The television series Gotham finally comes to an end as the fifth season gets a home release on the 29th of July. The series has not just told the origin story of Batman, but featured many of his iconic, and also little known villains. With that in mind, here are five of the caped crusader’s best villains, some you’ll know, and few you might not.
Thanks to The Dark Knight Rises Bane became a much better known villain to the casual Batman fan, thanks in part to the somewhat unusual performance by Tom Hardy. But to comic book fans Bane was a figure worthy of fear and respect for a long time.
The son of the Santa Priscan revolutionary King Snake, Bane was sent to prison as a young boy to answer for the crimes of his father, who had fled the country. Growing up in prison, surrounded by hardened criminals, Bane went on to train his body and mind to perfection, knowing that intelligence and brutal strength would be needed to survive. Rising to become the ‘king’ of the prison, Bane was selected by the people running the facility to be used as a test subject for the chemical Venom, a drug that had killed every other subject. Barely able to survive the experiment, the Venom eventually granted Bane incredible strength.
Escaping from prison, Bane travelled to Gotham, where he engineered a mass escape from Arkham Asylum, pitting Batman against all of his foes. When Batman reached his physical and mental breaking point, Bane challenged him directly, crippling him in the ensuing fight. Bane clearly established himself as a foe to be reckoned with in the first encounter, one that literally broke Batman.
Ra’s al Ghul
International terrorist. Expert fighter. Immortal. Ra’s al Ghul is one of the more interesting villains in the Batman rogues’ gallery thanks to being more than a costumed villain robbing banks in Gotham.
Born over 600 years ago in the deserts of North Africa, Ra’s was part of a nomadic tribe, but abandoned his people from a young age in order to pursue his interest in science and physiology. Eventually he discovered the Lazarus Pits, a natural phenomena that can raise the dead, or extend the life of the living. Ra’s used these pits to extend his life over several centuries and journeyed the world, becoming a formidable warrior, and leader of an organisation known as the League of Assassins.
Over the years Ra’s came to the conclusion that humanity would need to be culled in order for the world to achieve environmental balance. This leads him to conflict with Batman, who stops many of Ra’s’ plans over the years. Thanks to this Ra’s sees Batman as a worthy foe, and has even tried to have him take over as the head of the League of Assassins many times, and even led to Bruce and Ra’s daughter Talia having a son together, Damian. An important part of the Batman mythos thanks to this familial connection, he continues to be a popular and interesting villain.
The newest villain on this list, Hush first appeared in 2003 as part of the story-line of the same name, and is really Dr Thomas Elliot, childhood friend of Bruce Wayne. Hating his parents, and obsessed with wealth and independence, as a child Thomas hatched a plan kill them both by cutting the brakes on their car. The ensuing crash did kill his father, but his mother survived thanks to the intervention of Dr Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father. Thomas came to hate Dr Wayne for saving his mother, and when the Waynes were both killed he was jealous that Bruce inherited their wealth. Thomas harboured this hatred over the years, and when as an adult learned of Bruce’s identity as Batman, crafted himself his own persona to kill his former friend.
Thanks to his high intelligence Hush has managed to challenge Batman in a number of encounters, often pulling the strings from behind the scenes as he pits other villains against the hero. Despite preferring to run things from behind the scenes, Hush is also in peak physical condition, and has been able to challenge Batman in one to one combat more than once.
Hush has clashed with his former childhood friend a number of times over the years, and has used his knowledge of his true identity to try and wreck Bruce’s personal life, even going so far as altering his own appearance to that of Bruce Wayne’s, allowing him to disrupt his personal and business affairs. Hush has also appeared in the most recent DC Animated movie, Batman: Hush, which was released on 19 July 2019.
READ MORE: Gotham (Season 5) – Review
Dr Simon Hurt is one of the more mysterious members of Batman’s rogues’ gallery, and very little is still known about him. Originally appearing in Batman #156 in the 1960s, he was brought back into prominence during Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, where he was the main antagonist.
During the course of Morrison’s run Dr Hurt challenged both Batman’s body and mind, pushing the hero closer to breaking point than any other villain has. During this time there are numerous theories put forward as to his true identity, including being Bruce Wayne’s ancestor, Bruce’s father, a demon called Barbatos, an agent of Darkseid, Darkseid himself, or even possibly the devil – a theory that even the Joker believes.
Despite these hints, his true origin remains unknown, even to Batman himself. What is known about him, however, is that he has proven to be one of Batman’s most dangerous and deadly villains to date.
There was no way that he wouldn’t appear on the list of Batman’s best villains was there? Created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson all the way back in 1940, The Joker is easily Batman’s most iconic villain, and possibly one of the most iconic bad guys in comics history. Despite having been around since Batman #1, and having existed for more than 70 years, he is a character still shrouded in mystery.
The character has a number of origin stories, some more well known than others, yet has been given no official backstory or real identity. One of the more common origin stories for the character is that he was a criminal who fell into a vat of chemicals that transformed him physically into the Joker, sometimes a gangster, sometimes the Red Hood, and sometimes just low a level thug in the wrong place at the wrong time. Another origin made him The Pale Man, a mysterious entity that has lived for hundreds of years, haunting Gotham from the background. One has suggested that there are even multiple Jokers in existence.
Whatever his origin, he has been one of the most successful villains that Batman has come up against, having crippled Barbara Gordon, killed Jason Todd, and wounded Batman on multiple occassions. He will always be Batman’s most iconic villain, and is sure to face the hero in multiple incarnations for decades to come.