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Who Will Be the Next Batman Villain?
By Ben Spaeth
Photo: Vanity Fair – Source
The Batman released this past weekend with widespread acclaim. It also had a $254 million opening weekend, making it the second largest opening weekend of the pandemic era. With producers confirming that a sequel is in the works, many have been left wondering who the Dark Knight will be facing next.
The Batman left plenty of easter eggs and cameos for fans to cipher through. Unfortunately for us, the end credit seems of little use in figuring out the next villain. It’s solely an image of the text from the Riddler’s website saying “Goodbye <?>.” If you do go to the Riddler’s website from the film, www.rataalada.com, and click the button it tells you, the website will download a file filled with all sorts of art and journal entries from the Riddler. One of which is a photo of Thomas Wayne with the word “HUSH!” written over it. Hush could be a reference to the Batman villain of the same name. Hush was one of Batman’s childhood friends who plotted to kill his parents to inherit their fortune. This plan was foiled by Thomas Wayne when he performed life saving surgery on Hush’s mother. After the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, Hush blamed Bruce for prolonging the date when he would receive his fortune. Hush grew up to become an incredibly skilled doctor and marksman. Often performing plastic surgery on himself as a way of disguising himself. His inclusion in The Batman stand alone franchise wouldn’t be too far fetched considering the character’s comic book ties to the Riddler, however, I doubt Hush is a big enough name to bolster a main villain role. (Spoiler Alert) Another reason Hush may not be the next villain is that the Thomas Wayne Hush poster is more likely in reference to the hush money Thomas Wayne tried to pay to keep the reporter, who was writing about Martha’s family, quiet.
Another villain I think we can rule out is Penguin. He’s getting his own spinoff series on HBO Max so I doubt he will be in a headlining role in the next Batman iteration. He likely will still be the head of the Gotham crime syndicate by the time the next film rolls around, but he will probably be relegated to side character status once again.
There also could’ve been a Bane easter egg near the end of the film. When Batman was physically unable to get up and save Catwoman, he injected a green liquid in his thigh and immediately got up and started hitting the perpetrator over and over again out of rage. One could argue that he was filled with rage over the idea that a man was about to kill Catwoman, but what seems more likely is that the serum made him go into an anger-filled fugue. This serum seems a lot like the Bane venom from the comics that turns Bane into a freakishly strong and rage filled beast.
Matt Reeves has teased the idea of Mr. Freeze being the potential next villain. I have yet to find any Mr. Freeze related easter eggs in the film, but considering this is coming right out of the writer/director’s mouth it ought to be trusted. The last big picture outing for Mr. Freeze was Batman and Robin where the character was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’ll be interesting to see how Reeves adapts one of Batman’s more goofy villains. Mr. Freeze certainly has an interesting enough origin story to warrant main villain status for a film.
A popular fan theory seems to be that the next villain will be the Court of Owls. The Court of Owls is a secret society made up of the wealthy elites of Gotham. When they meet, they are all depicted as wearing owl masks. The Court of Owls acts as an illuminati-esque group that manipulates the political landscape of Gotham in the background. The Court is also protected by highly trained assassins known as Talons. They are shown wearing owl-like costumes and are just as skilled at fighting as Batman. The Court of Owls would be a logical continuation of the themes of the first film. The Batman largely focuses on how one mob boss managed to corrupt every level of governance in the city. The district attorney also hinted at the possibility of the Court of Owls before he exploded. He tells Batman that this is bigger than he could possibly imagine. The DA could’ve been referring to the fact that Falconi was the dangerous puppet master behind it all or perhaps the conspiracy goes even farther than Falconi. Robert Pattinson also told Vanity Fair that “I was definitely thinking Court of Owls is probably gonna be in the sequel.” Ultimately, that won’t be up to Pattinson to decide, but the mere fact that he’s talking about it suggests that there is some behind the scenes talk about the Court of Owls.
Finally, the last villain we have to talk about is the mystery man in prison with the Riddler. Most fans managed to pick up from his dialogue that the mystery prisoner was in fact the Joker. There were a couple of theories floating around that the clown reference was actually a misdirect and that the character was actually Two-Face, but those rumors were squashed when Matt Reeves came out and said that the man was in fact the Joker. Of all the villains I’ve discussed so far, besides Penguin, the Joker has the most setup because of his scene with the Riddler. While another film with Joker as the main villain is sure to bring in crowds; one can’t help but wonder, do we really need another Joker? To be honest I’d rather see previously unused villains get their chance on the big screen before I see another Joker adaptation. We’re now on our fourth Joker since the Dark Knight. I think we need to give the character a break or else his on screen appearances will become far less meaningful. Apparently though, there is a deleted scene in The Batman where Batman confronts the Joker, who is imprisoned, and seeks his assistance on the Riddler case Hannibal Lecter style. Meaning that Joker could make an appearance in the next film, but may not be the main villain.
As with most things, we’ll have to wait and see who the next Batman villain is. If I were to guess I would say Court of Owls just because the comics match the tone and themes of The Batman. No matter who the next villain is though, I certainly am excited to see the next outing for the caped crusader.