Batman is a legendary superhero, but the main reason he got that far is his villains. The Dark Knight’s rogues gallery is unique. Many of them are basically just gimmick villains from a bygone age, but creators have transformed them into diverse and interesting characters. So many Batman villains should have fallen to the wayside by now, but the fact they haven’t says a lot about them and DC’s artists.
Batman’s villains are more popular than most superheroes, but that doesn’t mean some of them aren’t overrated. When a character is as iconic as Batman, the villains are boosted so they can keep up. Some of Batman’s villains aren’t exactly the bad guys they’re cracked up to be.
10 Two-Face’s Stories Have Gotten Smaller
Two-Face has become an iconic part of Batman’s backstory, which is a huge problem for the character. The tragic story of Harvey Dent and Two-Face counts among Batman’s most damaging betrayals, so most creators do stories that play into this portion of his history. This has limited the character in so many ways.
Two-Face stories have been hitting similar plot beats for years, as Batman tries his best to redeem his old friend. Sometimes, he succeeds but it never sticks. Then the story starts all over again. The character is stuck in a loop and it’s increasingly rare for creators to try anything new with Harvey Dent.
9 Deadshot Has Gotten Boring
Deadshot is a gimmick villain, but his gimmick has changed over time. At first, he was basically a riverboat gambling dandy who was defined by his quick draw skills. He disappeared for a few decades and came back as a mercenary, with a more modern costume and his patented wrist guns. This new look was amazing and, combined with an entirely new attitude, gave Deadshot a real chance at stardom.
Deadshot definitely took that chance, especially once he joined the Suicide Squad. However, Deadshot’s whole gimmick – mouthy marksman who loves his daughter – is played out. Deadshot has gotten boring because his stories are predictable.
8 Poison Ivy Is More Of An Interesting Threat Than An Interesting Character
Poison Ivy has become an iconic villain, but it’s actually hard to figure out if she deserves her reputation. An iconic villain should be a fully realized character, first and foremost. Poison Ivy has rarely demonstrated more than one facet. She’s a cool threat, especially since she gained the power of the Green, but it’s hard to point out aspects of her character beyond her eco-terrorism.
Even Ivy’s relationship with Harley Quinn emphasizes this problem. Attaching Ivy to Harley has always made Ivy look better than she was alone. Ivy just isn’t all that interesting when it comes right down to it. Her iconic status came more from her look and the threat she presents than who she is.
7 Clayface Is Easily Replaceable
DC has introduced readers to great shapeshifters, but few of them have Clayface’s legacy. Most modern Batman fans only know about Matt Hagan, the Clayface that starred in Batman: The Animated Series. However, there have been eight Clayfaces in total over the concept’s eighty-two-year existence. While this shows that the character has merit, it also speaks to how weak each individual Clayface is.
Clayface, first and foremost, is a gimmick. There’s nothing wrong with gimmick villains, but for them to be considered great they need something extra. Clayfaces rarely get great stories or interesting character arcs. Their entire character revolves around their gimmick, and it makes them weaker.
6 Scarecrow Is Just A Sorry Villain In General
DC’s most powerful manipulators all use different methods, from mental powers to chemicals to just good old-fashioned charisma. Scarecrow has always gone for the chemical approach, creating fear toxins that he uses to attack Gotham. His entire character is defined by the fear he inflicts because he can’t feel afraid anymore.
Scarecrow is a well-known villain, but it’s impossible to point at an iconic story for him. He has a cool look, which definitely helps his appeal, but beyond that he’s a one-note character. Anyone with a gas mask has his number, and he’s nowhere near as interesting as he looks.
5 Hush Only Worked In His First Story, If Then
DC has introduced many clever villains, with plots that confuse even the smartest heroes. Hush was introduced in the story named after him, a yearlong mystery that brought in all of Batman’s greatest foes. However, looking back at the story, Hush’s “cleverness” didn’t really feel earned because someone as smart as Batman should have figured out his scheme immediately.
That’s the thing about Hush. He was obviously created to be a big anti-Batman, but his first story leaned more on the fact that it was more of a “Batman’s greatest hits” story than it was a good Hush story and even then he was overshadowed by The Riddler. Since his debut, Hush hasn’t starred in any other great stories and it’s telling.
4 Mr. Freeze Barely Works As A Villain Anymore
Batman: The Animated Series did great things for Batman and his mythos. In particular, Mr. Freeze benefitted from the series. The show took a more sympathetic view of the villain and changed the way an entire generation of readers and creators looked at Victor Fries. This has definitely made him more popular, but it’s also hurt his credibility as a villain.
It’s gotten to the point that most fans don’t want to read Mr. Freeze stories that make him look evil. He’s the loving husband everyone feels sorry for. Even worse, when creators try to make him evil, like in One Bad Day: Mr. Freeze, it involves burning down the one thing that makes fans love him, which also makes them rebel. Villains are rarely too sympathetic but Freeze may be the exception.
3 Penguin Lost Something When He Became A Basic Mobster
Penguin made a name for himself as a bird-themed villain, his trick umbrellas adding to his gimmick. When Batman stories became serious and gritty, this fun conception of Penguin was dropped to the wayside. He became an almost average mobster, running things from the Iceberg Lounge, which fit better into Batman stories’ new direction.
Mobster Penguin can be interesting, but completely removing his old gimmicks is sad. Villains don’t just have to be silly or serious, especially not Batman foes. Pigeonholing Penguin has hurt the villain a lot.
2 Bane Only Really Works As An Event Villain
Several of Batman’s foes are numbered among DC’s most popular villains and Bane is notable because of the big-time defeats he handed the Caped Crusader. Bane broke Batman’s back and then had many middling years until he joined the cast of Secret Six. Once that ended, he went back to being a mid-card villain before returning as the big bad of Tom King’s Batman run.
One Bad Day: Bane was phenomenal, and Bane has starred in some good stories, but he mostly works as an event villain. Unlike other Batman villains, there are no simple stories that star Bane. They’re all multipart epics, and they all feel the same.
1 Ra’s al Ghul Is Overshadowed By Talia
Many DC villains have high kill counts, but few have had as many years to kill as Ra’s al Ghul has. Ra’s made a huge splash from the moment he debuted. He was an intriguing villain and Batman’s match, if not his superior, in many ways. The Demon’s Head became an iconic villain, but something interesting happened. Talia al Ghul took over his position during one of his many deaths and turned out to be her father’s superior.
Talia made Ra’s feel unnecessary. He used to be a great villain, but compare him to Talia, and it’s no contest. Ra’s was great for a while, but he’s been completely overshadowed by his daughter. There’s really no reason for him to be around anymore.
NEXT: 10 Best Batman Comics Where Continuity Doesn’t Matter
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