With The Batman 2 officially announced, it’s time to spend the next several years debating the elements we want to see in the sequel. Naturally, the most important factor to any good Batman flick is its villain, which is why we decided to kick off a conversation about which members of the Dark Knight’s rogue’s gallery we want to see him square off with next.
And no, the Joker isn’t allowed on this list. Even if we fully expect Batman’s greatest foe to appear in some way shape or form in future films — how could he not?
Yeah, we know … Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow, memorably appeared in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Yet, despite Cillian Murphy’s terrific portrayal, we never really saw the villain reach his full potential. After teasing us with a few of his tricks, Crane finally equipped his mask in the climax of the film and was quickly ousted by Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) via taser; and only made brief cameo appearances in the subsequent chapters.
Now, if you’ve played any of the Arkham video games, watched Batman: The Animated Series, or read a comic book, you know full well the potential of this particular foe. Under Matt Reeves’ direction, Scarecrow would be genuinely terrifying.
Under the right circumstances, Mr. Freeze could prove a worthy adversary in a big feature film, so long as he’s not played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The tricky part would be figuring out a way to make his ice gadgets believable within Reeves’ grounded take, and giving his storyline — seen countless times in comics, TV, and video games — a fresh new spin. Considering The Batman leaned very closely to the spirit of the Arkham games, it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to insert Mr. Freeze into this universe.
If Reeves wanted to get really weird, he could introduce The Ventriloquist. For those unaware, this villain is a wooden dummy named Scarface operated by the very insane Arnold Wesker. Considering the end of The Batman introduced the idea of a power struggle following Carmine Falcone’s death, this would be a really great opportunity to bring in the bizarre character, even if his appearance amounts to a brief cameo or subplot.
The Mad Hatter
Similarly, Reeves could have some fun with The Mad Hatter, a psychopathic maniac who hypnotizes his victims to do his bidding. While a tad outrageous, there are ways to ground his person in this newly established universe where his ability to control and manipulate Gotham’s citizens would serve as a semi-continuation of Riddler’s story in The Batman.
Robert Pattinson’s Batman will likely run into his fair share of psychos, so why not bring in Professor Pyg? Not only is this villain a serial killer, but his desire to achieve physical perfection by surgically altering his victims would make for an extremely dark, disturbing noir-styled thriller. I imagine the Riddler’s actions essentially open the floodgates for the weirdos to step into the light (so to speak), which is the perfect opportunity for a character like Pyg to appear and try to establish his own bizarre Utopia.
I don’t know if Calendar Man needs to be featured front and center in any capacity, but having him appear in a supporting role or as an inmate at Arkham Asylum would be fascinating, to say the least. What makes characters like him work is the fact that he is essentially a normal guy with a real messed up set of principles, which echoes the instability of Riddler and even Carmine Falcone — both of whom thought their actions were necessary for Gotham’s survival. Plus, given The Batman was set around Halloween, we’ve already established a precedence for Calendar Man, who is very enamored with the holiday schedule.
Ditto for Zsasz, who isn’t a strong enough character to carry an entire film, but could make for a cool side antagonist Batman must track down whilst dealing with a larger conflict. In the Arkham games, he led Bats on a wild chase to locate kidnap victims hidden around Gotham City, which could make for an interesting subplot on the big screen. For what it’s worth, I think Reeves established the Joker in order to make him the grand master of all these villains. Imagine if he used his influence to goad psychopaths like Zsasz to lean into their animalistic tendencies as a means to study Batman before eventually stepping up as the main antagonist in a future movie.
As much as I love Tom Hardy’s Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, I want to see a version that more closely resembles the comic book iteration of the character. With a stacked Arkham Asylum already in play, there’s an opportunity for Reeves to adapt the Knightfall storyline in which Bane frees the likes of Joker, Riddler, etc., and allows them to break Batman down physically and mentally before making his move. With Bats out of the way, Bane could then take over the criminal underworld, setting the stage for Azrael and one hell of a power struggle.
Court of Owls
Court of Owls makes sense within the framework established in The Batman, as they are a group of assassins made up of Gotham’s wealthiest and most powerful individuals. Reeves could tie their storyline to the Riddler, who sought to eliminate the corruption at Gotham’s core but merely grazed the surface of this powerful organization.
I remember the build-up to The Dark Knight Rises featured no shortage of Hugo Strange rumors, and I remember being so disappointed when none of them came to fruition. In Nolan’s universe, he could have made for an incredible foe. That said, I have no problem kicking the tires on this idea for The Batman 2 as I think the mad psychiatrist makes perfect sense in Reeves’ world. What if he were to appear as a doctor in Arkham Asylum who becomes obsessed with Batman following his sessions with Riddler, Joker and the like? Or maybe he’s even the man Bruce Wayne turns to for help in restructuring his own damaged mind … either way, this one makes too much sense to ignore. Can we just cast F. Murray Abraham and call it a day?