It’s as inevitable as a crime in Gotham – eventually, there will be another Batman film. The Caped Crusader netted just over $1 billion in profits from his last film and it would be practically felonious if Warner Brothers didn’t milk this cash cowl for another trilogy (or two), right?
With the recent announcement of the Batman/Superman team up film, potentially titled Batman vs. Superman, and a guaranteed appearance in the upcoming Justice League film, a wave of fresh faces would be ideal too. Although Catwoman and the Joker are Batman’s rogue gallery breadwinners, the Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games proved that mainstream audiences could stand watching a nefarious scheme being hatched by another villain.
As well, the comics are also home to other heroes and civilians who would work well in a cinematic storyline and simultaneously immerse viewers deeper into the DC universe. Just to name a few, here are five characters who could be destroying or saving Gotham in the future.
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5. Clayface (Basil Karlo)
Across Batman continuity, there have been various Clayfaces terrorizing Gotham. A fan favourite is Basil Karlo, known for his appearances in Batman The Animated Series and the Arkham games. As a failed actor driven to insanity, identity is the strongest theme Clayface brings to the table.
With his ability, Clayface can literally be anyone. An enemy who can infiltrate anywhere Bruce is would add a suspenseful, alienating twist, which would have audiences guessing who was trustworthy and who wasn’t. If handled well, Clayface’s grotesque features morphing into people Bruce trusts can potentially turn Gotham into a city of antisocial strangers.
Clayface’s splintering idea of self is something that can be related to Bruce, although the compulsion to be the Bat over all other personas is ultimately the lesson that will be drawn.
4. Renee Montoya
In Nolan’s trilogy, many say that the female police officer Anna Ramirez was inspired by Renee Montoya. It’s a fair assessment – both are Latina female detectives with strong senses of justice. However, Renee’s disgust with corruption in the Gotham City Police Department led to her eventually leaving it; Anna was on the take, in order to pay her mother’s hospital bills.
Since we’ve seen the fall of Anna, her redemption is something that we expected to be explored in The Dark Knight Rises. Since it wasn’t, a reboot with the hard-boiled Renee Montoya would be engrossing.
Alongside Commissioner James Gordon, Renee Montoya is a prime example of law enforcement done right. Her efforts to fight crime, despite personal injustice done to her by Two-Face, mirror Batman’s determination on a more grounded level, which could help a future Batman film succeed if it follows in the serious and realistic direction.
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3. Lady Shiva
Back in 2010, when Christopher Nolan was scouting places in Asia for The Dark Knight, many online commenters voiced eager speculation that Lady Shiva would make an appearance, and with good reason.
Hailed by many as one of the greatest martial artists and assassins alive, Lady Shiva has a unique fighting style that is honed through using body language as the primary form of communication, creating a literal fighting instinct. The murder of her sister by the hand of Cain, a member of Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Assassins, spurred Shiva to perfect her martial arts. She’s notable for training many DC heavyweights, including Batman, Tim Drake and the Black Canary,
Shiva’s ties with the Dark Knight blur the line between friend and foe numerous times. After events that led to Bane breaking Batman’s back, Shiva was the one who devised a training regimen for him. Of course, the training involved an attempt to have Batman kill a man, which demonstrates her vague alignment.
There’s nothing more satisfying than hand-to-hand combat done well in a superhero movie; adding a martial artist who is considered the best in the DC universe could potentially present a fight scene unlike any other in the Batman franchise.
And of course, there’s the perk of analysing what her character symbolizes. It’s said that facets of Batman’s personality manifests itself through his rogues. In this case, Lady Shiva represents Bruce’s quest to perfect himself, and to a certain degree, his death wish.
Both strive to push themselves past human limitations, without really caring about their personal welfare. Whereas the battle against Ra’s and the Joker was based on opposing beliefs of what Gotham and its people were, Shiva against Bruce would be a physical, violent confrontation of willpower and who wants to reach their goals more.
2. Nightwing (Dick Grayson)
We know, technically Dick Grayson was in Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. However, he was always a part of the Dynamic Duo, never a solo crimefighting act.
To make a long story short, Nightwing is the alter ego of Dick Grayson, who originally fought alongside Batman as the first Boy Wonder. In time, Dick outgrew his role as Robin and struck out on his own. He joined the Teen Titans, much to Batman’s disapproval. When Batman gave Dick the ultimatum of being his partner or retiring his role as Robin, Dick chose to leave Wayne Manor and eventually formed his own identity as Nightwing.
Christopher Nolan’s approach of excluding Robin in his trilogy (for the most part) depicts just one part of the criteria that people will now expect from a Batman movie – a gritty and grim depiction of Gotham, realistic enough for disbelief to be suspended moreso than usual for a comic book movie.
Robin, swathed in bright colours and barely tall enough to ride any abandoned amusement ride, would have stood out like a sore underage thumb in a serious Batman adaption. A teenage Robin is pushing what modern viewers would deem acceptable – it’s doubtful a sidekick combating villains and puberty would go over well with Nolan fans. Nightwing, on the other hand, fits this gauge perfectly.
His independence from Batman marks not only the maturation of Robin, but also the growth of character development in Batman films. Having a hero operate without the Bat symbol, yet still remain a member of Bruce’s family, causes conflict. Both heroes were orphaned due to crime, both trained to fight it and yet both employ different methods and have nearly polar motivations.
The night his parents were gunned down will always be Bruce’s reason for saving Gotham’s streets, the obsessive push to forego personal happiness in order to never let another go through that night again. Dick allows himself to move past that traumatic event, and through Bruce’s mentoring and father figure role, can become a different brand of hero Gotham deserves.
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Vastly underestimated, Victor Zsasz can possibly become one of the most terrifying villains in the Batman universe. A sanitized version of the serial killer appeared in Batman Begins, as a mere thug for Carmine Falcone, but his history cuts much deeper.
Zsasz was a wealthy man who became a depressed gambler after his parents died. A botched suicide attempt involving a knife-wielding homeless man made him see existence as pointless and caused him to devote himself to increasing his body count.
Since then, Zsasz has left a cut on himself whenever he killed someone, accumulating tally marks that are in most incarnations too many to count. An example of Zsasz’s brutality is a Battle Royale-esque arena he set up with abducted children, forcing them to murder each other until the victor would face him to the death.
His entire body maps out all of Batman’s failures and his break-outs from Arkham are guaranteed to result in murder. There is nothing salvageable in Zsasz that Batman can reason with, no bargaining chips to pacify him with. He’s deranged without the theatrics of dressing up as a scarecrow or a punchline for an audience. He’s the sort of villain who could live in our world, and really put viewers at odds with Batman’s moral code of letting mass murderers live.
Just in case you missed Zsasz in Batman Begins, we’ve posted one of his scenes below.
So there you have it, five characters who would be perfect for the Batman/Superman team up film. Considering Gotham has plenty more adversaries, fellow heroes and civilian characters to choose from, who do you think should star in the next Batman outing?
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