Fox is ramping up the villains of Gotham with the inclusion of one of the oldest recurring antagonists from the Batman comics: Hugo Strange. And it’s not like Strange will be a once-and-done villain, the way that many of the episodic criminals made from whole cloth in the first season happened to be; you don’t get an actor of BD Wong’s talent to show up for an hour and then never see him again. No, like Nathan Darrow’s recent addition to the cast as Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze, and Robin Lord Taylor’s reigning role as uber villain Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin, Wong’s Strange is here to stay.
But other than the fact that Strange looks to be an integral part of Gotham’s “Wrath of the Villains” arc, viewing audiences who lack a comic book background might be confused as to why the man who played the mild-mannered scientist in the Jurassic Park movies is now a menacing maniac, albeit one with a fantastic fashion sense. Once you’ve read through our handy guide to Hugo Strange, I think you’ll understand why he’s one of Batman’s greatest adversaries.
Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Hugo Strange made his first appearance in “Detective Comics” #36 in 1940. At this point, Batman himself had been around in comic book form for less than a year, so Hugo Strange really is one of the Caped Crusader’s most enduring antagonists, one who shows up earlier than Catwoman and The Joker. He’s also the first enemy to deduce the Batman’s secret identity.
While it might not seem that difficult to connect the dots between Batman and Bruce Wayne as a comic book reader, the bargain basement thugs and top-tier villains alike have had a hard time making that logical leap. Not so for Strange. The character has had a big brain since the earliest days, starting out as a scientist who used a weather machine to generate dense fog as a mask for his gang’s bank robberies. The next time the Batman clashed with Strange, the scientist had turned his attention to human experimentation, creating 15-foot-tall hulking monsters out of asylum patients by treating them with growth hormones and outfitting them in bulletproof clothing. Strange has even taken a page out of the Scarecrow’s book (or vice versa) when he spread a fear-inducing powder across Gotham. (An Earth-Two version finds Strange paralyzed and then physically deformed when an attempt to surgically repair his body goes awry; he soon commits suicide…)
Despite apparently dying a number of times in earlier issues, Strange is re-introduced Post-“Crisis” as a psychiatrist tasked with helping the Gotham police in their mission to apprehend Batman. This is where Strange’s brilliance begins to exist on the same level as his devious behavior, making him more than just a mad scientist. His intellect makes him a mental match for Batman, but since he’s relatively less shackled by the psychoses that afflict villains like the Joker, Strange becomes even more dangerous. Given an origin as a poor orphan who manages to put himself through college (earning a degree in psychiatry but also catching heat for developing twisted genetic engineering theories), Strange’s story can be seen as an alternate path that a young Bruce Wayne might have walked. Having become obsessed with Batman, taken an interest in creating “Monster Men”, and teamed up with a variety of villains over the years (including the Scarecrow), Hugo Strange is certainly one of the more colorful rogues in Batman’s gallery. Let’s see how Gotham handles the character on these upcoming episodes.
Check out a mess of videos teasing Strange’s arrival below:
For more on Gotham, be sure to check out our recent coverage below, along with more images from tonight’s episode:
- ‘Gotham’ Actor BD Wong on Playing Hugo Strange, Being the Villain to the Villains, and More
- ‘Gotham’ Villain of the Week: Who Is Mr. Freeze?
- ‘Gotham’: Nathan Darrow on Season 2 and Playing Mr. Freeze & Victor Fries
- ‘Gotham’ Freezes Over In New Villains Promo
- ‘Gotham’ Season 2 Image Reveals B.D. Wong as Doctor Hugo Strange
- ‘Gotham’ Season 2: Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney Set to Resurface