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Rupert Thorne is a crime boss and enemy of Batman in the DC Comics universe. Created by Steve Englehart and Walter Simonson, the character first appeared in Detective Comics #469. Thorne's appearance was based on the likeness of the actor Carroll O'Connor. He is a recurring antagonist, along with his assistant Candace, in the TV series Batman: The Animated Series, a supporting antagonist in the 2003 movie Batman: Mystery of Batwoman, and a recurring antagonist in the TV series The Batman.
Thorne is introduced as the corrupt president of the Gotham City Council and heads of its Tobacconists Club being blackmailed by Doctor Phosphorus into turning the city against Batman due to his vigilantism. According to Commissioner James Gordon and Chief O'Hara, Rupert Thorne has been pressuring the police to arrest Batman for years.
Despite O'Hara being loyal to the law, he was willing to disobey the city government after they declared Batman an outlaw to work with the vigilante in defeating Doctor Phosphorus. Even with Phosphorus defeated, Thorne still has Batman remain as an outlaw. He attempts to gain complete control of Gotham City by becoming mayor so he can both Gotham and its criminal underworld.
Thorne's plans are delayed by Hugo Strange, who discovered Batman's secret identity and wanted to sell the information to the highest bidder. Thorne bid with the Joker and the Penguin for that information, but Thorne decided there were other ways of obtaining that information from Strange without payment. Thorne and his men kidnapped Strange where they tortured him down in the basement of City Hall for Batman's identity. Strange refused and Thorne kept having his men beat Strange until Strange stopped breathing. Thorne then had Strange's body disposed of in the river. Later, Thorne would literally be haunted by strange visions and sounds of Strange. Thorne attempted to escape from the ghost by driving out of Gotham to Ohio until he ran into Silver St. Cloud, who was hitchhiking to escape from Gotham too after ironically discovering her lover Bruce Wayne was Batman. After Silver expressed admiration to Batman's activities, Thorne got angry and kicked her out of the car. Thorne then got tormented by the ghost of Hugo Strange and handed himself over to the Ohio State Police, confessing all this crimes. The Ohio State Police thought Thorne was insane and had him sent to Arkham Asylum.
After failing in his campaign against Batman and spending time in Arkham Asylum, he secretly returns to Gotham. (Detective Comics #507, October 1981). Thorne is no longer allowed to be in the city council due to being considered as unstable, so Thorne decides to still continue being a politician, but behind the scenes. Thorne makes a deal with Hamilton Hill to be mayor and public works commissioner Arthur Reeves to be mayor, where Reeves is criticizing Commissioner Gordon for deputizing Batman and Hill is supporting Batman. Thorne gives Reeves fabricated photos on Batman actually being a rival mafia boss which brings the heat on Batman and Gordon. Reeves is ultimately humiliated when Thorne anonymously sends evidence to the media that the photos Reeves provided are fake, getting Hamilton Hill to be mayor instead of Reeves. Thorne has Hill use the police shootings as an excuse to remove Gordon in favor of Peter Pauling, who is on Thorne's payroll. When Reeves goes to confront his anonymous benefactor about the photos, he flees in fear upon realizing that Thorne is the anonymous benefactor and Thorne scares Reeves away.
After Vicki Vale discovers Bruce Wayne is Batman, Thorne acquires those photos of Bruce changing into Batman from her editor and sends Deadshot after Wayne. Deadshot is unsuccessful, however. Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's butler, hires Christopher Chance the Human Target to impersonate Bruce. When Thorne learned Bruce Wayne and Batman were seen by witnesses together fighting Deadshot, Thorne destroyed the photos in the fireplace, thinking Vicki just fabricated them just to further her career. Batman would later visit Deadshot in prison and then break him out after Deadshot reveals Thorne ordered the hit on Bruce. Pauling turned that against Batman which pleased Thorne but made Hill paranoid since the press would start asking questions.
Thorne was again being haunted by the ghost of Hugo Strange, who is revealed to have faked his death and tormented Thorne with experiments designed to simulate ghostly experiences, which Doctor Thirteen discovers right after Thorne pays him to investigate. Thorne then starts to believe that Hill and Pauling are plotting against him by trying to drive him insane. After accidentally burning down his home during a confrontation with Batman, Thorne confronts Hill and Pauling intending to kill them. Thorne kills Pauling and gets shot in the stomach by Sergeant McClosky, a corrupt officer with a grudge against Gordon for suspending him. Thorne then gets arrested and Hill has Thorne sent to Arkham. To make things right with Batman, Hill has the charges against the vigilante dropped for breaking Dead Shot out of prison and reinstates Batman as well as Gordon in the GCPD. Thorne makes a return appearance in Detective Comics #825 (cover-dated January 2007, released November 2006). This was his first major comics appearance in decades, and his first appearance in the Post-Crisis DC universe. He is shown incarcerated in Blackgate Penitentiary when Doctor Phophorus makes an attempt on his life, one that Batman prevents. Thorne later on appears in Batman: Three Jokers as an inmate of Blackgate who cowers when Batman arrives to visit Joe Chill, his parents' killer, in prison. Thorne would loose his entire criminal empire to Carmine Falcone and then Selina Kyle later on.
DC Animated Universe
Rupert Thorne appears as a recurring antagonist in Batman: The Animated Series voiced by the late John Vernon, who also portrayed Dean Vernon Wormer in Animal House and Curtis Mooney in Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
He appears at several points throughout the series to virtually control Gotham's criminal underworld. Thorne first appears in the two-part episode "Two-Face", in which he was responsible for district attorney Harvey Dent's transformation into the arch-criminal Two-Face (replacing Sal Maroni). Thorne blackmails Dent with his psychological records, threatening to tell the press that the young DA suffers from multiple personality disorder unless he stops prosecuting his henchmen. Enraged, Dent "switches" into his alternate, violent personality and chases Thorne into a nearby chemical processing plant, where an explosion permanently disfigures the left side of Dent's body and leaves his evil personality in permanent control. Dent (now calling himself "Two-Face") later seeks revenge on Thorne. He first attacks fronts for Thorne's criminal activities with his gang, then steals a file with enough information to ruin the crime boss. With Batman's help, Two-Face succeeds in capturing Thorne, although both Thorne and Two-Face are arrested as the former DA is just barely stopped from killing Thorne.
Thorne's next appearance is in the following episode "It's Never Too Late" (which was the first episode featuring Thorne in the series' original broadcast order on Fox Kids) in which he is at war with a rival mob boss Arnold Stromwell (whom he plots to ambush and kill in a bar explosion during a parley). Batman saves Stromwell in time and persuades Stromwell to give up his life of crime and help to bring Thorne down. Thorne corners Stromwell and his estranged brother Michael and almost kills them before being knocked out by Batman and left for the police.
In "Vendetta", Batman suspects Thorne of abducting "Spider" Conway and interrogates him in his greenhouse, only to discover Thorne didn't fear Conway as Conway had nothing on him.
In the episode "The Man who Killed Batman", the titular character Sidney Debris begs Thorne to smuggle him out of Gotham to escape from many people on both sides of the law. Sidney recounts his story which started with his role in Thorne's failed drug racket and ended with a near-fatal encounter with the Joker. Thorne refuses to believe that Sidney is a victim of mere circumstance (or that stupid) and believes that he is trying to move his way into his business. Thorne prepares to kill him when Batman (who was alive all along) appears and knocks him out.
The episode "Paging The Crime Doctor" reveals that Rupert Thorne's younger brother Dr. Matthew Thorne who lost his license when he failed to file a police report on a gunshot wound he treated. While reluctantly performing medicine on gangsters without a license as the "Crime Doctor," he surgically removes a benign tumor with the help of his colleague Dr. Leslie Thompkins from Rupert's heart on the promise that his brother would use his connections to reinstate Matthew's medical license. After the surgery however, Matthew turns on Rupert when Thorne's men plot to kill Thompkins, and turns himself in to the police in the aftermath, leaving Thorne's fate in the episode unknown.
In the episode "Bane", Thorne hires Bane to assassinate Batman. Unbeknownst to Thorne, his moll Candice is conspiring with Bane to kill him as well so they can run the city's underworld. After Batman defeats Bane by severing the tubing that pumps the Venom steroids into his body, he sends the hired killer to Thorne beaten and noticeably shrunken complete with an audio recording of his treasonous conversations with Candice.
In "Second Chance," Rupert Thorne is one of the primary suspects for kidnapping Two-Face just before his operation to restore his face. Robin plans to interrogate him when trying to infiltrate his house, but is captured by Thorne's men and brought to the mob boss himself. While Thorne denies any involvement in Two-Face's capture, he sends his men to drop Robin off the bridge (though Robin breaks free and knocks the gangsters into the river).
Rupert Thorne is featured in The Batman voiced by Victor Brandt. He appears in "The Bat in the Belfry" as one of Gotham's most powerful gangsters. Batman foils one of his scams, however, and corners him on a rooftop. Thorne nearly falls to his death off the roof, but Batman saves his life before turning him and his henchmen over to the police. He also makes a cameo in the episode "A Matter of Family". In "Rumors", he is shown to be one of the titular character's captives. only to later on escape with Hugo Strange and Catwoman. Thorne would later on appear in the Batman Strikes comics where he pays a corrupt police officer to break Mr. Freeze out of Arkham Asylum so Thorne's men would loot the town and rob all the businesses while Batman, Ellen Yin, Chief Rojas, and he GCPD were kept busy with Freeze. Thorne would ultimately succeed in the end. Thorne would also later on manipulate the Ventriloquist and Scarface into trying to kill Batman when Ventriloquist and Scarface try to muscle in on Thorne's protection racket and when Batman tries to get Thorne to make things right only for Thorne to refuse. Thorne eventually saw his criminal empire was falling apart, so he recruited Dr. Lopez, the scientist who created Bane, to produce an army of "supervillains" and makes a deal with Bruno Mannheim to manufacture them in order to stabilize his empire. Thorne would eventually use Bane as muscle when operating as a corrupt bookie and to protect his shipments from Hotwire.
In the original script for the 1989 film Batman, written by Tom Mankiewicz, Rupert Thorne hires Joe Chill to murder Bruce Wayne's father Thomas (who is running against Thorne for city council). He was replaced by Carl Grissom.
Rupert Thorne's most major appearance in the DC animated universe continuity outside Batman: The Animated Series is the direct-to-DVD movie, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (based on The New Batman Adventures) with John Vernon reprising his role. He works with Penguin and Carlton Duquesne in an illegal arms deal with the President of Kasnia. The three are also allied with Bane, although there is no mention of Bane's previous allegiance with Thorne in "Bane". Of the three Batwomen, Thorne shares a personal history with Sonia
Alcana whose life he ruined when he ordered her parents' shop burned down when she was still a child. Thorne had escaped punishment due to lack of evidence, although everyone knew he was the one behind it. In the end, Thorne is proven guilty for his role in the arms deal and sent to prison, most likely with a life sentence.
Rupert Thorne appears in the video game The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega CD, once again voiced by John Vernon. Clayface takes on Thorne's shape while the real Thorne is on vacation using the gangster's money to hire other supervillains in a plot to kill Batman.
Rupert Thorne exists in the 'Arkham' universe, as he is referenced in Batman: Arkham Origins (2013). One of Engima's Datapacks is a phone conversation between Anarky and Commissioner Gordon, in which Anarky bemoans the fact that Gotham is owned by people 'like Rupert Thorne'.
Rupert Thorne plays a larger role in The Batman Strikes!, a comic book based in the continuity of the show. In one issue, he works with Bruno Mannheim to create an army of supervillains based on Bane, Man-Bat, and Firefly. Rupert Thorn, Mannheim, and their creations are defeated by Batman and Superman.