Suicide Squad was a divisive film, but one thing most people agreed on was that Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was fantastic.
Warner Brothers shared that appreciation, it seems, as in December they officially announced that Ayer and Robbie would re-team for Gotham City Sirens. Not just a Harley Quinn spinoff film, it’s set to include as yet unconfirmed DC heroines and villainesses: likely Catwoman and Poison Ivy, if the comic book series of the same name is any indication.
Which villain will force these ladies to come together? Ayer might have tipped his hat in that regard this week with a conspicuous tweet referencing Black Mask, a character with an interesting history. Roman Sionis was the scion of a rich family, but he grew to hate his distant parents and eventually killed them after they rejected his poor fiance. Donning a mask made from the ebony of his own father’s coffin, he becomes the fearsome crime lord Black Mask. In some stories, the mask is burned to Roman’s face, while in others he can remove it at will. Recent comics have also imbued the mask with the power of mind-control, which Sionis uses to command his henchmen.
If Black Mask truly is the villain of Gotham City Sirens, who could play him? We have a few ideas, ranging from lesser known young actors to iconic veterans of the silver screen.
15. Milo Ventimiglia
Milo Ventimiglia may be best known for playing compassionate characters. Peter Petrelli of Heroes certainly qualifies, as does his current role as patriarch Jack Pearson on the critically lauded This Is Us. But the perpetually youthful actor has proven that he can play menacing and downright evil when called upon.
His short but memorable role in Gamer as the exceedingly creepy Rick Rape is one example of that, but a better one is his first foray into the realm of live action DC adaptations: his guest role as The Ogre on Gotham. As the sociopathic killer Jason Lennon, Ventimiglia was charismatic and manipulative as he pushed Jim Gordon’s then-girlfriend Barbara Kean into her own psychotic break. That experience would lend itself well to playing the similarly murderous Roman Sionis, who harbors anger at his dead parents, Bruce Wayne, Batman, and pretty much anybody else who gets in his way.
14. Adrian Pasdar
That’s right, we’re suggesting both of the Petrelli brothers for the villainous Black Mask! Adrian Pasdar and Milo Ventimiglia famously played Nathan and Peter Petrelli respectively on Heroes, and they’re both uniquely qualified for the role of Roman Sionis, albeit in different ways. Pasdar would naturally bring a more experienced and authoritative vibe to the role, being over 10 years Ventimiglia’s senior.
He’s also no stranger to the comic book world. He has voiced the character of Tony Stark/Iron Man in many of Marvel’s animated and video game projects, and he recurs on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the stuffy military man Glenn Talbot.
He plays a convincing leader of men, a necessity for Black Mask, and he’s got the commanding presence to pull it off. He excels at playing cocky and overconfident characters, traits Black Mask would almost certainly bring to his battle with Harley Quinn and her companions (to his detriment, of course).
13. David Boreanaz
David Boreanaz seems like the perfect fit for a superhero project of some kind. He’s no stranger to genre work, having risen to fame as the vampire Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and then his own series. He’s got the classic good looks that casting directors like for their superheroes. He’s also an underrated actor, adept at playing both heroes and villains and shouldering big projects. But he’s yet to get the call to the world of superhero movies.
One factor may be his busy schedule. He’s been starring in a lead role on Bones for over a decade, but with that series winding down, the timing may be right for him to stake his claim on the big screen.
Snagging the role of Black Mask in Gotham City Sirens would be a great first step on that journey. He proved his villain cred a long time ago with his incredible performance as Angel’s soulless alter-ego Angelus, and he could bring a similar verve and penchant for carnage to Sionis.
12. Richard Armitage
Black Mask is a calculating villain who keeps his criminal empire in line through sheer force of will (and occasionally, a mind controlling mask).
If you’re looking for an actor who can personify willpower, you don’t need to look much further than Richard Armitage. Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy had its drawbacks, but the performance of Richard Armitage was one of its triumphs. His take on the dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield was full of the kind of passion, bravery and fire that would inspire inspire a downtrodden people to risk their lives in a quest to reclaim their lost homeland. In the final film, The Battle of The Five Armies, Thorin’s growing ‘dragon sickness’ allowed Armitage to adapt his heroic character with selfishness and a quick, explosive anger.
Add in his villainous turn as Francis Dolarhyde on TV’s Hannibal, and you’ve got an actor more than capable of bringing Black Mask to life.
11. Peter Facinelli
A number of our choices on this list have prior experience in comic book adaptations, either in film or on television. That’s not a coincidence. If an actor has experienced the unique scope of a superhero film or show (or any big blockbuster, really), they’re better prepared for similar projects in the future.
Peter Facinelli has experience in the comic book world, having done a great job as the morally ambiguous Maxwell Lord on Supergirl. Though not a clear cut villain like Black Mask, his Lord was an arrogant and powerful businessman who was distrustful of superheroes and willing to break the rules to serve his notion of the greater good.
He’s also no stranger to blockbuster film making, thanks to his part in the undeniably popular Twilight films.
10. James Franco
To hold his own against the combined powers of Margot Robbie and her undoubtedly talented co-stars, the actor portraying Roman Sionis will need no small amount of presence. James Franco has that in spades.
There’s a reason Franco has become one of the most ubiquitous actors of the modern era. He has undeniable star power and energy that commands attention on the screen. He’s got the charisma to make Black Mask more than an average criminal who just happens to be wearing a strange mask.With an actor like Franco in the role, it might even be worthwhile to show Sionis become Black Mask for the first time, whether via flashback or as part of the story early in the film.
As Harry Osborn in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, he played the disenfranchised son of a wealthy family who flirted with villainy. As Roman Sionis, he can complete that particular journey to the dark side, this time with a pair of automatic pistols instead of a glider.
9. Sam Witwer
If there’s such a thing as “geek cred”, Sam Witwer may have more of it than any other actor alive.
Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice in The Force Unleashed. Doomsday on Smallville. Crashdown on Battlestar Galactica. The vampire Aidan on the American version of Being Human. Oh yeah, and the voice of Darth Maul on The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels.
It’s an embarrassment of nerdy riches, but he hasn’t found a role in a big blockbuster movie. Yet!
Witwer excels at characters who exist on both sides of the moral divide. His roles as Doomsday’s conflicted human host Davis Bloome and the reformed vampire Aidan are great examples of that. He can turn on a dime and go from charming to murderous in the space of a couple lines. He could easily play Sionis as a man who enjoys the spoils of his criminal empire while never straying too far from his inner pain and anger.
8. James Carpinello
A talented performer with a diverse resume on stage and screen, James Carpinello is no stranger to characters who live on the wrong side of the law.
His first film role was in the 2004 version of The Punisher, playing the son of John Travolta’s crime boss Howard Saint. In 2012 he played a mob enforcer (and undercover FBI agent) in the short lived series The Mob Doctor. In 2013 he appeared in Gangster Squad, an embellished account of the LAPD’s efforts to counter infamous mob boss Mickey Cohen. Carpinello played Johnny Stompanato, a real mobster and associate of Cohen’s who met a violent end in 1958. Most recently he appeared on Gotham as Mario Falcone, the son of crime boss Carmine Falcone.
7. Jon Hamm
Everyone seems to agree that Jon Hamm belongs in a superhero movie. He was a favored choice for the Dark Knight before Ben Affleck took on the cowl. His All-American good looks and square jaw would seem destined to fit under a mask of some sort, but with both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe quickly filling up, his heroic options are running out.
His villainous options, on the other hand, are abundant!
Roman Sionis is something of a dark mirror of Bruce Wayne. They shared a similar wealthy upbringing, though where Bruce loved and then mourned his parents, Roman grew to loathe and eventually murder his. While Bruce maintained his family’s wealth as a successful businessman, Roman was a failure and lost much of his. And of course, both men became obsessed with the nature of duality and masks, albeit in different ways. If Gotham City Sirens stresses Black Mask’s similarities with Batman, Hamm would be a perfect choice for the role: especially if he survives to take on the Bat himself one day.
6. Alex O’Loughlin
Black Mask is more than just a criminal mastermind with an army of henchmen to do his bidding. He is fully capable of getting his own hands dirty and going toe to toe with his foes. Anyone who can walk away from a fight with the Dark Knight is a dangerous man, and the cinematic Roman Sionis will need to convey that level of toughness.
Alex O’Loughlin has toughness in spades. Anyone who has watched him for seven seasons on Hawaii Five-0 knows that. In the lead role of Steve McGarrett, he has battled his way through over 100 episodes of crime fighting action and proven himself adept at both hand to hand fight scenes and gun play. He’s a veritable small screen action hero, and he deserves the chance to make a splash in film.
5. Jared Leto
This is admittedly a bit of a novelty pick, and unlikely to come to fruition. Still, it’s interesting to consider.
Those who have played Batman: Arkham Origins, a prequel to the critically acclaimed Arkham series of video games, know that Black Mask is the villain who sets the story in motion (or is he?). The game takes place soon after Bruce Wayne first donned the cowl, and finds Black Mask placing a bounty on Batman’s head. A number of villains, from Killer Croc and Firefly to Bane and Copperhead, vie for the prize.
A twist in the story comes when it’s revealed that Roman Sionis has been kidnapped and the man wearing the ebony mask is actually The Joker. In the Arkham universe, it’s Batman’s first encounter with the Clown Prince of Crime.
Would Gotham City Sirens tell a similar story of The Joker masquerading as Black Mask? It’s unlikely, if for no other reason than Joker and Harley Quinn spent much of Suicide Squad on opposite sides, so repeating that formula would be an odd choice.
4. Rob Lowe
There’s an argument to be made that Gotham City Sirens should introduce a younger Black Mask, someone in the same age bracket as Robbie’s Harley Quinn. For most of this list, we’ve suggested a number of young actors who would fit that image. But for our last few entries, we’re going to take a look at older actors who could bring real gravitas to the role.
Rob Lowe isn’t an old man by any stretch: he’s just 52, which is surprisingly young considering how long he’s been in the public eye. The breadth of his experience is impressive (just look at his resume) and it lends him an air of authority. He’s also another actor who has yet to enter the world of big budget comic book adaptations, but he would instantly lend credibility to such a project.
3. Sean Penn
As one of the most celebrated actors of the modern era, Sean Penn would undoubtedly bring legitimacy to DC’s fledgling cinematic universe. Having a two-time Academy Award winner in their films (in a relatively minor role, no less) would certainly be a feather in their cap.
More importantly, Penn disappears into his roles and makes them his own. It’s why he won awards and praise for his work in films like Dead Man Walking, Mystic River and Milk. Whether he’s playing a Death Row inmate, a hardened crime lord or an icon of the gay rights movement, he makes you forget his considerable body of work and believe whatever story he happens to be telling you.
2. Al Pacino
Let’s not forget that Black Mask, like many comic book characters, originates with a fairly ridiculous premise. This is a guy who carved a mask for himself out of the material from his own father’s coffin, after all. He’s got more than one screw loose.
If you want an actor to really bring maniacal life to a crazed man in an ebony mask, Al Pacino is just the man for the job. Nobody chews the scenery like Pacino, and while that’s earned him some criticism for a few ‘over the top’ performances, you can’t argue with his resume. Iconic characters, awards for his work on stage and screen: he’s an undisputed elder statesmen of the film industry. Like Penn, his casting would lend immediate credibility to DC’s films.
1. Nicolas Cage
Where could DC find an iconic actor who can make the most bizarre of characters his own, and who doesn’t need to have the world of comic books explained to him? In the directory under ‘Cage, Nicolas’, that’s where.
Cage’s geek bona fides are well established. He has owned some of the rarest comic books in existence. He famously campaigned for the role of Johnny Blaze in the Ghost Rider films. His screen name is inspired by the Hero For Hire himself.
Of course, all that would be meaningless if he wasn’t a great actor. Sure, he may occasionally give Pacino a run for his money in the “overacting” category, but he’s got all the tools necessary to bring Black Mask to cinematic life. Combine the gleeful insanity of his hellish transformations as Ghost Rider with the sheer menace of Face/Off’s Castor Troy and you’ve got the recipe for a cinematic villain for the ages.
Those are 15 of our top choices for the role of Black Mask in Gotham City Sirens. Who would you like to see play the part? Let us know in the comments.