When Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan decided to avoid using villains that had appeared in previous Batman films, he didn't have to look far for alternatives. Few superheroes face a better collection of bad guys than Batman, and even with the Joker, Two-Face, Catwoman, and others out of play, Batman has still faced plenty of formidable foes in the 66 years since he cracked the Chemical Syndicate in Detective Comics #27. But he's also faced his share of lame-os who will likely never find their way into films. The A.V. Club took some time to dig out some of the Dark Knight's less remarkable nemeses.
The Penny Plunderer
Appeared in: World's Finest Comics #30 (September/October 1947)
Bio: A man of modest beginnings, Joe Coyne earned pennies peddling newspapers, lost a job for pitching pennies in the office, and began a career in crime by robbing a cash register stuffed with pennies. Coyne learned to embrace the symbol of his failure, however, and he carved out a corner of the underworld by specializing in penny-themed crimes.
Memorable quote: "Here y'are, folks–Pennies from heaven!"
Why he's unlikely to make it to the movies: On one hand, Coyne deserves credit for inventiveness. He not only discovers plenty of penny-centric targets (a collection of antique penny banks, a rare one-cent stamp) but finds novel uses for pennies as well, at one point distracting a crowd with a hail of pennies, at another beaning Batman with a roll of coins. On the other hand, apart from the penny shtick, he's pretty bland, and it strains credulity for Batman to take 13 pages to bring him to justice, much less a full-length feature. (Historical note: Coyne never plagued Batman again, but the giant penny usually seen in the Batcave is a souvenir of their encounter.)
Appeared in: Many stories in the '50s and early '60s
Bio: Less a villain than an annoyance, Bat-Mite is Batman's biggest fan, an imp from another dimension who occasionally popped up to stir up trouble à la Superman's Mr. Mxyzptlk. Usually, this involved some enthusiastically applied interdimensional magic.
Memorable quote: "Boyoboyoboy!"
Why he's unlikely to make it to the movies: A relic of a more lighthearted bat-era, Bat-Mite joined Batwoman, the original Bat-Girl, and Ace The Bat-Hound in the ever-growing Batman family until a 1964 editorial decision opted for a stripped-down back-to-basics approach. Essentially, Bat-Mite is the Great Gazoo to Batman's Fred Flintstone–he's more likely to cast misdirected love spells than solve crimes or capture psychopaths. In the grim-and-gritty approach favored by Nolan and the current crop of Batman writers, he might make for a somewhat, um, difficult fit.
Appeared in: Batman #188 (December 1966)
Bio: Part of the little-noted criminal service industry, The Eraser makes a living erasing evidence of others' crime for a mere 20 percent commission on the job. ("Before taxes," his flyer notes.) Of course, even criminals once-removed from the crimes should take pains to protect their identities, so The Eraser's decision to don a disguise makes sense, even though the eraser-helmet and pencil-aping suit put too fine a point on his gimmick.
Memorable quote: "Everybody laughed at me spending all my time erasing my own mistakes! Now–I'm making a fortune erasing the underworld's! Take him, boys!"
Why he's unlikely to make it to the movies: In our post-C.S.I. world, no one's going to believe in a giant pencil that eliminates forensic evidence.
The Fearsome Foot-Fighters
Appeared in: Detective Comics #372 (February 1968)
Bio: Nationalistic thugs who double as acrobats from the fictional Balkan country of Karonia, The Fearsome Foot-Fighters are masters of savate, a French form of kickboxing. They use their time in Gotham to take down a Karonian rebel intent on overthrowing its pitiless dictator.
Memorable quote: "Police! Hyeee!"
Why they're unlikely to make it to the movies: Unfortunately, the Fearsome Foot-Fighters practice a variation of savate that allows only the use of the lower body. Batman quickly figures out how to beat them: Start punching. A Foot-Fighters movie would barely last through the credits.
Appeared in: Batman #401 (November 1986)
Bio: After first popping up in John Byrne's Superman revamp Man Of Steel, Magpie returned to terrorize Gotham with her highly specialized brand of compulsive thievery. No mere jewel thief, she seeks out jewels named after birds, a commodity Gotham apparently possesses in abundance. Not content simply to take the jewels, however, she replaces them with booby-trapped look-alikes that kill their wearers.
Memorable quote: "You can't take the pretty things away from me, because all the pretty things are mine."
Why she's unlikely to make it to the movies: Magpie's narrow focus and gimmicky approach to crime does fit into the tradition of countless Batman villains. It's her look that really holds her back. Sporting a bizarre three-peaked mohawk, pointy sunglasses, and a dress with shoulders that jut out several feet past her torso, she looks less like a supervillain than like a drag queen offering a loose approximation of mid-'80s Siouxsie Sioux.
Appeared in: Batman #417-420 (March-June 1988)
Bio: A KGB agent gone rogue, The KGBeast travels to Gotham with a hit list including no less than then-President Ronald Reagan (who cameos).
Memorable quote: "Time for us to find out which of us is the best… the best at this game of life and death!"
Why he's unlikely to make it to the movies: The late-period Cold War trappings date the otherwise-gripping Jim Starlin/Jim Aparo story arc, but The KGBeast's chest-baring studs-and-executioner's-mask costume choice really does him in. He looks better equipped for a night with the boys at The Jackhammer than a fight with Gotham's guardian.