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Batman’s best and worst villains: Who is his bane, and who’s just a joker? By Richard Crouse Metro Canada July 13, 2012

121311-chris-nolan-baneSometimes even villains get a second chance. The Dark Knight Rises, the last entry in Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy, digs deep into Caped Crusader lore to reintroduce brawny bad guy Bane.

The abnormally strong antihero first appeared in the comics in 1993 but after a ridiculous appearance in Batman & Robin earned the title as the worst on-screen Batman baddie. As a scrawny convict pumped up by a drug known as Venom he did little except growl and act as the punch line for a bad joke by his creator Dr. Jason Woodrue. “I call this little number Bane,” he says. “Bane of humanity!”

The movie killed the Batman franchise for seven years, and it looked like Bane, played by wrestler Jeep Swenson—Holy haberdashery, Batman who chose his bad lucha libre mask?—would also be relegated to the big Scoundrel Cemetery in the Sky.

Then Nolan cast Tom Hardy, got rid of the ridiculous mask and gave the brute a second chance. So Bane is back and super-evil, but how do other Batman big-screen baddies stack up on the Bat-scale of finest to vilest?

The Bat’s Best:

Cesar Romero and Jack Nicholson both played The Joker, Batman’s arch nemesis, but Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning take on the psychotic clown in The Dark Knight is the most menacingly memorable.

Burgess Meredith made The Penguin’s trademark squawking voice popular, but it was Danny DeVito in Batman Returns who really showed what a megalomaniacal monster he really was. “You’re just jealous because I’m a genuine freak and you have to wear a mask.”

Batman has battled plenty of female foes but feline fiend Catwoman is the pick of the litter. Whether it’s Lee Meriwether meowing, “You’re going to see the purr-fect crime, when I get Batman in my claws,” or Michelle Pfeiffer wielding a twelve-foot bullwhip, the creepy kitty is fun enough for nine lifetimes.

The Winged-One’s Worst:

Too many one-liners from Two-Face in Batman Forever left critics unable to turn the other cheek after Tommy Lee Jones’s over-the-top performance.

As played by Uma Thurman in Batman & Robin botanist-turned-eco-terrorist Poison Ivy proved that not even Mother Nature gets it right every time.

If for no other reason than the joke “Ice to see you!” Batman & Robin’s cold-blooded killer Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) makes the worst-of list. The Governator should’ve been sent to the cooler for his line-readings in this one.

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