One of the upcoming installments in Warner Bros’ ongoing DC cinematic universe is Matt Reeves’ The Batman, which will center on a younger Dark Knight protecting the streets of Gotham City. We have just learned who will be playing The Caped Crusader, as Robert Pattinson will be taking on the role. However, with a 2021 release date set for the project, more details will surely emerge later this year, perhaps even during San Diego Comic-Con this summer.
Given that we have had so many Batman films in the past, we’re going to explore the 5 characters that Reeves’ movie needs as well as 5 that he should avoid for this new take on the Caped Crusader. Disclaimer: we’ll be excluding characters like Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon, as it’s basically a given that they will appear in the movie.
10 AVOID: Ra’s al Ghul
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy had the Demon’s Head as a large player, mostly in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises. Even though the final sequel never had Ra’s take part of the attack at Gotham, his desire to destroy the city lived on through his daughter Talia al Ghul (Marion Cotillard) and her beloved Bane (Tom Hardy). The small screen has also seen Ra’s appear as a main antagonist through Arrow season 3 as well as seasons 3 and 4 of Gotham, with Matt Nable and Alexander Siddig playing the role respectively.
There were even rumors that Titans Season 1 would feature Ra’s in some capacity. With that said, we have had a lot of Ra’s in the past couple of years. While Ra’s is, without doubt, one of Bruce’s more complex antagonists, it would be wise to avoid using him at least for the first film.
9 NEEDS: The Riddler
Say what you will about the quality of Batman Forever, but one of the few things that works in that film will always be Jim Carrey’s Riddler. While not executed as well as one may have wished, the idea of Batman having to be challenged intellectually is something that needs to be more explored on the big screen. We also just finished five years of Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) on Gotham, showing that there is so much you can do with that character.
Riddler is also the kind of villain that Batman can’t always punch to stop since that brilliant mind of Nygma’s manages to sometimes be ahead of the detective. Given that Reeves’ vision is said to have a very noir vibe, having Riddler go up against the Caped Crusader would be a unique way to kick-off that franchise.
8 AVOID: Bane
Bane will always be one of Bruce’s most iconic antagonists, no matter what. It’s not only because of the physical threat that he poses for our hero but also because of his dangerously gifted mind. However, introducing Bane this soon in the vision that Reeves is proposing wouldn’t be a good fit. From what we know, Reeves wants to showcase the detective side of Batman a lot more than other versions have done.
Once we have gotten deeper with this new version of Batman, Bane should definitely pop up down the line. However, he can’t show up with an Al Ghul daughter for a third time, following The Dark Knight Rises and Gotham.
7 NEEDS: Scarecrow
Some of the greatest Batman stories are when we go deeper into his weaknesses. Batman Begins was a perfect example of how powerful someone like the Scarecrow can be when used right. No matter how frightening Batman can be to his enemies, he is still just as human as the majority of his rogue’s gallery.
Batman Begins, in many ways, only scratched the surface of what Jonathan Crane can do when given the spotlight. Even the Batman Arkham video games have demonstrated what you can do with this particular villain. Scarecrow would also be a great way to add some more horror to The Batman story.
6 AVOID: Killer Croc
While the Dark Knight has an incredible amount of fascinating villains, Killer Croc isn’t exactly one of them. As deadly as he is, Killer Croc doesn’t do much as a baddie other than being someone for Bruce to punch the hell out of. If the Batman mythology makes one thing incredibly clear, it's that Batman is one of the strongest fighters in the DC Universe.
Batman stories are at their best when he gets to take down his enemies through his mind instead of just his fists. Unless a major revamp is done to Killer Croc, we don’t see him fitting in with Reeves’ version. However, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him be used as muscle for whoever serves as the big bad.
5 NEEDS: Catwoman
While she has only been properly used twice on the big screen, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Anne Hathaway portraying the iconic role in Batman Returns and The Dark Knight Rises respectively, Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman is someone that always leaves you wanting more whenever she shows up. Given the iconic nature of the Bat and the Cat's dynamic, the idea of seeing a younger Selina alongside Bruce is something we would welcome. Camren Bicondova on Gotham showed us the depth you can create by portraying Selina's growth around the same time as Bruce's.
Not only would it give Bruce a complex anti-hero to deal with in Gotham, but it would give fans one of DC’s more complicated love stories on screen. Imagine if The Batman is the start of a new trilogy: how great would it be to see that romance develop over three installments? It would also add a consistent female lead throughout Reeves’ franchise.
4 AVOID: Mr. Freeze
Similarly to Bane and Killer Croc, Mr. Freeze isn’t exactly the villain you picture for a deep detective story. Like many of Batman's villains, he wants the attention no matter what. Maybe he would be better suited for a second or third film, but Victor isn't a villain to start with for a new franchise.
Aside from all of that, Mr. Freeze tends to be one of the villains who is easier for Batman to defeat in a lot of stories. If you take away his freeze gun or mess up the suit that keeps him alive, it's pretty much game over for him.
3 NEEDS: Penguin
Gotham just showed us five years of Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) and the journeys you can take with him. Serving as one of the more complex baddies in the lore, Oswald juggles being a mobster as well as a great mastermind. While we got a lot of that through Danny DeVito's version in Batman Returns, there is still a lot of unused potential with the Penguin.
Imagine Batman having to deal with an enemy who can so easily paint himself as innocent to the city. That's where you can incorporate a lot of his detective side into the story. Considering that he has teased it on social media a few times, imagine if Josh Gad did play the Penguin.
2 AVOID: Poison Ivy
It can’t be denied that Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery can be a big sausage fest. Poison Ivy is due for a big screen appearance, but The Batman isn’t necessarily the right place for her…yet. Ivy has always been one of the bigger villains for Bruce to take on. But if Reeves is focused on telling a detective story, she doesn’t exactly fit for that vision.
Ivy is the type of troublemaker who wants to be heard and seen as much as possible. Hiding in the shadows has never been one of Ivy’s methods. But down the line, we hope to see Ivy for the right type of story.
1 NEEDS: Hugo Strange
It’s a crime that we’ve yet to see Hugo Strange on the big screen, given how many Batman films that have come previously. It wasn’t until Gotham Season 2 when he made his debut in live-action, portrayed by BD Wong, and caused lots of trouble throughout the rest of the series. If The Batman wants to start off big, then Hugo Strange is the perfect villain to bring to the silver screen.
With this character comes a lot of powerful elements that you can incorporate into one character. There is the mad scientist that allows intriguing experiments to come to life. Obsession is another key layer to this character who ends up getting fixated with our detective. With those sorts of angles to play with, how can you not use Hugo Strange?