With Matt Reeves at the helm of the new The Batman movie, everyone is buzzing with anticipation to see who he casts as the Caped Crusader’s leading villain(s) this time around. After two Planet of the Apes movies, it’s clear that Reeves has a flair for gritty, captivating storytelling...which makes this the perfect opportunity to introduce Batman’s darker albeit lesser-known adversaries to the limelight.
There are plenty of compelling villains in Batman's rogues' gallery beyond the Joker or Penguin. Some of them may not have been suitable for more grounded versions of Batman stories in the past, but with Matt Reeves making unorthodox choices from the get-go (casting Robert Pattinson as Gotham’s favorite crimefighter), it might be time to turn one of these antagonists into the Dark Knight’s greatest on-screen challenge yet.
Think Batman, but evil. The origins of Owlman are hard to pinpoint simply because he has no true origin. The character is basically an alternate version of Batman from another reality called Earth-Three. In more recent iterations, Owlman’s real name is Thomas Wayne Jr, whose family (including a young Bruce Wayne) was destroyed at the hands of his evil butler, Alfred Pennyworth!
Director Matt Reeves might not want to get into multiverses and interdimensional travel just yet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to portray Owlman in a more grounded way. He’s a compelling character and one that’s able to rival Batman in every way. Heck, he could be a bigger threat to the Dark Knight than the Joker ever was!
9 Professor Pyg
Professor Pyg sounds like something out of a toddler’s cartoon, but he’s actually a terrifying adversary to the Dark Knight. Pyg has a penchant for lobotomizing his victims and adding them to his mindless army of Dollotrons, whose real faces have been replaced by doll ones. For obvious reasons, the details of how this is done have never really been explored. All in all, Pyg’s horrific crimes could be the premise of Batman’s first horror flick set in Gotham.
Depending on how dark Matt Reeves wants to get with The Batman, having a slasher-type villain like Professor Pyg, who often uses abandoned hospitals as his hideout, could make this the grittiest Batman film ever made.
Speaking of crazies who have a thing for dolls, Dollhouse is a second-generation villain whose father goes by the name Dollmaker. It seems like villainy runs in the family. Arguably one of Batman’s least famous rivals, Matilda Mathis was raised by her father, Barton Mathis, to be a merciless criminal. The duo would hunt people to supply their twisted organ trade business.
Matilda then had a doll face grafted onto her own and started wearing a nurse’s outfit, while carrying a sledgehammer to take out her victims. Like Professor Pyg, having Dollhouse (and her coo-coo) dad in The Batman could give the movie a unique horror element.
7 Hugo Strange
This might be considered cheating since Hugo Strange has gained recognition in recent years thanks to the immensely popular Arkham videogames and the divisive Gotham TV series. Still, Strange isn’t one of the first names that come to mind when thinking of Batman’s rogues' gallery. If done right, this deranged doctor could prove to be one of Batman’s most formidable foes.
Hugo Strange knows all of Batman’s secrets, including his true identity. He’s bent on psychologically ripping Gotham’s defender apart. He is obsessed with breaking people on a mental level, and Batman has proven to be his toughest challenge yet. The inclusion of Hugo Strange could turn The Batman into a legitimate psychological thriller.
Think the Rocketeer, but unhinged and fixated on committing arson. Firefly isn’t exactly lead villain material, but he’d make a great side-quest character or formidable henchman to the film’s big bad. Plus, having a flamethrowing pyromaniac fight Batman at night against Gotham’s gothic landscape could make for some cool visuals.
As shown in the Planet of the Apes films, Matt Reeves is a master at blending warm colors against bleak backdrops with blue undertones. This creates a visually pleasing blend of hues from opposite sides of the color wheel. Needless to say, Batman and Gotham can provide the dark backdrop, while Firefly can light the place up!
To make a crime thriller, Matt Reeves will need a villain who can bring out the detective in Batman. Abattoir might just be the brand of insane this movie needs. His name literally means slaughterhouse, so this guy isn’t even trying to be subtle about his motives.
The Arkham regular believes his entire family needs to be wiped out because, apparently, they’re all up to no good. Not only that, Abattoir ends them by consuming their vitality in an effort to gain more power. Talk about missing a few screws. He’s twisted enough to be a formidable antagonist and his methods are disturbing enough to lend some grit and darkness to the Caped Crusader’s upcoming outing.
4 Jane Doe
Jane Doe is a shapeshifter without the special powers. She ends people and then steals their identities as her own. She made her first in the Arkham Asylum series of comics as Warren White’s psychiatrist, Dr. Anne Carver. Little did Warren know that the real Anne Carver was long gone, and in her place was this crazy chameleon known as Jane Doe. Jane would soon take the identity of Warren White himself and assume the role for a significant amount of time.
Needless to say, not much else is known about Jane Doe, which is what makes her such an interesting villain. Batman has faced identity thieves before, but none with the skill in the art of confusion and adaptation like Jane Doe.
3 Maxie Zeus
When it comes to delusions of grandeur, it doesn’t get any greater than Maxi Zeus. Once a mild-mannered history teacher, Maxie lost his sanity after the loss of his wife and started to believe he was the reincarnation of the Greek deity, Zeus. By using his intellect and dressing the part, Maxie took control of several criminal gangs in Gotham and weaponized them to do his bidding.
While his origins are kooky and come off like a cheap attempt at a superhero movie from the mid-’90s, having a character like Maxie Zeus as a side-villain for Batman to pummel at the beginning of the movie could be pretty hilarious.
Half-man, half-bat. The perfect opportunity for a werewolfesque story set in Gotham City’s gothic metropolis. Man-Bat’s origins are of the typical supervillain fashion; crazy professor tests a serum on himself and turns into a grizzly, oversized bat creature that proceeds to terrorize the city. What’s interesting is that Man-Bat is quickly confused for Batman by Gotham’s citizens, and as always, they begin to blame Batman for several gruesome crimes and kidnappings. It’s predator versus prey, hunter versus hunted, and it’s up to Batman to hunt this mysterious creature before it kills again.
It’s also important to note that Man-Bat has been an anti-hero in more than one storyline, stopping crimes in Gotham with his own brand of brutal justice.
1 The Phantasm
While not exactly an obscure villain, the Phantasm has only ever made several (mostly minor) appearances in Batman animated TV shows throughout the years. However, the Phantasm’s significance to Gotham and relationship with Bruce Wayne was heavily explored in 1993’s Mask of the Phantasm, arguably the most faithful theatrically-released Batman film ever made, and it’s about time the character is given the live-action treatment.
Since Matt Reeves wants to make a Batman film that’s stylized and noir, having a villain who operates in the shadows much like the Dark Knight himself could set the stage for some interesting visuals and captivating storytelling.