9 Modern Batman Villains Who Rival His Classic Rogues Gallery

The Avengers Wouldn't Know What To Do When Ra's al Ghul Keeps Coming Back From The Dead

Every superhero has their own coterie of supervillains, but no one has a rogues’ gallery quite like the Dark Knight. With the Joker, the Riddler, the Scarecrow, the Penguin, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Two-Face, Bane, Ra’s al Ghul, Mr. Freeze, and all the other all-time classics, one might assume there’s just no room for any new Batman comic villains over at DC. But they’d be wrong.

Through the weekly publishing cycle of DC Comics, the World’s Greatest Detective faces new cases on a more-than-monthly basis, and that has required a steady influx of baddies of all shapes and sizes. Each and every year, some new memorable villains seem to show up in Gotham City and start wrecking the place, and it’s always up to the Batman to stop them – though, if they’re particularly memorable, he probably won’t stop them for good. That way, they can continue to show up again and again. 

1. The Court Of Owls

The Court Of Owls

No villainous group has ever altered the nature of Gotham City quite like the Court of Owls, who made their on-page debut in 2011, but who have been around for a lot longer than that – and a lot longer than the Batman himself.

A secret society made up of Gotham’s wealthiest families, including a few members of the extended Wayne clan, the Court had been manipulating the city’s politics and society from behind the scenes for decades, all without the World’s Greatest Detective ever catching wind of them. In fact, the only reason Batman ever found out about them was that they attempted to assassinate Bruce Wayne for his attempts to philanthropically revitalize Gotham, without realizing he was also the Dark Knight. 

Even then, Batman struggled mightily against the Court of Owls and their legions of nigh-immortal Talons, their greatest assassins preserved over the decades. Even when he seemingly defeated the Court’s scheme to install one of their own in the mayoral office – an individual who may or may not have been Bruce’s own brother – it was only a temporary victory. The anonymity brought by the Court’s wealth and their iconic owl masks ensures they continue to live on in one form or another, squirreled away inside the walls of Gotham, waiting for their next opportunity to strike. 

2. The Batman Who Laughs

The Batman Who Laughs

It’s been said by many, including Alfred Pennyworth, that Bruce Wayne is his own greatest enemy, but the truth of that didn’t become fully apparent until the events of Dark Nights: Metal, which saw a whole host of evil, alternate Bruce Waynes arise from the “Dark Multiverse.” Each of these Batmen represented an immediate and genuine threat to the DC Prime-Earth, but none more so than the Bruce of Earth-22, better known as the Batman Who Laughs.

First appearing in 2017, the Batman Who Laughs hailed from a reality in which the Joker had imbued himself with a curse, one that would drive anyone who slayed him insane, ensuring that they’d become the next Joker in time. When Bruce-22 was forced to take the Joker’s life, he succumbed to the curse, and it wasn’t long before he was wearing spikes on his head, toting around a bunch of flesh-eating Robins on leashes, and trying to infiltrate and destroy happier realities. For someone like Batman, who often fears the extent of his own mental illness, the Batman Who Laughs represents quite a disturbing look in the mirror. 

Ultimately, the Batman Who Laughs’ first foray into Prime-Earth was halted by – fittingly enough – a team-up of the real Batman and Joker. But the nature of the Multiverse has ensured that the Batman Who Laughs is never truly gone for good, and he’s continued to try to literally drag the DC Universe down into the dark ever since, and he’s come frighteningly close to succeeding. 

3. Punchline


To describe Alexis Kaye, the villain now known as Punchline, as a “Joker fangirl” is to miss the mark. True, the young college student became obsessed with the Clown Prince of Crime and his unique method of terrorizing Gotham City, but she’s also a genuine psychopath in her own right. She drew the Joker’s attention by poisoning a bunch of random, innocent people circa 2020, and he noticed. The Joker taught Alexis to create genuine Joker Venom, which she then used to experiment on the unhoused until she was ready to do away with her college dean and officially adopt the persona of Punchline. At that point, she became the Joker’s official right-hand woman, replacing Harley Quinn, who had recently crossed over to the Bat-Family. 

Punchline got to work during what came to be known as the Joker War and quickly proved herself more capable than her humble origin story might suggest. She went toe-to-toe with Batman, stabbed Catwoman, and slit Harley Quinn’s throat, nearly ending the person she saw as her rival for the Joker’s affection. In the end, she was defeated by Batman and sent to prison, but her total lack of remorse there has proven chilling – and makes it quite obvious that she’ll be back by the Joker’s side before terribly long. 

4. Flashpoint Thomas Wayne

Flashpoint Thomas Wayne

The story of how an alternate-reality version of Bruce Wayne’s father came to be one of his greatest enemies is complicated, even by comic book standards. This Thomas Wayne first appeared in 2011 in the midst of the Flashpoint, a timeline created by Barry Allen’s attempts to rewrite his own history. In the Flashpoint, it was Bruce – not his parents – who was gunned down in Crime Alley, resulting in Thomas becoming that reality’s Batman – and Martha Wayne becoming the Joker.

In time, Thomas would help Barry set things right again, sending the Flash back in time to the now-reset New 52 reality, as the Flashpoint disappeared around him. But through a series of consequences brought on by Doctor Manhattan’s arrival in the DC Universe, the Flashpoint was briefly restored, and Thomas ended up on Prime-Earth. 

Once there, Thomas reasoned that he could now be this world’s Batman, allowing his son to retire to a happier life. When Bruce refused, Thomas went as far as to team up with Bane, hoping to force Bruce into retirement. This quickly got out of hand, resulting in Thomas kidnapping his own grandson, Bane taking over Gotham City, and the subsequent grisly demise of Alfred Pennyworth.

Thomas saw the error of his ways and begged for forgiveness, but Bruce would not give it. He defeated both Thomas and Bane with some help from the Bat-Family and saw that both of them were incarcerated in Arkham Asylum – where Bane repaid Thomas’s betrayal by breaking his back.

5. The Designer

The Designer

In a way, the tale of the Designer, first revealed in 2020, represents one of the Dark Knight’s greatest fears, because it only came to light long after he had the opportunity to do something about it. For the World’s Greatest Detective, stuff happening outside of his knowledge is always an uncomfortable prospect.

The Designer was a criminal mastermind who specialized in planning out complex schemes and plots for other villains, and then selling them at a high price. His desire for a challenge eventually brought him to Gotham City, where he gathered together those he saw as the Batman’s greatest enemies – the Riddler, the Penguin, Catwoman, and the Joker. He offered them each a means to their own greatest desire and a method through which to destroy the Batman. But Joker, infamously bad at playing with others, didn’t buy what the Designer was selling, and so he shot him in the head. 

More than a decade later in 2020, Selina Kyle had become romantically involved with Bruce Wayne but had never told him about her encounter with the Designer – which proved to be a big problem when the Designer showed up again. Even worse, it seemed as though the Designer had passed on his proposed plan for Catwoman to someone else, and that scheme involved draining the Wayne accounts of all their money. Now, Bruce had to deal with both his lover’s betrayal and the loss of his wealth, along with the apparent return of the man behind it all.

Eventually, however, it was revealed that the Designer was not back from the grave, but that it was just the Joker in masquerade, digging up the Designer’s old designs in an attempt to break up the Bat and the Cat. By finally coming clean, Selina was able to salvage her relationship with Bruce, but that didn’t do anything to restore the billions that had been stolen from his bank accounts – and thus began a new era for the Dark Knight, absent of wealth for the first time in his life. 

Even in death, the Designer’s plans played out perfectly. 

6. Arkham Knight

Arkham Knight

Spending time in Arkham Asylum is difficult for anyone, but growing up there is a real nightmare. That was the case for Astrid Arkham, descendant of the founder of the institution and daughter of two psychiatrists working there. When her mother was slain by an inmate wielding a Batarang during a breakout attempt, it led to Astrid developing a strong hatred of the Dark Knight – and an affinity for all the Arkham inmates with similar inclinations.

Over the years, Astrid became downright friendly with some of Arkham’s worst inmates, reading bedtime stories to the Joker and listening to their tales of misery at the hands of the Batman. By 2019, she was ready to do something about it. Astrid trained herself into a capable fighter, used her father’s resources to construct a high-tech suit of battle armor, and started a cult dedicated to ridding Gotham of the Dark Knight, known as the “Knights of the Sun.” Donning her armor, she dubbed herself the Arkham Knight and set about trying to slay her greatest enemy.

Despite systematically targeting the Bat-Family, the Arkham Knight fell short in her attempts to defeat Batman one-on-one, and wound up an inmate of Arkham Asylum herself, where she later perished in an explosion. But the Knights of the Sun live on, and through them, Astrid remains just as powerful and influential in death as she was in life. 

7. The Underbroker

The Underbroker

The Dark Knight is famous for fighting crime without any superpowers, unless one counts being rich as a superpower. But the thing about wealth is that it can be used to all sorts of ends, and so it stands to reason that there may be other billionaires out there putting as much money into funding villains in Gotham City as Bruce Wayne puts into stopping them. Enter the Underbroker.

Harlan Graves is a lawyer and businessman by day and a personal banker to Gotham’s worst supervillains by night. He’s happy to provide high-interest loans to the most evil individuals the city has to offer, including the Joker. If that wasn’t already troubling enough, the Underbroker managed to do all of this in secret for years, with the Batman not becoming aware of his existence until 2020.

To make matters even worse, Batman only became aware of the Underbroker when he got involved in a posthumous scheme set up by the Designer to drain all of the Wayne bank accounts. The Underbroker partnered with the Joker and Punchline to hijack the funds and put them under the Joker’s control, robbing Bruce of billions – and financially empowering his greatest enemy at the same time. 

8. Peacekeeper-01


The Dark Knight has a penchant for turning his enemies into allies, offering them a form of redemption and a place within the extended Bat-Family. Clayface, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and others have all come into the fold at one time or another – but for each foe turned friend, the Batman has seen an ally fall to the dark side.

Such is the case with Sean Mahoney, a former Arkham security guard who, despite some violent tendencies and issues of self-worth, once possessed a genuine desire to make Gotham City a better and safer place. That all changed when Arkham Asylum was bombed in 2021 by someone pretending to be the Joker, resulting in a sweeping anti-crime crackdown headed by Mayor Nakano and Simon Saint, CEO of Saint Industries and the inventor of the Magistrate.

The Magistrate was a system through which private enforcers wearing high-tech suits of armor would police Gotham City with extreme prejudice. These “Peacekeepers” were intended to eliminate the need for vigilantes, and Mahoney was selected as Peacekeeper-01, the program’s pilot model. But Saint was corrupt from the get-go, and once the Scarecrow wormed his way into the Magistrate, there wasn’t much hope left of a positive outcome. Mahoney was driven mad and manipulated until he believed that he was the only one capable of bringing peace to Gotham – and that heinous acts of violence against all who opposed him were the only way to achieve it.

Even after Batman exposed Saint and the Magistrate for what they were, he still had to deal with a rogue Peacekeeper-01, who by that point was stalking the sewers of Gotham looking for trouble. Though Saint had secretly designed the Peacekeeper armors to defeat the Dark Knight, Batman was able to outsmart the technology and disconnect Mahoney from the apparatus, but he was not able to undo the damage that had already been done to his former ally’s mind. 

9. Abyss


Batman Inc. is a loosely knit organization of various international bat-themed vigilantes, previously brought together and funded by Bruce Wayne to mete out justice all over the globe. Circa 2021, however, Wayne lost access to his fortune, and Batman Inc. fell under the sway of the mysterious Abyss instead, and embarked upon a deadly mission that the OG Batman would never have approved.

Abyss convinced several members of Batman Inc. to give up their non-lethal credo and make some serious attempts on the life of Lex Luthor. When Batman intervened, Abyss used their ambiguous powers to blind the Dark Knight, leaving him fighting for his life in the dark against his former allies. 

Ultimately, the blind Bat was forced to team up with Luthor to confront Abyss, a moral compromise that no doubt left a bad taste in his mouth – and some bridges fully burned.