A superhero is only as good as the enemies he fights. Because without them, he/she is just a costumed weirdo whose out to give the police and fire brigade a run for their money. Among all superheroes, however, Batman arguably has the most colorful and fascinating rogues’ gallery. In fact, some Batman villains can even stand on their own without the Dark Knight.
While you could say that Spiderman’s roster of baddies can compete with Batman’s, how many of them have had their own solo films other than Venom? Meanwhile, Catwoman has had hers (which was rather unsuccessful) but still, there are now three upcoming solo films for Batman villains:
Harley Quinn (Birds of Prey)
and Deathstroke (unnamed Deathstroke movie)
Sorry Spidey, Batman’s rogues’ gallery just takes the cake. Still, this isn’t a feature about who has the best rogues’ gallery ever in superheroes, we’ve already established that. This is a Batman villains list– those who deserve their own solo films given how interesting they are both as case studies and as complementary characters for the Dark Knight.
There are actually lots of them and while the greatest and most memorable Batman villains have already been featured in live-action one way or another, there are still some who can earn their own spotlight in Hollywood. Hence, here’s 10 Batman villains that are worthy of their own solo movie or at the very least, qualified to appear opposite the bat in his own film again. Let’s start with:
Clayface (a.k.a. Basil Karlo) is a shapeshifter but with less genius and more superpowers. He can physically transform into anyone, man or woman (including people Batman knows) all because a mysterious clay thing which Penguin gave him. Of course, the extent of Clayface’s powers does not stop there; he can also morph into a weapon or a big brute capable of beating Batman physically.
Clayface, however, is a conflicted character who isn’t inherently evil. In fact, he has even helped Batman on several occasions, though he usually operates against the law. Regardless, Batman certainly needs more villains like Clayface to put his detective skills to the test. It’s not often he gets to be outsmarted by a walking and talking piece of clay. On his own, he’d make for a good horror-drama material.
Fear is Scarecrow’s (a.k.a. Dr. Jonathan Crane) greatest weapon and it can prove to be a weapon of mass destruction as seen on Batman Begins. He is first and foremost, a wacko, one of Batman’s most notable crazy enemies. He’s actually quite comparable to the Joker as his motivations are quite psychopathic and even chaotic: he simply wants to make populations of humans suffer the same fear he did as a child.
This does make Scarecrow one of Batman’s most dangerous enemies since he can easily put Gotham and even Batman under his spell. Also, Scarecrow would do well in a horror-themed Batman film, one that would make good use of Scarecrow’s hallucinogen weapon which induces fearsome and horrific imagery on people’s minds.
8. Mr. Freeze
The only time Mr. Freeze (a.k.a. Victor Fries) appeared as Batman’s enemy in a live-action film adaptation is in Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin from 1997– a film that should have been called Bat Droppings instead. They ruined their only good shot at portraying one of Batman’s most reluctant enemies. Not to mention, Bat-nipples:
Arnold Schwarzenegger– good an actor he is, was not cool as Mr. Freeze. He portrayed Freeze as a one-sided maniacal pun-machine. Mr. Freeze was supposed to be a tragic character who only resorted to a life of crime to save his sick wife. He is also one of the many reasons why Batman villains are all so riveting, they are as much a human as a tortured billionaire who dresses up as a bat.
Anyone who has read about Mr. Freeze or has seen him in DC Animated Universe’s Batman cartoon will have to have a cold heart to not root for the poor guy. He’s really a sympathetic character and a lot of us can relate to his plight and conflict. Even Batman decided to help him in the end, something he’ll usually never do.
Supposedly, Deadshot (a.k.a. Floyd Lawton) is the world’s greatest marksman in the DC universe, or in at least in Gotham. Like Mr. Freeze, and shown in the Suicide Squad (both animated and live-action), Deadshot is also a conflicted character. He has a daughter to look after, which can also sometimes double as his weakness. This adds another dimension to Lawton, making more than just a random psycho who shoots people for fun.
Moreover, Deadshot is everything Batman grew up to hate. The guy kills people wantonly with guns. Just as Bruce Wayne has mastered the peak of non-lethal combat and engineering, so too did Lawton master everything about bullets and guns. He can even calculate where a bullet will land if it ricochets like its simple arithmetic. This makes him a fatal and an unseen opponent.
Still, he sometimes crosses the line as an antihero, especially in his Suicide Squad stints. With Will Smith (or possibly someone less cheeky and more calculated) as his live-action counterpart, Deadshot just might work as a badass assassin movie even without Batman.
Tom Hardy merely portrayed the surface when he chose to wear the mask of Bane. Of course, that’s not to say his Bane was shallow, in fact, he was the best part of The Dark Knight Rises. It’s just that Bane’s character is so much deeper to simply be an assisting role or just a villain.
Just how compelling is Bane? Let’s just say that he and Batman have so much in common– especially in their childhood, that you’d think he was a mirror image of the Caped Crusader. Like Bruce Wayne, Bane was indoctrinated into the harsh realities of life at the tender age of eight where he killed his first man… in prison. Bane spent his childhood in prison in place of his deadbeat father and he became a monster.
Needless to say, Bane’s childhood makes Bruce Wayne’s look like a walk in the park. Both had never known peace their entire lives, it’s just that Bane had it worse tenfold. Of course, like Deadshot, Bane also sometimes crosses the antihero line, especially when fighting against Gotham’s established crimelords. For that, he needs his own solo film.
5. Poison Ivy
The sultry Poison Ivy (a.k.a. Dr. Pamela Isley) who, again, was portrayed alongside Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin. Her character is not exactly that hard to mess up, after all, she’s one of Batman’s most distinctive enemies. With that said, Ivy is certainly more relevant today as a character than two decades ago.
For one, Isley hates toxic men, having been betrayed by one and turning into Poison Ivy in the process where she literally became toxic. It’s quite interesting to see how well Batman handles her character, but even without him, Ivy can still be interesting. Apart from being a serial man-hater, Ivy also stands for the plants of the Earth or nature in general.
As a result, her motivations are easier to understand especially now with what’s happening to our planet. Sadly, apart from Schumacher, no other filmmaker has taken interest in bringing her to Hollywood or even pitting her against a modern Batman.
4. Hugo Strange
Hugo Strange is neither a psycho killer nor a costumed freak. He’s just a criminal genius who is obsessed with finding out one thing: Batman’s identity. Outside of his secret criminal activity, Strange is also a renowned psychologist and scientist. He was also able to fulfill his ambition of knowing Batman’s true identity, but this was not enough for him.
He wanted to be Batman. So instead of revealing to Gotham who he was, Strange kept hatching up insane ideas to defeat Batman from mind control to genetics. Afterward, Strange also planned to take his place. Imagine how cinematic it would be to have a mentally perturbing film plot where we find out Hugo Strange was Batman all along, now that’s a job for Christopher Nolan.
The beauty of Batman villains is that the most gripping and evil of them are just regular humans with no powers. Most of them can be a case study of what psychological trauma and today’s absurd society can do to an individual. We do have the Joker to thank for that, but another good candidate would be Hush (a.k.a. Thomas Elliot).
Like Bane, Hush had plenty in common with Bruce Wayne. In fact, Thomas Elliot was Bruce’s equally rich childhood friend. Unlike Bruce, however, Thomas’ father was an abusive drunk. So he killed his own father, inherited the wealth, and he gradually became twisted and murderous, even blaming Bruce for everything. Hush, is one of the many things Bruce Wayne could have been had his parents been different.
What makes Hush truly terrifying is his penchant to “steal” faces every now and then, being a skilled surgeon and a master of disguise. At one point, Hush even nearly brought Batman’s mental state to a breaking point. He’s one of the creepiest dudes in Batman’s rogues’ gallery. Imagine if he teamed up with Hugo Strange in a Batman movie or even their own.
2. Victor Zsasz
Despite most of the Batman villains being eccentric cosplayers, none of them are clear-cut and straightforward psychopaths. Then, along came Victor Zsasz who showed every mad criminal in Gotham how to actually act like one. Zsasz proved that you don’t need a costume to get the Dark Knight’s attention, you just need to rack up the kill count… and slash tally marks on your skin for every victim.
Any other superhero and the editors and media boards would deem Zsasz too dark or extreme, but this is Batman– an insane billionaire who beats up poorer insane people. Hence, Zsasz adds that much-needed air of maturity to the Batman comics. Unlike the Joker, or Hush, or Bane, Zsasz had a perfect upbringing and pleasant childhood. Why he became a serial killer worthy of the Batman is simply because he can.
So far, no one has ushered Zsasz as the main villain into Batman’s live-action film forays. Still, he can make for a terrifying cinematic dive into the dark side of the Batman rogues’ gallery. That and we also need to see Batman do some brilliant and eerie murder detective work for once.
I know what you’re thinking, who the heck is this? Right? Anarky (a.k.a. Lonnie Machin) doesn’t get featured or pitted against Batman much and his most recent and respectable appearance was in the video game Batman: Arkham Origins. However, Anarky can easily be one of Batman’s most symbolic enemies.
He regularly barks and acts upon anarchist or sometimes Marxist ideals, using criminal methods to achieve his goals of justice that isn’t dependent on the government as he concluded that it’s usually the political elites that cause common people to suffer. By justice, Anarky usually means using radical methods that are meant to cripple or destroy greedy corporations and helping the oppressed of society through his computer, engineering, and fighting skills.
He eventually declared Batman as his adversary, which led to Batman finding out that he’s just a kid *dun dun dunnn!* How’s that for a twist? You can’t imprison a kid (one that’s no older than Robin), much less send him to Arkham Asylum, hence, Anarky is quite a grey area for Batman, though, Batman isn’t exactly at one with the law either.
Still, Anarky makes for an engaging enemy for Batman as he translates well into modern times. Think about it, most of their fights would involve a digital cat (or bat) and mouse chase with Anarky causing some borderline terrorism against Fortune 500 companies (Wayne Enterprises included) every now and then to get his point across, even possibly making Gotham hate Batman. It’s an inspiring battle of wits and ideals and will surely be a different flavor of Batman versus villain.
On his own, Anarky will probably be more similar to V for Vendetta but a welcome concept nonetheless. Here’s hoping we get solo films for Batman villains mentioned on this list after the Joker movie premieres on October 3.
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