Which is worse, fighting a villain who believes in nothing (the Joker), or one who’s not only an ideologue, but a demagogue? Bane (Tom Hardy in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises) makes a case for the latter. He’s a terrorist, he’s a Maoist revolutionary, and he’s a weirdly charismatic leader. (He also has a streak of brutal sadism and that creepy, gas-dispensing breathing mask, both of which make him seem like a cousin to Blue Velvet baddie Frank Booth, or maybe even Darth Vader..) Add to that a sense of personal animus against Batman, along with alliances with other Bat-foes going all the way back to Ra’s al Ghul.
And did we mention that he’s also ridiculously strong? In the comics, Bane was known as the only villain to have “broken the Bat,” and an iconic moment from the books when Bane snaps Batman’s spine over his knee is recreated in the film. Even without putting Batman on the disabled list, this is the sort of bad guy who can make an aging superhero seriously contemplate taking early retirement.