The Top 5 Real-Life Versions of Batman Villains

With Christopher Nolan's hyper-realistic depiction of the Batman Universe, we can't help but remember that certain villains in the Batman mythos bear a surprising similarity to certain real-life criminals. Below are some examples - and they're pretty good. After all, would you ever expect a real-life Mr. Freeze? Not likely. Other villains - like Catwoman - would be a bit more believable, but either way, you wouldn't expect everyday people to commit ridiculous offenses, nonetheless replicating a fictional character, right? Well, stranger things have happened.

This list takes a look at all the real-life Batman villains, or at least the wannabes. 


  • Batman Villain: The Penguin

    Modus Operandi: Though non-comic-fans may only know Penguin as the sewer-dwelling psychopath from Tim Burton's second film, the Penguin as originally conceived is a much classier brand of villain. Everything from the monocle to his weaponized umbrella scream "I'm-so rich-I-laugh-in-the-face-of-practicality," meaning that Penguin is probably more similar to Batman than he is his fellow criminals.

    Whether holding up a bank or riding a dinosaur, Penguin is sure to find a way to use his umbrella for pretty much anything.

    The Real Life Villain: An Unknown KGB Assassin

    What Happened?

    In 1978, Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassinated by a KGB operative in London using an umbrella specially modified to fire a poisoned dart. After a little bit of thought, it doesn't actually seem that weird of a weapon to choose. After all, it rains a lot in London, and who wants to carry around both an umbrella and a blowgun full of Sarin? A poison-shooting umbrella is pretty much the Smart-Phone of international spy-work.

    The biggest difference between the KGB hitman and Penguin is that the real-life version was never caught. After 30 years of investigation, police are still on the case - but since London is a little out of Batman's jurisdiction, we don't think it's likely they'll make much progress.

  • Batman Villain: Mr. Freeze

    Modus Operandi: "Ice" you might have guessed, Mr. Freeze has a "cool" theme that's sure not to leave you "cold" - his usual strategy is to strike victims with a cryogenic freeze ray. Presumably in utter agony. He also makes a lot of cheesy puns.

    Before becoming a villain, Mr. Freeze (real name "Victor Fries," whose last name also sounds similar to the word for "very cold") was involved in an industrial accident that left him unable to survive outside of his cryo-suit, making him one of the few Batman villains to suffer from a crippling disability.

    The Real Life Villain: Richard "Iceman" Kuklinski 

    What Happened?

    As a contract hitman working for the Decavalcante family in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, "Iceman" practiced his techniques by first targeting homeless people, eventually perfecting a strategy in which he would freeze the corpses of his victims for a length of time before thawing them out and disposing of the body - thereby misleading the authorities as to the time of death.

  • Batman Villain: Harvey 'Two-Face' Dent

    Batman Villain: Harvey 'Two-Face' Dent
    Photo: DC Comics

    Modus Operandi: As you can tell, Dent has a pretty noticeable defining trait - and it isn't his personality. After being scarred by an acid attack in the courtroom (or having his face set on fire in an explosion, or whatever), "Two-Face" earned the horrific scarring that separated his face and personality into two distinct halves: the reasonable Harvey Dent and the psychopathic Two-Face.

    Real Life Villain: Juan "Two-Face" Rivera-Velez

    What Happened?
    This "Two-Face" (yes, that's his real nickname) was an enforcer for the Morales family in Camden, New Jersey. In 2010, Rivera-Velez was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for dispatching a number of people for the family.

    Of course, Rivera-Velez's scars came from a vehicular collision, not a court-room acid incident. 

  • Batman Villain: The Riddler

    Modus Operandi: Perps who obsessively leave riddles (or clues) at the scenes of their crimes. No one can ever figure these clues out except Batman (and anyone reading the comic who's more than 8 years old).

    Real Life Villain: Rodney Alcala

    What Happened? 

    Frankly, there've been a few infamous offenders who have adopted the Riddler's brilliant strategy - the most famous of which are Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac, who both sent multiple messages to the police daring them to catch them. Unlike their comic book counterparts, Jack and Zodiac were never caught, and they were more refined and brutal rather than silly and campy.

    So instead of talking about them, let's talk about Rodney Alcala: the Dating Game Killer, so named because he won a televised game show in the middle of his horrendous spree. Yes, we're serious. Over the course of the show, he left numerous "riddles" and "clues." The choice quotes are: "The best time is at night... because that's the only time there is," and "I'm called the banana, and I look really good. Peel me!"

    And in case that wasn't enough, the guy actually won the competition, but Cheryl Bradshaw (the bachelorette) refused to go on a date with him because he was too "creepy." The other contestants reported that he freaked people out, and at that point, he had already slain at least one person.

  • Batman Villain: Catwoman

    Batman Villain: Catwoman
    Photo: DC Comics

    Modus Operandi: Springing from creator Bob Kane's belief that "cats are as hard to understand, they are erratic, as women are," Catwoman is a cat burglar who dresses like a cat. She pockets stuff, and she's sexy enough to where male writers get anxious if they don't mention how sexy she is every single time they bring her up.

    Real Life Villain: "Catwoman," seriously!

    What Happened?

    After a burglar made off with $66 from a high end shoe store in New York City, this composite sketch made her something of an Internet celebrity.