Ben Affleck, kind soul that he is, gave the middle finger to the post-weekend blues this past Monday morning. Out of the blue, he posted some test footage on his Twitter account, and everybody lost their minds. The footage seemed to be a costume test for a certain iconic DC Comics villain: Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke!
Speculation was rife that this was footage from Zack Snyder's currently filming Justice League. But a few hours later, reports emerged that it had been confirmed that Deathstroke is actually the planned main antagonist for Affleck's first solo Batman movie! This news is pretty awesome, as Deathstroke is one of the most popular villains in the whole DC Universe. He has recently been spotlighted in the second season of the Arrow TV show. He was also heavily involved in the Batman: Arkham Origins and Injustice: Gods Among Us video games. The character's profile is the biggest it's ever been in the public eye. This makes him a perfect choice for the movie.
However, a report had also emerged in May which had a 'source' revealing that the first solo Batfleck movie would be overflowing with villains. Many, if not most of the major members of the Dark Knight's Rogues Gallery will be making appearances, according to this source. Now, whether this is to be believed or not is still up in the air. It might sound like character overload for one movie, but then DC has shown with Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad that they're not afraid of throwing a boatload of characters into a film to see what sticks.
What other villains would we like to see menace Batman in this new series of movies, then? These are our top six picks. Oh, and we've been careful to (mostly) avoid using villains who have been seen battling Batman on the big screen before.
5. The Joker/Harley Quinn
After this entry, we promise it's all brand new villains. Promise.
But, really, no Bat-franchise would be complete without an appearance from The Clown Prince Of Crime, would it? It was obvious to us that, given Jared Leto's unexpectedly small role as Joker in Suicide Squad, the character was being saved for bigger things down the line. Perhaps DC and Warners initially intended to feature him heavily, but found that he was overshadowing the rest of the Squad? So they cut his role down to the bare minimum, to simply introduce Leto's new vision to the audience? If that is the case, then we fully expect Joker to appear in either the first or second solo Batman movie.
We hope that he brings Harley Quinn with him, too, because the flashback scenes to their origins in Suicide Squad were some of the best stuff in the film. There's so much left to explore with these two in the movies, and given Leto and Margot Robbie's excellent chemistry, we're excited to see it.
The only possible wrench here is that Leto has seemed very unimpressed with DC and Warner Brothers over his role in Suicide Squad. He was even quoted as saying he felt like he'd been tricked into being in the movie. He feels the resulting film was very, very different from how it was pitched to him. So, potentially he might not want to return to the role if DC/Warners don't give him certain assurances. Time will tell.
One of the great things about the DCEU movies, especially as it relates to Batman, is that there is no need to ground the villains in reality anymore. Chris Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy took great pains to make sure everything seemed like it was only heightened from reality. An example is how they never go into the comic book backstory of Ra's Al Ghul; no Lazarus Pits. This was seen as too supernatural or otherworldly, and so was excised.
However, considering we've already seen Batman battling Doomsday in BvS, and appearing in a movie that featured a cannibalistic crocodile man, a metahuman firestarter and an ancient witch, we'd say any out-there comic book villain is now fair game. Which is where Clayface comes in. Clayface is the name of several characters in DC Comics history. In fact, seven different people have taken on that name over the years, including a Lady Clayface.
But for the movie, it might be best to do something similar to the Matt Hagen version used in Batman: The Animated Series. Here, Hagan was a past-it actor who is disfigured in a car accident. He is coerced into working for evil businessman Roland Daggett, who supplies him with a chemical that restores his good looks temporarily. Eventually, Hagen tries to steal a larger supply of the chemical and is caught by Daggett. His men pour dangerous amounts of the chemical over Hagen, but it doesn't kill him. Rather, it turns him into a misshapen clay monster with the power of shape-shifting. It may sound silly, but trust us, it is harrowing, tragic and scary in the classic cartoon. There's no reason they couldn't do the same thing in a live-action movie.
Tommy Elliot, aka Hush, first appeared in the modern classic 12-part story 'Hush' in the Batman title in 2003. Created by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, Hush was a bandaged master villain pulling strings from the shadows. He concocted a plot involving most of the major Bat-rogues. By manipulating them, they unwittingly helped him in his plot to destroy Batman/Bruce Wayne.
Elliot's backstory is pretty fascinating, and would make for a great cinematic tale, as he is a villain who has ties to Bruce Wayne's childhood. In many ways, he is like an evil mirror image to Bruce.
Bruce and Tommy, both from wealthy families, were best friends until the day Bruce's father Dr Thomas Wayne saved the life of Tommy's mother in surgery. She had been injured in a car crash that had also killed Tommy's father. It turned out that Tommy had severed their brake line, hoping to kill both his parents and inherit their fortune early. When Thomas and Martha Wayne were later killed and Bruce became an orphan, inheriting their fortune, Tommy was jealous as this was what he had wanted. Instead he had to keep living with his abusive mother. Elliot later went on to become the supervillain Hush, as he had always harbored a grudge against Bruce.
2. Red Hood
Red Hood would be an awesome choice for a movie. In fact, the seeds for his appearance have already been planted in BvS! In that movie, there is a scene in the Batcave where we can see a Robin costume inside a glass case. The costume has been defaced with spraypaint that says 'Hahaha, joke's on you Batman'. Fans will know that this is a reference to Jason Todd, the second comic book Robin, who was murdered by The Joker. However, Todd later returned from the grave and took on the identity of the Red Hood, a criminal identity that The Joker had also used in his origin in the classic graphic novel The Killing Joke.
Phew. Comics can be complicated.
Anyway, Todd's version of Red Hood was a murderous vigilante. He would do the things Batman wouldn't in his war on crime; namely, kill. Todd, disgusted to find out that Batman had not exacted the ultimate vengeance on Joker after his murder, became disillusioned with Batman's moral code.
In some ways, Red Hood's story is similar to The Winter Soldier over at Marvel. He is a former sidekick who came back from the dead with a new, more violent identity. He started as a villain, but eventually transitioned into an anti-hero role. And hey, Winter Soldier has already been pretty damn successful on the big screen...
1. The Court Of Owls
Our number one pick isn't a singular villain at all. Rather, The Court Of Owls is a terrifying secret society that has existed throughout Gotham City's history since colonial times. They are a violent cabal made up of some of Gotham's oldest and wealthiest families. They use violence and murder to wield political influence. Their bases of operations are hidden inside some of Gotham's oldest structures, on secret floors that don't exist on any building's architectural blueprints. The Court wear unnerving white, expressionless owl masks and send their assassins, the Talons, to do their evil bidding. The Talons are actually reanimated corpses, frozen throughout history and then thawed out to take care of the Court's targets.
The Court was created by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo fairly recently; 2011, in fact. They are easily the best new Batman antagonist to be created in decades and were one of the biggest successes of DC's The New 52 comic book reboot event.
We would love to see some of the history of Gotham City on the big screen. Gotham is often almost as big a character in a Batman story as the Dark Knight and his allies/enemies themselves. The city can feel like a living, breathing, evil entity; forever implacable and unknowing, but terrifying. We'd love to see Affleck's Batman investigating the history of his city. Picture him finding out how far back the Court's influence goes. It would be so interesting to see Batman grappling with the knowledge that he simply doesn't know the city as well as he thought. The Court has been around much longer, existing completely in the shadows. They would say Gotham is their city, not Batman's.
What say you? Any villains you'd like to see Batfleck tangle with in the DCEU? Let us know below!