This weekend sees the release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice across the world and while it is splitting audiences down on whether they love it or hate it, pretty much the universal positive that is coming out from the film viewing audience is that they like Ben Affleck’s performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the film. If rumours circulating once again that Ben Affleck will not only direct and star, but will also be writing the script of the solo film along with DC’s Creative Chief Officer Geoff Johns (speaking with DC All Access about ‘working on something’ with Geoff). While no official release date for a solo Batman film has been given (rumours float around between 2018 or 2019) let alone an official title (rumour of The Batman has been mentioned at some point), we assume it’s only a matter of time that we’ll hear something official in 2016, so I’m going to rundown a few potential villains that could pop up in a Ben Affleck led Batman solo film and play around with a few casting choices for each.
The Hush backstory is an interesting one which I have waited for a while to be told on the big screen. Thomas Elliot was a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne and was also born into a wealthy family. The difference between the two growing up was that Thomas hated his parents (abusive relationship) and driven by his desire for wealth (inherit from his parents death) and independence, he sabotaged the brakes in his parents car, resulting in a crash that killed his father but his mother was saved by Bruce’s father Dr. Thomas Wayne in an emergency operation, enraging young Elliot. Throughout the years Elliot ended up becoming a successful surgeon but still holds a grudge towards his childhood friend for his father saving his mother, seeking to take revenge by ruining Bruce’s life on every level and won’t allow any other villain to kill his nemesis, taking on the persona known as Hush. It’ll be interesting to see a balance of two childhood friends of how one lost the parents that he loved and the other was loathsome over the other due to his inherited wealth and the fact his father saved his mother from dying and how that unfolds the two spectrums in adulthood.
Well one of the selections here is more of a wishful thinking scenario in not only seeing Matt Damon share the screen alongside Ben Affleck in the DC Film Universe but also see him play a villainous role which he could really sink his teeth into. Same as well for Jon Hamm who can finally embrace life without having to play Don Draper on Mad Men no more and can easily fit into a surgeon with a rather complexed grudge against his childhood friend that even complicates other villains efforts to take down the Batman. The question remains on whether or not either will be game to have their face mostly covered for the duration of a film? Perhaps but perhaps not, but there is one guy I’m sure that would gladly do it and kill the role….Karl Urban!
I pitched him over five years ago in a post exactly like this for the third instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (which is now known as The Dark Knight Rises) and here I am pitching Black Mask again for a future Batman solo film villain appearance. Roman Sionis is a crime lord who, similar to Thomas Elliot, had a bad relationship with his parents growing up. His parents were wealthy (of course!) and self-absorbed who cared more about their social status than their own son, leading to a few incidents of him being hurt and them covering them up so their high society friends wouldn’t find out. One such friends, which they disliked and were vocal about behind closed doors were the Wayne’s, which made Roman grow to hate and resent them for the masks that they wore in public. When Roman falls in love and his parents disapprove the relationship, it’s the final straw and Roman burns down the family mansion, killing both his parents. When he inherits the family business and wealth, he manages to ruin the company Janus Cosmetics, leading to his fiancee breaking up in front of his entire staff and Bruce Wayne bailing out the company on the condition that Roman gave up control. Humiliated and suffering an incident that he takes as a omen of his rebirth, he carves a mask that symbolises his new identity – Black Mask. It might not be the most popular/high-profile villain to use for a Batman solo film but such secondary villains have been used quite effectively in a few Batman films, especially when covering crime syndicates.
He may have appeared in a DC Film before playing Sinestro in the Green Lantern film, why not give Mark Strong another crack at another villainous role as the Black Mask? Or just let Ray Liotta let loose as an unhinged, demented crime lord Roman Sionis (similar to how the character is portrayed in the Batman: Under The Red Hood animated film) who would even beat up a few of his own men for just staring at him for too long. Depends on the size of the role but Ben Affleck has a habit of telling good crime stories that a Black Mask appearance could fit in naturally.
The Riddler is one of the most popular Batman villains that hasn’t been seen on the big screen since Jim Carrey’s portrayal in Batman Forever back in 1995. Edward Nigma is a villain obsessed with riddles, puzzles and word games and frequently delights in giving Batman and the police complex clues in an attempt to show off his intellectual superiority, due to his narcissistic/egotistic nature. The Riddler feels like a character that the studio will want to revisit for an Affleck Batman solo film, especially when Zack Snyder recently said that the character came close to appear in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
In terms of The Riddler I feel it’s a role that the studio will want a big name for and though Neil Patrick Harris’s name is more often than not, the one that has stayed linked with the Nigma/Riddler role since The Dark Knight trilogy, I can’t see the studio going for him as they seem set on collecting the Oscar nominated/winning calibre’s that are not tied to any other cinematic universe. In terms of someone’s behind the scenes history in wanting to create the perfect finished project, Edward Norton generally seems to fit the persona of Edward Nigma well and can get stuck into the character well. Since Leo has finally gotten that Oscar, it seems just a matter of time before speculation begins on either DC or Marvel gunning for his services and really, the man really play any role (yes, even Calendar Man) and make it work. Speaking of chameleon’s, I think Jake Gyllenhaal has been on a role in recent years with his choices in films and performances and particularly with the one he gives in Nightcrawler is the reason why I have placed him into consideration here.
Victor Zsasz is a character that, like a few villains, starts off owning his own company along with his family’s wealth whose life takes a nosedive for the worse when his parents die on a boating accident. Sunk into a deep depression, Victor turns to gambling and manages to loose all his money eventually (most of it going to the Penguin) and decide to head to Gotham Bridge to commit suicide. There he’s assaulted by a homeless man who he stabs to death and suddenly finds a new purpose in ‘liberating’ others from their pointless existence (referring to his victims as zombies). He has no qualms over who he kills and adds a tally mark on himself each time. Well, Zsasz may not take up a key role in this particular adaptation of Batman (or even exist with this way Batman is portrayed) but could be a side character that appears but with more meat to the screen than the character had in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.
One villain/antihero appearance that seems set in tone to appear in a Ben Affleck solo film however is the Red Hood after the setup of the Robin suit appearance in the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice film. So the film automatically becomes a more personal tale involving Jared Leto’s The Joker as he kills Jason Todd, who ends up returning to Gotham years later as the Red Hood.
This pick might actually be the toughest to go on here as we’re not clear actually what age range the studio would go for it. With Affleck in his mid-forties do they think they can get away with an actor in his mid-thirties to play Jason Todd/Red Hood or go even younger? Mentioning Jensen Ackles as it’s one that won’t go away due to his connection to the role away as he voiced the character in the animated film Batman: Under The Red Hood but time is no longer on his side I reckon. Jack Huston is a guy I’m a fan of since his time on Boardwalk Empire and even recently I thought he was good in Pride And Prejudice And Zombies. Granted the upcoming Ben-Hur he stars may end up good/bad, he’s still in his early thirties and could definitely fit that range of an adult Jason Todd for Red Hood. Jake Gyllenhaal is in his mid-thirties and like Ackles, could be out of ‘age range’ per-se but the studio might need a major name for a character that they could potentially invest in for future films. Or they can go with a young actor in their twenties to portray the character.
For the last few years and possibly for the next few years due to both men being in their mid-twenties, Dylan O’Brien and Taron Edgerton will be linked with every possible comic book franchise going. While O’Brien has improved dramatically on Teen Wolf and had a stint where he was allowed to play a darker character, I don’t know if he’ll fit the role like say Edgerton who seems to be high up on studios radars at the minute with the success of Kingsman, but then that remains key on his availability if Kingsman’s sequel becomes a bigger success and launches a franchise for Edgerton to lead on his on. Tyler Hoechlin is an interesting one as though I didn’t care for his character on Teen Wolf, he has the look for the part and even though we remember him as the young kid in Road to Perdition alongside Tom Hanks, he’s still only twenty-eight and appearing in Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some! it’ll be interesting to see his performance in that film to give a definitive verdict. Bob Morley may possibly be the oddest choice I’ll make in this entire post, moreso than the Leonardo DiCaprio as the Riddler consideration but recently started binging through The 100 and he really caught my eye, carrying himself in an aggressive yet damaged nature. Though he’s just hit his thirties, he can easily pass as a kid in his early twenties that gets ‘killed’ before appearing years later as the Red Hood.
Well five hours later of typing and that’s the best of the villains/casting considerations I can come up with. Do you think any other particular villain could appear in the Ben Affleck solo Batman film? If so who and who would you like to see play the part?