Who is the baddest Batman villain of them all?

Ka-pow! Batman is smashing Hollywood box-office records this weekend with his new film, 'The Dark Knight'. But the real star is the psychotic Joker, played by Heath Ledger in his last role before his death from a drugs overdose. The baddies often outclass the Bat, says Cole Moreton. But is this nasty Joker the best villain of the lot?


The Joker: Heath Ledger, 'The Dark Knight' (2008)

"This town deserves a better class of criminal," says the manic murderer, and boy, has Gotham got one. Cesar Romero was great on TV, Jack Nicholson magnificent in the 1989 film, but Ledger smears the make-up, cuts out the campery and makes the clown terrifying.

The Riddler: Jim Carrey, 'Batman Forever' (1995)

"Riddle me this, riddle me that..." How do you turn a delightful trickster into a pathetic waste of a villain? By letting Jim Carrey gurn. Clueless.

Poison Ivy: Uma Thurman, 'Batman and Robin' (1997)

Nice idea: a mood-swinging, plant-obsessed eco-terrorist with toxins in her blood. Bad idea: get Uma to play her for laughs (that never come) in a film so terrible that it destroyed the franchise for a while. How bad is it? A smitten Robin says: "I need a sign that you've turned over a new leaf." The green goddess replies: "How about, 'Slippery When Wet?'"

Ka-pow? No. Yuk!

Mr Freeze: Arnold Schwarzenegger, 'Batman and Robin' (1997)

Having to wear a cryogenic suit to stay alive is bad. Being played by Arnie is worse. The most ridiculous superhero movie of all time is full of terrible puns: "Ice to see you!"

Not cool. Not cool at all.

Two-Face: Tommy Lee Jones, 'Batman Forever' (1995)

Disfigured lawyer with a fixation for tossing coins and the number two. First seen in 1942. You get more of his good side in the new film, but he's still flipping mad.

Joe Chill: Richard Brake, 'Batman Begins' (2005)

No superpowers. No catchphrase. No plans to take over the world. But the small-time crook mugged and shot Bruce Wayne's parents in 1939, in an edition of 'Detective Comics', and a long-running legend was born.

The Penguin: Burgess Meredith, 'Batman' TV series (1966-68)

Oswald Cobblepot. Crazy name, crazy guy. Squawking great fun on the telly – "Waugh!" – before his dark reinvention by Danny De Vito on film. Nice umbrella.

Rha's al Ghul: Ken Watanabe, 'Batman Begins' (2005)

Leader of the ancient League of Shadows. The name is Arabic for "head of the demon". Loves violence, disguise and perverse mind games... just like Batman.

The Scarecrow: Cillian Murphy, 'Batman Begins' (2005)

Mad psychologist originally modelled on Ichabod Crane in 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'. Like others here, a villain from the Forties who has been reinvented many times. Terrifies his victims – not least with that lousy taste in costumes.

Catwoman: Michelle Pfeiffer, 'Batman Returns' (1992)

Acrobatic, flirtatious, clad in PVC, she has the power to cause heart attacks. Particularly in dads watching the film with their kids. A strong woman who cracks the whip on stupid men, she may be Batman's true love. They do share a specialist taste in clothing. "Meow!"

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable