Few things within the Batman mythos are as divisive as Fox’s take on Gotham. The network’s “elseworlds” origin story on the criminals rising in the ranks of Gotham’s underworld, while a world-weary Jim Gordon does his best to keep order until “The Bat” finally rears his vengeance seeking head, has garnered mix reviews throughout, and has fans arguing if this is a respectable way to envision the beginnings of Batman.
While there were redeeming qualities to the series, I, for one, gave up on Gotham after it’s inaugural season. There are reasons for this. Let me quickly map them out.
- I loathed the addition of Fish Mooney into Gotham’s Rogues Gallery. Hated it. And her. Ugh, worst. character. ever.
- I never truly bought in to a Gotham that had Batman’s greatest villains establishing their criminal underground so many years before The Dark Knight started paroling the streets…er…rooftops.
- I refuse to believe that THAT kid becomes Batman. No. Just…I can’t…No. By that, I’m not critiquing the actor, but more so the route the show is having that actor take with the character of a young Bruce Wayne.
But you know who can buy in, though, and might know more about Gotham than anyone I have ever known? My brother in all things geeky, Josiah LeRoy. No one is better suited for such a list than him, and despite my criticisms of the show, I couldn’t be more excited to see how he ranks these dastardly foes.
I for one am hoping King Tut or the Bookworm is #1… wait, what’s that?…wrong Batman show… eeeek, my B! Take it away, Josiah! – Lou Matiuzzo
I’ll preface my piece by saying thank you to my man, Lou. Thanks for letting me take over Ranked! Gotham has had a multitude of problems over its short history. Astoundingly, it has moved to primetime beginning this fall. When the show gets its villains right, they are something fierce, something magnificent. When they fall flat, they fall flat. In honor of Gotham Season 3 releasing on Blu-ray this coming week, these are the top ten villains to have made an appearance on the show.
Disclaimer: I am not counting Selena Kyle AKA “Cat” as a villain, otherwise she would certainly be in the top 5.
10. Salvatore Maroni
Ah, the good ole fashion mob boss. Gotham’s first season was an ongoing battle between the city’s two most famous crime lords. It was a grounded story and helped to provide some minor building blocks for the future of the series. Salvatore Maroni was the ideal ying to Carmine Falcone’s yang. It’s a shame that the series wasted this story line so early!!
9. Hugo Strange
I was so excited when I heard that the show was introducing Hugo Strange to the series, knowing that Arkham Asylum would likely be tied to it. After all, it was a character that had jumped to new heights of notoriety when Batman: Arkham City released (my favorite game of all time). BD Wong’s portrayal of Strange worked for me in the early parts of his run in season 2, but he has certainly worn out his welcome and feels largely irrelevant to the story these days.
8. Carmine Falcone
Falcone has been a consistent presence on Gotham since day one of the series. I have always been a fan of this version of the infamous crime lord and hope that he sticks around for the long haul. Father to Mario (twist!), sometimes ally to Jim Gordon, and boss of the ever fun to watch Victor Zsasz, Falcone’s presence makes most episode of the show instantly better.
7. Edward Nygma AKA “The Riddler”
Ed Nygma’s transformation from nerdy Gotham City PD employee to the world famous Riddler is one of the better overall character arcs in the series to date. Because the show was always on the brink of being cancelled, it felt like things were being rushed on multiple fronts and due to that, the series had to backtrack through a series of mishandled and ill-timed story lines. Ed’s evolution is one exception. I totally prefer him as Ed, as opposed to the Riddler. Since that highly anticipated fall to the dark side of sorts, I haven’t enjoyed his character nearly as much. However, season 4 promises to be the time that Nygma takes center stage. Cory Michael Smith is a fine actor. Here’s to hoping he doesn’t hide 300 question mark shaped trophies around Gotham!
6. Ivy Pepper
Ivy is a prime example of Fox not planning on keeping the show around forever. In the first two seasons of Gotham, Ivy was a young girl, not much different from Selena Kyle. A weird story line conveniently fast forwarded Ivy’s story a few years down the line thanks to an odd growth accelerator. The gorgeous Maggie Geha now plays Ivy, and I absolutely adore her naive nature and bubbly enthusiasm. I hope her and Oswald remain friends for years to come. It says a lot that a character has made such an impact in such a short time.
5. Jervis Tetch AKA “The Mad Hatter”
The Alice and Jervis Tetch story line is one of my favorite runs in the entire series, despite just lasting a few episodes. I thought both characters were portrayed magnificently, with the recurring Jervis ranking right up there among the best villains the series has seen. Tetch’s obsessive need to be the most intelligent person in the room, along with his vulnerability makes for a compelling character anytime he is on screen. His mass production of the Tetch Virus was a theme that never went away in season 3 and for that, I’m happy.
4. Theo Gallivan AKA “Azrael”
Theo Gallivan was a Gotham-created character and represented one of the more intense, dark villains on the show. His run as the primary antagonist through the first half of season 2 made that my favorite portion of the entire series (along with another villain that was “no joke”). His cunning plan to take over Wayne Enterprises, along with his sister Tabitha (honorable mention on this list) helped to make the Gallivans some of the best the series has had to offer. Oh, and his second death was one of Gotham’s top ten moments ever.
3. Victor Zsasz
Who would’ve thought that Zsasz would make this list, let alone make it just shy of the top? Zsasz is creepy, disturbing, and sometimes hilarious. His loyalty to Falcone is admirable, and his relationship with Gordon is comical. The best part? That ringtone on his cell phone.
2. Oswald Cobblepot AKA “The Penguin”
Remember how I spoke of Edward Nygma’s gradual ascent to his persona as The Riddler? A similar pace was given to the character of Oswald Cobblepot, and Robin Lord Taylor quickly became one of the best reasons to watch the show. There’s no better Penguin than season 1’s early version. He is the most animated villain on the show and in my opinion, is Gotham’s true star.
1. Jerome Valeska
Was there any doubt? Cameron Monaghan’s performance as Valeska (the unofficial Joker) is one of history’s most legendary takes on the character, who by the way, still has an unclear past. From his facial expressions, to his pure intensity, to his downright maniacal laugh, Monaghan deserves praise not too far off the path of Heath Ledger and Mark Hamill. Yeah, he’s that good. Gotham has this awful habit of bringing back dead villains. You know what? Feel free to bring back Jerome any time you want. The season 2 killing of Jerome had me absolutely stunned, more than any other moment for me in television history. Of course, the series hadn’t begun bringing back baddie after baddie just yet.
So there you have it folks, my top ten Gotham villains. How does your list compare? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me some comments below.
Josiah LeRoy is The Geekiverse’s founder. You can catch him in everything geek – from playing Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, to watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, to drumming as the Penguins himself.
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