It can be argued that the Batman villains are the greatest in the comic book genre. Some prefer Spider-Man's foes, I'd personally go with the Flash's Rogues, but no one can say Batman doesn't have some absolutely kick-butt fantastic villains. But not all of them get the recognition they so richly deserve, so I thought I'd spread the love to some of my favorite underused Batman villains.
However, to narrow it down, here is the one rule: being a villain in a big screen movie makes you off limits to this list, but making a cameo in a movie or popping up in a tv show does not. So let's go!!
Let's start with a villain I love – a lot.
Anarky is great, because he appears in some wonderful comic books. Seriously, if you consider yourself a Batman fan, but you haven't read any Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle Batman comics, go do that now. They're worth it.
Anarky was introduced in that run as a cloaked, V for Vendetta-lookin' dude preaching…well, anarchy. He stirred up trouble and yelled about anti-authoritarianism and the death of the establishment. And in the end of his introductory arc, he was revealed to be about 13 years old. You know, like most wannabe anarchists.
Lonnie Machin eventually reformed partially into an anti-hero, once Batman told him to grow up and knock off his criminal behavior. The actual behind the scenes reason for this was that Alan Grant intended for Anarky to become the third Robin, but DC editorial nixed that idea, preferring instead to go with Tim Drake for the role.
And although I mock Lonnie's anarchist leanings, his two creators both actually know their stuff, making him a legitimately sympathetic character.
Catman is hot, ok? Like, I'm a straight dude (even though some commenters would disagree, for some reason) but Catman's hotness is an objective fact. Also an objective fact: Catman rules.
Originally introduced as a d-list villain who was just "Batman, but evil", Catman eventually became a lame joke character. And then Gail Simone got hold of him. Along with Dale Eaglesham and Nicola Scott, Simone turned Catman into a badass who could hold his own in a fight with the Dark Knight.
HE LIVED WITH LIONS. SO COOL.
Plus, Secret Six, the series in which he prominently features is super freakin' great. Catman works as de facto team leader on the occasions when Scandal Savage isn't taking charge. But again, we are missing the point: Catman is super hot. And an incredibly compelling character. Go read Secret Six. The Catman/Deadshot relationship alone is worth it.
Catman deserves to appear in way more Batman media. Because he's super rad. Objective fact.
My rules forbid me from putting The Riddler (my favorite Batman villain of all time; no contest) on this list, so I'll put his knockoff on here. But that's not all that Cluemaster is. He's actually a pretty cool villain in his own right.
Arthur Brown (still didn't need to look up his real name, because I only know unimportant things) was a failed game show host who decided to become a master criminal (like you do). And he would leave game show-esque clues at the scenes of his crimes for Batman to figure out.
I LOVE THIS.
I am one hundred percent convinced that the world would be an infinitely better place if Alex Trebek was out there running around stealing priceless artifacts.
Cluemaster was actually even a Justice Leaguer at one point. Yes, it was the Justice League Antarctica, BUT IT STILL COUNTS!! Unfortunately for Artie, his legacy was more important than he was, as his daughter Stephanie Brown would go on to become Spoiler, then Batgirl, then Spoiler again, because DC reboot stupidity. But yeah, she overshadows the heck out of her dear old dad.
11. Ventriloquist and Scarface
Man, is Batman: the Animated Series great. And it's mostly thanks to "Read My Lips", which is one of the best episodes of the series, that this duo is on this list.
Arnold Wesker is a meek, timid man while his puppet, Scarface, is a tough talking, vicious gangster. This makes it real easy to feel bad for Arnold, even though Scarface isn't alive, and the Scarface persona is still a part of Wesker's broken mind. It's an incredible feat to make a character both lovable and irredeemable.
This is the most complex Batman villain on this list and, by any rights, should be way more utilized as a character. Also, the later Ventriloquists after Wesker were all great.
My runner up favorite was the one featured in the New 52 reboot of Secret Six (can you tell I love Secret Six a whole lot?). She's pretty great in her own right, even if she's a lot more cuckoo for cocoa puffs than Wesker ever was.
COME ON, WHY DO I NEED TO WRITE ANYTHING HERE? LOOK AT THAT NAME!!!!!!!!! IT IS PERFECTION!!!!!!!
KGBeast is easily my favorite villain name of all time in any medium. There are none more perfect.
KGBeast was (as anyone with a basic understanding of history should have guessed by now) a Soviet Union murderer for the government who had serious cybernetic enhancements. He was also famous for being that dude Batman left to die until another writer came along and was like "oh no, Batman didn't leave him to die, he called the cops, everyone knows that Batman doesn't kill people."
He did pop up in Batman v. Superman which WOULD disqualify him BUT I'm still giving him a spot because A: his role is pretty much just a cameo; and B: BVS is honestly barely a movie. But, yeah, KGBeast has the best name and some wonderful visual design.
Everybody knows Clayface, right? And that is especially after the events depicted in the Arkham game series - first with a small cameo, then with a full-blown role. And Clayface deserved being the final boss of Arkham City. Does that make him popular?
Not really. He is still an exotic character for most of the audiences - or, at least, for those who don't have a friend that has played the Arkham games. And it is a pity given the long history the character has had in the comics (he debuted in 1940), as well as in other as in other media (one of the version of Clayface, namely Basil Karlo, is set to arrive in Gotham on the 16th of May).
However, this just isn't enough. Clayface is one of those villains who have a huge potential, even if his shape-changing abilities aren't taken into account (after all, this was his best asset in the Arkham games). And since the first Batman flick of the DCEU will feature numerous villains, maybe he will be there too.
It's about time the Dark Knight squared off on the big screens with someone like Clayface.
8. Professor Pyg
Even if it sounds that this list is about to get weird, it will actually get more interesting. Professor Pyg is one of those characters who have the most interesting backstories, the most intricate (and, at times idealistic) plans, and who completely lack any superpowers. Outside of their intellect, these characters are regular Joes, who could be defeated by the Batman in no time at all.
Professor Pyg gets his name from the mythological character Pygmalion, the famous sculptor who fell in love with one of his works and wished it to life. However, Professor Pyg is a bit different, in the sense that he wants to bring all humans as close to an ideal state as possible.
Basically, he is a genius surgeon and chemist (I hope he is), because his perfect humans are created via complicated brain surgery, genital mutilation, and by using mind altering drugs.
He doesn't stand a chance in a fist-fight with the Dark Knight and that is why he uses his army of mindless minions, called Dollotrons. This is literally an army, who can appear all of a sudden when called.
Does it sound interesting? It sounds to me, even if he didn't get the chance to fully go against Batman (since, you know, he was introduced in 2007).
Oh - he is also called an extreme circus boss (for obvious reasons), wears a pig face (yet again pretty self-explanatory) and, at one time, he had his lair in the abandoned amusement park used by the more famous Joker in the Killing Joke.
7. Hugo Strange
The hottest rumor concerning the first DCEU Batman film is that it will feature multiple villains. If so, and if the Joker won't steal the show yet again, what better character could lead the villains from the shadows than Hugo Strange?
From all the characters I mention on this list, he is the most well-known one. However, he is still underrated, despite the fact that he had an extensive role in the Arkham series. First appearing in 1940, this character has put the Dark Knight in tons of uncomfortable positions until now. What can you expect from a brilliant psychologist?
Another rumors concerning the Batman film is that it will feature someone who knows the secret identity of the superhero. Again, Hugo Strange might be that villain (of course, as I, you are also thinking about Hush as well). So what is stopping WB from making this underrated villain popular?
I have no idea.
But I am more than certain that I am not the only one seeing him as the perfect candidate for a first DCEU Batman film. However, since this list isn’t exactly dedicated to underrated Batman villains that should appear in big screen movies…
So simple as a concept, yet so underutilized. Debuting in "The Player on the Other Side" otherwise known as that Batman story with the amazing title, Wrath was basically reverse Batman.
The son of two criminals who were killed by a young police officer, Wrath grew up into a master assassin designed to mirror the Dark Knight in most ways.
Although the role of evil reverse Batman has been taken up as of late by Prometheus, Wrath is one of the best.
Plus, the second Wrath wears an all purple suit, which is goshdarn awesome. And using the iconography of the "W" to mimic bat ears? Freakin' brilliant. That is one heck of a great character design. Wrath got an adaptation in the cartoon series The Batman, of all places, but he's still a vastly underused character.
I really like Man-Bat, you guys. His first episode of Batman: the Animated Series (which is also THE first episode if you're watching the DVDs) gave me legit nightmares as a kid, which only made me love it more.
Kirk Langstrom was a scientist until he took his own formula while attempting to cure his impending deafness. Because this is comic books, the formula had the worst possible side effects ever and turned him into Man-Bat.
I feel like if I saw "may turn you into a giant bat monster" written as a side effect of a medication that was prescribed for me, I would just consider switching physicians.
Langstrom fought back against the Man-Bat persona and tried to cure himself a few times, but to no avail. He's essentially Spider-Man villain The Lizard, but a bat instead. Because comics. And again, that transformation sequence from "On Leather Wings" will screw you up if you aren't ready for it.
4. Mad Hatter
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late to post this article, so I'd better hurry up and finish.
Jervis Tetch, alias The Mad Hatter, is a psycho who can be likably off or intensely disturbing, depending on the writer. The guy is a little dude who enjoys mind control, hats, and hats that control minds.
In his defense, who doesn't like a good hat?
The Hatter is especially great in the Gotham Central story he features in. I'm not gonna name which arc, since his appearance in it is a surprise. I don't want to give too much away, but it’s my favorite Gotham Central story of all time.
Also, I find it funny that his motivation in the animated series was that he was basically a "nice guy", who’s mad that his female friend won't date him. That's hilarious. If we could get a modern reinterpretation of the Hatter who just hangs out on the Internet whining about being "friendzoned" that would be fantastic.
3. Crazy Quilt
YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Crazy Quilt forever!!
Crazy Quilt is unique to this list in that he did not start off as a Batman villain. He actually debuted against the Boy Commandos, but found his footing as a foe for the Dark Knight. Quilt was a blind man given his sight back, kinda. It turns out the procedure left him only able to see bright lights, which drove him totally insane.
He got himself a laser-hypnosis helmet that also allowed him to see and went to work supervillaining. Which is good, because otherwise we'd have a lot of Batman stories about him punching a legally blind guy. Not a good look for the Bat.
Quilt doesn't get used often because a lot of people find him "too ridiculous", but come one, this is comic books. Superhero comic books, no less. NOTHING is too ridiculous for superhero comic books.
2. Killer Moth
Killer Moth started out as yet another anti-Batman. There were a lot of those, it seems. Moth, an unnamed goon whose name would be retconned to be Drury Walker, got himself a Mothcave, a Mothmobile, and started hiring himself out to help criminals escape Batman. He gave them all Moth-signals, which is a pretty good PR move.
He then set up a fake identity as Cameron van Cleer, which"¦ wow. I have a friend who uses "Richard Ingognitus" as his go to fake name and even THAT is more convincing than "Cameron van Cleer".
So Cameron somehow worked his way into high social circles and became buddies with Bruce Wayne. Eventually he and Batman came to blows, climaxing when he beat up Batman and learned his secret identity. Moth was then shot, which somehow gave him amnesia.
I"¦I don't know.
Killer Moth screwed around for a while before selling his soul to the devil and turning into a moth monster. Then he died.
Honestly, most of my love for Killer Moth comes from A: His costume, which is amazing; B: His appearance in the excellent Batgirl: Year One; and C: His repeated – and fantastic – attempts to touch a lamp in the first Lego Batman game, and that's fantastic.
Since I have already written about all of these underrated Batman villains, how about revealing who is my most favorite less-known (if I may say so) one?
It cannot be said that the Batman rogue gallery lacks villains having an obsession with the Dark Knight. After all, the Joker seems to be all about that. Zeiss is just like that. However, Zeiss is nowhere near that kind of perfection - as a matter of fact, the character constantly improves himself in order to take down Gotham's vigilante.
And this is always interesting to me - what can I do in order to achieve my goal? Because, you know, my secret goal is to defeat the Batman"¦
Even if he appeared just in 36 issues since 2000, the year when he made his debut, Zeiss is the kind of villain that has the potential to defeat his opponent. And his obsession is the one that can help him - even if it is also the one that prevents him from doing that. This list would be incomplete without such a flawed villain, who always seeks to better himself.
He is so keen to taking down the Batman in hand to hand combat that he has learned all the moves the hero can make. Only with PIS (or, as some might say, because Batman is such a great strategist) he is defeated. For example, Zeiss fought the Dark Knight to a standstill, until Batgirl arrived to the rescue.
Zeiss possesses superhuman abilities, after undergoing a surgical procedure that accelerated his reflexes. For him, Batman actually moves in slow-motion - case in point, the pic above. How cool can that be, making a super-trained ninja look like an old man?
And there we go: a top of the most underrated Batman villains. I could probably do five more of these lists, just on amazing Batman villains that don't get the respect they are due. Clock King, anyone? Zebra-Man? Condiment Ki"”hang on, I'm gonna go write that list now.