25 Batman Movie Villains Ranked Worst to Best

batman movie villains

Solve this riddle: “My psychosis fuels me, and I am desperate for revenge. My attempts are to no avail, in Gotham I live.”

With a riddle like that, it does not narrow down the choices of Batman villains, does it? After all, a need for vengeance fuels most Gotham villains. Unfortunately for Batman, this vengeance is typically for him, like Two-Face and the Joker

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Throughout his movies, Batman has many enemies who seek revenge or want to create worldwide chaos. These cinematic baddies roam the streets of Gotham, causing havoc and mayhem within the quiet city. 

But which ones are a hit and are there any that are a miss? Here’s a list of Batman’s movie villains ranked from worst to best. 

These villains were ranked in terms of their live-action movie portrayals, not comic-book counterparts. 

25. Mr. Freeze

Played by: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Movie: Batman & Robin (1998)

You could say Arnold Schwarzenegger gave a poor performance in Batman & Robin because of his cheesy lines and goofy attire. The mortifying baddie is indeed the worst Batman villain compared to others on this list. But was it really his fault? Anyone who wears an embarrassing space-suit like that and delivers lines like “Ice to see you” is going to be ridiculed, right?

Mr. Freeze had a tragic story, set out with good intentions to cure his partner’s terminal disease. Unfortunately, his failed attempts turned him evil, and his focus shifted to… other things. Despite a decent backstory, ultimately, it’s the humiliating depiction in Batman & Robin which fails this villain and ranks him so low on our list.

24. Bane

Played by: Robert Swenson
Movie: Batman & Robin (1998)

Since the beginning, this character has been a signature part of the Batman franchise. Yet, Batman & Robin turned Bane into a complete and utter awful villain. 

Bane, the primary enforcer of the beautiful Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin began as a not-so-innocent prisoner, forced into military testing. After injecting venom into various parts of his body, his story ends with the ability to transform into a monster on-command. A ridiculous monster that is. One that looks like The Incredible Hulk-gone-wrong with caveman tendencies, a passion for BDSM-outfits and a constant need to growl. Thank goodness Tom Hardy’s version redeemed the character. 

23. United Underworld

Played by:
Movie: Batman (1966)

Although officially disbanded, the United Underworld formed as an evil organization meant to overthrow Batman and take over the world. Consisting of Catwoman, Riddler, Joker and Penguin, the United Underworld’s sheer power and intelligence were enough to make them one of Batman’s greatest villains (inarguably, of course). 

Unfortunately, in Batman, Batman and Robin foil their delusional plans and capture them, which is why they are not closer to the top of the list. It doesn’t help that they were embarrassingly cheesy, too. 

22. Talia Al Ghul

Played by: Marion Cotillard
Movie: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Talia Al Ghul was the alluring daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul. She was a temptress who attracted Bruce Wayne with her beauty to destroy the city in honor of her protector, Bane. By the end of the movie, Talia Al Ghul perishes from a fatal car injury. 

Marion Cotillard did a wonderful job acting in this role. However, the overall character plot in The Dark Knight Rises was anticlimactic compared to other movie villains who have had more elaborate fates.

21. Joker

Played by: Jared Leto
Movie: Justice League (2021) 

Jared Leto is not a one-act wonder. He stepped into the role as our trusted Joker and gave us a different spin on the legendary character. The little that we saw of his Joker portrayal in Suicide Squad and Justice League definitely captivated audiences through a riveting performance, but as a Batman villain himself, not so much. 

Leto’s Crown Prince of Crime was more of a second-rate crazed gangster lacking that iconic evil prankster attitude, rather than the homicidal maniac we were used to seeing from Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledger. But hey, we guess he had big shoes to fill… 

20. Poison Ivy

Played by: Uma Thurman
Movie: Batman & Robin (1998)

The ethereal feeling Uma Thurman’s performance of Poison Ivy gives in Batman & Robin is remarkable. She does a fantastic job portraying the intelligent and alluring villain, as she attempts to make the earth a better place—a better place at the expense of humanity, that is. 

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Her sexual prowess, mind-control, and environmental impact could’ve made her an especially dangerous enemy of Batman, but, overshadowed by Mr. Freeze, there wasn’t much she done to justify this. We just wish she had a bit more character development in the film, is all. 

19. Two-Face

Played by: Tommy Lee Jones
Movie: Batman Forever (1995)

Two-Face is one of Batman’s greatest enemies of all time. Despite being a truly horrible movie, the Academy Award winner Tommy Lee Jones played this revenge-seeking character pretty well in Batman Forever

Although the costume and make-up was generally over-the-top and unnecessary, his character development and emotions were believable, creating a sense of consistency with the Batman series. If it weren’t for Tommy Lee Jones embodying the role, though, this version of Two-Face wouldn’t really be remembered. Jim Carrey’s Riddler had more of the villainy in this movie and sadly overshadowed the character of Harvey Dent.

18. Doomsday

Played by: Robin Atkin Downes
Movie: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Also known as the Desecration Without Name, Doomsday was portrayed purposefully by Robin Atkin Downes in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He wasn’t just a terrifying villain of Gotham; he could destroy the world – and Superman, obviously.

Although this villain eventually defeated Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman used their collective intelligence and strength to take him down with Kryptonite. More of a villain with battle scenes that were pleasing to the eye, we can’t say he is an actual adversary to Batman, but it’s safe to say Doomsday put the Dark Knight’s abilities to the test in the film.

17. Catwoman

Played by: Anne Hathaway
Movie: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Do not underestimate Anne Hathaway’s alluring performance in The Dark Knight Rises. It might not have been the same villainous Catwoman that DC Comics fans were familiar with seeing. However, her vengeful nature proved she had an ulterior motive. 

Anne Hathaway captivated audiences while wreaking havoc on Gotham City, only to pull at heartstrings when she saw the results of her chaotic choices. Wake up, people! It was a decent depiction of Catwoman’s character development!

16. Victor Zsasz

Played by: Tim Booth
Movie: Batman Begins (2005)

Victor Zsasz
Warner Bros.

Victor Zsasz is a popular DC Comics character known for being one of Carmine Falcone’s thugs. Many people overlook him because he was a relatively minor criminal in the Batman series. However, with Tim Booth as the actor in Batman Begins, paying attention is a must. 

Tim Booth captured your attention with the brilliant portrayal of someone suffering from a psychotic break. Victor showed signs of insanity in the movie, later confirmed when sent to Arkham Asylum. If only he had more screen-time.

15. Lex Luthor

Played by: Jesse Eisenberg
Movie: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Justice League (2021)

Lex Luthor is a classic Superman villain that not many would expect to see on this list. But, he has caused problems in Gotham for every member of the Justice League, making it difficult for even Batman to catch an hour of sleep. 

Jesse Eisenberg did a great job in his version of Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. He was spiteful and wicked, without being too aggressive, until he required a real act of vengeance, of course. 

14. Carmine Falcone

Played by: Tom Wilkinson
Movie: Batman Begins (2005)

Although he had little screen-time, real fans will never forget Tom Wilkinson’s performance as Carmine Falcone in Batman Begins. The mobster had almost everyone under his control, setting the scene as the ruler of Gotham, and posing a real threat to Batman. 

The cocky villain even had an unpleasant conversation with young Bruce Wayne about his parents, and unfortunately for him, Batman never forgot. If ignorance is bliss, maybe you shouldn’t have told Bruce what happened with his mommy and daddy!

13. Carmine Falcone

Played by: John Turturro
Movie: The Batman (2022)

Carmine Falcone the batman

Although not as menacing as other villains in The Batman, Carmine Falcone’s intimidation and power is still felt in the movie. He’s untouchable, in control and by the end of the film, the extent of his evil is unraveled, making him a nasty and notorious villain, rather than a frightening or chilling one compared to his fellow baddies throughout the saga.

A decent live-action portrayal of the classic character, that we have to admit was *better* than the version we met in the Dark Knight trilogy.

12. The Penguin

Played by: Colin Farrell
Movie: The Batman (2022)

Colin Farrell pulled off this villain role phenomenally. Although he’s no Danny DeVito, that’s not to say we didn’t enjoy watching this slimy Penguin play out his madness on-screen. He brings danger to Gotham, but charisma and humor, too, to the point where he’s quite addictive to watch.

He’s that good, we wouldn’t mind seeing a spin-off movie in the future. Plus, if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have been treated to that epic car chase scene with the Bat.

11. Riddler

Played by: Jim Carrey
Movie: Batman Forever (1995)

The Riddler is one of Batman’s most pesky villains, creating havoc on Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego. He issues riddles to confuse and stall the Batman, teaming up with other villains along the way. 

Although not his most intimidating enemies, Jim Carrey did an immaculate job depicting the Riddler’s problematic behavior in Tim Burton’s Batman Forever. Demonstrating the villain’s character arc flawlessly and accurately delivering his animated personality, it is this baddie who *probably* saved the movie from an even worse downfall. Of course, this fun, flamboyant foe wouldn’t have worked elsewhere, making him the best villain from Schumacher’s Batman saga, to say the least.

10. Max Shreck

Played by: Christopher Walken
Movie: Batman Returns (1992)

Were you holding your breath for Max Schreck? Let it out; he’s here. This heinous villain is why Catwoman became her feral self and for many other horrible Gotham terrors. 

Christopher Walken gives a mesmerizing performance of Max Schreck in Batman Returns, you could say he was the leading villain in this blockbuster if it weren’t for the fabulous Penguin. Just be careful; Walken’s acting is so chilling, you will get shivers down your spine as he pushes Michelle Pfeiffer out the window!

9. Ra’s Al Ghul

Played by: Liam Neeson
Movie: Batman Begins (2005)

The mastermind behind the downfall for Gotham, Ra’s Al Ghul, is one of Batman’s major villains. Ra’s Al Ghul is a classic DC Comics supervillain, acting as the leader of the League of Assassins.

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In Batman Begins, Liam Neeson played Ra’s Al Ghul with striking accuracy to the comics. It was a noteworthy performance that unveiled important information about Batman and Gotham at large. However, the relatively quick defeat means that he is not as tough of a Batman villain as others, surprising given his high status.

8. Scarecrow

Played by: Cillian Murphy
Movie: Batman Begins (2005)

The Scarecrow is one of Batman’s most sinister villains. In Batman Begins, Cillian Murphy fantastically portrays the two sides of this unique character, his mundane side as psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Crane and his insane side as the Scarecrow. 

Scarecrow wasn’t the main baddie throughout the Nolan franchise, but he certainly made an ever-lasting frightening impact. We see him interfere with Carmine Falcone’s trial and perform various experiments on his patients, presenting himself as one of Batman’s creepiest villains. Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow was jarring, to say the least. I mean, he was scarier without the mask than with it. That says a lot.

7. The Riddler

Played by: Paul Dano
Movie: The Batman (2022)

This villain’s motive is clear, his anger is felt and his evil is absolutely foreboding. The Batman’s Riddler is on a whole other level of cruel and conniving compared to Jim Carrey’s version and terrifying enough to be remembered for a long time.

Paul Dano portrays the unhinged and sadistic Riddler exceptionally. There’s way more to him than just riddles and agonizing Batman, this baddie is haunting. His shrieks and explosive rants are spine-chilling, enough to be pulled straight out of a horror film, so much so that we felt sorry for the Bat having to deal with this criminal.

6. Bane

Played by: Tom Hardy
Movie: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Bane is a real villain to Batman. Not just one of those bothersome criminals causing problems. He threatens the Bat both physically and mentally and even poses a risk to Gotham itself.

Instead of being the silly raging bull we saw in Batman & Robin, this time round, Bane was a genuinely alarming monster, becoming a villain that we love to hate. Tom Hardy played the terrifying role accurately, embracing Bane’s character and stepping into his shoes to create a frighteningly realistic and truly remarkable result. After feasting your eyes on this baddie, you might need to sleep with the lights on. As far as we’re concerned, that makes you a pretty terrifying villain.

5. Penguin

Played by: Danny DeVito
Movie: Batman Returns (1992)

Danny DeVito impacted the Batman franchise with his unforgettable performance of Penguin in Batman Returns. As he teams up with other baddies, DeVito takes the spotlight as a cruel and menacing villain in Gotham City.

In his portrayal, the actor followed the attitude of Penguin as demanded in the comics and his superior acting skills created a perfect performance. His grotesque looks were enough to trigger nightmares. His flawless rendition of the tuxedo-wearing mobster has paved the way for actors in a way that sets expectations far higher than they can manage to reach. Good luck, Colin Farrell (who’ll play the Penguin in 2022’s The Batman)!

4. Catwoman

Played by: Michelle Pfeiffer
Movie: Batman Returns (1992)

Since debuting in Batman #1 (1940) as “the Cat,” Catwoman has been one of the most popular villains in Gotham. Like many other Batman villains, Catwoman is fueled by a vengeful psychotic break after an attempted murder by her ex-lover. Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance in Batman Returns takes this psychosis to the next level, which is one of the reasons this version of the villain is so important to the Batman series.

She was batcat-sh*t crazy, hot, and smart enough to manipulate Batman, but likable to the point where we actually felt empathy towards her in the end.

3. Two-Face

Played by: Aaron Eckhart
Movie: The Dark Knight (2008) 

Forget Tommy Lee Jones – Aaron Eckhart blew DC Comics fans away with his performance of Two-Face in The Dark Knight. Showing real emotion with his acting, it was an unbelievable performance, driven by hatred and a need for revenge.

He said it – “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain”, and boy, did he mean it. Going from Gotham’s Mr. Nice Guy to a supervillain who turns to crime after half his face is disfigured, Two-Face’s character development was believable and honestly intriguing to watch. Representing his story emotionally and authentically truly did our community proud, ranking him in the top three villains of Batman. 

2. Joker

Played by: Jack Nicholson
Movie: Batman (1989)

Jack Nicholson’s spin of the Joker in Batman will send shivers down your spine. People call him the original Joker, because, well, he is! In fact, he was the very first believable and formidable DC villain to show up on-screen.

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Nicholson’s version of the Clown Prince of Crime was sinister, with the exact energy you’d expect from a homicidal clown. Delivering a showdown as if he was born to do it, Nicholson’s performance was so exemplary, that he became the face of the Joker, owning that infamous wicked smile and putting the T in terror. Until Heath Ledger came along, of course…

1. Joker

Played by: Heath Ledger
Movie: The Dark Knight (2008)

Not many actors can play a Gotham supervillain so flawlessly that they become the face of the role for generations. Heath Ledger accomplished this feat with his cruel yet charming performance of the Joker in The Dark Knight, ranking him as the best Batman movie villain of all time. 

His remarkable performance as the infamous jester gave viewers a chilling glimpse into the horrifying mind of the unstable Joker. Adopting a much darker rendition of the villain, Batman’s number-one nemesis suddenly became almost real – a human being with a dangerously criminal mind. 

From that disturbing tongue-flick to his outrageous makeup, Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight will continue to not only haunt, but wow, impress, and inspire for generations to come.

This list of Batman’s movie villains could go on for pages. After all, not everyone likes the vigilante bat! But the Gotham baddies listed here are Batman’s greatest foes because they are powerful, intelligent, bothersome and of course, played successfully and realistically by their actors.

These villains might be the best. But, remember, they are also the absolute worst.

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Tale Teller
Haylee Broyles

Haylee Broyles

Haylee is a Texas writer with a passion for entertainment! After receiving her BA in English, she immediately became a video game reviewer. She continued following her calling for entertainment as a freelance content writer, working hard to show everyone why her friends call her, “the Leslie Knope of the writing industry”. If there is something to be done, she will do it; and she will go above and beyond while doing so!

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