Gotham: How The Show's Batman Villains Compare To The Comics

Gotham TV Show Villains

Gotham, FOX’s Batman-prequel cop show, will be entering its third season next month, and after the epic ending of season 2, it’s going to be bringing a lot of new villains along for the ride. So far, Gotham has really been all about the bad guys, so the addition of an entire bus load of monsters is definitely going to be interesting… in fact, Gotham is so in love with their villains that they have even created a few new ones specifically for the show. Particularly notable is Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Fish Mooney, who will return for season 3, although she's not the only new face in town.

Even when sticking to existing comic book characters, the series likes to put their own twist on the familiar faces – and some are more twisted than others! Let's take a look at How The Show's Batman Villains Compare To The Comics.

19 Jason Skolimski/The Ogre

DC Comic Ogre compared to Gotham's Jason Ogre

Gotham’s Ogre is a serial killer whose real name is Jason Skolimski (Milo Ventimiglia). A handsome man, he has murdered multiple women over the years. Each time he kills, he seduces his victim in a bar before bringing her home. Once there, he forces her to stay and act as his ideal partner – cooking, cleaning, and going to bed with him. He keeps this up until she cracks and does something wrong… at which point, he tortures and brutally murders her.

Jason was one of the first villains that the show dealt with, and a major turning point for Barbara Kean. Jason and Barbara met, and for a while it appeared as though she would meet the same end as his other victims. However, he ended up connecting with a darker, less sane side of Jim’s ex – leading to her falling into a form of love with him and killing her parents. He was eventually killed by the GCPD. Although he shares a name with a DC character, the Ogre of the show bears no resemblance to the Ogre of the comics – a man genetically engineered to be super strong, who has only a brief role in the Batman mythology.

18 Tabitha Galavan/Tigress

DC Comics Tigress compared to Gotham's Tabitha Galavan

Although Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas) is officially Gotham’s Tigress, she is one of the show's characters that are furthest from her comic book counterpart. In DC mythology, there have been multiple women who held the Tigress title – none of which are named Tabitha Galavan. Paula Brooks and Artemis Crock (the two most commonly associated with the name) are mother and daughter, and both of whom are accomplished hunters who prefer to use a bow and arrow, and dress in black and gold tiger stripes.

Tabitha, on the other hand, prefers to dress in all black, with her hair in a high ponytail. Her weapon of choice is more often a whip than a crossbow, although we get the feeling she would be comfortable with anything that can inflict pain. A true sadist and sociopath, Tabitha seems impulsive, but she’s less willing to risk her own skin that her brother Theo, who would do anything for the family name.

17 Theo Galavan/Azreal

DC Comics Azreal compared to Gotham's Theo Galavan

In many ways, Theo Galavan (James Frain) is an entirely original creation of the series. The Galavan name does not appear in the Batman comics, although the Order of St. Dumas does. In the series, Galavan is a descendant of the Dumas family, a powerful clan of Gotham in years past, who he believes were betrayed by the Wayne family. He seeks revenge on Bruce for his family’s alleged crimes against the Dumas family, and when he is killed and brought back to life by Dr Strange, Strange uses the Dumas legends to convince Theo that he is Azreal, the angel of death.

In the comics, Azreal is an assassin trained by the Order of St. Dumas from infancy. Their training techniques are brutal (although arguably no less so than Strange’s resurrection of Galavan), but create a merciless and almost-unbeatable warrior. The two stories have several similarities, but Gotham is clearly creating a very different version of Azreal and the Order of St. Dumas for the show, rather than attempting to stick closely to canon.

16 Jack Buchinsky/Electrocutioner

DC Comics Electrocutioner vs Gotham Jack Buchinsky

Like several others on this list, the Electrocutioner name has been used by more than one criminal in the comics, though it usually refers to Lester Buchinsky, who takes up the mantle after the death of his brother (who is unnamed). Initially on the side of good, the Electrocutioner attacks criminals, but it isn’t long before he becomes one himself. He wears a suit that allows him to manipulate electricity to shock or kill his victims, hence his name.

The on-screen version of the character is quite different, although he shares the same last name. In Gotham, the Electrocutioner’s real name is Jack Buchinsky, and beyond that and his connection to electricity, there is little to link the two characters. In the show, Jack is a prisoner at Arkham who was behind a string of violent robberies. While incarcerated, he is attempting to create a human weapon through electric lobotomies, and he uses other patients as his guinea pigs. It is this (and the trail of brain-damaged inmates he leaves behind him) that gains him his name.

15 Matches Malone

DC Comics Matches Malone vs Gotham's version

A minor criminal and arsonist, the Matches Malone of the comic world is better known as the alias that Batman adopts to infiltrate the underworld of Gotham. The original character appears in only a few issues as a fairly low-level criminal who is investigated by Batman – along the way, his brother kills himself, and then Matches makes it look like he followed suit before leaving the city. He later reappears to try and learn who is impersonating him (spoiler: it’s Batman) but ends up getting shot to death in a bar.

This is a far cry from the Matches Malone of Gotham (played by Michael Bowen). The series' character is also criminal, a murderer and an arsonist. However, he plays a vital role in the show as the man who pulled the trigger in the Wayne murders. (In the comics, Joe Chill is MARTHA! and Thomas' killer). The small screen version appears to be something of a mix between the Matches of the comics and Joe Chill, as Matches ends up killing himself after a visit by the young Bruce, who's seeking revenge. This is an echo of Joe Chill’s death, as he shoots himself with the same gun he used to kill the Waynes.

14 Eduardo Flamingo/The Flamingo

DC Comics Eduardo Flamingo vs Gotham version

A talented assassin, Eduardo Flamingo is known for both his penchant for the color pink and his habit of cannibalizing his victims. In the comics, Flamingo was brainwashed into killing his own family by the mob before becoming the psychopath in pink. Similarly, in Gotham, Eduardo (Raul Castillo) is a contract killer working for the Lady, who goes up against Gordon and the GCPD. He retains his insanity and his love of eating the faces of his victims in the series, although he is eventually fired by The Lady because of it.

The biggest difference between the comic and live-action versions of the character is in his outward appearance, of course. In the comics, Flamingo wears head-to-toe pink, even dying his hair either pink or white (depending on the artist). In the series, Flamingo’s look is much more grounded, although he does still have a bright pink streak in his hair as a homage to the original.

13 Bridgit Pike/Firefly

DC comics Firefly vs Gothams Bridgit Pike

Firefly is a title that has been used by two different comic book characters – Garfield Lynns and Ted Carson. Both are pyromaniacs who wear special suits to shield themselves as they set fires in Gotham. Garfield Lynns was a pyrotechnics expert before losing his job and turning to crime to survive. Driven slowly mad, he becomes more and more obsessed with fire, believing that he can see visions in the flames. Carson, meanwhile, had a privileged upbringing but lost it all gambling, turning to a life of crime and professional arson as a result.

Gotham’s Firefly has a third, completely new, backstory. Bridgit Pike is the younger sister of professional arsonists, and her older brothers treated her badly. After being burned on a job she builds herself a suit for protection, but quickly starts to lose control as she gets a taste of power — using a flamethrower to kill those who get in her way. Although she was presumed killed, Hugo Strange brought her back to life as Firefly, giving her a new, better suit and flamethrower, and pitting her against her friend, Selina Kyle.

12 Harvey Dent/Two Face

DC comics Two-Face vs Gotham's Harvey Dent

In the comics, Harvey Dent is better known as the villainous Two-Face, an insane criminal obsessed with duality thanks in no small part to his horribly scarred face. However, before he was Two-Face, Harvey Dent was the District Attorney of Gotham, fighting for justice alongside Batman and Jim Gordon until he was disfigured in a courtroom attack.

In Gotham, Harvey (Nicholas D’Agosto) has yet to be attacked, and is still an earnest young lawyer attempting to do the right thing. He has attempted to help Jim in the past, but he is also not willing to stand up to the way that things are done in Gotham. He does, however, have a darker side – he has been revealed to have a passionate hatred for the corrupt and the criminal element, far more so than any sane person would expect from someone in his position. His outbursts and temper are clear foreshadowing to a future time when he will snap and become the Two-Face of the comics.

11 Francis Dulmacher/The Dollmaker

DC Comic's Dollmaker vs Gotham's Francis Dulmacher

The Dollmaker, while not a particularly longstanding villain in the Batman mythos, is definitely one of the creepier bad guys in Gotham. In the comics, his real name is Barton Mathis. As a child, Barton was taken out on “hunting trips” where his family would murder humans and cannibalize their bodies. As an adult, he is known for making realistic “dolls” out of the body parts of his victims.

This grisly killer is brought to life in Gotham by Colm Feore as Francis Dulmacher. His villainy is two-pronged: he abducts people in order to sell their parts to rich customers in need of organ donors, and he uses the “leftovers” for horrifying experiments. We encountered Dulmacher on an island facility when Fish Mooney fell into his clutches, although she was able to impress him and orchestrate an escape – he was left alive, though, so he is sure to return in the future. Other than the name, the comic and live-action versions are very similar. The Gotham version seems much better organized, and more capable of convincing the world that he is sane. And unlike his comic book inspiration, he doesn’t wear a mask made of human skin, which wouldn't help with the 'convincing other people he can be trusted' bit.

10 Victor Zsasz

DC Comics vs Gotham Victor Zsasz

Victor Zsasz is a psychotic hit man who thoroughly enjoys killing, and he carves a mark into his skin for every person that he kills. In both the comics and the show, Zsasz is essentially the same character. Brutal, intelligent, utterly ruthless and incredibly talented at killing, he is a hit man to be terrified of. In Gotham, Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan) originally worked for Falcone before going over to Penguin as the young villains gained power. He has met the Penguin in the comics, as well – although there, Penguin was instrumental in turning Zsasz from a spoiled rich boy into a cold-blooded killer, after winning everything Zsasz owned in a game of cards.

It’s a minor difference between the show and the comics, and other than that, Zsasz is a very faithful adaptation. His appearance is also different to the original comic Zsasz, who was blonde, although later comic versions were also bald (like he is in the show).

9 Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze

DC Comics vs Gotham Victor Fries Mr Freeze

Mr. Freeze is often a somewhat relatable villain – albeit a particularly far-fetched one. In the comics, Victor Fries is a brilliant scientist who goes off the rails when his wife, Nora, becomes terminally ill. Attempting to find a way to save her using cryo technology, he starts to steal tech from the company he is working for – a big mistake, as it turns out, as the owner is not a forgiving man. When he sends henchmen to kill Fries for his theft, a lab accident changes him, making it impossible for him to survive in normal temperatures. Fries then creates a diamond-powered cryo suit and a freeze ray, and continues to try and save his wife (usually through theft, which brings him up against Batman).

In Gotham, Fries (Nathan Darrow) has the same motivations as his comic counterpart – he only wants to save his sick wife. However, rather than simple theft, Fries is also killing people as he experiments to try to find a successful way to freeze and reanimate a living being. When Nora finds out, she works with the police to capture him, and in despair he tries to kill himself with freezing chemicals. In a significant departure from the books, he is then reanimated by Hugo Strange, who builds him the cryo-suit (to deal with some lingering effects of his chemically-induced death) and freeze gun and puts him to work.

8 Hugo Strange

DC Comics vs Gotham Dr Hugo Strange

Hugo Strange appeared as a fully-fledged villain in the DC comics, an unhinged psychologist and/or scientist (depending on the era) who is obsessed with defeating Batman. In the Post-Crisis universe, Strange is a psychiatrist with outlandish ideas about genetics and humanity, who has been known to experiment on living humans. In particular, he would obtain inmates of Arkham to use as test subjects, creating a small army of Monster Men.

Gotham’s Dr Strange (BD Wong) is one of the most accurate adaptations in the series. Physically, he is near-identical, a bald man with round, wire rimmed glasses and a short stature. Employed as the director of Arkham, Strange is able to use the inmates as experiments in a secret lab in the facility – with a special emphasis on resurrection. There are some differences between Gotham’s version and the one in the comics, though. The show’s Dr Strange is not funded by Maroni, but by the Court of Owls. He is also connected to the Waynes, and was revealed to be the mastermind behind the murder of Bruce’s parents – a huge change from the comics.

7 Sal Maroni

DC Comics vs Gotham Sal Maroni

In the comics, Sal Maroni is closely connected to Harvey Dent, as he is the man who splashed acid on Dent’s face in the courtroom (sparking his descent into madness and criminal activities). Outside of this event, he is not a major character in the city of Gotham. A crime boss, a rival to Carmine Falcone, and recently a patron to Doctor Strange and his terrible experiments... all of his stories bring him back to facing Harvey Dent in a courtroom.

In the series, however, it will not be Maroni (David Zayas) who attacks the Gotham DA in a future storyline. Instead, Maroni was a major player in the crime family wars of season 1, plotting to bring Falcone down. In many respects, he was an accurate adaptation, with a similar appearance and history, and a similar place in Gotham’s underworld. However, by the end of the first season, Maroni was shot and killed by Fish Mooney – preventing him from ever facing off with Dent or bankrolling Dr. Strange’s experiments in future.

6 Carmine Falcone

DC Comics vs Gotham Carmine Falcone

The biggest mob boss in town at the start of the show, Carmine Falcone (John Doman) is a near perfect live-action version of his comic-book self (minus the tiny mustache). Both characters are mob bosses in Gotham, and both are feuding with the rival Maroni crime family. Both are older men who have been in the game a long time and have deep connections in the criminal underworld of Gotham. Finally, both are intimately connected to the corruption in the Gotham City Police Department – in the series, it is Falcone who essentially runs the department to start with, and who forces Jim Gordon to execute Penguin to prove that he will get on board with the way that things are done.

The only huge difference between the two versions of Falcone lies in the timing. In the comics, Falcone was at the height of his power when Bruce Wayne returned to Gotham as Batman, and became one of the Bat’s first major targets. In the show, Falcone announces his retirement at the end of the first season, long before Bruce even leaves to begin his training. He could always return to the fold later on, though.

5 Ivy Pepper/Poison Ivy

DC Comics Poison Ivy vs Gotham Ivy Pepper

One of the most obvious differences between Poison Ivy in the comics and the show is her name – the original Poison Ivy’s real name is Pamela Isley. A passionate and brilliant botanist, Isley should have died when she was exposed to a plant-based toxin, but instead she survived and gained various plant-based powers, becoming Poison Ivy. As a child, she was raised by wealthy but distant parents, and was very shy and introverted – something that changed when she became a supervillain.

In the show, Ivy Pepper (Clare Foley) is a young child, the daughter of Mario Pepper – the man framed for the Wayne murders. Rather than coming from a wealthy family, the Peppers were very poor, and after Mario is killed by the cops, her mother commits suicide and Pepper ends up on the streets. Although this new backstory is a far cry from her comic origins, there are other similarities between the characters. Ivy has been shown to have an affinity with plants, and has Poison Ivy’s trademark fair skin and red hair. She has a similarly introverted personality, too. With the role being taken over by the much older Maggie Geha, we are sure to see some significant character development for Ivy in the upcoming season.

4 Selina Kyle/Catwoman

DC Comics Catwoman vs Gotham Selina Kyle

One of the biggest names in Batman villains will always be Catwoman, and we’re seeing a fantastic take on the character in Gotham so far. Although Selina Kyle has had a few different backstories in the comics (as have most long-running characters), she is generally accepted to have been raised in Gotham. After an unhappy childhood with an abusive family, she was orphaned and ended up living on the streets (although her sister, Maggie, went to an orphanage). Selina became a thief and a prostitute, doing whatever it took to survive. She would eventually go on to become a costumed villain after a run-in with Batman, and developed an on-again, off-again romance with the Dark Knight.

In the series, Selina (Camren Bicondova) is still very young, but she is already a strong gymnast and a great thief, living on the streets of Gotham. We don’t know much about her life prior to the events of the show, as she never talks about it (so it’s fair to say that they weren’t happy), or about the sister who may show up somewhere down the line (in the books, Maggie became a nun). She does wear the goggles that Catwoman sometimes has on in the books, and her relationship with Bruce is already mirroring their comic book romance – with times of warmth and happiness, times where Selina backs away, and even a period of jealousy when Bruce met Silver St. Cloud.

3 Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin

DC Comics Penguin vs Gotham's Oswald Cobblepot

Robin Lord Taylor’s version of the Penguin is a far cry from the comic book version, especially when it comes to outward appearance. Classic Penguin is short and fat, with a long beaky nose and a penchant for monocles. Gotham’s penguin does have quite the prominent nose (it would be near-impossible to get one that matches the comics completely without prosthetics), but he is otherwise the polar opposite of the original Oswald. Tall and thin, almost to the point of gangly, Robin Lord Taylor was a confusing casting choice for fans at the start.

Some of Oswald’s backstory and persona has also been altered – he still has a deeply unhealthy relationship with his mother, but in the series, he didn’t grow up knowing his father. (In the comics, his father was abusive, but around.) Penguin is also much richer in the comics, although it is very possible that he will grow into wealth as the show progresses – he as certainly accrued a significant amount of power so far. At the core, both characters are power-hungry men, sick of being picked on, but beyond that there is little the same about them.

2 Ed Nygma/Riddler

DC Comics Riddler vs Gotham's Ed Nygma

In such a realism-heavy series, we didn’t expect to see Riddler’s various green costumes make an appearance – although it would be nice to see some green in his clothing as he grows into his villainous persona. Beyond that, Gotham does a lot to flesh out Riddler’s backstory. In the comics, Edward Nigma took to puzzling at a young age, and turned his love of riddles into a love of crime out of sheer boredom with the working world. In Gotham, however, Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) started out using his brilliant mind to help the GCPD, working as a forensic scientist. His descent into the criminal underworld is a result of a mental breakdown – we see Ed becoming increasingly unhinged, as his sweet awkward side starts to lose out to a more calculating, evil one. He’s also given a tragic romantic backstory with the lovely Kristen Kringle, another thing missing from the comics.

Nygma is still just starting out on his journey to becoming a criminal mastermind, so we may start to see more elements of his personality coming through from the comics, but for now, it’s a whole new (and fascinating) backstory for the Riddler.

1 Jerome Valeska/The Joker

DC Comics Joker vs Gotham's Jerome

Gotham has toyed with the character of the Joker since season 1, providing us with multiple possible Joker-esque characters, most notably a stand-up comedian at Fish Mooney’s club, and Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan). Jerome first appeared as the psychotic child of a circus performer who murdered his mother (and nearly got away with it). He was finally found out, and broke into maniacal laughter before being carted off to Arkham – our first hints that this could be a future Joker. Later, he was broken out of Arkham by the Galavans, and put to work terrorizing Gotham as the leader of the Maniax. Again, his laugh became a signature for him, along with his clear insanity and enjoyment when killing. Jerome became more and more Joker-esque, until he was publicly killed by Theo (who did it to make himself look like a hero). Fans were saddened at the loss of this potential Joker, but we saw copycats beginning to appear across the city, a legacy of madness and violence. Finally, Jerome was teased to return in season 3, as we hear his laugh echo out as the monsters escape. It is largely accepted that Jerome will be the Joker of Gotham, but it is difficult to compare him to the Joker of the comics, as the Joker’s origin is so shrouded in mystery. We do know that Jerome has the same creepy, distinctive laugh, the same joy in violence and mayhem, and the same hatred for authority that the Clown Prince of Crime does, and we can’t wait to see where Monaghan takes it from here.


Who's your favorite Gotham baddie? Which of these villains need to veer closer to their comic roots? Let us know in the comments.

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