Batman’s gallery of rogues is vast, varied and full of all sorts of crazy. Gotham gives those villains the love they deserve, notably, Batman: The Animated Series built up so many more villains than just The Joker- who has near monopolized villainy in recent Batman instalments. Ben Affleck is already receiving a great deal of love for his performance as Batman in the Batman vs Superman movie, and so it seems only right to suggest and examine, for future films, some villains who haven’t already been trotted out in DC Comics’ cinematic output. (Because of this, the obvious choices -the ones from the recent Batman trilogy- will be left out.)
Clayface (Batman: The Animated Series)
Clayface is tragic and terrifying, and The Animated Series turned him into one powerfully compelling character. He’s one of Batman’s enemies who isn’t inherently evil; just the product of what happens when life in Gotham deals someone a particularly bad hand. Being able to shapeshift, manipulate the pliability of his body, and move freely among the general population while doing these things makes Clayface a particularly formidable foe for the caped crusader. The likely downfall Clayface would fall prey to? He’s a family man, and there’s no way he’d do anything to compromise that.
The Penguin (Gotham)
The Penguin has received a lot of love in Fox’s recent series, Gotham, and that’s great. He’s an appropriate foil to Batman. He’s rich. He’s powerful. He’s manipulative. The downside? The Penguin lacks Bruce Wayne’s charms. The only real way to make this work is if Robin Lord Taylor gets stuffed into a fatsuit. He has done more for this villain’s character than even the animated versions, and it would be an insult to the series to risk anyone else.
The Riddler (Gotham; Batman: The Animated Series)
It’s hard to take Edward Nigma seriously, if only because he’s such a goofball in so many of his performances. Gotham doesn’t do much to address this, but The Animated Series gave The Riddler a chance to be more of threat to Gotham and its people. It’s bad enough when the people of Gotham and Batman are besieged by some sort of evil force; add in The Riddler’s penchant for puzzles and things only get worse. Granted, it’s a bit difficult to suggest The Riddler be a solitary movie villain as two or more hours of his antics would get a little tedious.
Poison Ivy (Batman: The Animated Series)
With an arsenal of sentient, semi-sentient, and highly poisonous plants at her disposal, Poison Ivy is one threat Batman can’t take lightly. With her cold demeanour and preference towards other villains such as Harley Quinn, Batman can’t exactly work his Bruce Wayne charms on her in a way that will end in anything shy of a little convenient deadly nightshade ending up in Batman’s morning coffee. While Poison Ivy would be great on her own, it’s easy to argue that she and Harley Quinn would make one Hell of a dastardly dynamic duo.
Mister Freeze (Batman: The Animated Series)
Without terrible ice puns and all of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s charm, Mister Freeze is one excellent villain. Sure, he’s motivated by his dead/dying wife/daughter (it varies based on the source material) but there’s something delightfully sinister about someone who is willing to turn Gotham into an unseasonably chilly winter wonderland for the sake of his own personal agendas.
Harley Quinn (Batman: The Animated Series)
Harley Quinn—Dr. Harleen Quinzel—is an excellent character on her own. Her bonds with Poison Ivy, coupled with her capacity to be morally ambiguous at times, would make for one compelling movie plot. There doesn’t need to be a Joker to complete Harley, as she is perfectly capable of causing havoc all around Gotham on her own. Suicide Squad could prove to be a strong start to more leading evil ladies like Harley, but there’s also just as strong a chance that they’ll turn her into a cheap plot device for helping make and develop a particularly annoying Jared Leto iteration of The Joker. Fingers crossed that assumption is wrong.
Want more on Harley? Read our article on Harley Quinn here.
Calendar Man (Batman: Arkham City)
There are few villains in Arkham who were willing to stick around with the opportunity to run Gotham itself into the ground being so available. Calendar Man stuck around for the sole purpose of having morbid conversations with Batman, but he holds so much potential to be more. This villain is clearly quite clever, and he’s a huge threat to anyone who happens to catch his interests.
These are only a few of the great options Warner Bros. and DC Comics have at their disposal as an alternative to trotting out The Joker every time they want Bruce Wayne/Batman to find himself in a bind. With the right efforts and enough clever scripting there’s a good potential for to see some of the villains fans would love, rather than those Hollywood think are the biggest money-spinners.
By Phil Gorski