Joaquin Phoenix is set to dip into some crazy and bring Batman’s greatest nemesis to the big screen once again. Early reports have indicated that Phoenix’s performance as The Joker is breaching on becoming Oscar-worthy material. Although this could be hyperbole for the sake of extra marketing, it makes me ten times more excited to join the legions of Batman fans to check out Joker on October 4th.
With this in mind, there’s a vast array of other Batman villains that could find themselves rebooted outside of the DCU film franchise. Comic fans have been clamouring to see certain members of the Rogue’s Gallery make their big screen debuts and returns, so we’re going to take the chance to run down some potential casting choices for Batman’s most notorious baddies.
Benedict Cumberbatch as The Riddler
The Riddler has been one of the most demanded villains for the antagonist’s chair since Nolan’s trilogy in the late 2000s. With rumours starting to circulate regarding 2021’s The Batman, there’s a chance we could see Chiwetel Ejiofor bring the question mark-obsessed brainbox to life for the first time since Jim Carrey’s Riddler in Batman Forever.
As great as I’m sure Ejiofor is going to be, there is another man that could step up to the plate to portray the snarky know-it-all. Thinking of pop-culture’s famous intellectuals, there’s one man that seems to crop up more often than not and that’s Benedict Cumberbatch.
Sherlock Holmes, Alan Turing, and, most recently, Thomas Edison are all characters that have been given the Cumberbatch treatment. Benedict has the fast-talking sociopath role down to a tee, so you’d think Bob Kane originally wrote the role of The Riddler with Cumberbatch in mind.
Although, please: no more American accents.
Toby Jones as The Penguin
Looking back on Danny Devito’s and Tim Burton’s take on The Penguin is quite possibly the pinnacle of the character’s on-screen history. It would be hard for anyone to follow that stellar piece of cinema, but thinking of other names that could fit into the flippers, there’s one man that springs to mind. Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Unfortunately, we’ll never get to see that dream match, so I’m going with my next best choice, Toby Jones.
Another British superstar, Jones brings a whole new level of chilling to the screen when he undertakes a villainous role. Smaller in stature and with somewhat of a mean demeanour, Toby just has that necessary look to bring the deformed mobster to life in the modern era.
There are many different routes a filmmaker could go down when creating The Penguin. Batman Returns stayed true to the comics, while Telltale’s interpretation of Penguin was a lot more grounded. So if Toby Jones was to land the big role, who knows what sort of mobster we might see.
Michael Fassbender as Mr. Freeze
So I’m just going to get this out of the way: there’s no way anyone could top Arnie’s Mister Freeze from the 1999 hit classic Batman and Robin. But let’s just say that some chump of a filmmaker wanted to try and undo that cinematic masterpiece, then they’d need someone who can put across the deep-rooted trauma and emotional baggage that only Mr. Freeze carries with him. Looking at the history of one Michael Fassbender, it’s hard not to consider him for the role of our favourite snowman.
Fassbender has a history of playing layered characters. Looking at his work as Brandon Sullivan, Frank, and Macbeth, Fassy just gets how to put across the cold-heartedness that’s bubbling within these characters. Sometimes it’s all about waiting for these guys to crack under the emotional weight of whatever happening around them. Perhaps the real story with Fassbender at the helm would be seeing the decline of Victor Fries.
After learning of his wife Nora’s terminal illness, Victor’s loving nature would slowly crumble as he tries and fails at finding a cure for her. Watching Fassbender turn into a monster before our very eyes is quite frankly what would make a Mr. Freeze film one of the most intriguing prospects.
Javier Bardem as Two Face
When I think of Two Face, I like to recall the fond memories of Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever. There was something quite endearing about the maniacal nature of Two Face. Even though we never saw Harvey Dent prior to the acid, you could tell there was a genuine contrast between the before and after. Aaron Eckhart, on the other hand, absolutely knocked it out of the park with his interpretation, bringing a new layer of tragedy to the character, but was somewhat lacking in presence, perhaps due to being restricted to the final act.
Who could bring back a little bit of Tommy Lee Jones and mix it in with the human side that was perfected by Eckhart? Javier Bardem. I ask you to think back to Skyfall, and Bardem’s role as the villain in that two hour epic. He walked the line between being the brawn and the brains, a chilling jester and a tragic nemesis. Isn’t that precisely what Two Face should be?
Seeing Bardem play Harvey Dent as well as Two Face would be a treat for all DC fans. I think he’d be able to bring a new flair to the character, one that brings him out of the generic and into the conversation of being one of Batman’s greatest villains.
Mads Mikkelsen as Ra’s Al Ghul
Rars, Raish, whatever you want to call the demonic overlord, Al Ghul is a huge part of Batman’s history. The League of Shadows has been done before, but never quite got the right feel as part of Nolan’s trilogy. Liam Neeson was a fantastic Ra’s, but at the end of the day, he was just playing Liam Neeson. We need someone who can take the role of Ra’s Al Ghul and turn him into the dastardly necromancer that he deserves to be.
Mads Mikkelsen recently stepped into the shoes of a comic villain as part of Marvel’s Doctor Strange, although his role in that film felt very minor compared to what it could have been. Mikkelsen has delved into some pretty villainous characters in the past, need I mention his outstanding performance as Hannibal Lecter? He’d be the ideal man to swing a sword about in the newest interpretation of the ninja assassin.
Who else would you like to see brought to the big screen prior to Batman’s resurgence? Let us know in the comments section below.