Warning: Spoilers for The Batman follow. If you haven't seen the movie, click away now!
The Batman 2 has been confirmed – so we thought we’d run the rule over who could be showing up next in Gotham to face off against Robert Pattinson’s Caped Crusader.
Batman’s rogues’ gallery is already a who’s who of iconic villains, while Matt Reeves and Paul Dano helped reinvent the Riddler to chilling effect in the original movie. As such, there’s plenty of baddies – new and old – to choose from.
In preparation for the Batman sequel, we cracked open the comic book case files and studied each Bat-Villain’s rap sheets to see who would be the best fit in director Matt Reeves’ vision of a grim, rainsoaked Gotham. From more dramatic portrayals of classic Batman villains to live-action debuts, all bases are covered. We’ve even thrown in a few suggestions as to who should play them.
Here are the seven villains who could (and should) be in consideration for The Batman 2.
Hush is a relatively new Batman villain, having been introduced in Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s “Batman: Hush” in 2002.
Born Thomas Elliot, Hush was a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne’s who orchestrated his parents’ death in the hopes of gaining their inheritance. Fueled by greed and a hatred for Wayne, Elliot adopted the moniker ‘Hush’ and attempted to ruin Batman with the help of his fellow supervillains.
As a concept, Hush is perfect for a more grounded Batman villain in the sequel. He is essentially a darker, more warped version of Bruce Wayne – and even took on Wayne’s appearance in his famous comic book run.
Crucially for any hopes of a sequel appearance, there have already been multiple Hush allusions in The Batman. A journalist – Edward Elliot – uncovered Thomas and Martha Wayne’s family secrets and was subsequently killed after not taking ‘hush money.’ Thomas seeking revenge over Bruce for his father’s death would be the perfect way to introduce Hush in a sequel.
Director Matt Reeves is also keen, telling Twitter Movies (opens in new tab) that he’s interested in doing a version of the character. He did temper expectations, saying they’re still in the planning stages, but said, “that's a character that I love, that I would love to see done, and maybe we'll get the opportunity to do it.”
In terms of actors, we can’t think of many better-suited than Nicholas Hoult. The one-time X-Men actor could have the opportunity to show off a more vicious side than we’re perhaps used to seeing. It’s also a neat way of bringing in some real-world drama: Hoult was reportedly part of a two-man shortlist to play Batman alongside Robert Pattinson. It almost writes itself.
The Court of Owls
The Court of Owls could be lurking just out of sight in Gotham. The shadowy group – first introduced in Scott Snyder’s run from 2011 – are the secret rulers of the city, having pulled the strings of the great and powerful for centuries.
The group are traditionally depicted as owl mask-wearing elites who have grown perturbed by the increasing influence of Batman on their city. Adopting the use of Talons – near-immortal assassins – the Court attempts to break Batman and bring the city under its heel.
An Illuminati-style group could work well, especially given how much of The Batman was so concerned with a conspiracy at the heart of Gotham.
Batman actor Robert Pattinson is also in favor of the Court of Owls swooping into a sequel. He told Vanity Fair (opens in new tab), "Court of Owls is the best one… If [the Waynes] disappear when they're secretly running it, that would really, really be a very difficult thing for Bruce to handle. Oh, it'd be a nightmare."
While many of its members are nameless, The Batman could invent an original character or turn to someone like Uriah Boone, one of the first Talons used by the Court of Owls. As a leader, someone like Bill Camp or Stephen Root - character actors who aren’t notable ‘faces’ and can blend in to the shadows – could be given their due on the big screen. Billy Magnussen (No Time to Die) also has a great look and the required physicality to play a prominent Talon.
The back-breaking powerhouse has certainly reached iconic status thanks to Tom Hardy’s turn as the masked villain in The Dark Knight Rises. But Bane is due a reinvention that’s a little closer to his comic book origins.
Where Riddler taxed the mind of Robert Pattinson’s Caped Crusader, Bane can bring the brawn. Someone like Dave Bautista – who can also showcase a sensitive side, as evidenced by his bit-part in Blade Runner 2049 – could be the perfect foil for Batman in an upcoming movie.
The Batman may have also laid the groundwork for Bane, with some fans believing that the green liquid Batman used during the movie to be that of Venom, the strength-enhancing drug also used by Bane.
Vanessa Kirby was reportedly in the frame for Catwoman before Zoe Kravitz snared the gig, but we think she’d be a better fit for Poison Ivy. There’s certainly space for a plant-controlling supervillain in a city ravaged by flooding and likely mass panic in the wake of The Batman ending.
The Crown actor could help redefine a slightly more ‘out there’ villain in the same way Paul Dano did for the Riddler. For that, The Batman could once again look to seminal Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale comic series The Long Halloween for tips. There, Ivy worked for the mob to seduce and brainwash Bruce Wayne into destroying his reputation.
Ivy’s more cartoonish powers might be a tough sell for the more grounded world of Gotham, though there are certainly workarounds – and a botanist’s shelf worth of poisons – that could factor into a sequel.
The sins of the father? No, we’re not talking about Thomas Wayne this time. Carmine Falcone may have bitten the bullet in The Batman, but the mob boss’ son, Alberto, could still be kicking around in Matt Reeves’ Bat-verse.
The character may not be as well known as other members of Bats’ rogues’ gallery – and that could work in its favor. In comic series The Long Halloween, Alberto has a prominent role to play as an assassin named ‘Holiday’ – who killed prominent targets on dates such as Halloween, New Year’s Eve, and Valentine’s Day.
Another murder mystery could feel a little played out by the time we get to The Batman’s sequel, though the character offers another way into the underworld as well as dealing with the key theme brought up by the series of the long shadow a family’s legacy can cast.
In terms of talent, we can’t look beyond Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog). The Academy Award nominee already has the distinctive look, plus a perfect blend of softness and hidden angst that makes the villain so deadly.
Mr. Freeze has largely been a figure of fun thanks to the wildly comical performance of Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1997’s Batman and Robin. Batman diehards, though, have been crying out for an adaptation of the villain closer in tone to his appearance in classic Batman: The Animated Series episode "Heart of Ice."
In that seminal entry, Mr. Freeze is reframed as a tragic villain who only cares about preserving his frozen wife, Nora. Despite already joining DC’s pantheon of villains as Sivana in Shazam, we’d love Mark Strong to take a swing at a meaty Batman role.
Matt Reeves is also a fan of the idea, telling Collider (opens in new tab): "I think there’s actually a grounded version of that story, which could be really powerful and could be really great."
Gotham’s dependence on drugs is already baked into The Batman series thanks to the introduction of ‘drops’ and its users, nicknamed ‘Dropheads.’
Scarecrow could take that one further with his own brand of terror, intoxicating the population of American’s rainiest ‘burg with his fear toxin.
Sure, he may have been involved only *checks notes* 17 years ago in Batman Begins (we’re old) as Cillian Murphy took on the role of Dr. Jonathan Crane, but we think we’re about due for a new take on a classic villain. You could do a lot worse than someone like Walton Goggins, who has so often shown through his roles on the likes of Justified that he can skilfully mix being maniacal with a more cold, calculating composure when required.
Returning villains: Penguin, Riddler, and Joker
And what of Penguin, Riddler, and Joker? To help create a more fleshed-out world, one (or all) should return as peripherary characters in future instalments. Perhaps one can be used to help bring down another criminal, as Matt Reeves hinted was the original plan for Joker in The Batman in our interview with the director.
Penguin, meanwhile, is set to appear in his own HBO Max spin-off next. There should be scope for the mid-level criminal to flit between the worlds of television and movies at ease. But who knows which villains will be joining him by the time he returns?
For more on The Batman, check out our deep dives into DC’s superhero epic.
- The Batman Easter eggs and DC references
- The Batman secret message you missed
- Was Joaquin Phoenix's Joker meant to be in The Batman?
- When is The Batman on HBO Max?
- Who plays Joker in The Batman?
- The best Batman movies
- How to watch the DC movies in order