While recycling is great for the environment, in movies it can get a bit stale. As the The Dark Knight Rises is set to swoop into theaters next month, we see some select Bat-baddies (Catwoman and Bane) yet again getting another bite at that big-screen apple.
With the list of Batman’s rogues gallery being longer than Catwoman’s whip, it may be time for some fresh (albeit slightly rotten) meat to get their shots at the silver screen. I personally would love to see Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze get another, less-hokey, depiction in a movie – but if I were going to sit here and drag on about the old movies, we would be here all day…
So if you’re tired of seeing the same old Batman movie bag guys, then join us as we take a look at 15 Batman villains on our movie wish-list.
Real Name: Lyle Bolton
First Appearance: Batman: The Animated Series “Lock-Up” In comics: Robin (vol. 2) #24
Powers/Abilities: Expert on high tech incarceration tactics, devices and procedures.
Who Is He: Starting off in Batman: The Animated Series has given the character of Lock-Up two different, but slightly similar, backstories: One where he was chief of security at Arkham Asylum, and another where he’s a police academy drop out. Lock-Up believes he can take care of the obscenely high crime-rate in Gotham City, permanently. His biggest feat was attempting to drown a handful of other villains, (including Two-Face) in a specially-crafted underwater death trap.
Why We Want Him: Besides the joy of watching a dude who still rocks a flat-top get his ass kicked? Lock-Up puts Batman in an interesting and difficult position by forcing him to save the lives of unrepentant killers who, in his darker moments, The Bat has wanted to get rid of himself. I foresee one of those epic “We could have been a team!” hero/villain moments.
Real Name: Dr. Kirk Langstrom
First Appearance: Detective Comics #400
Powers/Abilities: Flight, echolocation, enhanced sight and hearing, superhuman strength, healing and speed.
Who Is He: This is your typical Jekyll and Hyde story: To cure his progressing deafness, Dr. Langstrom invented a serum to give him echolocation (a sonar that bats use to guide them in the dark). Yay science! Downside: the serum’s side-effects transformed sweet Dr. Langstrom into a hideous 7-foot mindless bat creature known as Man-Bat. To add to the minus column: the mutating serum is highly addictive, guaranteeing that Man-Bat will rear his ugly head over and over.
Why We Want Him: Okay, Batman fighting a giant bat may sound like too much batness, but as a character who can’t control his actions, Man-Bat not only poses a tough challenge for Batman to defeat, but also a dilemma about how to deal with the meek Dr. Langstrom. And do I really have to explain the awesomeness of a 7-foot bat monster?
Real Name: Unknown
First Appearance: Batman: Family #1
Powers/Abilities: Skilled assassin, killer golf swing.
Who Is He: At first glance Mr. Fun looks like a wholesome, all-American, 1950s Ward Cleaver-type guy, which is true, except for the fact that he is a trained assassin who bashes people’s heads in with a golf club. He’s pretty much the Mr. Books of the Batman world.
Why We Want Him: Having only appeared in a total of ten comic book issues, you’re probably still thinking “who?” – but trust me, the unassuming exterior of Mr. Fun is what makes him cool. Granted, with a name like “Mr. Fun” he sounds like more of a threat to unsupervised minors on the Internet than to the Dark Knight, but the man that held off both Batgirl and Nightwing with only a putter and a creepy smile deserves a little screen time.
Real Name: Edward Nigma
First Appearance: Detective Comics #140
Powers/Abilities: Genius-level IQ, skilled at making and solving puzzles and/or riddles, eidetic memory, mastery of engineering, chemistry, and technology, skilled detective.
Who Is He: The Riddler is a criminal mastermind with a penchant for puzzles, riddles and the color green. With a superior intellect and investigative skills that rival those of the Dark Knight, the Riddler is not just limited to leaving simple word-games for Batman to solve – he has been known to orchestrate full-scale frame-ups and misdirections that don’t make sense until the puzzle is solved.
Why We Want Him: Yeah, yeah, okay – I know The Riddler has already been in a Batman movie. As a Canadian, I’m legally obligated to love Jim Carrey, but his slapstick take on the Riddler came off too much like the dated, campy 1960s Batman TV show.
It’s not an easy task to pull the cowl over Batman’s eyes on pure cleverness alone, and the Riddler has done it many times. Giving The Riddler a chance at a more sickly-smart depiction wouldn’t be a terrible idea. Maybe under a different director or with another actor, the character might have a chance at coming off as more of a threatening genius than a flashy weirdo who shouldn’t operate scissors.
Real Name: Hugo Strange
First Appearance: Detective Comics #36
Powers/Abilities: Genius-level intellect, master practitioner of psychology, chemistry, and biology.
Who Is He: Professor Hugo Strange was brilliant psychologist hired by the Gotham police taskforce to capture Batman – but like everyone in Gotham with a PhD and too much time, he eventually went coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs. Strange uses his mastery of chemistry to turn people into mindless brutes called ‘Monster Men’ that possess superhuman strength and a fun cannibalistic instinct. His obsession with Batman took on a whole new level of weird when he dressed up in a Batsuit behind closed doors. He also stands as one of the few people to deduce Batman’s true identity.
Why We Want Him: Hugo Strange’s demented intellect makes him just as dangerous as The Joker or Two-Face. Figuring out Batman’s secret identity poses a different kind of threat for the Caped Crusader, as it forces him to not only find a way to arrest Strange, but also discredited him before he can tell some interesting tales from behind bars.
Real Name: Sandra Woosan
First Appearance: Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter #5
Powers/Abilities: Martial arts grandmaster, expert in martial arts weaponry, the ability to read body language and anticipate an opponent’s move, skilled assassin.
Who Is She: Shiva is one of the top martial artists in the entire DCU, and one of the few people skilled enough to open several cans of whup-ass on Batman. While still a dangerous assassin, Shiva does have a BIT of a moral code, and has even formed strong ties to the Batman family. She re-trained Batman after Bane broke his back, as well as the third Robin (Tim Drake). Shiva has also spent time as a member of the Birds of Prey, and her daughter would later become the second Batgirl (or third if you count Helena Bertinelli, which you shouldn’t!).
Why We Want Her: Don’t be fooled by the somewhat altruistic deeds of Lady Shiva – she is 100% a stone-cold killer. Shiva has spent more time taking lives than saving them, and no matter his personal feelings, or what she’s done for him, that is simply something Batman can’t get behind. Sure, the sight of Batman fighting a woman may not be a good look, but when you see the precision punches Shiva is serving the Bat, you’ll get past it.
Real Name: Julian Gregory Day
First Appearance: Detective Comics #259
Powers/Abilities: None, really… does a keen memory for dates count?
Who Is He: Originally a kind of a lame villain that was obsessed with dates, and only committed crimes on holidays, the Calendar Man was majorly reinvented as a Hannibal Lecter-esque figure in “Batman: The Long Halloween”.
Why We Want Him: The Calendar Man has a lot of potential to be an attention-grabbing onscreen adversary for Batman. You throw in some enigmatic murders that corresponded with important dates and a bit of a boost in the IQ, and you all of a sudden have a twisted fusion of The Dark Knight and Silence of the Lambs. Even combining the Calendar Man and the Holiday Killer into one character would be a good way of updating a mundane villain into someone that poses a stimulating threat, without even setting foot from his prison cell.
Real Name: Talia al Ghul
First Appearance: Detective Comics #411
Powers/Abilities: Expert at hand-to-hand combat and a wide variety of hand weapons, high-level intellect, olympic-level athlete, utilizes the Lazarus Pits to heal wounds, restore and extend life.
Who Is She: Talia is the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul and sole heir to his criminal empire after her sister Nyssa’s car “mysteriously” exploded. Talia is also the mother of Damian Wayne, Batman’s son and the current Robin. She is often depicted as being torn between her farther and her ‘beloved’ Bruce Wayne.
Why We Want Her: Having already put Ra’s al Ghul in a film makes Talia a natural choice, and gives her a clean entrance without too much backstory. Talia was mostly played up as the “victim” of her father Ra’s ideals, but frankly she has willingly co-signed on his terroristic acts more than a few times – even taking over the League of Assassins on occasions. Talia is fascinating because she’s the only true villain Batman has ever fallen for, and certainly the only one he’s ever knocked up. (And before you throw Catwoman out there: she has been more anti-hero than villain for a long, long time).
*Of course, there is still a chance that Marion Cotillard’s Dark Knight Rises character IS Talia, so we may be getting this wish sooner before later.
Real Name: Arnold Wesker
First Appearance: Detective Comics #583
Powers/Abilities: Master ventriloquist, skilled criminal strategist (Scarface persona).
Who Is He: The story of the Ventriloquist is an odd, but sad one. Born into a powerful Mafia family, Wesker developed Dissociative Identity Disorder as a coping mechanism, after witnessing his mother’s assassination by a rival family. As “The Ventriloquist,” the timid and submissive Arnold is a powerful crime lord in his own right, giving all orders (and executions) through his secondary personality, which is personified by a wooden dummy named Scarface.
Why We Want Him: Okay, at first glance an old guy holding a puppet appears more Jim Henson than John Gotti, but the character’s story is pretty strong. Part of his danger is his almost humorous appearance – Scarface may look like a refugee from The Island of Misfit Toys, until he gives you the ultimate bullet massage.
It sounds too simple, right? Remove puppet from man, man gets better. Not so. The deep-rooted psychosis of the Ventriloquist means he will always find a way to recreate his alter-ego – no matter how many times you toss Scarface into the wood-chipper.
Real Name: Jervis Tetch
First Appearance: Batman #49
Powers/Abilities: Genius-level intellect and technological mind-control.
Who Is He: Jervis Tetch is a lonely wretch (rhyme points!), whose constant rejection from his peers has driven him completely mad. Suffering from OCD and standing only 4’8 has made quirky Jervis an easy target for his richer and better-looking associates, despite his brilliance. As the Mad Hatter, he uses mind-control technology to bend people to his will and commit various criminal acts (including crimes against rhymes).
Why We Want Him: The Mad Hatter may be one of those characters better suited for a good ol’ fashion villain team up, but a sadistic lunatic that uses mind-control for criminal acts is definitely worth more than a second look. He’s the kind of guy that makes you bludgeon your entire family to death, and then kill yourself, while he sits in the corner enjoying the show with a nice cup of mint tea. In the right hands, even fans of horror flicks like Hostel and Saw would have to show Tetch some respect.
Real Name: Basil Karlo
First Appearance: Detective Comics #40
Powers/Abilities: Body made out of ‘mud’ allows for shapeshifting and melting; can look like any person and create melee weapons.
Who Is He: So there’s been like eight Clayfaces, but the first Basil Karlo was probably the darkest. Originally a B-list horror actor, Karlo goes on a killing spree directed at the cast and crew of a remake of a horror film he once starred in, called “The Terror”. While he would gain the token mud powers in later stories, Karlo would initially stalk his prey wearing the mask of the film’s villain, “Clayface” and would even take a crack at Bruce Wayne for financing the remake. The Clayface from the ’90s Batman animated series carried the name, but was something of a biographical fusion of the comic book versions. Primarily based on Karlo, animated Clayface became the visual template for the character in the comics and other media from there on out.
Why We Want Him: If you could get the CG perfect on this one, Clayface would be a visually amazing character to see on the big screen. With the shape-shifting and melting, Clayface is a near impossible adversary to detect and destroy; not only can he look like anyone he wants, he’s impervious to most physical attacks. However, I can also see this going horribly wrong.
Bottom line: seeing the things Clayface has done in animation, I’m dying to see what it would look like in live-action – and how one would realistically show Batman avoiding a villain that can simply smother him with little effort.
Real Name: Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel
First Appearance: Batman: The Animated Series “Joker’s Favor”; in comics, The Batman Adventures #12
Powers/Abilities: Does being totally bat-sh*t crazy count as a power? Talented gymnast, above-average human agility and strength, martial arts skills.
Who Is She: Why do good girls love bad boys? Once a promising young intern at Arkham Asylum, Dr. Harleen Quinzel was assigned to be The Joker’s psychiatrist. The Joker quickly fills Harleen’s head with stories of child abuse at the hands of his father, and soon the brilliant, yet naïve, doctor’s fascination turns from sympathy into outright obsession, transforming her into The Joker’s faithful love slave. She will do anything for her darling “puddin,” even kill. Every time The Joker would take out his violent rage on Harley, and strike her, she simply said “it felt like a kiss.”
Why We Want Her: Being created solely for the ’90s animated series, Harley became a huge fan-fav in both the cartoon and comics. Her recent reboot in DC’s New 52 comic books has turned the slapstick sidekick into a straight-up sadistic psycho. This updated version of Quinn has no problem killing the innocent for nothing more than a quick laugh, and now has a big-ass sledgehammer to back up her big mouth. Plus, her origin story would be a cool arc for a talented actress to take on.
Real Name: Waylon Jones
First Appearance: Detective Comics #525
Powers/Abilities: Hardened scale-like skin, razor-sharp claws and teeth, regenerative healing factor, superhuman strength, speed, agility, reflexes, stamina, durability, and senses, immune to toxins, expert swimmer, wrestler and street fighter.
Who Is He: Killer Croc is definitely one of those people you don’t want to encounter even in the most well-lit of alleys. Waylon Jones was born with a rare medical condition that gave him a thick scaly hide and razor-sharp claws and teeth. Of course, growing up a poor kid in the ghetto, looking like that, was a recipe for disaster. Soon eight-year-old Croc was killing his abusive drunk aunt and becoming a grade-A psychopath.
Later Croc would further mutate (how, I don’t know, but it’s still cool), and while his physical size and strength would grow, it was at the cost of his intelligence, making him a virtual slave to his primal desires and cannibalistic nature.
Why We Want Him: He’s a mutated lizard creature that eats people. ‘Nuff said.
Real Name: Dr. Thomas “Tommy” Elliot
First Appearance: Batman #609
Powers/Abilities: Genius-level intellect, skilled athlete, marksman, and hand-to-hand combatant, master surgeon, master strategist and tactician.
Who Is He: Hush is Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend, who grew up to be one of his biggest foes. Unlike Bruce, Tommy had a horribly abusive drunk for a father and a useless gold-digger for a mother – so what was a boy to do? Cut their car brakes, thats what. His father died in the crash, but his mother was saved by Dr. Thomas Wayne, thus starting Tommy’s hatred for Bruce, and later Batman. Ending up in a juvenile psych ward, young Tommy convinces an intern named Jonathan Crane (later to become the Scarecrow) to release him.
As an adult, Elliot modeled his life similar to Bruce’s: rich, successful and harboring a dark alter-ego. Taking his moniker from an old nursery rhyme, Hush prefers using manipulation and guile instead of “noisy signatures.” As another villain to know Batman’s secret identity, he chooses to keep his attacks personal.
Why We Want Him: Besides being a gun-toting badass? With the right foreshadowing, Hush is the kind of character that can be set up several movies in advance. By introducing him first as Bruce Wayne’s close friend, you leave the door open for the ultimate betrayal. Hush is also a guy that hits Batman where he hurts: because of their close personal ties, Hush can attack those close to Bruce whether they wear a mask or not.
Real Name: Roman Sionis
First Appearance: Batman #386
Powers/Abilities: Criminal Mastermind, torture expert, skilled in hand-to-hand combat, accurate marksman, master of disguise.
Who Is He: Black Mask’s parents were “frenemies” with the Waynes, which started Sionis’s early hatred of Bruce. His self-absorbed parents continued to care more about their social status than their son, until he burned his family mansion down with his parents still inside. Growing up to be a powerful criminal mastermind, Black Mask single-handily took over the entire Gotham Mafia, and was also able to secure most of the corrupt Gotham P.D. on his payroll (including Harvey Bullock). As a shrewd businessman, he was able to attack Bruce Wayne financially – presenting a double-sided threat, without knowing that Batman and Bruce were are the same man .
Why We Want Him: What makes Black Mask a near-perfect Batman villain is that he can give the hero a run on many levels, including intellectually and physically. Black Mask retains his unique type of visual creepiness without having to resort to wacky and sometimes cheap gimmicks and costumes, which plague a lot of the more classic villains.
NEXT PAGE: Honorable Mentions
Court of Owls is a clandestine organization older than Gotham City itself, that decides to take down Batman and all his caped associates. Each member – called Talons – are reanimated corpses that remain dormant until they are needed. As part of DC’s New 52 reboot, the Court of Owls’ story is still unfolding. Frankly, I’m not quite sold on them yet, but as a wise man once said, “it never hurts to look ahead.”
Lex Luthor may be Superman’s greatest enemy – but he sure hates Batman a whole lot, too. And while Lex only has a passing care for Clark Kent, he actually hates Bruce Wayne. Even in a cameo, Luthor appearing in a Batman film would be a nice bridge for DC’s movie universe, which has so far remained separate (but not quite equal). How awesome would a Superman\Batman movie crossover be?
Mayor Hamilton Hill was, as the name would suggest, the Mayor of Gotham City. Mayor Hill was quite corrupt and nearly turned the entire city against Batman by framing him for various crimes (including murder), and even fired Commissioner Gordon for attempting to prove Batman’s innocence. Dealing with masked nut-jobs is easy in comparison – you can’t just kick in the door of City Hall and give the mayor a bat-slap.
The Clock King is a persnickety weirdo obsessed with time; personally, I prefer his Batman: The Animated Series counterpart to the comic version. Temple Fugate’s mild deviation from a strict schedule caused him to fall into financial ruin; turning to crime, he took his anger out on the mayor and other city employees. The Clock King is not really a stunner, but with a little bit of clever tweaking he could become a cool assassin-type character.
Check back with us for more on The Dark Knight Rises in the coming weeks, and catch the film when it hits theaters July 20, 2012.