5. Poison Ivy
Forget Uma Thurman’s OTT turn in Batman & Robin, BTAS manages to give the often two-dimensional femme fatale Poison Ivy some depth. For example, the episode ‘House & Garden’ – in which Ivy mourns the normal family life she can never have due to her plant powers and, you know, tendency to hate mankind. Ivy is also part of a great double act and quite touching friendship with Harley Quinn.
The great thing about BTAS‘s take on Two-Face is that we got to know Harvey Dent before the tragic accident that turns him insane happened a few episodes in. Better than the movie versions with their limited runtimes, this allows the tragedy of this good man turned bad to come through. The animation and growling voice from Richard Moll also combine to make a terrific Two-Face.
3. Mr Freeze
It was a stroke of genius from the BTAS team to take the second-tier gimmicky villain Mr Freeze and transform him a tragic figure, cursed with cold blood and an inability to feel – yet still his every action was driven by his love for his wife, Nora, who he wished to cure of her disease. It’s a shame Arnold Schwarzenegger’s version ended up being more two-dimensional than the cartoon character.
2. The Joker
Mark Hamill just is The Joker! There’s no doubt about it. Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and presumably Jared Leto gave terrific performances, but Hamill portrays the character from the comics pitch-perfectly as he manages to play both sides of the character. One minute he’s full of bad puns and performing harmless crimes, the next he’s murdering people with his Joker toxin and abusing his doting girlfriend Harley.
1. Harley Quinn
The biggest contribution BTAS made to the Batman mythos, however, is Harley Quinn. Withan iconic voice and outfit, Harley is memorable enough on the surface but the subtext of the character shows just how mature the series could be. The way she repeatedly comes back to her puddin’ despite his terrible treatment is an effective and believable portrayal of an abusive relationship that just happens to take place in an animated series. I really hope the character’s big-screen debut in next month’s Suicide Squad does her justice.
Commiserations to the likes of The Penguin, Catwoman, Riddler and Bane for not making this list. I always felt that BTAS spent less time with these big-hitters to give lesser-known foes their due.