Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy revolutionized the comic book movie genre. Batman Begins inspired a slew of gritty, semi-realistic reinventions of iconic superheroes (including a bunch of lighthearted characters that didn’t suit that treatment, like Superman, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four). The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises took the Bat’s big-screen adventures to a whole new level with their epic scope and breathtaking IMAX action sequences.

Batman’s villains are arguably as iconic and recognizable as Batman himself. Throughout his acclaimed trilogy, Nolan provided fans with pitch-perfect on-screen takes on such beloved Batman villains as the Joker, Two-Face, and Catwoman.

8 Talia Al Ghul

After playing the femme fatale in Nolan’s sci-fi heist thriller Inception, Marion Cotillard played the femme fatale in his Batman finale, The Dark Knight Rises. Although her character is introduced as a love interest for Bruce called “Miranda Tate,” she turns out to be Talia al Ghul – the daughter of the Bat’s original arch-nemesis (at least in this trilogy), Ra’s al Ghul – in cahoots with Bane.

As usual, Cotillard gives a great performance, but the movie has far too many villains (like many overstuffed comic book films) and Talia is one of the unnecessary ones who could’ve been cut.

7 Carmine Falcone

When the Caped Crusader starts cleaning up the streets of Gotham in Batman Begins, he starts by taking on organized crime. He goes after Carmine Falcone, a typical mob boss.

While Tom Wilkinson’s performance offers a pitch-perfect take on the hard-boiled gangster archetype, Falcone is still just a familiar archetype. It’s difficult for a Batman villain to be truly memorable without a unique gimmick like a clown aesthetic or an army of penguins or an obsession with riddles.


6 Catwoman

Anne Hathaway established a working relationship with Nolan that would continue into Interstellar when she played Selina Kyle – better known as Catwoman – in The Dark Knight Rises.

Nolan has a lot of fun with Selina’s classical “femme fatale” characterization (the character is ripped straight from the kind of noir that inspired Nolan’s early work), but Hathaway’s performance doesn’t have the unnerving edge of Michelle Pfeiffer’s seminal turn in Batman Returns.

5 The Scarecrow

Batman Begins marked the first of many collaborations between Nolan and Cillian Murphy. The actor went on to appear in Inception, Dunkirk, and Nolan’s upcoming biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer, in which he’ll play Oppenheimer himself. Murphy’s first role in a Nolan movie was Jonathan Crane, a.k.a. the Scarecrow, in Batman Begins (and later in its sequels).

See also  20 Mistakes Fans Completely Missed In Grey’s Anatomy

The Scarecrow is an unforgettable villain who uses fear as a weapon and wears a genuinely creepy mask that’s basically a burlap sack with a couple of beady eye-holes crudely scrawled out. Murphy reprised the role for a cameo in The Dark Knight and a larger role in The Dark Knight Rises as a judge presiding over one of Bane’s crooked dystopian courtrooms.

4 Bane

The main villain in The Dark Knight Rises had a lot to live up to. Heath Ledger had just won an Oscar for playing the Joker in the Bat’s previous on-screen adventure and the next villain had to try to top that. Tom Hardy does an admirable job of playing Bane as the brains behind a widespread terrorist plot as he stages the French Revolution on the streets of Gotham, but his dialogue is mostly incomprehensible as the words get buried under his mask.

Ultimately, Nolan’s take on Bane is a shallow re-tread of his take on the Joker as a criminal mastermind terrorizing Gotham with a carefully laid-out (and overly complicated) plan. But the character is still memorable and presents a tangible physical threat to the Bat.

3 Two-Face

Harvey Dent’s supervillain alter ego, Two-Face, was previously played by Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever. But since Jones got swept up in matching his co-star Jim Carrey’s wackiness, he failed to capture the tragic dichotomy of Dent, the unwaveringly heroic district attorney, and Two-Face, the corrupted criminal figure.

While Jones’ turn as Two-Face was too hammy and over-the-top to resonate with audiences, Aaron Eckhart nailed it in The Dark Knight. He initially plays Harvey as the noble “white knight” putting Gotham’s most notorious criminals behind bars. But, by the end of the movie, he’s one of Gotham’s most notorious criminals himself.

2 Ra’s Al Ghul

Liam Neeson played the first villain that Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne faced in Batman Begins. Henri Ducard is initially introduced as Bruce’s trainer who teaches him how to fight with the League of Shadows ahead of his crimefighting crusade.

See also  Supergirl ​Melissa Benoist Says Goodbye To Arrowverse as Season 6 Wraps

This character is a classic mentor-turned-enemy. After teaching Bruce how to fight, Ducard – which turns out to be an alias for iconic Bat-baddie Ra’s al Ghul – ends up fighting him for control of Gotham City.

1 The Joker

Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning turn as the Clown Prince of Crime isn’t just widely regarded to be the best villain from The Dark Knight trilogy; it’s often ranked as one of the all-time greatest on-screen portrayals of a supervillain alongside Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock and Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger.

Nolan translated Batman and the Joker’s quintessential hero-villain dynamic to the screen beautifully: “You complete me.” Ledger’s psychotic, unpredictable agent of chaos offered a perfect ideological counterpoint to Christian Bale’s meticulous, razor-focused Caped Crusader.

NextSonic 2: Top 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts

About The Author