Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
You can often judge a man by the calibre of enemies that he has by his side. Batman is no exception to this. In fact what’s most interesting about Batman’s villains is that they’re all, in some way, a twisted reflection of him. Don’t believe me? Well let me elaborate.
The Joker: If Batman is the Dark Knight, then what’s better for his arch-enemy than the Clown Prince of Crime. I’ve mentioned in other blogs that the best villains are the complete opposite to the heroes, with the Joker being the best example of it. Batman is dark, ergo the best way to combat that is with something bright.
The Penguin: If the Joker is the anti-Batman, then the Penguin is the anti-Bruce Wayne. He’s a corrupt rich person only interested in himself. He’s what Bruce Wayne could have been if Bruce had decided to flaunt his money rather than become Batman.
Catwoman: The female version of Batman really. Had One Bad Day and decided to turn to crime, but having enough good inside of her for Batman to try and redeem. She represents what would have happened if Batman had decided to become an anti-villain rather than a proper hero. Also (and this is just speculation cos I haven’t seen the movie yet), notice how Selena Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises pretends to be aristocratic when she’s really just a thief? Again, another parallel to Batman since he too pretends to be posh when he’d rather not be.
Two-Face: One of the themes seen in some Batman stories is that of identity. Who is the real person and who is the mask? Does Bruce Wayne dress up as Batman, or does Batman dress up as Bruce Wayne? Two-Face brings this to the surface by having someone who literally has two different personalities. It’s hard to say which one is the true one, just like it’s hard to pin down which identity is really Batman.
Riddler: If Batman is often cast in the light of the Detective, it makes lots of sense that there should be someone that counters him by asking him questions and riddles for him to solve. On one hand you have the Detective, on the other you have the Riddle for him to solve.
Mr Freeze: He too lost someone that he loved, just like Batman. However unlike Batman he still had the option to save his loved one, which he devoted his life too. Is it too hard to believe that given the same chance Batman wouldn’t do the same (which he did in an early comic, going to an alternate universe and saving alternate Bruce Wayne’s parents, even if that risks there being no Batman for this universe). So Mr Freeze shows what Batman would have done if he could get them back (or if he chose to get them back).
Poison Ivy: Batman stands for Justice, quite a strong moral stance at that. He refuses to give in to his principles no matter what. Poison Ivy is just the same. Except instead of Justice, it’s about the Environment. Imagine if Batman let loose and killed people in response to his Justice ideals. Doesn’t Poison Ivy already do that? She’s what would happen if Batman went too far for what he believed in.
Harley Quinn: Batman has Robin, a young ward that he teaches. The Joker has Harley Quinn, a young woman that loves him. Perhaps unintentionally, but making her obsessively in love with the Joker could be a subtle jab at the homosexual subtext between the Dynamic Duo. Failing that Harley Quinn is still the Robin for the Joker, giving the characters another nice parallel.
Man-Bat: Pretty much self-explanatory, isn’t it? What if Batman gave into his animal urges (the Id, if I’ve got it correct) and became more of a monster. Well Man-Bat shows what happens when he gets let loose like that.
Scarecrow: He rules through fear. Batman dresses up as a Bat because criminals are a ‘cowardly and superstitious lot’. Why else would Nolan have used Scarecrow in Batman Begins?
Ra’s Al Ghul: Again this is made painfully obvious in Batman Begins, but he is what Batman would be if he went too far and though the ends justified the means. However Nolan does a better job painting it out then I ever could.
Bane: Now I’m only speaking for the Nolan version and I’ve yet to see the movie, but I can guarantee that he’s set up to be the anti-Batman. He’s both a genius and a capable physical fighter, taking on both persona of Batman. And since Tom Hardy is playing it it won’t be anything less than awesome.
Hush: He’s written to be the anti-Batman, more so then any other character. A rich young boy that wanted his parents to die, likes to use guns and kill people, determined to keep his identity secret. He was even Bruce Wayne’s friend as a kid. You can’t get any more anti-Batman than that.
So there you have it. A look at how the Batman villains reflect Batman himself. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.