Though Gotham’s Dark Knight will be crashing back into theaters this November in Justice League, we’re still a couple of years off from the release of The Batman, the upcoming solo film featuring Ben Affleck’s version of Bruce Wayne. Since the project started fresh under new director Matt Reeves, it has been shrouded in mystery, though there are some rumors floating around out there. While earlier versions of the film were intended to feature Deathstroke as the villain, played by Joe Manganiello, that presumed knowledge has since come into question.
What we do know, above all else, is that Matt Reeves has some major goals in mind: namely, he’s setting out to make an entire trilogy of Batman movies.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at Batman’s infamous rogues gallery, and guess who might be coming to the big screen next — and furthermore, what actors and actress would be fit to bring these comic book foes to life. While the DCEU incarnations of the Joker, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, and Deadshot have already been cast, there are still dozens of Batman foes waiting to face off against the DCEU’s older, weathered Batman, including many lesser-known villains who’ve never tasted cinematic success before. Let’s figure out Who Should Play the Villains in the New Batman Movies.
15. Riddler – Hugh Laurie or Kevin Spacey
The Riddler is probably the most popular Batman villain who’s been absent for some time from the big screen — over two decades! — and the time is ripe for him to make a comeback. However, while WB may have wanted Leonardo DiCaprio for the part back when the Dark Knight movies were still running, we have two other options to recommend: Hugh Laurie and Kevin Spacey.
Though the Riddler is too often stereotyped as a second rate Joker, more recent depictions of the character have painted a very different portrait of Edward Nygma: an insecure, neurotic, tortured genius, desperate for recognition, but cynical and calculating in his interactions with other humans. Hugh Laurie, as we’ve seen in his performance as Gregory House, could easily pull off a sardonic intellectual like Riddler, making Nygma sympathetic, tortured, and ruthless. Kevin Spacey could bring a scary intensity to the role, especially if he approached the character similarly to the way he played the serial killer John Doe in Se7en.
14. Penguin – Paul Giamatti
Another classic villain who has been absent from the films for too long, Oswald Cobblepot is a likely bet for any future films. There are a lot of directions this character could be taken in, as demonstrated by the wide contrast between Danny DeVito’s deformed sewer dweller in Batman Returns and Robin Lord Taylor’s younger, slimmer Penguin in Gotham. But whatever version of the Penguin the films decide to use, the perfect man to embody Cobblepot would be Paul Giamatti.
While Giamatti may have been badly miscast as the Rhino in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, his temperament, voice, and personality are an easy fit for Cobblepot, the bourgeois, monocled, umbrella-twirling, oddball crime boss who sticks out from his wealthy contemporaries like a sore thumb. Penguin doesn’t have to be a main villain, but we’d love to see him in some capacity.
13. The Ventriloquist – John Lithgow
There’s been a lot of Batman movies, but there are still plenty of rogues who have yet to appear in theaters. One of the best lesser known villains is the human/puppet duo known mutually as the Ventriloquist, AKA Arnold Wesker, a fidgety, timid, and nervous old man who is dominated by the gangster personality embedded inside his gnarly wooden puppet, Scarface. Whether Wesker is simply delusional, or if the puppet really is alive, depends on the story, but either way he’s a great character.
In our minds, John Lithgow is the actor best fit to bring Arnold Wesker and Scarface to life. Though Lithgow is more known for his comedy roles like Dick Solomon in 3rd Rock From the Sun, he’s also knocked it out of the park in serious parts as well. Most importantly, he could play both roles that are inherent to the Ventriloquist character, capturing both Wesker’s timidity and Scarface’s stereotypical gangster persona.
12. Zsasz – Jackie Earl Haley
The serial killer Victor Zsasz, known for carving a tally mark into his flesh for every person that he’s ever killed, is one of Batman’s creepiest foes. He had a small role in Batman Begins, but he’s definitely a character who deserves a bigger spotlight in the DCEU. For a villain this creepy, twisted, and sociopathic, the actor who could really knock it out of the park would be Jackie Earl Haley. Though Haley is a highly versatile performer, he’s unbelievably superb at roles like this, and he’d play a Zsasz so twisted that moviegoers would come home having nightmares.
Alternatively, if the producers wanted to go in a different direction with this character by hiring a younger performer, they could easily bring in someone like Zac Efron, and have him play against type. Hey, he’s playing Ted Bundy!
11. Poison Ivy – Lena Headey
After the ridiculous depiction of the character in Batman & Robin, Poison Ivy is a Batman foe thirsty for cinematic redemption. She’s a fascinating antagonist, with a compelling characterization that sometimes rides the line between villain and antihero. Despite the silly Megan Fox rumors from last year, a strong Ivy casting would be an actress that can embody not just the character’s sensuality, but also her intelligent, craftiness, intense emotions — and iciness, when dealing with flesh and blood humans.
Lena Headey, famous for playing Cersei on Game of Thrones, would bring all of these qualities to a cinematic Ivy. Her portrayal of the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms shows a villain driven by the love of her children, much like the love Ivy has for her plants, while also being unrelentingly ruthless when dealing with her enemies. The actress is also no stranger to comic book movies, having previously performed in 2012’s Dredd.
10. Ra’s al Ghul – Ghassan Massoud
In all honesty, there is probably a slim chance that Ra’s al Ghul will appear in these new films. Frankly, he might be one of the least likely villains. In addition to having already been portrayed fantastically by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins, the Demon’s Head and his League of Shadows cast a long shadow upon all three films in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, with his legacy playing a key role in the climax of the Dark Knight Rises. Because of this, it’s hard to imagine that the new trilogy would want to use the character, for fear of seeming repetitive.
However, you can’t keep an immortal being down for long. If Ra’s were to make an appearance, we’d recommend casting Ghassan Massoud, the Syrian actor who played the part of Saladin in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and also appeared in Exodus: Gods and Kings.
9. Dr. Hugo Strange – Edward James Olmos
Unlike Ra’s, the sinister psychiatrist Dr. Hugo Strange is probably one of the most likely villains to be considered for future Batman movies. In addition to being one of Batman’s oldest enemies, having first appeared all the way back in 1940, Strange has underwent a sharp renewal in popularity these last few years, thanks in large part to his major role in Batman: Arkham City. Additionally, Strange’s knowledge of Batman’s true identity, and his desire to use that knowledge for personal gain, would provide some exciting story possibilities.
There are a lot of actors who could play Strange. But for our money, we’d love to see Edward James Olmos give it a try. This vastly underrated performer, most famously known for playing the character of Commander William Adama on Battlestar Galactica, can pull off sharp insight, quiet authority, and growling intensity all at once — perfect for Hugo Strange.
8. Mr. Freeze – Jason Isaacs or Forest Whitaker
Yes, yes, we’re all still traumatized by Batman & Robin‘s cold puns. But Bane and Two-Face both got a second chance in the Dark Knight movies, and it’s time that Freeze earns one as well. Let’s not forget that his highly sympathetic depiction in Batman: The Animated Series, the cartoon that made Freeze an A-lister, was one of the most acclaimed parts of the entire show. It’s time for the character to get a proper film adaptation.
Casting the part of Victor Fries is a tricky puzzle. It requires an actor who can seem repressed, driven, and emotionless, but also with an undercurrent of pain lingering beneath their every movement: though Freeze should seem unapproachable, there needs to be constant hints of the tortured, adoring husband beneath. Forest Whitaker could certainly pull it off, especially if he played the part similarly to how he did the dying rebel leader Saw Gerrera in Star Wars: Rogue One. A more closed-off Freeze could be played by Jason Isaacs, who recently portrayed the deranged — but painfully human — character of Dr. “Hap” Percy on The OA.
7. Catwoman – Rosario Dawson
Selina Kyle manages to sneak her way into almost every Batman adaptation in every medium. Whether hero, villain, or antihero, Catwoman is almost as frequent and important a presence in Bruce’s life as the Joker, so it’s a likely bet that she’ll surface again at some point in the near future.
While most of Batman’s villains are deranged, Selina is usually presented as a more playful figure, though with an edgy side, and a fierceness that no one messes with. Rosario Dawson is a talented actress who could pull off a wide variety of roles, and she’d definitely be able to play a dangerous and morally conflicted character like Catwoman while adding her own twist to it. Furthermore, she’s 38 years old, which works well with the older Batman that exists in the DCEU; Affleck is 45, so the romance between the two would be believable, as both characters could be portrayed as seasoned professionals.
6. Clayface – Andy Serkis
Everyone has always wanted to see Clayface in a movie, but the intensely sci-fi nature of the character has precluded him from prior adaptations. Seriously, there’s no way he ever would have fit into the Nolan movies. But depending on what approach Matt Reeves takes for The Batman, there is a chance that Clayface might fit in with the atmosphere of these films, and if he does, Andy Serkis would be the man for the job.
Why? Because regardless of whether the film uses the Matt Hagen or Basil Karlo version of the character, a hulking, amorpheous creature like Clayface would have to be a mostly CGI, motion capture character. Andy Serkis is the actor who pulls off these sorts of roles better than anyone, without question, considering he wasn’t just Gollum in Lord of the Rings, but also played Caesar in Reeves’s own Planet of the Apes movies.
5. Professor Pyg – Tony Todd
Professor Pyg is one of Batman’s newer villains, and he’s also one of his creepiest. The character of Lazlo Valentin, a twisted serial killer in a pig mask who transforms regular humans into lobotomized, genderless “dollotrons,” would probably be the most disturbing villain to appear in a Batman movie to date. But the character has been gaining in popularity, even featuring in the game Batman: Arkham Knight and in cartoons like Beware the Batman, so a movie appearance might be next.
Pyg could be portrayed in a lot of ways, but it’d be interesting to see Tony Todd take a crack at it. Though Todd has kept a low profile in recent years, he famously potrayed the twisted title character in the horror movie Candyman in 1992, and could bring a terrifying edge to this already disturbing baddie.
4. Lady Shiva – Kelly Hu
Lady Shiva is another villain who has never popped up on the big screen, so she’d be a fresh face in Reeves’ Batman trilogy. Shiva is an assassin known for killing targets with her bare hands, which definitely would put her at odds with the Dark Knight. However, she’s also been one of Bruce’s fiercest allies at other times, particularly when she helped him recover from his injuries after Bane broke his back. Though we probably shouldn’t go through the whole Knightfall story arc again, there’s no reason Shiva can’t appear.
As far as casting, the obvious choice would be Kelly Hu, who famously played Deathstrike in X2: X-Men United. She already has a history with the role anyway, since she actually provided Shiva’s voice in the video game Batman: Arkham Origins.
3. The Phantasm – Charlize Theron
The animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the most universally beloved comic book adaptations of all-time. Because of that, it’s surprising that the film’s character of Andrea Beaumont, the Phantasm, has never really appeared outside of the DC Animated Universe. On the other hand, this might just be because Mask of the Phantasm was so definitive that other writers are understandably nervous about taking the character on, despite her instant recognizability.
However, if the filmmakers for the new trilogy wanted to be bold, a poster featuring the Phantasm would definitely cause serious waves across fandom. As far as casting, Charlize Theron — currently starring in Atomic Blonde — is an incredible actress who has shown herself to be open to genre movies. In addition, she’s highly versatile. She could easily pull off the role of the classy heiress Andrea Beaumont, and also embody the Phantasm’s intensity, scariness, and athletic capabilities as well as anyone in Hollywood.
2. Mad Hatter – Martin Short
Back in the days where Joel Schumacher still wanted to make a darker sequel to Batman & Robin, titled either Batman Triumphant or Batman Unchained, one of the rumored villains was Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter. This demented figure, a research scientist obsessed with both mind control technology and Alice in Wonderland, is a creepy opponent who has often floated close to mainstream recognition, but never quite made it. A movie would fix that.
Aside from the fact that Martin Short has a startling facial resemblance to the comic character — seriously, it’s uncanny — there’s no doubt that he could easily pull off the Mad Hatter’s creepy, childlike personality. He’s been keeping a lower profile over the last few years, and a big role like this one could send him shooting back into the mainstream.
1. Red Hood – Michael B. Jordan or Robert Pattinson
The biggest thing to happen to Batman in a long time is the return of former Robin (and former corpse) Jason Todd, as the murderous vigilante the Red Hood. There are legions of fans who have been itching to see the murderous former Boy Wonder break out on the big screen and get revenge on the Joker. From the Robin costume in Batman V Superman, we already know that Jason Todd has existed in the DCEU. The question is, who should play him? Well, here are two possibilities: Michael B. Jordan, and Robert Pattinson.
As far as Jordan, there’s no question that he could nail the intensity that the role requires. For examples of that, just see his star turn in Creed. He could also get across the damaged vulnerability inherent to Todd, a character who feels betrayed by the only father he ever really knew. But if not Jordan…
Okay, so Robert Pattinson. We know, we know. He was that sparkling pretty boy vampire. But as an actor, Pattinson has come a long way since his Twilight days, diving into a slew of intriguing indie films. Playing an edgy character like Red Hood in a Batman film would finally give Pattinson the chance to shed his Twilight baggage once and for all… though if you thought that Ben Affleck’s casting set the internet ablaze, this casting would make that firestorm look like a tealight in comparison. But honestly, we think it would be completely worth it.
Who would you cast as Batman’s villains? Any big baddies we missed that desperately need to appear in the new trilogy? Let us know in the comments!
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