The night is always darkest just before the dawn. While Ben Affleck’s Batman movie, rumored to be titled The Batman, is allegedly in trouble, there’s still a few years until it hits theaters in 2018. Or 2019. Look, no one really knows when it’s coming yet, but it’s coming.
The film is also rumored to feature more villains besides Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke, this Batman film has 75-plus years of history from which to cherry-pick its villains. Still, only a few of Batman’s villains are worthy of appearing on film, and if Affleck’s The Batman wants to do something different than any Batman movie we’ve seen before — or perhaps even improve a thing or two — the team would benefit from choosing from our a short list.
7. Black Mask
Born into Gotham’s high society, Roman Sionis grows up into a criminal kingpin after his last-ditch business venture in face paint produces a harmful product he tests himself. Bespoke but with a terrifying black skull, Black Mask embodies Gotham’s criminal culture with the city’s gothic allure, making him a perfect B-villain in the next great Batman movie. He’s not primetime, but he should be around in Gotham for Batman to beat up.
6. Solomon Grundy
Inspired by the English folk poem, Solomon Grundy in DC Comics is a supervillain who resides in Gotham’s sewers. Originally a merchant named Cyrus Gold from the late 19th century, he was killed and thrown into a toxic swamp and reemerges decades later as a brutish Frankenstein’s Monster-esque zombie with no memory of his past life.
Introduced in 1944 as an enemy to the Green Lantern, Solomon Grundy has since shown up as a regular foe of Superman, Batman, and even the Green Arrow in the TV series Arrow. In a new Batman movie, Grundy would be the perfect muscle to break a bone or two. We’ve already seen Bane. Let’s see Grundy.
Although a prominent supervillain who has appeared all throughout Batman’s history, it was his terrifying appearance in 2015’s Batman: Arkham Knight that sealed the deal: Man-Bat should be a movie villain.
Created by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams in 1970, Man-Bat is actually Dr. Kirk Langstorm, a zoologist who specializes in bats (natch) who experiments with bats’ sonar to cure human ailments — specifically his own, as he’s close to becoming deaf. Of course, the experiment goes wrong, turning him into Man-Bat, while his wife also drinks the serum and becomes She-Bat.
Although silly to see on paper, Man-Bat is a great foil for a Batman to explore horror movie territory. Any movie where Batman fights Man-Bat turns into a good old monster movie, something no Batman movie has ever really done before.
4. Red Hood
All but guaranteed, Jason Todd’s gun-toting vigilante Red Hood is destined to appear in the current DC cinematic universe. With his death already canon in Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, somewhere in the DCU, Jason is being resurrected by Ra’s al Ghul and will come back more violent and unstable than when he was Robin.
The original story, beginning with Jim Starlin’s Batman: A Death in the Family and followed up in Judd Winick’s Batman: Under the Hood, are both must-reads, and will probably be adapted somewhere down the line.
3. (A Better) Mr. Freeze
Think of it, Batman: to never again see Mr. Freeze the way he deserves to be on film. Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze, as directed by Joel Schumacher in the maligned Batman & Robin, just isn’t the Victor Fries that the greatest Batman stories are capable of. Best portrayed in the Emmy-winning episode “Heart of Ice” from Batman: The Animated Series, Victor Fries is merely a man desperate to save his ailing wife and has kept her frozen while he searches for a cure.
“Heart of Ice” tells a better story in a half-hour than most Batman movies have done with two hours. With Ben Affleck at the helm, the Oscar-winning screenwriter is more than capable of translating Fries’s heart-wrenching story to a stage it deserves to be on.
2. Professor Pyg
Silly on the surface but terrifying when you really explore him, Professor Pyg is Lazlo Valentin, created by Grant Morrison and introduced in the ominously numbered Batman #666. A schizophrenic devoted to making people “perfect,” Valentin kidnaps people and turns them into husks called Dolltrons while wearing an unnerving pig mask.
As shown in Batman: Arkham Knight, Lazlo strings up his victims with opera music playing at the crime scene. He’s a perfect serial killer-type to exist in Gotham, and as a subplot in a Batman movie, he’d be worth elevating from his current C-string status.
1. Talons and the Court of Owls
For generations, the Court of Owls — a secret cabal of Gotham’s elite — pulled the strings of Gotham City even without Batman knowing. In Scott Snyder’s acclaimed run on Batman, Snyder introduced the terrifying Court of Owls into the Batman mythology, creating an Illuminati-like force that is powerful — and indeed, wealthy enough — to elude the Dark Knight himself. Armed with physically imposing and lethally-trained Talons, the Court of Owls wield influence over Gotham and have pushed even Batman to his own mental breaking point.
And that was all in the comics. Imagine what they could do on the big screen.