Supervillain Origins: The Mad Hatter

This criminal is obsessed with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and is one of Batman's oldest and strangest villains. In his original appearance, he was portrayed as tiny man with a gas gun that mounted unusual heists. He has since become famous for using mind control devices to mount capers and make life harder for The Dark Knight. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origins of The Mad Hatter.
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Supervillain Origins: The Mad Hatter

This psychotic is constantly taking Batman on a trip down the rabbit hole. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origins of Jervais Tetch, otherwise known as The Mad Hatter.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline, which unfolded in 1948’s Batman #49, and was expanded upon in Detective Comics #526, and 1992’s “Batman: The Animated Series” episode 27, “Mad as a Hatter.”

A criminal obsessed with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter is one of the oldest and strangest of Batman’s villains. He was originally portrayed as tiny man with a gas gun that mounted unusual heists, such as stealing a trophy from the Gotham Yacht Club, and robbing spectators of a high society horse show.

Quickly captured by Batman and incarcerated at Arkham Asylum, the original character of Jervais Tetch would only reemerge several decades later in 1981. During his long absence, an imposter with a moustache had filled his shoes, using the identity to steal himself a large assortment of hats, including Batman’s cowl.

Upon making his return, the true Mad Hatter disposed of the fake, regained his identity, adopted a pet money named Caroll Lewis, and began using mind control devices (Detective Comics #526). Though his true origin has only been hinted at in the comics, the character’s origin tale was best revealed in “Batman The Animated Series.”

In the episode “Mad As A Hatter”, Jervais Tetch was depicted as a genius scientist with a shy and kind demeanor and a large overbite. And of course, he was employed by Wayne Industries. Tasked with discovering a means of unlocking the brain’s potential, Tetch conducted experiments on animals through the use of a control band and electrodes. Instead of enhancing the subject’s cognitive functions, he instead discovered a way to control brainwaves.

Due in no small part to his insatiable obsession with Lewis Carrol and The Adventures of Alice in wonderland, Tetch had developed an infatuation for his secretary Alice. Gathering his courage, he asked her out on a date, following her breakup with her boyfriend, and wore a Mad Hatter costume in an effort to impress her.

During their night out, Tetch tested his invention on a pair of thugs who tried to rob them. Placing microchip cards on their heads, they became obedient to his every wish, and he instructed them to jump in the river. Saved by Batman, the caped crusader quickly discovered the mind control cards that had been placed on their heads.

The next day, Tetch was horrified to learn that Alice had reunited with her boyfriend and become engaged. Having a mental breakdown, he used his technology on her fiancé, making him call of the wedding.

When Batman’s investigation led him to The Hatter, The Dark Knight was caught in a fight with several of the Hatter’s victims who had been turned into costumed henchman. Escaping with Alice, the Mad Hatter realized that she could never love him, so he used his mind control microchip card to make her his obedient puppet. Upon his defeat, the villain pledged to avenge himself on Batman for having ruined his fantasy.

The Mad Hatter has since been portrayed as a darker and more dangerous foe in all of his subsequent appearances. He has teamed up with and controlled other members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, including the Scarecrow. Recently, The Mad Hatter showcased an all-new look in the video game “Batman Arkham City”, in which he caused Batman to fall into a frightening psychosis.
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