The Batman’s been around for a fair old while, and in that time he’s amassed a vast pool of enemies and adversaries. Animated series aside, with the various live action TV series and feature films he’s starred in, we’ve already seen a large number of these bad guys make the jump from page to screen. Recently, this has gone into overdrive, as the DC back catalogue has been forensically scoured, and a whole new wave of the Bat’s bad guys have been cast on Gotham, Arrow and The Flash.
So you may be forgiven for thinking that all of Bruce Wayne’s deadliest antagonists have now already been played onscreen by actors and actresses, and there aren’t many new ones left waiting for Ben Affleck to face off against in future films.
Well, there are still a few that haven’t quite managed to break free from the comics and animated features yet, and here for your perusal and analysis are ten of the best:
It’s the threatening physicality in the way in which The Reaper is depicted that puts him on the list. Bedecked in thick red leather armour, and wielding viciously heavy scythes as weaponry, he’s a formidable adversary.
Looking to do him justice onscreen in his Ben Gruener incarnation, someone along the lines of German actor Ralf Moeller, most notable for his role in ‘Gladiator’, would be appropriate for the role of a vengeful Holocaust survivor turned killer.
It’s a genuine surprise to me that Dr Kirk Langstrom hasn’t managed to make it into a live action platform by now. There are suggestions he was considered for inclusion in Joel Schumacher’s planned third film, which never came to pass.
The first villain selected to face off against Bruce Wayne in the legendary animated series, the Manbat and his legacy have featured in so many of Batman’s big story-arcs. So who could manage to perform both normal and mutated versions of this deeply conflicted villain? Motion-Capture master Doug Jones would have to be a shoe-in to play the self-destructive genius.
8. Le Bossu
One of the most memorable characters from the ‘Batman RIP’ imprint, Le Bossu is a particularly repugnant creature. Concealing his truly deviant nature behind a well-crafted public persona. It’s genuinely disturbing to witness the transformation into his hideous alter-ego.
Anybody who has watched Gerard Depardieu’s physically repellant performances in ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘Welcome to America’ will be aware that he’s a perfect fit for the role.
When you strip away some of the more bizarre and fantastic elements to this villain, the concept of a reverse batman, a young child having watched his criminal family slain by cops, is massively appealing.
Having trained himself to an equal level of the Dark Detective, you’d require an actor able to convey menace and depth, and also be able to hold their own in a fight scene. For my money, Scott Adkins, no stranger to bad-guy roles, would be a great shout.
6. Black Mask
Another of Batman’s more notorious opponents who has yet to receive a live action incarnation, this bad guy has instead featured consistently in the more recent Arkham games.
In watching the way he was portrayed in ‘Under The Red Hood’, I got to thinking about trying to find a bulked-up actor, with the necessary menace and gravelly voice needed, and Nick Chinlund sprung to mind. He’s played a few roles where it seems at any moment he could explode into aggression and violence, and I’d love to see him masked up as this gangland boss.
Having recently re-read the original comic run, I was struck by how little Hush actually features in it, instead hiding behind the scenes and manipulating others to do his work for him.
Working from that premise, the majority of an actor’s performance would be as Tommy Elliot, with some good vocal work needed for the change into his bandage disguise towards the end.
You’d need someone of a similar look and size to Bruce, who could convince as a childhood friend. For my money? Sam Worthington, who has sometimes been written off as a summer blockbuster actor, but performances in ‘Man on a Ledge’ and ‘Texas Killjng Fields’ demonstrate his suitability.
4. James Gordon Jr.
Although already technically depicted on screen as Jim Gordon’s young son in the Nolan trilogy, the older and murderous incarnation featured in modern comic imprints has not yet been bought to life.
In searching for an actor capable of portraying the opposed calm and psychotic elements to this killer’s personality, Dan Stevens came to mind. His turn in ‘The Guest’ highlights his talent for playing of a psychotic killer, hiding behind a disguise of respectability.
Another enemy who’s been featured in the Arkham games, one of the main difficulties with Clayface is trying to pick which incarnation to go for. That aside, he’s been rumored to be appearing in some shape or form in the forthcoming second series of ‘Gotham’.
The version that sprung to mind was the Matt Hagen depiction from the Animated Series. And an appropriate choice to carry the mantle of the unlucky actor would be ‘Boardwalk Empire’s’ Jack Huston. Being a member of the legendary Hollywood family, he’s got the overall look and talent required to capture the agony and rage required.
2. The Court of Owls
An utterly inspired creation, the Court and it’s undead Talons are the best of Batman’s more recently created opponents. Their recent depiction in the animated ‘Batman Vs Robin’ was somewhat of a disappointment for me, in no way capturing the rich history of the subjects, or coming close to recreating the breadth and scale of the comic run.
Whilst the Talon’s themselves remain masked for the majority of their time, I’d love to see the perennially villainous Aiden Gillen playing either a Grandmaster, or the deranged Lincoln March, convinced he is the wronged brother of the Wayne legacy.
‘Mask Of The Phantasm’ has consistently been voted the best of the DC animated Batman offerings. The character of Andrea Beaumont is well crafted, providing entertainment on several levels, be it Bruce’s lost love, reluctant vigilante, or vengeful and wronged daughter. Her murderous costume is also particularly memorable, mimicking some features of the Batman’s own appearance.
My favourite to play Beaumont would be ‘Bosch’ actress Annie Wersching. Apart from the physical resemblance, she’s more than capable of conveying the deep and conflicting emotions that drive the character.
An honourable mention goes to the KGBeast, who was recently inserted into Series 2 of Arrow, disqualifying him. And also to Jason Todd. The image of this angered and vengeful member of the Bat family fleeing the Lazarus Pit, and adopting his Red Hood persona is more than deserving of a live action performance. But who to play him?
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