Antagonists We’d Love to See in Ben Affleck’s Solo Batman Movie.
Warning: This article contains very minor Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad spoilers. Read at your own risk.
Arguably, the one redeeming feature of the abysmal Batman v Superman movie was the Dark Knight himself, lovingly nicknamed Batfleck by fans (because he is played by Ben Affleck. Get it?). He has it all, the shit-eating grin, the not-so-positive outlook on life, and fuck, did you see how bulked up he was?! While I am one of those people who has a bit of an issue with Batman killing criminals in BvS, I do sincerely enjoy Ben Affleck’s version of Batman, and when it was announced that Affleck would be directing his very own solo movie for the legendary Caped Crusader, I was excited. I think Affleck has the skills to deliver a genuinely great Batman movie, provided the studio back off and let him do his own thing.
Recently, Batfleck has delighted audiences with a brief, but memorable cameo in the latest addition to the DC live action universe – Suicide Squad. In it, we are shown that Batman most definitely has a range of established enemies already, so I’m not entirely sure on the chances of an antagonist origin story. I mean, what was it, twenty years Batman has been in the business of beating up criminals? It’s probably safe to say that most of these world famous villains have featured in his life before now.
It’s purely speculation at this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of villains showed up in cameo roles, or even as secondary antagonists. As I said, Bruce has been Batman for twenty years now, so he is bound to have a substantial list of enemies. Any appearance by a villain that is not the central antagonist is unlikely to be anything significant. Perhaps appearing in a montage where Batman is taking down one criminal after the other, or maybe just the opening / closing scene(s). Who knows? All we really know so far is that Affleck is keen on having a unique storyline that will not be a simple rehash of classic tales from the Batman vault. But which of Batman’s antagonists will get the honour of being the first major villain in this new run of live action DC movies? Well, in this article I will be suggesting a number of characters that I would absolutely love to see, and even offer up an idea or two regarding what kind of story could be used.
Let’s start with someone that is in dire need of a redemptive movie:
Although Mr. Freeze is well known as a villain of the Batman series, many people prefer to think of him as an anti-villain. He is a man that has committed reprehensible deeds, terrible feats of crime, yet Freeze does them all for, what he considers to be, a truly pure reason – He commits these crimes in the name of love.
Before becoming the cold hearted lawbreaker, Mr. Freeze was known as Victor Fries. Despite the character already having an origin story (he had been a rogue scientist involved in an accident with cryogenic chemicals while experimenting on a freeze gun), the 1990s Batman: The Animated Series gave us a widely praised, alternate origin for Victor Fries. In the show, Victor Fries is now a scientist working for GothCorp, specifically focused on cryogenics. It was discovered that Fries had been embezzling funds from the company in order to fund his research towards finding a cure for his terminally ill wife Nora (having cryogenically frozen her until he could discover said cure); a fight ensued between GothCorp’s CEO Ferris Boyle, his guards, and Mr. Fries, resulting in Fries stumbling into a table stacked with cryogenic substances. Left to die by the GothCorp staff, Victor Fries’ body underwent a dramatic mutation which sadly left him unable to survive outside of subzero temperatures, thus requiring him to live constantly within his iconic cryo-suit. Now known as Mr. Freeze, the ice-man steals, kills, and destroys all in the name of financing his own research; he is driven by the desire to cure his beloved wife, it is his only purpose in this cold, cold world.
I’m aware that Ben Affleck has expressed interest in a brand new story, but I cannot tell you how wonderful it would be to see an adaption of Batman: The Animated Series‘ first Mr. Freeze story: Heart of Ice. Let’s be honest, after the major flop that was Batman and Robin, Mr. Freeze in in dire need of absolution in the minds of the audience; and as one of the many characters that would not have fitted into Christopher Nolan’s more realistic Bat-verse, Mr. Freeze is a perfect candidate for the current DCLAU (DC Live Action Universe), a universe that is far less grounded in reality.
In my mind, Freeze is an outstanding character beyond any doubt. His entire situation pulls at the heart strings. If done right, by the end of the movie Affleck could have the audience in tears; either with Freeze and Nora walking into the sunset to perish together, or with Freeze losing Nora forever, thus succumbing to pure madness. Just, please, no puns!
Ahh, Harley Quinn, what a fabulous woman she is. I’m fairly certain that if you’re reading this article you’ll know who Harley is, but just to be safe I’ll go through a few details with you. Firstly, Harley Quinn was previously Dr. Harleen Quinzel, a psychiatrist working at the infamous Arkham Asylum. Unfortunately for the sweet doctor, she would soon find herself on the other side of the cell doors. With The Joker as her patient, Dr. Quinzel quickly developed a deep, unhealthy attachment to the Clown Prince of Crime, eventually becoming his accomplice and changing her name to, yep, you guessed it – Harley Quinn.
Along with Mr. Freeze, Harley is one of the more tragic Batman adversaries. All Harley wants is for her Puddin’ to love her, but sadly that is just not something The Joker is capable of; he is simply too engrossed in getting Batman’s attention. Frequently physically abused by The Joker, Harley refuses to see him for what he really is, instead insisting to herself that he really does love her. Without The Joker in her life, Harley could be genuinely happy, but her obsession with Mr. J has left her unable to focus on anything else but him.
Lately, Harley and The Joker have found themselves separated. Harley appears to have been cured of her Joker lust (at least partially), and has found real friends in Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and countless others. Obviously, Harley is also one of the most well known members of the Suicide Squad, a role that has shown that she does not need The Joker, that she is her own person deserving of recognition. Harley has proven time and time again that she is a most capable woman, not to be messed with. She is not The Joker’s plaything, she is a formidable force nobody should ever underestimate.
From what I can tell at the time of writing this article, the DCLAU version of Harley also seems to be relatively free of the Joker’s influence. To be honest, I found it slightly difficult to interpret the situation between them, but she appears to be less attached to him. On the other hand. Suicide Squad‘s Joker is obviously obsessed with Harley, but I would think that his one time partner in crime looks to be falling out of love with him.
Picture this for a Batfleck story idea: The Joker dies during one of his schemes. The loss of The Joker, causes Harley to completely relapse into her classic self. A distraught Harley Quinn is now out for bat-blood, she has become adamant that Batman will fall at her hands, and indulges herself in a night of murderous mischief with her cronies in honour of her fallen love. Batman feels compassion for his foe, but he must take her down to prevent the deaths of countless innocents, there just isn’t a choice here. With Batman hot on her heels, he does what he does best – fight through clown-faced henchmen while trying to figure out Harley’s plan. Little does he know she is intent on rejoining her Puddin’, hoping to take Batman down with her.
Let’s say that the theory of The Joker being Jason Todd in this universe is true; that gives both Harley and Batman an emotional connection – Batman’s protege and Harley Quinn’s “Puddin'”. They both cared for Jason / Joker in their own way, but Harley has gone completely off the rails, blaming The Dark Knight for his death (which, let’s be honest, would most likely be caused by The Joker himself while trying to take down Batman). The emotional connection offers a good reason for why the now murder-happy Batman wouldn’t just kill Harley and have one less super-criminal on the loose around Gotham. Margot Robbie has definitely proven that she is more than capable of handling the role of Harley Quinn, and I believe that she could absolutely hold her own as the primary antagonist in Affleck’s solo Batman story.
Right then, it is somewhat difficult to discuss exactly who Hush is without completely ruining his entire story. Hmm, how should I go about this? Let’s see. Hush [real name redacted] harbours an intense hatred for the Wayne family and has set out to totally ruin the last remaining Wayne – Bruce. Originally, the bandages covering Hush’s face were simply a means to mask his true identity, however, they later served a purpose as the skilled surgeon had actually started to perform surgery on his own face in order to look identical to Bruce Wayne. I would consider this character to be incredibly underused, but it is probably for the best – after all, there are only really two stories you can use Hush for: His first appearance, and his reappearance with Bruce’s face. I suppose you could actually get a third story by giving him some kind of redemptive conclusion? I’m not sure.
I think it would be a great move on Affleck’s part to include Hush in his first solo Batman movie. Not only would it give the audience a bit of Wayne history, and show Bruce’s non-Batman based activities, it also presents an opportunity to showcase a selection of Batman’s greatest antagonists all in the same movie. In the graphic novel Hush, the titular character utilises many of Gotham’s super-villains, so you can imagine how epic seeing this story on the big screen could be. Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Joker, Two-Face; all up there helping to ruin Batman’s day.
Hell, with all the possibilities available, a Hush storyline could even be a two part movie. Think about it, the first film would be a murder mystery – bodies have started to appear around Gotham inflicted with specific wounds. It is down to Batman to discover who exactly is behind this murder spree. This could essentially play out in the same way the ‘Hush’ graphic novel did, but I would combine two stories into one by having the first movie end with the unmasking of Hush, only to reveal that he is… BRUCE WAYNE! Cliffhanger.
Of course it isn’t really Bruce, but this deranged character has been systematically killing people in order to steal any facial features that they share with Bruce and applying them to his own face. The second movie would involve Hush masquerading as Bruce Wayne as he goes around destroying Bruce’s reputation and life. As his business and personal life crumble, Bruce must try to organise some kind of damage control while leading his double life as Batman, attempting to stop Hush at all costs, and also work out why Hush has this dark obsession with the Wayne family.
I have no doubt that if done correctly, a Hush story could become known as one of the greatest live action Batman movies of all time.
A legitimately twisted psychologist, Hugo Strange would not be out of place in a padded cell in Arkham Asylum. Not only is Strange a criminal mastermind, he is also a flat-out genius; Showcased by the fact that he knows Bruce Wayne is Batman, something that very few people know, and even fewer have deduced on their own. Utterly obsessed with Batman, Hugo Strange dreams of one day taking that mantle by force, believing himself to be a far superior saviour to Gotham City.
In my opinion, Hugo Strange would actually work very well as either a single movie antagonist, or remain unseen for a number of films before finally being revealed in a subsequent movie. If the latter, Affleck’s first movie could involve the mad scientist orchestrating a breakout at Arkham, releasing the worst Gotham has to offer back onto the streets. But for what purpose? It’d be Batman’s job to gather the super-criminals, place them back into Arkham Asylum’s custody, and uncover who exactly is behind the breakout. Knowing that Hugo Strange would like to be seen as Gotham’s saviour, his goal would most likely consist of wiping out the criminals from the city by any means necessary. Something that would certainly put him at odds with Batman.
Because Hugo Strange knows exactly who Batman is, he is a categorical threat to Bruce Wayne and holds the power to completely destroy everything Bruce holds dear. This particular detail offers many opportunities to see how Bruce Wayne would deal with personal attacks on his character, attacks on his friends, allies, his business. Strange is potentially an equal to Bruce mentally, so it’d be great to see a Batman movie where the character must use something other than fear, other than brute strength to save the day.
Speaking of fear, Jonathan Crane, A.K.A. The Scarecrow was once a renowned professor of psychology, utterly obsessed with the psychology behind fear. Eventually moving to Arkham Asylum as a psychiatrist, Dr. Crane began to experiment on the asylum’s inmates. Utilising a range of drugs and psychological techniques, Dr. Crane induced complete and utter terror into the minds of his victims. An horrific fate for any soul to befall. Crane actually considers his crimes to be a form of research in his mission to understand fear, to master people through their phobias, though it is all mostly a way for him to feed his psychopathic appetites.
I’m not entirely sure how well a horror based Batman movie would work if I’m perfectly honest, but as a passionate horror fan I’d be ecstatic if we were given a pure horror-fest of a Batman movie. A horror based movie could even feature many of Batman’s more grotesque characters, such as Man-Bat. If a movie such as this were to be developed, it’d definitely require an R-rating as Scarecrow presents the perfect opportunity for some immensely fucked up sights. Give him a physical appearance similar to that of his Arkham Knight incarnation, and just go to town. The current DCLAU is not afraid of going dark when it needs to, and is not embarrassed to be seen as a comic-book movie-verse, which allows Affleck to go all out on Scarecrow and his fear gas. I don’t have a story idea for Scarecrow, I’ll leave this one to Mr. Affleck, I just really want to see a horror based Scarecrow / Batman movie. Seriously.
I admit that Scarecrow may be a little too fresh in the mind to be given another outing just yet, with Nolan’s widely praised adaption of the character appearing in Batman Begins, and the amazing Arkham games doing a truly outstanding job with the character (particularly in Arkham Knight); though having said all that, we have just had a new Joker, so… Anyway, Nolan’s Scarecrow was good, but he wasn’t terrifying, and to me, Scarecrow should be all about fear; he is all about fear! My favourite look (and voice) for Scarecrow, other than his Arkham Knight incarnation, goes to his character in The New Batman Adventures. Here, take a look:
You see that? Did you see how great he is? I know, he is masked by shadow in that clip, but you get a good idea of the character, and he genuinely looks creepy, perhaps a little too creepy for a kid show; but hey, this is Batman after all. Out of the two designs mentioned, I think I would prefer a physical appearance closer to the one seen in Arkham Knight, but in no way would I be disappointed if we had something similar to what you saw in that clip.
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So, that’s my list done. There are countless other villains I could have included in this list; unfortunately, there isn’t enough time in the world to write about every character I’d love to see so we’ll have to make do. But anyway, I bet you’re wondering which of these five I’d like to see the most, right? It’d have to be Mr. Freeze, I think. There is just something about his story that I really want to see done right on the big screen; but after seeing Suicide Squad, I am starting to lean more towards a Harley Quinn movie. I’m not sure how likely it’d be for the idea presented above to feature in a movie just yet though, as I really doubt they’d kill off Leto’s Joker any time soon. I mean, there is just so much potential there just waiting to be tapped, and keeping both Leto and Robbie’s Joker and Harley together for a while would be a smart move. We haven’t ever had a live action depiction of their relationship, so it’d be interesting to see where that goes.
Now for your part, dear reader. What do you think of my selection? Do you have any ideas of your own for potential Batman stories? Are there any other villains you think’d be perfect to take on Batfleck in his first solo movie? If so, let me know in the comments below.
Image Credits: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and DC Entertainment.