The newest entry into DC’s most iconic film franchise is about to hit the big screen again. The Batman himself may have a new face under the cowl, but it’s the villains who also matter and get their chance to shine. What would Batman be without the Joker, or without brushes with Catwoman? Not as interesting, that’s for sure.
Countless villains make up the DC’s Rogue Gallery in all versions of Batman, from films and television spin-offs, video games, and animated versions. So with Robert Pattinson about to take on the mantle of the most iconic hero in existence, let’s look back at all the villains who debuted on film and tried to take on The Dark Knight.
We can not start this trip down memory lane without looking at The Joker. He is the most famous villain associated with Batman and probably his most significant threat. Four different actors have donned the iconic Joker look but pulled it off in their unique way. However, the most memorable one would have to be Heath Ledger’s version in The Dark Knight. His performance was so haunting and chilling and the late actor did a phenomenal job. Special mention to Jack Nicholson, who also really pulled the character off. His scenes in Batman (1989) were also quite memorable and iconic. Too bad he didn’t do more films. Whichever Joker is your favorite, I think we can all agree he’s the most recognizable villain in the DC Rogue’s Gallery, no matter who plays him.
The Riddler is about to return to the big screen since he was last seen in Batman Forever. Portrayed then by Jim Carey, that version of The Riddler was quirky and memorable. Now, Paul Dano is about to show us a completely new take on the villain who is fond of puzzling riddles and traps to lure Batman out and is truly his equal in intellect. Jim Carey’s version is probably one that sticks with most fans because of how much his costume in the live-action film resembled his comic-accurate version.
In true Jim Carey fashion, besides portraying a crazy intellectual obsessed with one-upping Bruce Wayne and taking out Batman, he brought something truly unique to the villain. Mostly goofy at times, his performance remains iconic in the DCU. Although he is now playing a very different villain these days (Doctor Robotnik), his portrayal of The Riddler lives on. Paul Dano, however, is set to give us a much different version that perhaps it’s now time for. Have to admit, I am going to miss the pink and red hair and over-the-top outfits.
Two-Face/ Harvey Dent may have been a little silly looking in Batman: The Animated Series, but things took a darker turn once he made his on-screen debut. Two-Face teamed up with The Riddler in Batman Forever. While he was genuinely gruesome-looking in that installment, it wasn’t until The Dark Knight that we got a much more modern and actually tragic version.
It wasn’t just a crazy makeup job when we got our first authentic look at Harvey Dent turned into Two-Face in that memorable hospital scene. Aaron Eckhart sold his character so well that it was tough to see where Harvey Dent ended, and Two-Face began. The two personalities were blended so well. From the performance to the prosthetics, it makes one cringe to see him after his horrible accident. Whether we see another version of Two-Face on film again remains to be seen, but for now, Eckhart’s portrayal will live on.
What can one say about Catwoman? There have been quite a few actresses to play this anti-hero and femme fatale and don the famous suit. No doubt that despite more recent takes on her, such as Anne Hathway and Halle Berry, Michelle Pfifer wins this catfight thanks to her performance in Batman Returns.
Her transformation on screen from wimpy Selina Kyle to take no prisoners Catwoman made Batman cinematic history. However, her resurrection scene was cruel in its own after being pushed out a window to her death. Coming back and getting revenge on her boss and The Penguin was a joy to watch. Sure, she had some questionable scenes, but this was Tim Burton’s film, and it pushed the boundaries of what they could show on film.
No one has come close to her performance so far. Now Zoe Kravitz is set to take on the role adding to a growing list of strong women who aren’t afraid to wear a catsuit and kick ass.
We can’t talk about memorable Batman villains without mentioning The Penguin. Brought to life by an almost unrecognizable Danny DeVito, he stole the show in Batman Returns. From seeing him crawl from the sewers to running for mayor of Gotham. Everything he did was memorable. One shocking moment for me would have to be when he bites a campaign worker’s nose. For some reason, that specific scene sticks with me and embodies just who this version of The Penguin is, almost like an actual monster.
From wanting to know who he is, which turns out to be Oswald Cobblepot, to embracing the monster he is, Danny DeVito wins this role hands down. He also tried to hook up with Catwoman, which was pretty understandable. Turning to the future, Collin Farrell has now been transformed into an unrecognizable shell of himself. During a recent interview, the actor revealed he had to endure about four hours of makeup and a fat suit to transform into Penguin. Whether or not his performance lives up to DeVito’s remains to be seen.
Check out our review on The Batman, which is now in theaters, and our latest Snaxist review on Little Cesar’s Batman Calzony.