Well, he’s here: Ben Affleck has now been firmly established as the most extreme, the darkest, and the most menacing big screen Batman yet (which is saying a lot, given the character has been gracing movie theaters since 1943).
Such a fresh take on the character and his mythos, of course, will require equally original villains – and while brand-new interpretations of such cinematic stalwarts as Joker and Catwoman could help fit the bill, perhaps the better solution is to offer up the literally dozens of Bat-baddies who have yet to make the transition to the big screen at all. This, then, is our suggestions for the 12 Unused Batman Villains That Affleck Should Battle.
(Sorry, Mr. Zsaz fans – since he’s already technically appeared in Batman Begins, he’s not eligible for our list [and if we start to include previously utilized characters, then we’d absolutely need to have such bungled heavy-hitters as the Riddler and Mr. Freeze].)
Now that we know Affleck has in fact written a script for a Batman film, he needs a big-time villain to face off against. Hush is, without a doubt, one of the most ridiculous enemies ever to emerge in the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery – quite the loaded statement, given just how long the Dark Knight has been around and how many nemeses he has accumulated over the decades. Still, he remains a fan-favorite baddie to this day, most likely due to the 2002-2003 storyline that originally introduced him (which was drawn by Jim Lee, one of the most gifted artists the medium has ever known) and to the sheer craziness that one of his capers always entails (think of them as a Metal Gear Solid narrative on steroids).
Just who is Hush? Dr. Thomas Elliot was a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne’s and, also, a sociopath, though no one knew it at the time. Resentful of his parents – his father was an abusive drunk and his mother was a weak craven – he arranges to murder them as a youth to inherit their considerable fortune and to plot his own path in life, but thanks to an emergency surgery performed by Bruce’s father, Dr. Thomas Wayne, his mother lives on. When compiled with the fact that the Waynes did their son the courtesy of dying shortly afterward, Elliot goes insane with envy, vowing to someday extract his revenge against Bruce. When the two finally meet up again, the fact that Bruce is now Batman – and the fact that Elliot knows it – forms the basis of Hush’s insanely detailed and convoluted plans.
Why include him on our list? Because of the magic of the silver screen – if director/writer Christopher Nolan was able to reconceive the equally cheesy Bane into a far deadlier and more believable antagonist, then just imagine what Hush could be when facing off against Ben Affleck. Plus, we kind of have the perfect casting choice already lined up.
11. Professor Pyg
If Hush is one of Batman’s most absurd adversaries, then Professor Pyg has to be one of his strangest – and most violent.
Born as Lazlo Valentin, a delusional schizophrenic, Valentin eventually becomes a skilled surgeon (like Hush) but then has his career and life both sidetracked by a newfound obsession: making people perfect. Oh, yeah – he also becomes the head of the Circus of Strange, a group of circus freaks that doubles as a criminal outfit. Just to complete the package, Professor Pyg typically brandishes a cartoony pig mask and a makeshift surgical outfit.
The true menace – and genius – of Pyg, however, is in his Dollotrons, an army of individuals he’s abducted that have been transformed into genderless, brain-washed, doll dress-wearing minions. Although the process is never detailed in the comics, it is widely believed to include surgical alterations (such as having a doll mask being permanently melted onto their faces), genital mutilation, and mind-altering drugs (to make them behaviorally agreeable). It makes Professor Pyg a formidable enemy for Batman and Robin to face, and it would also make for some fantastic – not to mention gruesome – cinematic imagery.
10. Doctor Death
Doctor Death holds a very special place in Batman history: (nominally) created by Bob Kane himself, the character would become both the very first supervillain to face off against the Dark Knight and, eventually, his first recurring nemesis. Despite these distinctions, however, Doctor Death quickly slipped off the Bat-creators’ radar, being left to the dustbin of history for some 40 years.
Today, in the auspices of the New 52 continuity, Karl Hellfern is a disgruntled scientist who used to work for Wayne Enterprises and who is on the quest to remove all frailty from the human body, a byproduct of his having lost his military son recently in the Middle East. His solution is an experimental serum that causes uncontrollable bone growth, creating something of an exoskeleton to shield the host from practically any harm. In true supervillain fashion, Dr. Hellfern tests the serum on himself, resulting in the monstrosity you see pictures above.
The almost alien-esque appearance Doctor Death now brandishes would make a film featuring him go almost in a sci-fi bent – something which has never quite been done before in the Bat-franchise and which would go hand-in-hand with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s foreshadowing of Darkseid and interstellar wars to come.
9. Black Mask
One of a whole score of new rogues added to the gallery in the creative explosion that was Batman in the 1980s, Black Mask is part gangster, part class warrior, and entirely a reflection of the idea of masks – both figuratively and literally – that so permeates the Bat-mythos.
Roman Sionis, the original Black Mask, was often neglected as a child by his richy-rich parents, who were more concerned with maintaining the outward appearances of their class than with being actual parents. When Roman became old enough to realize that they were merely wearing masks – especially to Thomas and Martha Wayne, whom his parents despised in private but worshipped in public – he became obsessed with the concept.
This obsession took a more literal turn when he inherited his father’s business, Janus Cosmetics (after killing both of his parents, of course). A whole new line of waterproof make-up failed after it was revealed to severely disfigure its wearers, taking the company down and forcing Bruce Wayne to intervene as its savior. Having finally forced him to snap, Roman digs up his father’s grave, breaks off a piece from the ebony casket, and fashions a mask out of it, which would be the face of his new life as a crime lord and as the leader of the False Face Society.
More recently, the comics have added a few new layers to his mask preoccupation: he now suffers from split personality disorder (with Black Mask being the second personality), and his mask now possesses mind control technology, which allows him to brainwash the weak-minded into following him. The latter is a bit too out there for the grounded cinematic villains we’ve seen as of late, though Gotham City could always use a new crime lord, and Black Mask definitely fits the bill.
8. Calendar Man
Like the Caped Crusader’s core group of supervillains, such as the Joker, the Riddler, and Catwoman, Calendar Man was originally created in the earlier phases of Batman’s existence (though he first appeared a full decade later than these others, in the 1950s). Unlike those more iconic characters, however, Calendar Man hasn’t passed into the everyday vernacular of the more casual Bat-fans, though he has managed to remain a more-or-less persistent presence in the rogues gallery, finally reaching a more pervasive level of fame with the 1997 miniseries The Long Halloween, which Christopher Nolan has repeatedly listed as a major inspiration behind his Dark Knight trilogy.
Julian Gregory Day is, as his name might suggest, obsessed with the calendar. When he eventually turns to crime, he plans his capers according to one dimension of the calendar or another, whether it be specific dates or days of the week, holidays, seasons, or anniversaries. (In his earlier, more cartoony incarnations, he’d also wear a special costume coinciding with each holiday, a practice which would never be able to make the transition to the DC Extended Universe’s bleak on-screen reality, but which nonetheless makes him fashion-forward.)
It is in Long Halloween’s depiction that a big-screen adaptation of Calendar Man would work best – imprisoned, brilliant, and jealous of newer criminal upstarts who might take away his shtick and legacy both, Julian Day acts more like Dr. Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs than a cheesy number-wearing criminal buffoon. Given that his depiction in other subsequent media, such as the Batman: Arkham videogame series, capitalizes on this more sinister incarnation, having him face off against Affleck is a shoe-in for success.
7. The Ventriloquist
The Ventriloquist is one of Batman’s more unique adversaries, starting with the little fact that he’s not particularly formidable, either physically (like Black Mask) or intellectually (like Calendar Man), and ending with the fact that his main puppet of choice, Scarface, is afflicted with a speech impediment, often to truly comic results. Think Woody Allen holding a sock puppet, and you’ve pretty much summed up the essence of the character.
That doesn’t make him any less potent a foil, however. Arnold Wesker grows up in a Mafia family and is traumatized when he witnesses his mother being gunned down by rival organized crime associates. He subsequently develops dissociative identity disorder, with its main outlet becoming ventriloquism, specifically in the form of a wooden puppet named Scarface that is modeled after the kingpin of the Mafia himself, Al Capone (replete with ‘20s dress, parlance, and [real-life] weaponry). It is through Scarface – who Wesker really does believe is a completely different individual, separate from him – that brilliant criminal plans are executed, often resulting in successful heists (the reason why the thugs of Gotham agree to go along with a man who is patently absurd).
Over the years, there have been various permutations on the Ventriloquist formula. Supernatural elements of the Scarface dummy have been hinted at, other puppets with entirely different personalities (even ones that attempt to murder Wesker!) have temporarily taken over Scarface’s place, and there’s even been two subsequent criminals who have called themselves the Ventriloquist. But even without these added flourishes, the core of the character is so refreshingly different – particularly in as dark a world as the DCEU is already shaping up to be – that he would invariably steal the show when he pops up in movie theaters.
6. Lady Shiva
One of Batman’s most physically imposing adversaries, Lady Shiva represents the cinematic opportunity to have martial-arts mash-ups that would easily overshadow those seen by Bane in The Dark Knight Rises or Ben Affleck’s multiple-combatant brawl in Batman v Superman.
In her original origin story, Sandra Woosan first takes up the study of marital arts in order to avenge her sister, Carolyn, who was murdered. She instantly discovers that she’s something of a prodigy, picking up – and thoroughly mastering – various styles of hand-to-hand combat within a remarkably short period of time. Having become one of the greatest combatants in the entire DC Universe, Sandra dubs herself Lady Shiva, after the Hindu god of death. And once her initial quest for vengeance is resolved, she becomes an assassin for hire (like so many other supervillains in DC’s pantheon, particularly the various members of the Suicide Squad).
In the 40 years since then, Shiva’s genesis has taken on several different iterations, including one that involves Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Assassins (called the League of Shadows in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy) and her giving birth to a daughter, Cassandra Cain, who would ultimately go on to become one of the latest Batgirls (which plays up the creation aspect of the Shiva deity, not just the destruction element). In the current continuity, she is also the mentor of the Red Hood – something which could become her easiest introduction in the DC Extended Universe, given rumors of that character’s involvement in the next Batman film.
Slade Joseph Wilson is one of the most popular villains (and, dare we say, anti-heroes) in DC Comics’ history, first appearing in 1980 as an adversary of the Teen Titans who calls himself the Terminator before moving on to become one of Batman’s most well-entrenched foes (with a name change first to Deathstroke the Terminator and then, finally, to simply Deathstroke).
Deathstroke is a highly skilled solider who is first recruited by his commanding officers for inclusion in special forces and then, a short while later, in a top-secret super-soldier program that grants him a superhuman prowess. Upon ending his military career, he parlays his highly developed skillset into mercenary work, which eventually results in his losing his right eye. In the original, ‘80s version of his origin, it is his wife who shoots and tries to kill him upon learning of his secret mercenary life and the danger it puts their family in; in the current, New 52 iteration, it is an enemy combatant who does the deed, after Deathstroke begins his own pursuit of vengeance for his family’s near-death. In either case, it results in the loss of his right eye, which Deathstroke actually plays up and practically brags about with his costume design – it makes him more frightening than ever.
His superhuman strength, speed, and stamina, along with his superb military training, make him one of the best candidates for one of the best adversaries to appear in the entire DC Extended Universe. Batman – and the whole rest of the Justice League – best beware, because he could indeed be on the way.
4. Mad Hatter
A rather frivolous supervillain when originally introduced in 1948, Dr. Jervis Tetch has somehow remained in the Bat-wheelhouse and developed into a more sophisticated – and significantly darker – character.
In nearly every permutation, the Mad Hatter is obsessed with both hats and the works of Lewis Carroll – particularly, of course, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In more recent stories, these fixations have been underscored by allegations of pedophilia, which completes his transformation into a more sinister presence in the comics. Another consistent over the past seven decades: his development and deployment of mind-control technology, whose devices typically get stuffed in his oversized hats, reinforcing the Mad Hatter cosplaying that he already engages in.
Such traits may seem like they narrow Jervis Tetch’s characterization, limiting him to the extremely specific niche of Alice reenactments, and they generally do, but such an obsession (a) perfectly mirrors Bruce Wayne’s own preoccupation with bats and (b) provides some richly lyrical visuals that are more than perfect for a big-screen adaptation. Heading down such a surreal path surely can’t hurt, especially since it would provide a much-needed break in tone from what audiences have already seen with both Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice.
3. Red Hood
Red Hood is perhaps one of the most byzantine characters in the history of the Bat-mythos, starting in the ‘50s as the original alias of the criminal mastermind who would one day become the Joker and ending, in current continuity, as an entire gang of nihilism-embracing, anarchy-spreading thugs (who eventually get rounded up and exterminated by none other than the Joker).
But the most (in)famous version of the character was introduced in 2005 as the new costumed identity of one Jason Todd, the adolescent street urchin who became Batman’s second Robin in the ‘80s before first being killed off by the Joker (see a recurring pattern here?) and then subsequently being revived, thanks to Ra’s al Ghul and his miraculous Lazarus Pits. Being warped both by his sense of vengeance for his wrongful death – and Batman’s seeming unwillingness to avenge him by murdering the Joker in turn – and by the resurrection process of the Lazarus Pit, Todd wishes to continue his former crime fighting ways, but to do so in a much more extreme (read: murderous) way. He dons the costume of the Red Hood and takes to the streets of Gotham to become the lethally effective vigilante that Batman, his subsequent Robins, and the rest of the Bat-Family can never be.
Since the DCEU has already envisioned Batman himself as a type of anti-hero, complementing this characterization with an even more extreme example can further serve to humanize Bruce Wayne, a process which may have already started with Superman’s death at the end of Dawn of Justice. We’ve heard the rumors of the Red Hood’s inclusion, and now we’ve seen it teased. Now it’s time to make it a reality.
2. Hugo Strange
It’s easy to see how the character of Dr. Hugo Strange would instantly electrify any movie he’s placed in. One of Batman’s very oldest villains – he even predates the Joker – and the first to discover that he’s really Bruce Wayne, Dr. Strange is a deranged psychiatrist (and closet genetic researcher) who is introduced in the modern continuity when he’s hired to act as a consultant to a police taskforce meant to track down and capture the Dark Knight. He becomes so obsessed with the costumed vigilante, he begins to dress up like him, is able to deduce his secret identity, and, finally, even attempts to kill the Caped Crusader so that he might be able to replace him.
Such intimate knowledge of Batman and such far-reaching plans make him one of the most formidable baddies seen across the last 76 years, while his constant forays into genetic manipulation put at his disposal a particularly menacing army of henchmen. It’s hard to picture a more perfect foil for the darker-than-dark Ben Affleck Batman in the DC Extended Universe.
Clayface, in many ways, is the epitome of every Batman villain – he’s yet another creation that’s been around since the ‘40s, he has an element of science fiction that makes him more than just, say, a murderous, literary-obsessed cosplayer, and his name has been a mantle for several(!) different individuals, meaning that he’s a concept that can easily continue on for the next 70 years, as well, without getting bogged down in endless layers of continuity or reboots.
The original Clayface, Basil Karlo, is a washed-up B-movie actor who is driven to murder when he discovers that Hollywood is shooting a remake of the classic horror film he had originally starred in without him. Initially, Karlo has no shapeshifting powers – the trait that would ultimately go on to define all subsequent iterations of the character – but he eventually manages to absorb the changeling DNA of his successors, transforming his own body into mud and attaining their special powers. Later keepers of the Clayface mantle feature shapeshifting abilities that are so strong, when a piece of them becomes separated, it can retain its own semi-consciousness, even bonding with another individual to transform him into a “Claything.”
If one thinks of the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, he’s right on the money, delivering an enemy that could be the most relentless force that Ben Affleck has faced in the cape and cowl (well, after Superman himself, technically speaking). Few things get us more excited.
Did we miss your favorite member of the Bat rogues gallery? Have a better suggestion for our rankings? Be sure to share in the comments section.
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