So with The Dark Knight currently at $400 million in 18 days, it’s well on the way to the all time box office record (currently held by James Cameron’s Titanic at 600 million), it is inevitable that a third installment will be filmed. What’s in question right now is whether or not Christopher Nolan will be at the helm. If I were Warner Brothers I think I’d dump the proverbial semi-truck of cash to get him back.
Christian Bale has been quoted as saying that Nolan has a theme for the next movie, and since his themes always follow his villains, it’s time to find out who the baddie will be.
Batman Begins was about mastering fear, showing no mercy to criminals, and duplicity. The villains were appropriately Scarecrow (fear), and Ra’s al Ghul (punishment and duplicity).
The Dark Knight was about chaos and duality. The villians were Joker (chaos), and Two-Face (duality).
I think an interesting theme might be “What happens when you take everything away from the man who has it all?”, and strip Batman down to the bare bones, no shiny toys, no big cast to rely on. He’s already an outlaw at the end of the second film, take away his fortune and figure out a way to separate him from Lucius Fox and Alfred to see what he can do on his own.
With that in mind, who are the remaining villains in the Batman Pantheon who could take over?
Talia al Ghul – Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, and the league of shadows’ next in command. In the comics she marries Batman and becomes the father of his child. She’s been shown to be both kind and loving, and as ruthless as her father. She could represent hope initially, become a love interest for Bruce, and then bring his entire world crashing down around him. Show him some hubris as she takes over Wayne Enterprises and leaves him out on the street. Emotionally devastate him, and show him the other side of revenge (she can hold him accountable for Ra’s death). One of the nice things about this is that the Lazarus pit could be introduced and the film can end with the resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, who is unable to be killed in the comics thanks to the ressurective powers of the Lazarus pit. Angelina Jolie is supposedly interested in playing Catwoman, but this role is much meatier and would really play to her strengths.
The Wraith – Imagine Batman, only done from a criminal perspective. His parents are small time hoods, and they are killed by rookie policeman James Gordon. He seeks vengeance, but from the other side of the law. It would make for a fascinating study of opposites. The character is largely unknown, but so was Ra’s al Ghul (and so are most of my choices).
Hugo Strange – A psychologist who is obsessed with Batman. There have been some pretty cool stories about Hugo Strange, mostly involving him trying to be the Batman, or trying to drive Batman insane. At one point Hugo Strange had deduced Bruce Wayne’s alter ego through psycho analysis and took over his identity. He’s more cerebral than Scarecrow, and not interested in financial gain, he wants the power of being the Batman.
Black Mask – Another “mirror image” of Batman, this time he’s the opposite number of Bruce Wayne, the heir of the Janus cosmetics fortune, and a right nut. He goes on to become a mob boss and controls large parts of Gotham’s criminal underground.
Hush – A childhood friend of Bruce Wayne’s, Tommy Elliot tries to kill his parents as a child, but only partially suceeds because Bruce’s father saves Tommy’s mother. He learns to hate the Waynes, and seeks to destroy them.
Characters that won’t work in the Nolan-Verse:
Man-Bat – my personal fave, I think he’d be a ridiculously cool visual, but I can’t imagine him working in the universe they’ve created.
Clayface – again, a terrific visual, but he just wouldn’t work because the universe is so grounded in reality.
Cat-Man – I just don’t think he’d work. There’s the whole “soldier of fortune” part that I really dig, and there could be some great play with the mob bosses bringing in another guy to do what the Joker was supposed to do…but for some reason I don’t feel like he’d work in Nolan’s universe.
Penguin, and Catwoman – do we really need to see another Burton retread? While there’s potential for Catwoman, I think she’s too obvious.
Mr Freeze, Poison Ivey, The Riddler, and any other villians from Batman Forever or Batman and Robin…not needed, they’re silly, and can’t be done justice.
So my fellow geeks (and if you’ve read this far, make no mistake, you’re a geek), who should be the next villain to take on the caped crusader?