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Every Batman villain is either a Michigan or an Ohio State

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As in the Big Ten, everything in Gotham can be reduced to either saying you’re better than someone or throwing a full can of beer at them

ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images. Banner Society Illustration.

Big Ten football returns to a society under siege while systems of governance can do little to stem suffering or uncertainty. Since it’s also cold in the Big Ten and no one wants to visit, congrats! You’re Gotham City.

It makes sense in a sort-of DC Comics way Gotham is the B1G. Metropolis is either the Big 12 or SEC; attractive for relocation and filled with preachy overachievers boasting unfair alien powers. The Green Lantern’s Coast City is, of course, the Pac-12: a west coast town so disinterested in the game that its hero has to go to space to find someone who cares enough to hate him.

I have no idea what the ACC is. Feigned humility and overcoming 7-6 sounds like a “realistic, relatable” Marvel backstory to me.

Everything in the Big Ten is an Ohio State or a Michigan. This is a fact, please do not argue. I am an expert on this despite having no investment or interest in this area of the United States. The last time I was in Ohio I saw a drug task force shut down a Wendy’s. The last time I was in Michigan it was with a camera crew in the basement of an Insane Clown Posse wrestling show in a Dearborn honky tonk. This is not a joke. I told you I’m an expert.

Accordingly, every villain in Gotham is a Michigan or an Ohio State. Who does this make Batman? I’m not sure. Does it matter? Nah. But Jim Delany is definitely a grizzled, emotionally broken Jim Gordon.

Scarecrow: Ohio State

He attained a ridiculous amount of doctorates just to perfect a homebrewing technique for recreational psychotropics. Scarecrow’s also incapable of transitioning out of the limited aspirational scope of an Appalachian mindset: He dresses like a farmer and can’t vision board a more nuanced life goal than “get everyone fucked up.” Almost certainly lives closer to the West Virginia line than Columbus. Would be a far better (or at least more sympathetic) author of “Hillbilly Elegy.”

Two-Face: Michigan

A former district attorney that becomes a foaming maniac anytime someone forces him to confront the reality that life cannot be reduced to the binary metric of right and wrong. Incapable of reconciling the context necessary to be honest about the fallacy of fairness. To review: Always overdressed, has a law degree, and part of him can’t admit everyone cheats, so he is almost certainly a Michigan blogger.

Killer Croc: Ohio State

He’s every Buckeye fan living in Florida: Squats in various buildings and structures for months at a time, violent tendencies preclude any steady employment higher than being the muscle for another villain’s plan, mood swings akin to steroid abuse and spends too much time outdoors despite a skin condition. Also, what are humanoid crocodile scales if not the most tribal armband tattoos possible?

Calendar Man: Michigan

Literally obsessed with the importance of tradition.

Black Mask: Ohio State

He’s irrelevant, wears a white suit everywhere and does nothing more than annoy the principal characters involved for attention.

The Penguin: Michigan

A less athletic, older version of Black Mask less concerned with accomplishing anything than with 1. Managing his inherited wealth and 2. Telling you why he’s different/better than all the other boring, stock “rich gangster” characters.

The Phantasm: Michigan

Really promising idea that hasn’t been nationally relevant since the mid-’90s, likely too smart and progressive for the medium (spoiler: it’s the Dana Delany character!), a classic looking outfit, and she first appeared in a project Warner Bros. had no faith in so they dumped it at the end of their release schedule where it failed to perform. And we all know how every year ends in Ann Arbor!

Riddler: Ohio State

Ahhhh you thought Edward Nigma would be a Michigan Man, didn’t you? Except that no actual genius spends the entirety of their life’s work proving that status to a population who didn’t care — or ask — in the first place. Declaring war on someone (the SEC) by demanding their attention with statements about actually being their equal, well, that’s a Buckeye’s December tradition.

Bane: Michigan

Another curve, I know. He certainly looks the aggro part for Colubmus, but he comes from an emotionally repressed background, is obsessed with status, can’t collaborate and credits the development of his sociopathic beliefs in meritocracy and superiority to “the institution.” In his case that was being born and raised in Santa Prisca, a prison in Latin America. One can assume the hopeless conditions of that fictional facility are on par with Ann Arbor in February, except one elects to attend Michigan. Neither seem to be able to shut up about it.


Let’s take a knee here for a second and be honest: This character and the idolatry around it has gone way too far. That movie was literally “The Joker” in name only, and, aside from a handful of cursory proper nouns taped into the script, had nothing to do with the character, world, etc., of Batman or the DC Universe. And don’t give me that “inspired by” shit when the marketing was aimed straight at fanboys horny for credibility to recognize their hobby.

And what was the point of that piece of shit anyway? It wasn’t money. Almost any comic movie can make what Joker made at the box office. “Suicide Squad” made money, y’all. If you’re gonna do something as unheeded and irresponsibly as spitshining Incels into “Breaking Bad” characters for the net gain of Oscar buzz, why would DC attach their name? It is amazing how easily you can piss on a cultural third rail if you’ve got the blessing of awards show media. Good Lord.

Anyway, I’m completely sick of The Joker and his unyielding reinvention and lazy success, and I think his branding borders on dangerous, especially because it can lure young people to a bad place. The effectiveness of this is as powerful as it is frightening. Also he would definitely look the other way if large quantities of sex toys were sent to his office.

He’s Ohio State as fuck.