The Most Disturbing and the Lamest Batman Villains
Who wants to see Batman battle Ma Parker and the Ten-Eyed Man?
Since his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 (1939), Batman has been one of the most popular and lucrative superheroes of all time. The Dark Knight’s appeal led to a number of memorable adaptations via television and film which familiarized the whole world with Bob Kane’s creation.
The old cliché of heroes only being as good as their villains definitely applies to Batman, and a number of menacing and creative baddies have emerged over the years to battle Bruce Wayne’s alter ego.
Batman's gallery of rogues is one for the ages.
And while many of Batman’s nemeses like the Riddler, Bane, Catwoman and Penguin are fan favorites, there are those evildoers who stand out even more, for good and bad reasons. Some are disturbingly unforgettable while others are so ridiculous they will leave you scratching your head.
With that in mind, here are the Most Disturbing and the Lamest Batman Villains.
17. DISTURBING: Jason Todd
If someone were to bludgeon you with a crowbar, and then leave you to die in an explosion, you’d probably lose your grip on reality, too. In Batman #427 (1988), that is exactly what happened to the Batman’s partner in crime Robin (Jason Todd).
But even being murdered by the Joker couldn’t keep Jason down forever. During the “Under the Hood” (2005) storyline, a new villain donning the Red Hood guise emerged to wreak havoc on Gotham City. And in Batman #638, an adult Jason Todd removed the hood revealing himself to the Joker.
Resurrected, thanks to Superboy-Prime, Jason returned to exact revenge, but Todd was stunned Bruce hadn’t killed the Clown Prince of Crime after what he had done. Confused and incensed, Jason turned on Batman.
Jason is one of the most intriguing members of the Bat mythology, but those early days were unbelievably disturbing. In one of his more brutal moments, Jason takes a crowbar and kindly returns the beating he received back in the day from the Joker.
16. LAME: Kite-Man
Look up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s a guy in a green suit riding a hang glider. Yep, in the early 1960s, Detective Comics greenlit the idea to create a supervillain known as Kite-Man.
Created by writer Bill Finger and artist Dick Sprang, the Kite-Man first appeared in Batman #133 (1960). Similar to how the Penguin’s motif was umbrellas, Kite-Man, aka Chuck Brown, utilized kites as his weaponry of choice.
During the Infinite Crisis (2005-2006) storyline, Kite-Man was reportedly thrown off Wayne Tower without his glider by Deathstroke. Another memorable moment occurred when Kite-Man was slaughtered and eaten by Intergang’s leader, Bruno Mannheim. Despite being one of the Dark Knight’s worst enemies of all time, Kite-man still manages to show up during The LEGO Batman Movie (2017).
15. DISTURBING: Humpty Dumpty
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men… Yeah, you know the rhyme. But do you remember Humphry Dumpler? Yes, he’s the Batman villain with a proclivity for repairing things, and he goes by the alter ego Humpty Dumpty.
Created by writer Dan Slott and Ryan Sook, Humpty first appeared in Arkham Asylum: Living Hell #2 (2003). At first glance, the rotund rogue looks like a character right out of the campy Batman (1966-1968) television show. But he is one of the creepiest so-called supervillains of the Dark Knight’s modern era.
Believing his abusive grandmother needs fixing, Humpty literally tears her apart and then reassembles her! Naturally, the ghastly procedure is an utter failure.
Batgirl then tracks down the egg-shaped criminal through Humpty’s overdue library books. Mr. Dumpty definitely is a few gallons shy of a full tank of gas, and his morbid game of Dr. Frankenstein with his old granny lands him on the most disturbing list.
14. LAME: Crazy Quilt
Crazy Quilt is the Batman’s most colorful adversary, literally. A talented painter, Quilt is also a demented criminal who leaves clues behind hidden in his artwork. If you’re a villain facing off against one of the world’s greatest detectives, why would you leave clues for the Bat?
Prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986) storyline, in Batman #316 (1979), The Dark Knight and Robin (Dick Grayson) battle Quilt. During the confrontation, the Boy Wonder reflects the lasers of Quilt’s high-tech helmet back into his own eyes, blinding him.
Quilt returns in Batman #368 (1984) just after Jason Todd dons the guise of Robin. Believing Todd’s Robin is the one who injured him, Quilt nearly kills the new Boy Wonder.
Still, Crazy Quilt is one of the lamest Bat villains ever.
13. DISTURBING: Victor Zsasz
Jack the Ripper’s only advantage over Batman baddie Victor Zsasz is the Ripper kept his anonymity. Created by writer Alan Grant and artist Norm Breyfogle, Mr. Zsasz first appeared in the inaugural issue of Batman: Shadow of the Bat in 1992.
After 25 years on the comic book scene, Mr. Zsasz is still creepy as ever. The serial killer’s modus operandi is to use his knife to carve etchings into his flesh which represent each of the victims he has slayed.
Zsasz' origin is not unlike Bruce Wayne's. 25-year-old Mr. Zsasz is quite wealthy, but tragedy strikes when his parents die in a boating accident. However, unlike Wayne, Zsasz never overcame his grief. After a failed suicide attempt, and after being attacked by a knife-wielding homeless bum, Zsasz took to “liberating” his victims from their useless lives.
12. LAME: Ma Parker
Writers and showrunners on the old Batman T.V. show had a bizarre propensity for creating the most mind-boggling villains for Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) to face off against. Near the top of the list, in terms of absurdity, resides Ma Parker.
Parker is portrayed by actress Shelly Winters during the season two episodes “Ma Parker (1966) and “The Greatest Mother of Them All” (1966). This two-hit wonder known as Ma Parker was a machine-gun-toting blemish on the face of superhero television.
Winters herself was a fine actress who won two Oscars for Best Supporting Actress: The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) and A Patch of Blue (1965), but Ma Parker is one of the cheesiest parts of the Batman series, and that’s saying something.
11. DISTURBING: SCARECROW
Dr. Jonathan Crane doesn’t get the same exposure the Joker does, but when it comes to the Bat's creepiest opponents the Scarecrow can hold his own with the best of Batman’s rogues.
Scarecrow has been around since the earliest days of the Golden Age of comic books, and he first appeared in World’s Finest #3 (1941). The self-proclaimed “Master of Fear” uses his intellect, fear toxins and cunning to cause horrific catastrophes in the city of Gotham.
In one of his more pivotal moments, Scarecrow captures the Batman and tortures him with his fear gas. Giving Tim Drake strict orders beforehand not to take on Crane, the youngster comes to a crossroads on his path to becoming Robin: Obey his master and the Bat dies, or break the rules and never don the iconic suit worn by Dick Grayson and Jason Todd.
Not wanting to dishonor the mantle of Robin, Tim engages the deadly Scarecrow sporting a ski mask. Exposed to the horrifying fear toxins, Tim rises above his pain and defeats Crane. Later, Bruce thanks Tim for breaking the rules, admitting Scarecrow would have killed him. And then Wayne anoints Tim as the new Robin.
10. LAME: Ten-Eyed Man
Comic book creators Franklin Robbins, Dick Giordano and Irv Novick concocted one of DC’s most ridiculous supervillains to join the Batman’s rogues gallery: the Ten-Eyed Man. Also known as Philip Reardon, the Ten-Eyed man is actually a skilled marksman having served as a Special Forces soldier in the Vietnam War.
After being caught in a warehouse explosion, which aggravated an old eye injury, Reardon’s retinas were severely damaged. And his absurd doctor reconnected Reardon’s optic nerves to his fingertips.
Using his fingers to see, Reardon became the Ten-Eyed Man and a sorry excuse for a Batman foe. Mercifully, Ten-Eyed Man died during the Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986) storyline. Inexplicably the villain led to a cult known as the Ten-Eyed Brothers in DC’s limited-series 52 #30 (2006). Reardon resurfaced in the DC’s New 52 universe in Batman Eternal #15 (2014), but god knows why.
9. DISTURBING: Sweet Tooth
Imagine a deranged Willy Wonka at odds with the Caped Crusaders. Sounds like a million-dollar idea, right? Well, the creative team working on the short-lived animated series The New Adventures of Batman (1977) thought Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) needed a sweet new adversary.
In the episode titled “A Sweet Joke on Gotham,” the Dark Knight came face to face with the villainous Sweet Tooth (Lennie Weinrb). Sweet Tooth was an overweight guy sporting bright pink hair and, more notably, a single tooth hung from his gums.
Sweet Tooth threatened to turn Gotham’s water supply into chocolate unless he was paid a ransom of $5 million. But the price was raised drastically to $10 million when the Boy Wonder poke fun at the bad guy’s lone tooth:
“Prison will do you good,” Robin suggested. “You can learn a trade – something you can get your sweet tooth into.”
Tooth wasn't as likable, as Roald Dahl's Wonka, but he was certainly disturbing.
8. LAME: Calendar Man
Bill Finger gets credit for a supervillain who began his career as a criminal who dressed like the seasons of the year. In Detective Comics #259 (1958), Julian Day aka the Calendar Man made the conscious decision to wear a flower-inspired costume for spring and a leaf for fall. Ridiculous!
For the most part, Finger sports a costume with numbers on his shoulders symbolizing the days in a calendar. Over the years, the Calendar Man has committed crimes on holidays and historical dates which coincide with important calendar days.
A female version of the criminal appears in the animated series The New Batman Adventures (1997-1999), voiced by actress Sela Ward. Calendar Man has also appeared in numerous Batman video games including Batman: Arkham City (2011).
7. DISTURBING: Two-Face
Harvey Dent aka Two-Face started his comic book career as Harvey Kent – no relation to Clark Kent – in Detective Comics #66 (1942). Boss Moroni threw acid at Dent, and it severely disfigured the left side of his face while also affecting his brain. And soon after, the former district attorney turned to a life of crime.
Dent is one of the Batman’s most popular villains of all time. Two-Face relies largely on his coin to determine which side of his personality will make important decisions. If he flips the coin, and the unblemished side hits, Harvey Dent (sanity) wins out. But god help if the scarred side lands face up. There’s no telling what Two-Face (insanity) will do.
Arguably, the most disturbing version of Two-Face appeared in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Portrayed by Aaron Eckhart, Harvey Dent was disfigured by an explosion after being kidnapped by the Joker (Heath Ledger). And Two-Face’s death at the conclusion greatly influences The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
6. LAME: Mad Hatter
To say Jervis Tetch is obsessed with the story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) is a huge understatement. Along with his obsession for hats, Tetch’s fandom for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s world leads to the birth of the ludicrous Bat baddie, the Mad Hatter.
Now, the Mad Hatter is a genius which might be his greatest attribute. As a child, Tetch didn’t have many friends, and when he grew up Tetch became a neuroscientist. His knowledge of technology led to the Mad Hatter developing the ability of mind control. Hatter’s mind control devices can be anything from his hats to tickets for free donuts and even a cup of coffee.
The Mad Hatter was one of the first villains Batman faced when Bane freed all the villains from Arkham Asylum in the Knightfall (1993) saga, but one of Hatter's most memorably absurd comic book appearances came in DC’s Infinite Halloween Special (2007). A number of Batman’s enemies plan to escape Arkham, and they tell ghost stories to pass time while waiting for the guards to change shifts.
5. DISTURBING: Rat Catcher
Meet the disturbing Pied Piper wannabe of Gotham City. Pound for pound, the Rat Catcher might be the most disgusting Batman villain ever conceived. Otis Flannegan possesses the power to control rats, armies of rats.
Rat Catcher is laughable on one hand and utterly disgusting on the other. Essentially, Flannegan has the special ability to have rats, and only rats, obey his every whim. Yeah, talk about the worst mutant power of all time.
What can you do, Bobby?
I freeze things!
How about you, Otis?
Perhaps creators Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle and John Wagner were inspired by the Black Plague. During the Infinite Crisis (2005-2006) storyline, Rat Catcher is evaporated by the OMAC when Flannegan is labeled a gamma-level threat. Unfortunately, Rat Catcher returned when DC unveiled the New 52 in 2011.
4. LAME: King Tut
What do you get when the Batman (1966-1968) showrunners adapt the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun for television? Answer: the second lamest supervillain ever! Ladies and gentlemen, meet actor Victor Buono’s King Tut.
First appearing in the season one episode “The Curse of Tut” (1966), King Tut’s storyline somehow did well enough in the television ratings to merit him appearing in 10 episodes of the series.
So, if you put that in perspective, Tut appeared on Batman almost as many times as Frank Gorshin’s charismatic Riddler (12) and more times than Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman (5).
As lame as Tut was, his worst transgression came when he forced the Dark Knight to dance the Batusi in the season one episode “The Pharaoh’s in a Rut” (1966). Tut never appeared in the comic books for a reason: lame to the Nth degree!
3. DISTURBING: Professor Pyg
Professor Pyg is so creepy it hurts. Created by writer Grant Morrison and artist Andy Kubert, appropriately enough in Batman #666 (2007), Pyg resembles the horror film character named Leatherface right out The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).
But the evil Professor Pyg wears a sinister pig mask instead of the flesh of his victims. The eeriness doesn’t stop there, though, as Pyg leads an army of Dollotrons. The Dollotrons are a group of robotic-like soldiers under the mind control powers of Pyg. His unwilling victims wear doll-like dresses and masks which make them all especially disturbing.
The Pyg's unfathomable need to create perfection led to a large number of Dollotrons being made to serve his sick and twisted criminal desires. In the video game Batman: Arkham Knight (2015), Professor Pyg is even more hair-raising to behold.
2. LAME: Egghead
The late actor Vincent Price will forever be synonymous with his roles in horror films, and the label of a macabre movie maestro, but there will always be the stigma of playing the nefarious Egghead on the Batman (1966-1968) television show.
Like the characters of King Tut (Victor Buono) and Ma Parker (Shirley Winters), both of which are also quite lame, Egghead didn’t appear in the comic books and was created specifically for the T.V. show.
Egghead was notorious for creating devices resembling the finest quality eggs, like his eggplosives and acid-filled eggs. And who can forget the dastardly villain smashing actual eggs on Robin’s (Burt Ward) head.
Egghead is by far the lamest Batman villain of all time, but make no mistake this article isn’t suggesting actor Vincent Price is lame.
He’s a good egg.
1. DISTURBING: The Joker
The Joker will top many lists, and it’s not a surprise the Clown Prince of Crime ranks No. 1 on the most disturbing list of Batman villains. First appearing in Batman #1 (1940), the Joker is arguably the Dark Knight’s most feared foe.
Mr. J really stepped up his game though in Alan Moore’s graphic novel The Killing Joke (1988). The Joker shoots and paralyzes Barbara Gordon. Joker then takes sordid pictures of her suffering, kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and forces him to look at the photographs of his broken daughter.
Later the same year, during A Death in the Family (1988-1989), the Joker beats Robin (Jason Todd) senseless with a crowbar after the boy has the audacity to punch him. Mr. J then leaves Todd and his mother to die in a fiery explosion.
And Heath Ledger’s brilliant performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008) brought the Batman baddie to a whole new level of twisted. Joker terrorizes the city, and murders Bruce Wayne’s love interest/best friend Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Joker also inadvertently creates Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart) in the process.
The Joker is the epitome of disturbing in the DC Universe.