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The Golden Age of Batman Villains

This is a list of Golden Age Batman Villains. It covers Batman's enemies from 1939-1956. The sources used were Batman, Detective Comics and World's finest.

Originally I decided to create a list of all Batman's villains but I wanted to do a numbered list and the site limits those to 100 characters. So I've decided to break them up by the ages. The list is chronological, based on when Batman first encounters the character as a villain. The focus is on Bat-villains, so if the character is from someone else's rogues gallery (like Weather Wizard) they won't make it in but if the character is a general villain (like Solomon Grundy) they will. I also don't include villains that Batman only encounters when he's part of a team.

I've tried to focus on the characters that are villains rather than just criminals but I've yet to come up with a perfect formula to explain why I exclude someone like Mr. X or Carmine "the Roman" Falcon but include Dr. Death or Hugo Strange. Mobsters and generic criminals generally don't make it into the list and neither do one shot aliens or monsters that don't seem to have any significant impact. Unfortunately, Batman encountered a lot of oddly dressed one shot antagonists with aliases so it may seem like the list is not definitive (and hey, it's not). Arguments could probably be made for some inclusions and exclusions.

List items

  • The original freak. Dr. Death originally was only slightly more of a villain than the average mobster but had enough of a pulp element to be classified as villain. Later stories made the distinction clearer.

  • Unquestionably the first Super Villain Batman encountered.

  • The first female antagonist Batman encountered.

  • Carl Kruger may not fall into the list as easily as some of the other villains on the list, but he wore a costume, commanded an army of scientists, had a fortress, invented a death ray, flew around in a dirigible and had a fleet of biplanes.

  • Hugo Strange doesn't wear a costume, has no powers, and doesn't even have a code name. Yet, this Moriarty like character who occasionally comes off as a mad scientist fits the bill of villain.

  • Obviously!

  • Nowadays she's either a hero or an antihero, but despite Batman's lenient attitude towards the Cat, Selina Kyle was often a villain.

  • The first of several Clayfaces.

  • Decades later, costume themed gangs became common place in Batman stories but the Three Devils stood out by appearing a generation earlier.

  • The Master of Fear.

  • On some levels the Penguin is just an ugly mobster in a tux, but he has history of being so much more.

  • A tragic one-shot villain who was brought back decades later to be in the Nuclear Legion.

  • Was it Harvey Dent or Kent? Actually it was Kent and then it became Dent but that was played with a little throughout the years. Two-Face has also had a few imitators.

  • Tweedledee and Tweedledum were attempts to be much more kid friendly than some of Batman's other villains. The occasional modern writer has tried to give them a serious story, but it never works out.

  • Actually dies and is replaced by his cousin.

  • Always had a prescription for crime.

  • The Cavalier came off as a Mr. Baffle 2.0. Eccentric enough to be considered one of Batman's rogues rather than just a criminal. In the 90's, James Robinson created a single story re-envisioning of the character for the Legends of the Dark Knight story "Blades"

  • The Blaze II maybe. The original Blaze and his successor were pretty much unrelated. The second Blaze was much more of a villain than the first.

  • Scorpio turned out to be little more than a con artist, but labeled as an alchemist, with a costume, a castle and a legion of followers, he fits in more with the villains than the common criminals. There's something to be said for showmanship.

  • Yet another villain who was introduced only to die at the end of the story.

  • Jervis Tetch only had one golden age appearance and did not have most of the quirks or gimmicks that are commonly associated with the character (outside of looking like the Alice in Wonderland character). Decades later he was resurrected with a very different personality.

  • The prince of puzzles.

  • A minor villain later resurrected to be a minor villain in Batman Incorporated.

  • It was probably a mistake for a famed oceanographer turned underwater themed criminal, to help Batman and Robin build the Bat-submarine.

  • Was originally a cowboy themed crime fighter running a long con.

  • Were there Killer Moths? That's the problem when you give a character the identity of prisoner #234026 and then spend decades playing around with continuity, you never know if the guy under the mask is new or not.

  • Paul Sloan actually appears as Two Face 2 long before he becomes Charlatan.

  • The incestuous brother of Catwoman.

  • His weakness? Clapping.

  • Originally, Firefly was less of a pyro and more of a light manipulating illusionist.

  • This wasn't even the 1st giant gorilla Batman fought.

  • Also known at the Executioner

  • Outside of the different letter on their chests, the Wrecker and the Exterminator looked a lot a like but the two characters had very distinct backgrounds.

  • The photographic fiend.

  • Jason Bard alias the Trapper has absolutely no relation to the later Jason Bard.

  • The original Mirror Man, Floyd Ventris, has little relation to the modern age Narcissus.

  • The second Mad Hatter or the imposter Mad Hatter. Unlike the original, this character was focused on hats and did not originally resemble the Lewis Carroll character. Later things got...complicated.