The votes are in and the people believe in Harvey Dent. That's right. Two-Face has defeated Oswald "The Penguin" Cobblepot (with 52% of the vote) and is officially the Second Best Batman Villain.
The bracket was actually inspired by a poster from The Lego Batman Movie.
Looking at the poster it is clear who the big dog is in terms of villains. Joker is front and center. But then the question arose: who is number two? Batman runs a deep bad guy bench and a lot of them are seemingly equal in terms of status.
And it's easy to forget but this isn't the norm. Most superheroes have an arch enemy and then one or two others who aren't quite the archenemy but would step in should the arch fail to fulfill his duties. Spidey fights Goblin and then either Octopus or Venom. Flash has Reverse Flash and Captain Cold. (Feel free to argue about the order. I stand with Snart.) Superman usually tangos with Luthor and in his absence will settle for Zod or Darkseid.
And with Batman, it's Joker...and then who? Two-Face and Bruce have history. Catwoman, Penguin, and Clayface have been there since the beginning. Bane broke the Bat's back. Harley is Joker's number two. Freeze has had a ton of momentum since A Frozen Heart. Ra's trained the Detective. Talia did some pretty questionable things in the 80's that led to the worst Robin besides Stephanie. Riddler is very nearly Batman's intellectual equal. And Killer Croc threw a rock at him.
It was a big rock.
So the Second Best Batman Villain bracket was born. We took fifteen of Batman's most historic rogues and Hush (just kidding, Hush is fine) and seeded them based on their year of first appearance. Then we sent the bracket out to the people for voting.
The first round was a B-Lister bloodbath. Every match was a blow-out. That is, every match besides the highly contested Ra's al Ghul vs Two-Face. In the end, Dent managed to sneak by with 59% of the vote. Ra's went down with Talia, Hugo Strange, Hush, Black Mask, Deadshot, Poison Ivy, and Clayface.
Round two proved to be far more interesting. Freeze trounced Catwoman, which makes sense considering Catwoman's traditionally more of an anti-hero than pure villain. Penguin just barely beat Scarecrow. Riddler took down Bane with a shocking 69% of the vote. And Two-Face took the hammer to Harley. Since Bane and Harley were the two "youngest" villains left, we learned that the voters wanted a character with 50+ years of history. (Freeze debuted in 1959, making him the youngest survivor.)
They say the best villains are a reflection of some part of the heroes who oppose them and could make the case that the four remaining competitors all represent the most important parts of Batman's identity. Two-Face is obsessed with justice. Mr Freeze suffered a tragic loss. Penguin is the child of extremely wealthy socialites. Riddler is incredibly intelligent. What is Batman but a genius who is obsessed with dispensing justice because of the death of his wealthy parents who Killer Croc threw a rock at that one time?
The Final Four told us even more about what people like in a Bat-villain. Penguin and Two-Face advanced proving that date of debut was still quote a factor. The voters also signaled that the bank robbing, Tommy-gun wielding, mafiaesque element of both characters proved to be valuable. Afterall, Batman started his crusade against crime by taking on Gotham's mobsters. It isn't a surprise that the villains who represent that contingent would have a special place in Batman's rogues gallery.
Penguin and Two-Face are also the two villains most tied to Gotham City. The Cobblepots were a wealthy member of the Gotham high society like the Waynes and Dent was the youngest District Attorney in Gotham history, out to dispense justice inside the legal system until his tragic aciding. Since Gotham is such a paramount part of the Dark Knight's identity, it is fitting that the final villains were the two tied closest to it.
And in the end, Two Face came out on top. He has it all. Two-Face has been in the game for 76 years. He is a fixture in Gotham. Harvey Dent worked closely with Batman before becoming a villain. He shares the same driving obsession with justice and the law as Batman. And perhaps most importantly, because Batman failed to protect Harvey from being turned into Two-Face, he feels guilty and that guilt adds a complexity to their relationship that Batman shares with few others.
Thank you everyone that voted. You can check out the whole bracket on our Challonge page. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and twitter for other updates and subscribe to the Mad Bracket Status podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud. You can listen to the most recent episode here where discuss the results of the final match up after spending waaaaaaaay too much time talking about the Justice League trailer.
Also look out for Gotham City Detective/Commissioner James Gordon in our next bracket, The Top Cop. We will be starting the voting for the first round on Monday, March 3rd.