We think it’s fair to say that Batman has the greatest Rogue’s Gallery in all of comics. And many of them have been crossing over into live-action ever since the Batman ’66 television series. And since then, five actors have portrayed Joker alone on screen, and two of them even won Oscars for their portrayal. We’ve had multiple Two-Faces, Catwomen, Riddlers, and more. But there are still several Bat villains who have never made the cut. And we think it’s high time some of them got their moment to shine on screen. We present seven classic Batman rogues that are ready for prime time.
There have been a whopping eight versions of Clayface who have fought Batman in the comics, ever since the ’40s. But maybe the most memorable is actor Matt Hagen, who became the Clayface of the Batman: The Animated Series universe. This version of Hagen was an actor disfigured in an accident, only to take an experimental compound that turned him into living, malleable clay.
Warner Bros. Animation combined three different comic book Clayfaces to create Hagen. And his personality was far more sympathetic in B:TAS. Despite a cartoon version of Clayface appearing in the opening credits of Batman ’66, the character never appeared on the show. Mike Flanagan (Midnight Mass, Doctor Sleep) recently said he pitched a Clayface film to Warner Bros. They turned him down. They should maybe rethink that choice, because a horror movie-style Clayface would be perfect for the big screen.
Man-Bat is one of the Dark Knight’s most well-known adversaries who has never made it into live-action. This despite appearing on the first episode of Batman: The Animated Series, and over fifty years’ worth of comics and video games. Scientist Kirk Langstrom would transform into a giant, menacing were-bat, which made him more of a tragic figure than an outright baddie.
The Man-Bat crossed paths with Batman many times over the years. The reason that he has never appeared in live-action is likely the same as Clayface’s. He’s expensive to pull off properly, and requires much prosthetics and CGI. But special effects technology has advanced a lot in the past few years. (Obviously.) Enough that we think it’s his time to fly high over Gotham City.
Thomas Blake was a notorious trapper of big jungle cats, who became a criminal only after growing bored with the whole hunting thing. And after losing most of his vast wealth on foolhardy ventures. Inspired by Catwoman and Batman, he took on the name Catman, and became a cat burglar himself.
Blake believed that his catsuit made out of an ancient African cloth gave him powers, including having a cat’s nine lives. After spending decades as a joke, DC Comics writer Gail Simone resurrected Catman as a member of her Secret Six series, and actually made him cool. In a few short years, she made him a badass. She also made him a bisexual male character, one of only a handful in Batman’s world.
Like Harley Quinn, this villainess appeared first in the world of Batman: The Animated Series. Or to be more accurate, she appeared first in the 1993 animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. The film showcases Andrea Beaumont as Bruce Wayne’s first great love, whose desire for vengeance led her down a similar (but darker) path. She only recently made the jump from cartoons to the comics, but her origin, and striking look, would be perfect for a film or TV series.
The Joker’s Daughter
In the ‘70s, a woman claiming to be the Joker’s Daughter, dressed in an identical costume and makeup as the Clown Prince of Crime, showed up to do battle with Robin (then Dick Grayson). Although she declared herself as Joker’s Daughter, she also later said she was Catwoman, then Riddler’s, and even Penguin’s child. She finally admitted to Robin she was Duela Dent, the daughter of Two-Face.
But even that was a lie. Sort of. Turns out, she is the daughter of Earth-3’s “The Jokester” and “Three-Face,” Evelyn Dent. Heroic versions of our Earth’s villains. To borrow a phrase from Star Wars, what she said was true, from a certain point of view. A version Duela appeared on Batwoman, but not as “Joker’s Daughter.” She was a regular serial killer who was now Harvey Dent’s niece. So she still counts. Recent comic book versions show her wearing the remnants of Joker’s own face which he cut off. Yup, not creepy at all.
James Gordon Jr.
Everyone knows Jim Gordon’s daughter, Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl. But not everyone knows that he also has a son, James Jr. A son who grows up to become a violent sociopath and serial killer. In the comics, he has come into conflict not only with Batman, but also with his sister Barbara. Now technically, James Gordon Jr. appeared as a little kid in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. But we’re not counting that. We want a deranged, adult Jim Jr, terrorizing Gotham City. We can only imagine the drama it would create for the Caped Crusader and his staunchest ally, Commissioner Gordon.
Warner Bros. Animation
In some ways, Maxie Zeus would have been a perfect villain for the Batman ’66 television series. Mainly because he is so reminiscent of the show’s recurring baddie King Tut. The character first appears in the late 70s, as a former history professor obsessed with Greek mythology. After several personal setbacks, he deluded himself into believing that he in fact the Greek God Zeus. He becomes a crime lord in Gotham City, and appeared in several animated series. But to this day, never in live-action. This could be a great over-the-top performance from any A-List actor looking to chew scenery.