Top 10 Batman Villains (Part 2)
7. Ra’s al Ghul
Ra’s al Ghul, which translates to The Demon’s Head, made his first appearance in comics in the early 1970s, making him one of the few good things to come out of this era. Although his intentions were not yet made clear, Batman eventually deduced his villainous ploy. Ra’s aspires to a world kept in perfect harmony, and his method of achieving this is to wipe out large portions of humanity through a variety of means, such as biological warfare. Being capable of resurrection through the use of mysterious Lazarus Pits, this is a goal he’s pursued for many centuries with the aid of his League of Assassins.
All this spells out a rather generic arch-villain, but what separate Ra’s out is the relationship he shares with Batman. Both characters hold each other in high regard. Ra’s al Ghul always refers to Batman as ‘Detective’ as a mark of respect for his abilities, and the hero never goes into conflict with The Demon lightly.
Cementing his importance in the world of Batman, Bruce Wayne also has a complicated relationship with Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, Talia, with whom he has had a son. Damien Wayne, raised as an assassin, has recently taken on the role of Robin in an attempt to rehabilitate him, meaning that the interests of Ra’s al Ghul is never far away.
Harvey Dent has been on the bad guy roster since right back at the beginning, turning up in 1944 and created by Bob Kane himself. Since then he’s gone through very little change, unlike many of the other regular villains. As a result he’s always been a good go-to opponent to fill out the roster when needed. The concept behind him – obsessed with duality – can be worked into many scenarios and his unpredictable nature keeps him interesting.
For his strongest moments as a character you have to wind the clock back a long while. Harvey Dent (originally Harvey Kent until people kept asking if he was related to Superman) was a friend to Bruce Wayne and an ally to Batman, working closely with him to bring down the mob. Doused with acid during a trail, half his face was scarred and him mind damaged, bringing out his split personality. Batman has always shouldered much guilt for not being to prevent this attack on the attorney.
Two-Face has also made a mark in other media. His incarnation in the Animated Series was an early episode that marked the series as something better than the average Saturday morning cartoon as it depicted Dent as a realistic character who was mentally disturbed being his transformation. Re-imagined in ‘The Dark Knight’ was also an effective, more realistic take on the character.
Even a decade after his first appearance Bane still hasn’t made the jump into being a household name. That’s likely to change next year as soon as Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is released, in which awesome actor Tom Hardy will play him. Not helping matters is his poor usage in films thus far: in ‘Batman and Robin’ he was a moronic mute oaf in a rubber muscle suit.
The actual character couldn’t be more different. Arriving in the late 90’s as a major part of the prolonged ‘Knightfall’ story arc, his backstory seemed quite generic. Part of an experiment to create a super-soldier, a serum called ‘Venom’ increased his mass and strength. What separated him out from being a generic thug was his high intelligence.
Orchestrating a mass break-out from Arkham Asylum was the first part of his plan. Releasing all the maniacs Batman had put away forced the Dark Knight through a gauntlet of his enemies. Bane pulled the strings from afar, working Batman into one battle after another until the hero was physically and psychologically exhausted. Then, having deduced Batman’s true identity and his weaknesses Bane struck in a place Batman never expected: Wayne Manor. Beating him down, Bane finished the fight by snapping Batman’s spine over his knee, putting him out of commission for years.
The final four spots of the countdown will revealed soon – unless you can guess!