With 2015 officially in our rear view mirror, we find ourselves less than three months away from the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the second chapter in DC's Extended Universe. The follow-up to 2013's Man of Steel has succeeded in stirring comic book fans into a frenzy, but in a few short weeks, we'll learn whether or not Zack Snyder's superhero epic can live up to the hype.
As the DCEU continues to add high-end talent to its shared world of superheroic characters, we've found ourselves wondering what villains DC's greatest heroes will be warring against in the coming years. There's certainly no shortage of candidates to choose from, and in addition to selecting a few choice evildoers, we're going to try our hand at actually casting the roles.
Here are Screen Rant's 12 DC Villain Casting Decisions We'd Love to See.
First introduced in 1985, the Black Mask is one of the newer Batman adversaries on the scene. Two different characters have held the mantle, though the wearer of the mask is almost always depicted as being one of the most brutal crime lords Gotham has ever seen. Perhaps Black Mask's most prominent role came as a secondary villain in Judd Winnick’s 2005-2006 arc Batman: Under the Hood, a storyline recent rumors have indicated will play a major role in the upcoming Batman solo film.
Should the reign of the Black Mask indeed be on the horizon for the DCEU, Penn would be an ideal selection for the role. In his 40+ year career, the two-time Academy Award winner has shown his ability to embody just about any character imaginable. The white-knuckle intensity he consistently brings to the screen makes him a natural fit to play the psychotic Black Mask. His recent work seems to indicate his desire to return to the mainstream and possibly even take on a career arc similar to that of Liam Neeson. The Taken star has done his share of comic book work, so it would make a ton of sense for Penn to continue the trend. If anything, we’d love to see the 55 year old be given another crack at playing a mob boss in an effort to make up for the horrendous 2013 crime drama Gangster Squad. He deserves better.
One of the many actors who almost played Batman, Bentley was reportedly Christopher Nolan’s recommendation to play the Dark Knight when Zack Snyder was casting the hero for Batman v Superman. The 37 year old has largely kept a low profile since breaking out in 1999’s American Beauty, though he has featured in hit films like The Hunger Games and Interstellar and has continued to impress with his parts on FX’s American Horror Story anthology series. If Bentley has any desire to return to the comic book world for a third time (he’s previously served as an antagonist in both Ghost Rider and Jonah Hex), he’d be a great choice to play Aquaman’s villainous half-brother, Orm.
DC’s Aquaman solo film, scheduled for a summer 2018 release, is a risky undertaking for a multitude of reasons. Director James Wan has a lot on his plate with this film, not the least of which being the major hurdle that comes with filming an Aquaman adventure—just how the hell do you film a movie that needs to take place mostly under water?
One of the more straightforward solutions for legitimizing the oft-mocked King of Atlantis would be to provide him with a truly badass adversary, and Ocean Master could be just what the doctor ordered. We’re 100% on board with Jason Momoa playing a fierce warrior king, and a scheming family member who plots to steal his throne and wage war with the surface world would make for a truly worthy opponent. Obvious parallels will be drawn between the two and Marvel’s otherworldly sibling rivalry, Thor and Loki, but since that pairing has become a driving force behind the MCU, DC shouldn’t shy away from trying to replicate their success. The highly talented Bentley would make for an excellent foil for Momoa’s Aquaman, but if recent rumors prove true, the Atlantean king will have an equally fierce queen fighting at his side. Luckily for Orm, he doesn’t have to fight this battle alone...
Should the rumors of Queen Mera serving a role similar to Mad Max’s Furiosa pan out, Orm will be needing some assistance if he hopes to seize the Atlantean crown. The clear choice is Black Manta, perhaps Aquaman’s greatest (or at least his best-known) adversary. The character has a convoluted history, one that likely won’t make it to the big screen, but he would be a terrific addition to the DCEU nonetheless. His behind-the-scenes role as a secondary antagonist in the animated film Justice League: Throne of Atlantis would be a fitting introduction for the villain, though we’re not so sure his apparent Deep Blue Sea-like death would translate quite so well to live-action.
Our pick to play Aquaman’s archenemy is Empire’s Trai Byers. The melodramatic primetime soap opera may not be for everyone, but there’s no denying the talent Byers displays on a weekly basis as the bipolar son of Terrence Howard’s Lucious Lyon. Outside of landing a small role in Selma, Byers has yet to capitalize on his newfound fame, but that may have more to do with his full-time commitment to the FOX series than anything else. If the 32-year-old can fit it into his schedule, he would be an excellent fit for Black Manta. Previous rumors that suggested that Common would be taking on the role have been all but disproven, so if Byers is indeed unavailable, we can see Omari Hardwick (Power) or Colman Domingo (Fear the Walking Dead) filling the role. Whether the character's trademark helmet will be considered iconic or downright goofy when all is said and done is another question entirely.
Let’s get a few things out of the way here. One: Mark Strong was an excellent Sinestro. He was perhaps the one redeeming quality of the entirely subpar 2011 Green Lantern movie. But he will almost certainly not return to the character, as such a return would signal the acceptance of the film into the DCEU’s continuity; a highly unlikely scenario. Two: we already tapped Evans to play Namor in our Marvel casting call a few months ago, so we’re cheating a bit here. But if we had to choose between the two roles for him, Thaal Sinestro definitely comes out on top.
Evans is an ideal fit to play the supervillain, but whether or not the character will feature in the upcoming Green Lantern Corps film is still unclear. The movie is currently 4+ years away from release, so we (understandably) know very little concrete information about the project as of now. Nevertheless, Sinestro is an unquestioned fan-favorite, and his diminished presence in the 2011 outing makes him the best bet to face off against the Green Lantern(s) in 2020. We expect to see the longtime arch-nemesis of the Corps leading the charge against the Emerald Knights, and we’re hoping Evans is the one chosen to wield the yellow ring of fear.
Speaking of fan-favorites, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Deathstroke the Terminator doesn’t make his way into the DCEU at some point. This world-class mercenary owes a good deal of his popularity to television appearances in series like Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans and The CW’s Arrow, and his distinctive look and personality make him a prime candidate for DC’s shared universe. Assuming that he hasn’t already made his way onto the Suicide Squad, you should expect to see him pop up in a possible sequel or in the Batman solo feature.
There’s been no shortage of rumors regarding the casting of Slade Wilson over the last year—and as interesting a candidate as Joe Manganiello is—our pick for the role is none other than Clive Owen. The 51 year old Brit has done his share of gun fighting (Shoot Em’ Up) and swordplay (King Arthur, Last Knights), but it’s his overall abilities as an actor that land him on this list. He’s one of Hollywood’s most underrated talents, and his distinctive voice is a perfect match for Deathstroke. Keep in mind, the assassin’s iconic mask will (hopefully) be on more often than it’s off, so the actor portraying him will have to convey the necessary levels of menace and terror to the audience using only his words and body language. And given that it's unlikely he'll be returning to set for the future of The Knick, the Steven Soderbergh TV series he starred in for the past two years, it is a perfect time for him to bring Wilson to life on the silver screen.
Casting the big bad of an entire shared universe will inevitably be viewed as a fool’s errand by some. It’s an enormously difficult task, and regardless of whom DC taps to play the ruler of Apokolips, a large contingency of comic enthusiasts will point to another actor that they believe to be better suited for the role. Fans of DC’s animated series and films will surely cry foul if Michael Ironside or Andre Braugher (both of whom have done outstanding work voice acting the role) aren’t cast to play Darkseid.
That being said, we have a hunch that DC/Warner Bros. will go with a big name here, and our favorite has to be Jeff Bridges. Yes, he already played the villain in Iron Man, and while several other actors have made similar jumps across shared universes—Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Callan Mulvey, and Ayelet Zurer to name a few—Bridges would be the biggest defector to date by a long shot. The Oscar-winning actor is as talented as they come, and his gruff and gravelly voice is a great match for Darkseid. While the 66 year old is far from an exact physical match for 8’9", 1800+ lbs supervillain, his motion-capture work in Tron:Legacy goes to show that he’s no stranger to the process. DC would likely have to ante up Harrison Ford-level money in order to bring him on board, but we think he’d be worth every penny.
Darkseid has been the rumored villain for the first Justice League outing for a while now, and for good reason: he may just be the League’s most viable opponent. The immensely powerful New God is also a surprisingly complex character, one who would surely prove to be a worthy adversary for DC’s heroes. Let’s just hope his reasons for invading Earth are slightly more complex than the plot of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Anti-Life equation, anyone?
If Darkseid is indeed coming to the DCEU, consider our fingers firmly crossed that Granny Goodness comes along for the ride. Comic book legend Jack Kirby gave the character a pretty terrific origin story when he created her back in 1971, and she’s made several memorable appearances in DC’s animated endeavors in the years since. One of Darkseid’s few trusted allies, Granny runs several military training facilities and orphanages on Apokolips. She’s also the leader of the Female Furies, an elite group of women warriors who serve as Darkseid’s personal guard. Goodness’ quirky but ruthless demeanor would make for an excellent addition to a Justice League film.
There’s a few actresses we could see bringing Granny Goodness to the big screen for the first time, but Kathleen Turner definitely tops our list of hopefuls. The two-time Golden Globe winner is perhaps best known to modern audiences for playing Chandler Bing’s cross-dressing father on Friends. The 61-year-old seems to have taken a step back from the acting game as of late, having only appeared in four films in the last decade, but perhaps she could be lured out of semi-retirement with a comic book role that seems tailor-made for her. If she can’t, consider nerd queen Sigourney Weaver our Plan B.
If the folks in charge elect to save Darkseid for a future Justice League installment, bet the house on an appearance from Brainiac. The alien android with a twelfth-level intellect ranks amongst the most powerful beings in the DC Universe, and would be a truly awesome adversary for the League to face off against—despite the obvious parallels to Marvel’s Ultron. The collector of worlds is traditionally depicted as a Superman villain, though considering the apocalyptic repercussions his presence on Earth usually entails, it makes more sense for him to serve as the antagonist of a Justice League film. After all, even if Brainiac isn’t after the entire planet and is only looking to add, say, Metropolis to his collection, it still seems like the sort of situation in which Superman would call upon his fellow League members for assistance. Brainiac may simply be too powerful an opponent for a solo film like Man of Steel 2.
Assuming DC chooses to depict a fully-formed Brainiac, rather than the childlike version glimpsed in Justice League: Gods and Monsters (which, frankly, would be awesome), we’d love to see Jude Law nab the part. Having matured into a top-tier talent of the stage and screen over the course of his nearly 30 year career, the 43 year old was actually Brett Ratner’s top choice for Superman way back when. Early last year, Law revealed to MTV that he even took the suit for a brief test drive before electing to pass on the role. “I really didn’t want to spend the rest of my life being that guy who played Superman,” he explained. Now nearly a decade and a half removed from his shot at playing the Last Son of Krypton, we hope Law is a bit more willing to dive into the superhero genre, as he’s our top choice to portray Brainiac. The two-time Academy Award nominee can pull off just about anything in our eyes, and this villainous turn could be right up his alley.
As much fun as it’s been to see the various Rogues go toe-to-toe on a weekly basis with the Flash over on The CW, few of them are viable adversaries for the Scarlet Speedster on the big screen; he’s simply too powerful. To that end, we’re hoping to see the DCEU iteration of the world’s fastest man square off against the only opponent who can keep up with him—no matter how hard George R.R. Martin will roll his eyes. Eobard Thawne, the character most widely-associated with the Reverse-Flash mantle, has done some truly terrible things to Barry Allen over the years, and his inclusion in the DCEU would open the door for an adaptation of the incredibly popular crossover storyline, Flashpoint. Not only would such a film be a great character piece for the two arch-rivals, but it’s alternate-universe setting would provide a fresh wrinkle to the world of comic book films.
And let’s not underestimate the power this sort of storyline could potentially hold. As the Flashpoint arc served as a reset button for the comic book universe (establishing a new continuity known as The New 52), so too could a film adaptation of the series. In the highly unfortunate circumstance that their shared cinematic universe isn’t performing to expectations, DC could use a Flashpoint movie to reset the whole thing and start from scratch without dealing with the sort of obstacles The Amazing Spider-Man had to endure. The point of all this being that bringing Eobard Thawne into the fold gives the DC bigwigs options, options they may one day desperately need. Thawne could prove to be a pivotal character for the DCEU, and we think we have just the man for the job.
Garrett Hedlund has been on the verge of a breakout for a while now. Since bursting on the scene in 2004 with roles in Troy and Friday Night Lights, the 31-year-old has kept things interesting, to say the least. Having starred in an increasingly wide variety of genres, Hedlund has popped up in indie films (Inside Llewyn Davis, On the Road) and blockbusters (Tron: Legacy, Pan) alike, and he's showing no signs of slowing down. Like Luke Evans, there’s no shortage of potential comic book characters that would be right in Hedlund’s wheelhouse. And while his resume is currently dominated by good guy roles, we think he’s got the chops to bring a memorable villain to the DCEU. Safer options like Aaron Paul and Ben Foster certainly exist, but we’re holding out hope that it’s Hedlund who gets to go a few rounds with the Scarlet Speedster in the very near future.
Jensen Ackles fans are not going to like this one. The Supernatural star who voiced Jason Todd in the spectacular 2010 animated film Under the Red Hood was a viable candidate for the live-action version of the character once upon a time. Now 37, Ackles would be an extreme stretch as the former sidekick of the 43 year old Ben Affleck, one we’re convinced will never happen. Instead, we’d like to see Tyler Hoechlin take on the role of the vengeful ex-Robin. Aside from being an obvious, near-perfect match looks-wise, the 28 year old’s career appears to be on the sort of upward trajectory that DC would like to latch on to. Having departed MTV’s Teen Wolf this past year in order to focus on his film career, Hoechlin already has several wide releases in the pipeline, including a starring role in Richard Linklater’s “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some. Dazed helped launch the careers of stars like Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, and even Batman himself, Ben Affleck, but only time will tell what its follow-up will do for Hoechlin.
By all indications, the Jason Todd has become a top priority for DC. Understandably so, given the character’s depth and the impact his return from the grave would have on his former mentor. We’ve explained in detail the reasons why an Under the Hood adaptation would serve as an ideal starting point for the Caped Crusader’s next solo outing, though the former Boy Wonder’s role could easily be expanded even further. Few villains in the DC Universe possess the spinoff potential of the Red Hood, who could very well end up at the head of a team like the Outlaws or even in his own solo adventure. The possibilities are endless. Should recent rumors prove true—and the DCEU itself prove to be a success, of course—then Jason Todd fans should have a decade-long story arc to look forward to. DC needs to hit with this casting. If Hoechlin is unavailable, we can see Dylan O'Brien, Dan Stevens, or even the aforementioned Hedlund owning this role.
The Justice League appears primed to do battle with some sort of all-powerful enemy in its first adventure, whether it be Darkseid or Brainiac. Instead of trying to up the ante and outdo themselves with a bigger and better apocalyptic event in Part Two, we’d like to see DC go the darker and more personal route—a.k.a. what Joss Whedon originally had in mind for Avengers: Age of Ultron. A story in the vein of Mark Waid’s Tower of Babel would fit the bill nicely. In the comic, Ra’s al Ghul steals Batman’s contingency plans for incapacitating the Justice League and puts them into action, in order to carry out his own sinister plot unencumbered. The story serves as a showcase of the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, all while reasserting Batman’s title as the most dangerous man alive.
An animated adaptation of the comic replaced al Ghul with the immortal Vandal Savage, though the overarching plot remained the same for the most part. With Liam Neeson’s portrayal of Ra’s al Ghul in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy still a fresh memory in moviegoers’ minds, and Savage set to play a major role in The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow series, a Babel film would likely need a new antagonist. That’s where Prometheus comes in. Underrated, underutilized, and incredibly dangerous, he’s the sort of character that’s popular enough to get people excited, but unknown enough that the creative team behind the film could mold and shape him to fit the needs of the story. In short, Prometheus would provide audiences with the villain we deserve, and the one we need right now.
Our pick to play Prometheus is Gerard Butler. His career-making collaboration with Zack Snyder in 300 aside, he seems to possess untapped villainous potential, having barely scratched the surface of his dark side in the 2009 thriller, Law Abiding Citizen. We’ll get another glimpse at bad guy Butler next month in Gods of Egypt, but, judging solely by the film’s head-scratching trailers, expectations should probably be tempered on that one. Speaking of Alex Proyas’ white-washed cast, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau would serve as a fine replacement for the 46 year old Butler, should he be unavailable to take on Prometheus.
Of all the outstandingly meta casting options in the world, this one might be our favorite. Childhood friends Ben Affleck and Matt Damon going toe-to-toe in a superhero movie where they portray long-lost playmates may just be the one thing missing from your life, and if we had our way, you’d get it. It’s a huge longshot of course, given Damon’s aversion to superhero movies—he famously turned down the Daredevil role that eventually went to Affleck—and the overall unlikelihood of Hush’s inclusion in the DCEU, but it’s fun to dream. Aspects of the character could make their way into Batman’s upcoming solo adventure, though that film will probably choose to focus on the various members of the Bat Family rather than a relatively obscure villain like Hush.
The Aristotle-quoting madman known as Hush was born Thomas Elliot, the only son of a wealthy family who was revealed to be young Bruce Wayne’s first instructor in the ways of strategic thinking. After killing his parents and inheriting their fortune, Elliot eventually returned to Gotham to exact his own brand of irrational revenge against his childhood friend. While he’s not quite a physical match for the Batman, his genius-level intellect and advanced tactical mind make him an interesting foil for the Dark Knight, one that could flesh out previously unexplored aspects of the hero. The minds behind the DCEU would likely elect to feature a more high-profile villain like the Riddler if they were going to make the upcoming Batman film into a hard-boiled detective story/mystery thriller, but that doesn’t make the idea of Matt Damon squaring off against Ben Affleck any less awesome.
What do you think of our casting decisions? Is there any chance we’ll ever see the boys from Boston throw down in the mean streets of Gotham? Who do you think should be the Justice League’s first opponent? Be sure to sound off in the comments below.
Justice League Dark is rumored to begin production in 2016 with no release date currently set. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice arrives in theaters on March 25, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 23, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and then Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020. Untitled Batman and Superman solo films will be coming at dates TBD.