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DID YOU READ

The top 5 Batman villains

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In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman faces an incredibly brutal villain named Bane, a behemoth well known to readers of the graphic novel. “He’s a big dude who’s incredibly clinical, in the fact that he has a result-based and -oriented fighting style,” actor Tom Hardy said of Bane, the character he plays, in Empire. “It’s not about fighting. It’s about carnage. The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed; it’s nasty. Anything from small-joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. He is a terrorist in mentality as well as brutal action.”

We’re so there. But all this talk of bone-crunching got me to wondering about Batman’s enemies. Some, quite frankly, are ridiculous (Riddler?), unbecoming of the world’s greatest detective. Almost all of Batman’s villains from that campy 60s TV show – Egghead, King Tut – were jokes. But as the times have gone darker, so has Batman. Batman in the 21st century, within the context of our “War on Terror” is far darker than he has ever been, even in the gritty 70s. His enemies, clearly, have also shifted towards the darker end of the spectrum. Here are five of Batman’s greatest villains:


5. Zsasz

Gotham is an impossibly creepy urban zone, the dark mirror of any glistening metropolis. So the fictional “Gotham City” needs a Batman to patrol the night, mediating the Darwinian chaos. The Bat, who rules the night in Gotham, seems to attract a larger than average share of the planet’s psychopaths, each one creepier than the last. Serial killer Victor Zsasz is definitely one of the creepiest of Batman’s enemies.

Zsasz, who keeps a running tally of all of his victims in the form of self-inflicted knife scars all over his body, has a theory about the Batman. Being something of a connoisseur of all-things-predatory himself, Zsasz believes that Batman is a super-predator, a predator that preys only on other predators a la Dexter. Zsasz believes that there is only a thin line that separates Batman from criminals like himself, namely the sanction of the police and, of course, the choice of one’s “victims.” Bradley Cooper, with those reptilian eyes, would make an excellent “Zsasz (it is not too late!).”


4. Killer Croc

The luckless Waylon Jones has a taste for supple human flesh. He is one of the many cannibals inhabiting Gotham City. A skin mutation has left Waylon, a former gator wrestler, with a reptilian appearance as well as superhuman strength and a near bulletproof hide. Jones went mad early in life (can you blame him?), turning to criminal pursuits and the art of serial killing with a ferocious zeal. It is unfortunate that we will never see what Christopher Nolan makes of Killer Croc, who would work perfectly in a tentpole feature as a nocturnal sewer inhabiting man-reptile.


3. The Joker

Joker’s fictional body count is easily in the high five figures. Batman’s arch-enemy, the Clown Prince of Crime, has taken a terrible personal toll on Batman, killing – or so we thought, at least — the second Robin, Jason Todd, and crippling Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, in front of her father, Commissioner Gordon.

Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker was as close to the comic book character as has ever been done. Heath represented anarchy, mindless violence, cruelty for the sake of cruelty, a real force in today’s world. It was once posited that the Joker might be some sort of biological mutation, a Darwinian glimpse into a possible future of mankind should he manage to thrive. Let’s hope not.


2. Ra’s Al Ghul

If the Joker represents mindless anarchy, Ra’s Al Ghul is cold, calculating efficiency. Because he is an immortal who has lived for thousands of generations with the alchemy of his Lazarus Pit, Ra’s Al Ghul – the Demon’s head – plans his capers years, sometimes decades, in advance. His plans usually involve mega deaths, the thinning of the world’s population in order to achieve some sort of self-perceived ecological balance. Ra’s is something of an eco-terrorist, a radical leftist zealot who has killed probably tens of thousands in pursuit of what he thinks is right. He is a rare treat for Batman readers, coming out from under the rocks every few years or so with another apocalyptic plan – only to be thwarted by the Bat. Al-Ghul is also internationally based, a global threat from outside of Gotham. It takes Batman and his allies all their skills to defeat al Ghul – and always only with the slimmest of margins.


1. Bane

Who else could be Batman’s top enemy? A single-minded superhuman military strategist weighing over 300 pounds – most of it in his neck and arms — Bane is one of the ferocious comic book villains of all time. Joel Schumacher’s mindless, semi-campy Bane was such a profound disappointment to batfans. Christopher Nolan, it would appear from the trailers, knows precisely what to do with Bane, portraying him as something of a military strategist on par with the Duke of Wellington and Alexander the Great. Bane is the only supervillain who defeated Batman cleanly, in Wayne Manor, breaking him – quite literally – over his knee during the Knightfall story arc. After wearing him out by freeing all of his twisted psychopathic enemies out of the dark Arkham Asylum, Bane stalked Batman, ultimately fighting a man at the end of his rope. Cracking Bruce Wayne’s back, Bane then took control of Gotham City.

Who are your favorite Batman villains? Comment below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.