Who will be the villains in the next Batman movie?


Short answer? I have no idea.

But it is something I’ve been pondering. It’s absolutely certain we’ll see at least one more sequel in this franchise — after pulling down over $400 million in a little over three weeks, there’s no way Warner Brothers will let director Christopher Nolan or Christian Bale walk on this. But the big talk in movie circles is who the next Bat-villain will be.

Now let’s not talk actors — Nolan’s gotten great results by going with actors you’d never actually associate with the characters they played. Besides, anything you’re hearing now about Angelina Jolie or Johnny Depp is strictly scuttlebutt that almost certainly won’t come to pass.

So who are our possibilities?

I really doubt we’ll see the Joker or Two-Face make a return appearance. No one’s going to be dumb enough to try to fill Heath Ledger’s shoes for a sequel, and Harvey Dent’s dead. No, no weaseling out of this — no “Well, they didn’t take his pulse, we don’t know he’s in the coffin, he might be alive.” No, he’s dead. Bringing him back to life is a comic book trick, and Nolan isn’t playing these movies by comic book rules.

Nolan’s already said he dislikes the Penguin and doesn’t want him in a movie, so it’s a pretty sure bet we can rule him out.

Everyone keeps talking up the Riddler and Catwoman, but I don’t see it happening. They just don’t fit into the previous films’ mold. Ra’s al Ghul, Scarecrow, and the Joker all had big plans to change the face of Gotham City, and Riddler and Catwoman have never been that variety of crazy. Catwoman is a burglar, and Riddler is an obsessive-compulsive bank robber. They’re not “Destroy the City” types.

I also think we can rule out Batman’s more fantastical villains, like Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc, and Clayface. I think they’d make pretty interesting villains, but the movies have gone for a more realistic feel, and superscientific freeze guns, crocodilian mutants with superstrength, and amorphous shapeshifting blob-men just don’t fit into the movie’s universe, no matter how cool their stories may be.

I’m not sure that Harley Quinn would work without the Joker, but she might make a believable Joker substitute, with the right tweaks.

Poison Ivy and the Mad Hatter straddle the realistic/unrealistic barrier. With the right adjustments in their origins and powers, they might be workable.

Bane, Hush, and the Ventriloquist would have the right amount of realism on their side. Bane and Hush definitely have their hate on for Batman, and might be willing to hatch city-destroying schemes to get at him. The Ventriloquist has definitely got the craaaaazy workin’ for him, but I don’t know whether you could turn him into the type who wants to wreck large swaths of the city.

My picks, in order of preference? (1) The Ventriloquist — when three of your past four movie villains have been jam-packed with insanity sauce, I think Ventriloquist and his puppet Scarface are cracked enough to fit in just fine; (2) Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn — again, with the right tweaks, I could see them being great, and isn’t it time we saw some good Bat-villains who were female?; (3) Bane — not my favorite villain, but he’s got a good built-in storyline; (4) Hush — another who’s not my favorite, but he makes a pretty good anti-Batman; (5) Mad Hatter — his obsessions with Batman’s cowl and using mind control on Gothamites would be pretty good, but I worry that all the bizarre “Alice in Wonderland” stuff might make him too weird to be useable.

So there are my picks. What are yours?

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