Master assassins, fear-mongering shrinks, chaotic clowns and two-faced killers… these are just a few of the foes Batman squared off against in Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy. Ask any comics reader and they’ll agree that the Caped Crusader has the greatest rogues gallery in the entire medium — and when it came to adapting them for film, Nolan delivered the goods.
Still, some of Batman’s adversaries fared better than others in the adaptation process, even if I ultimately love them all. (Well, almost all of them. Not a big fan of seventh place.) With that in mind, here are my rankings for the “Dark Knight” trilogy’s rogues. The list, as you’ll see, is extremely subjective. If you disagree with my picks, I encourage you to give us your order and explanations in the comments below. (And as always, hate mail can be sent this way.)
7. Talia Al Ghul
As I wrote in my rankings of the “Dark Knight Rises” main cast , my big problem with Talia is how little time you get to spend with her outside of her Miranda Tate alias. Marion Cotillard did the best she could with what she was given, but because of time restrictions, she didn’t make the same impact as Nolan’s other rogues. On top of that, one of the most important aspects of Talia from the comics was completely missing in Nolan’s take: her undying love for Batman, despite all of his flaws and failings. Movie-Talia’s hatred for Bruce didn’t feel at home with the core of the character’s comic book counterpart.
6. Doctor Jonathan Crane
It hurts me to rank Cillian Murphy’s psychotic psychiatrist so low on this list. It’s ultimately a testament to the excellent job the Nolan team did in bringing Batman’s baddies to life — they’re all great. Still, despite appearing in all three films, Crane proved the least deadly and the least impactful to Wayne in the end. His pants were permanently soiled the moment he hallucinated that snarling, monstrous vision of Gotham’s silent guardian back in “Batman Begins,” putting him towards the back of our list. (“None of which is to say I didn’t appreciate the cameos,” he said in a last-ditch attempt to avoid death by exile.)
5. Harvey “Two-Face” Dent
There’s probably no character in the entire “Dark Knight” trilogy I like more than Hospital Harvey. Aaron Eckhart’s bedridden scenes opposite Gordon and Joker are some of my favorite ever captured on film. But even I have to admit that Dent’s transformation from good-hearted lawyer into full-blown murderer is a bit hard to swallow, particularly when you consider his collapse takes place in all of a day. And even an excellent performance from Eckhart can’t make up for the fact that him surviving the Sal Maroni car crash completely unharmed makes absolutely no sense.
Right at the heart of this list, as he should be, is Tom Hardy’s Bane. The British actor proved his doubters horribly wrong with his excellent performance in “The Dark Knight Rises.” Even if you didn’t understand his words with crystal clarity, I’m pretty sure you got the gist of every single bone-breaking blow he delivered. But his ultimate role as Talia’s flunky and the clumsy way he goes out keep him just shy of the top spots.
3. Ra’s al Ghul
The man who trained him. The man who taught him that he had to become more than just a man to truly become a legend. In Nolan’s films, without Ra’s al Ghul, there would be no Batman. For that reason alone, he deserves a spot in the top three. Beyond that, he’s played brilliantly by Liam Neeson, even when you think he’s just Henri Ducard, and even when he’s just a hallucination in Bruce’s battered brain in the Lazarus Pit stand-in. A little more mysticism to the character would have been nice, but Neeson’s Ra’s fit in perfectly with Nolan’s real-world take on the Dark Knight legend.
2. Selina Kyle
If you can get Batman to hang up the cape and cowl for good, you’re doing something right. Selina does exactly that at the end of “Rises,” trading in a life of crime for a literal clean slate with the “deceased” billionaire crimefighter of her dreams. Before all that, she gives the Dark Knight a hell of a ride, luring him out of an eight year exile and back into the game to fight the ferocious Bane. “Rises” gives us an accelerated version of the Selina Kyle story arc, taking her from the lethal crook looking out for number one to the tortured soul torn between good and bad, and ultimately allowing her the happy ending she has not yet earned in the comics. Of all the “Dark Knight” rogues, Nolan and Anne Hathaway’s take on the Catwoman legend can’t be beat — well, almost…
1. The Joker
Damn right he’s number one. If you disagree, tell it to the Oscar.
Give us your rankings of the “Dark Knight” trilogy rogues in the comments section below!