Any sequel to The Batman should look to freshen up the Dark Knight’s roster of movie villains. Originally a DCEU project, The Batman responded to Ben Affleck’s departure by casting a younger actor in Robert Pattinson and moving away from the shared universe mold altogether. Where the original plan was for Affleck to face Deathstroke, The Batman now boasts an impressive selection of villains from the Caped Crusader’s Rogues Gallery. Paul Dano will be playing The Riddler, seemingly as the film’s arch villain, Colin Farrell is Penguin, John Turturro plays Carmine Falcone and Peter Sarsgaard could potentially be Two-Face. Although rarely an outright villain, Zoe Kravitz has been cast as Catwoman.
This is a tantalizing array of criminals for Robert Pattinson to be taking on in his debut stint as Bruce Wayne, but between the films of Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher and Christopher Nolan, all of them have appeared on the big screen before. This shouldn’t be a problem for The Batman itself – Riddler is long overdue a properly sinister cinematic appearance after Jim Carrey’s comedic turn in Batman Forever and the tone of Matt Reeves’ Batman seems different enough to put a unique spin on all of its antagonists. With that said, the Batman movies have only scratched the surface of the character’s comic book villains, and many great baddies remain untouched.
Rumors suggest that a sequel to The Batman could introduce Joker or Bane, but this would just keep spinning the revolving door of Batman movie villains, reinventing the same old evil wheel. Reeves and Pattinson seem to be taking a bold new approach with their Batman, and the franchise would be invigorated if that spirit of originality extended to the selection of villains in The Batman 2. Prime contenders might include Mad Hatter, who briefly featured in the Gotham TV series but is one of Batman’s most twisted foes in the comics, Prometheus, whose origin story fascinatingly mirrors Bruce Wayne’s and Hush, whose eponymous comic tale is a fan favorite. The likes of Man-Bat, Professor Pyg and Lady Shiva are examples of other refreshing options that the Batman movies have thus far ignored.
Dating back to 1989, Bruce Wayne has enjoyed more solo cinematic outings than most of his colleagues, both on the DC and Marvel sides of the divide, so it’s more noticeable when different incarnations of the superhero battle the same villains time and again. Not only does this become predictable, but it also invites comparison, and that’s not necessarily a good thing when there’s performances like Heath Ledger’s Joker to live up to. Introducing some fresh blood in a sequel to The Batman would be novel and exciting, while also allowing villains to be judged on their own merits, rather than held up to other actors who held the same role only a few years prior.
On one hand, it’s easy to see why Batman movies keep selecting the most famous names in the Rogues Gallery. The likes of Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Two-Face are household names across the world and their presence makes a movie easier to sell to a casual fan base. However, that line of thinking feels very dated in 2020. Thanos was largely unknown to a mainstream audience but attained global recognition after his role in the Avengers movies, while the presence of Joker seemed to hinder Suicide Squad more than help. As much as villains can sometimes make a superhero movie, the opposite can also be true, and if the performance and story are strong, a character known only to comic fans can quickly became a renowned. The Batman‘s follow-up should take advantage of this fact and bring some comic villains to the big screen for the first time.
Matt Reeves’ The Batman features a host of famous Batman villains, but any potential sequel should look towards characters new to the Batman movies.SR Originals