unfortunately, his clues are usually as crazy as he is, requiring Batman to go to great lengths to unravel a word game, a cryptic statement or an insane question before being able to understand exactly what The Riddler is planning to do.  This obsessive-compulsive behavior takes the question mark out of whether or not The Riddler is insane, and has landed him many a one-way ticket to Arkham Asylum (where he supposedly was given enough freedom within the facility to leave green question marks ALL OVER THE PLACE. Seriously, didn’t anyone think to ask him exactly what he was doing climbing through all those vents)?

Since his introduction to the Batman universe in 1948, The Riddler has appeared in a number of notable forms.  Frank Gorshin provided one of the more well-known interpretations of the character in the 1960’s television show, in which he was nominated for an emmy.  Jim Carrey provided an interesting origin story for the character of Edward Nigma in an extremely over-the-top characterization of The Riddler in 1995’s Batman Forever.  In the 2004 television series The Batman, The Riddler was portrayed by Robert Englund of Freddy Krueger fame.

The unique criminal profile for The Riddler and his iconic notoriety as one of Batman’s craziest yet most intelligent villains earns him a spot in The Dark Knight’s Top 5 Foes.

Two-Face

HARVEY TWO-FACE

Two-Face is one Batman villain who has several different origin stories, but one iconic thematic element to the character: everything is left to chance.  In virtually every incarnation of the character I have ever seen, Harvey Two-Face makes all of his decisions using a two faced coin, where, much like himself, one side is a blemished “bad” head, and the other is normal.  After suffering his severe deforming injuries, Harvey Dent went insane, developing a secondary personality known as Two-Face who commits his crimes typically without any clear motivation beyond revenge (though I suppose that’s as clear cut a motivation as any).

Harvey Dent and his other personality Two-Face have been terrorizing Batman’s universe since his introduction in 1942.  While their are many various origins for the character, the most common is that he was once a Gotham City District Attorney and ally to Batman before splashed in the face with acid, lit on fire or caught in a powerful explosion.  In later incarnations of the character, writers have been exploring the mental disorders that led to the birth of the Two-Face persona after the deforming incident, adding a layer of much needed complexity to this otherwise simplistic villain. Two-Face has made it to the big screen twice, once in 1995’s Batman Forever portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones, and once in 2008’s The Dark Knight portrayed by Aaron Eckhart.

Two-Faces obsession with duality and chance make him an especially dangerous presence in Batman’s universe and earns him a spot in The Dark Knight’s Top 5 Foes.

Bane

BANE

The Man Who Broke The Bat.  Bane is one of the newest members to Batman’s Rogues Gallery, but this doesn’t make him any less worthy of our list.  For years, Batman battled criminals who dressed in strange costumes, enacted zany crimes and made tasteless jokes, but none of them were a real physical match for the Dark Knight.  This led to the introduction of Bane, a massive hulk of a man with an intellect to match, making him a very real threat to Batman.  Because Bane is a relatively new character to the mythology, there aren’t many different interpretations of his origin.  He was born and raised in a prison and developed keen survival skills and was able to study the arts, languages and combat.  In some instances, Bane was used to test an experimental drug that increased his physical strength but left him addicted and in need of more every 12 hours or he suffers severe side effects.

In 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, the origin of the character remains the same, but the drugs he requires do not enhance his strength so much as they keep him out of debilitating pain.

Since his introduction in 1993, Bane has made a dangerous name for himself as the man who broke the bat.  In the comic book Knightfall, Bane attacks the Dark Knight and breaks his back, forcing the early retirement of Bruce Wayne as the caped crusader.  Bane’s daunting size and keen intellect earn him a spot in The Dark Knight’s Top 5 Foes.

 

There you have it, folks.  There is a long list of Batman villains out there, and it was very difficult to select a top five.  Who is your favorite Batman villain?

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2 thoughts on “The Dark Knight’s Top 5 Foes

  1. OMG No clayface in any of his guises, no man-bat and no my personal fave KGBeast??? Two-face never really did anything for me, but you hit the nail on the head with the Joker, cuz when i think batman the joker is always right there as well.

    • This list was surprisingly difficult to make. I had to really convince myself that these villains were the ones that have had the greatest impact on the Batman mythology.

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