The DC Extended Universe – or, as Warner Bros. are now trying to brand it, Worlds of DC – has a lucrative opportunity to set a distinctive tone and bring the dense, enrapturing DC Comics universe to life on the big screen. Unfortunately, this opportunity has been mostly squandered so far, especially in the villain department.
They’ve already screwed up DC’s two most famous and iconic villains: Lex Luthor, who Jesse Eisenberg played as a rip-off of Heath Ledger’s Joker, and the Joker himself, who Jared Leto played as an entitled, tattoo-covered millennial. Here are 10 Iconic DC Comics Villains We Want To See Done Right In The DCEU.
As shown by the fans’ mixed, yet curious response to the “Knightmare” sequence in Batman v Superman, maybe the best way for the DCEU to move forward is to go really weird with their best-known characters. We’ve seen the Batman and Superman stories peddled by most DCEU movies a million times before.
We need something different. The MCU has done this admirably with storylines that take Spider-Man to space and have the Hulk calmly speaking full sentences. The DCEU could shake things up by introducing Bizarro, the opposite of Superman in every way, from Earth’s mirror planet Bizarro World where everything is the opposite.
The appearance of Deathstroke in the DCEU was teased in the post-credits scene following Justice League, in which he showed up on Lex Luthor’s yacht, played by Joe Manganiello. The comic book version of Deathstroke is such a badass that he provided the initial inspiration for Deadpool.
If Deadpool took himself more seriously, changed his name from Wade to Slade, and was a villain instead of a hero, he’d be Deathstroke. So, naturally, comic book readers would be pretty interested to see a faithful adaptation of this character on the silver screen (in an actual movie, not just a post-credits stinger).
8 The Penguin
Danny DeVito’s take on the Penguin from Tim Burton’s Batman Returns might seem like the definitive version, because DeVito had the perfect look and Burton’s German expressionist reference points meant that the character was framed in a gorgeously bleak light, but there are plenty of other incarnations of Oswald Cobblepot that would be interesting to see in the DCEU.
It’s hard to make weaponized umbrellas and armies of training penguins look gritty and grounded, but that’s exactly the kind of challenge to leads to innovative prop and costume designs. The DCEU should be taking more risks like this to please fans.
DC executives have been trying to get a big-screen portrayal of Lobo off the ground for a while now. Guy Ritchie worked on a version for a while before dropping out to focus on other projects, and since then, the execs have been in talks with Michael Bay to direct the film, currently negotiating the budget and creative tone.
It’s no surprise that they want to make a movie out of him. He’s an intergalactic bounty hunter from the planet of Czarnia, so he’d make an interesting lead for a big-budget sci-fi blockbuster. But primarily, he’s a villain, and should be depicted as such.
We were supposed to have already seen Darkseid in the DCEU. In Zack Snyder’s original cut of Justice League, Darkseid was supposed to drag the heroes into a distant future where he had taken over Earth, murder Lois Lane, and take Superman under his control, leading to the “Knightmare” sequence from Batman v Superman.
Warner Bros. made Snyder change the script to omit all these storylines after the less-than-enthusiastic response to Batman v Superman, but the references to Darkseid are still in there, so he should appear at some point, once the franchise is straightened out and back on track.
Green Lantern still hasn’t made his promised appearance in the DCEU, but when he does, we’ll need a better version of his arch nemesis Sinestro than we got in Ryan Reynolds’ 2011 movie. In that movie, he was played by the usually brilliant Mark Strong, but thanks to a poor script and equally poor direction, he never really felt like a threat or left an impact.
This is Sinestro, one of the DC universe’s foremost foes! Rumor has it that Warner Bros. and DC aren’t planning to use the Hal Jordan iteration of the character in their movies, but the canon could be tweaked slightly to still allow Sinestro into the mix.
4 The Riddler
Now that Robert Pattinson has been cast to give the DCEU a new brand of Batman, the Caped Crusader will need a new brand of villain. So far, we’ve seen the DCEU’s Batman go up against villains who have brawn to challenge his. A nice change of pace from that could be to confront him with an intellectual foe, like the Riddler.
Despite the fact the studio pushed for it, we never actually got to see the dark Christopher Nolan version of the Riddler. But with the right casting, a twisted version of the Riddler could be an iconic comic book movie villain.
So far, Superman’s enemies have been pretty disappointing in the DCEU. Michael Shannon’s portrayal of General Zod showed some promise, but things took a nosedive when Jesse Eisenberg’s insulting take on Lex Luthor made his first appearance. In some versions of the DC timeline, Brainiac was responsible for the destruction of Krypton, Superman’s home planet.
Superman is virtually unmatched physically, so Brainiac represents the intellectual side of things, where Supes can be matched, and bested (this is a common theme with the best Superman villains, including Luthor himself, so this could be a second chance to get that dynamic right on-screen).
So far, we’ve seen a couple of pretty great portrayals of Catwoman on the big screen (one by Michelle Pfeiffer and another by Anne Hathaway – and one terrible one by Halle Berry). But in the comics, Selina Kyle is the ultimate femme fatale, walking the fine line between hero and villain so carefully that even Batman, the world’s greatest detective, can’t keep up.
Hathaway’s version was more hero than villain, while Pfeiffer’s version was more villain than hero. Hopefully, with the DCEU’s ability to flesh out a lengthy character arc, we can see a movie Catwoman that lives up to the source material.
1 Black Adam
It looks as though Warner Bros. and DC are already well on the way to giving fans a satisfactory portrayal of Black Adam on the big screen, because they’ve cast Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to play the character in his own solo movie that Jaume Collet-Serra will helm.
There’s a long-running debate in the comic book community over who would win in a fight between Black Adam and Superman, because they have essentially the same powers and are as strong as each other, so it’s a real coin toss. For him to be properly portrayed in the DCEU, we’d have to see that fight.