Murphy’s Law – And please, no Robin … (Revisited)

Joel Murphy

On July 24, 2008, one week after watching The Dark Knight, I wrote a column on this site attempting to guess who the villain in the next Batman film would be. Now, four short years later, we finally have The Dark Knight Rises out in theaters, so I thought it would be fun to revisit the column and see just how well I did.

All in all, I think I did pretty well. The third villain I mention in the column, with 7:1 odds is Catwoman. Bane is fifth with 20:1 odds. And a certain secret villain in the film is also mentioned rather high in the column, with very good odds. (The title of the column is also pretty damn funny if you’ve seen the movie.)

My final prediction of who would be in the film and what the plot would be is also rather close to what ended up happening. I didn’t nail it exactly, but I did pretty damn well considering it was four years ago and I was going solely on my guy and knowledge of comics.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s what I wrote in 2008 …

I think the big question already on everyone’s mind is: who will be the villain in the next Batman movie? After Heath Ledger’s memorable performance, who can follow in The Joker’s footsteps? While Christopher Nolan himself probably hasn’t figured out an answer to this question yet, I’m going to do my best to figure out a solution this week.

So first, let’s take a look at some of the likely candidates:

The Riddler. The Riddler seems to be the frontrunner in the eyes of most fans (even Gary Oldman mentioned The Riddler as a possible successor to The Joker in a recent interview), but I’m not convinced (mainly because he’s so incredibly lame). Perhaps he could be re-imagined as a darker character who cuts letters out of newspapers and leaves them behind at crime scenes like a serial killer in order to taunt Batman, but I think it’s a long shot.
Vegas Odds: 3:1

The Penguin. Tim Burton already tried to recreate The Penguin in a more gritty and grotesque fashion in Batman Returns. So without either trying to make a dapper, rotund man with an umbrella and a monocle work in the Batman Begins universe or copying what Danny Devito already did, there really is nowhere for Christopher Nolan to go with this character.
Vegas Odds: 6:1

Catwoman. If Nolan attempts to recreate Catwoman to fit into his darker, desolate Gotham City, chances are she will end up being closer to the crazy cat lady from The Simpsons than to Michelle Pfeiffer, so perhaps it’s best to keep her far away from the third Batman movie.
Vegas Odds: 7:1

Poison Ivy. Maybe she could work as a tree-hugging eco-terrorist who blows up companies that destroy the environment, but I don’t see her being interesting enough to be a worthy foil to the Dark Knight.
Vegas Odds: 10:1

Bane. After Joker, Bane is my favorite Batman villain and after the way that Batman and Robin misused him, it would be nice to see how the character would be handled in the capable hands of Christopher Nolan. However, Bane doesn’t really work unless you go full-force with a big screen adaptation of the Knightfall storyline (Bane breaks Batman’s back, etc.) and I don’t really see that happening in the third film.
Vegas Odds: 20:1

Talia al Ghul. Talia is the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, Liam Neeson’s character in Batman Begins, so inserting her into the new Batman franchise would be logical and easy to pull off. In the comics, Ra’s al Ghul encourages his daughter to date Bruce Wayne, in hopes of bringing Batman over to the dark side. So, if Ra’s al Ghul is still alive in the Chris Nolan franchise (which I believe he is), he could easily send his daughter to Gotham to finish what he started.
Vegas Odds: 2:1

Hugo Strange. Hugo Strange actually predates The Joker and Catwoman in the original Batman comics. Strange is a psychologist who knows Bruce Wayne’s secret identity and wants to become Batman. In the comics, Strange was hired to help bring Batman to justice, which would actually fit quite nicely into the storyline with the way The Dark Knight ended. However, including Strange means that the film will be filled with psychobabble, which, after hearing The Joker talk about his daddy issues in this latest film, is something I would very much like to avoid for a while.
Vegas Odds: 6:1

Deadshot. Deadshot is a deadly accurate assassin featured in the Batman: Gotham Knight DVD, which tied in to the films, so he clearly fits in the universe Nolan has created. But, to make it into the third Batman movie, he would need to lose his incredibly lame Carmen Sandiego outfit and would have to become a lot more interesting that he is right now. At best, he could be a side character hired by the mob to take out Batman, not a main villain in the film.
Vegas Odds: 15:1

Killer Croc. Killer Croc was also in Batman: Gotham Knight; he’s a freak who looks like a crocodile. Nolan could certainly adapt the character to suit his needs, but like Deadshot, Killer Croc just seems too boring to follow The Joker.
Vegas Odds: 25:1

Mr. Freeze. Batman: The Animated Series did its best to give people a reason to care about Mr. Freeze, but after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of the character, no one will ever take him seriously on the big screen. Personally, I hate the character and I think it will be “ice to see you” in the unemployment line, Victor Fries.
Vegas Odds: 30:1

Ventriloquist and Scarface. This could be an interesting possibility. In the hands of someone as twisted as Christopher Nolan, a ventriloquist whose dummy commits brutal crimes could be a memorable villain. Still, I doubt it will actually happen.
Vegas Odds: 35:1

Deacon Blackfire. Deacon Blackfire is a religious nut who assembles an army largely made up of homeless men to take on crime in Gotham City. Blackfire eventually gains control of the entire city. With Harvey Dent no longer serving as district attorney, perhaps the city will turn to a religious fanatic to fill the role of Gotham’s white knight and Batman will be forced to take on a beloved, but evil figure.
Vegas Odds: 15:1

The Mad Hatter. Perhaps if he was madeover as a dangerous psychopath, this Lewis Carroll-inspired villain could work, but I don’t see it happening.
Vegas Odds: 40:1

Jimmy Fallon. Just seeing if you’re paying attention. Oh yeah, and I still hate Jimmy Fallon.
Vegas Odds: 1000:1 (unless those douchebag NBC execs who hired him for late night are in charge of casting)

Anarky. Anarky is a believer in anarchism who tries to improve society by destabilizing the government. The character was in part inspired by V from V for Vendetta, so his inclusion in the third film would feel like a knockoff of the Wachowskis’ movie.
Vegas Odds: 80:1

Batzarro. Me thinks this one is a long shot.
Vegas Odds: 100:1

Prometheus. Prometheus was described by his creator Grant Morrison as “the anti-Batman.” His parents were Bonnie and Clyde-esque criminals who were gunned down in front of him, so Prometheus devoted his life to destroying forces of justice. Nolan could explore of parallels of Batman and Prometheus, but ultimately it may seem like a retread of the themes explored in The Dark Knight.
Vegas Odds: 75:1

Gorilla Boss. So there is no chance in hell that this character would actually make it into the Nolan movies, but how could I leave out George “Boss” Dyke, the mob boss who has his brain transplanted into the body of a gorilla?
Vegas Odds: 150:1

So, after looking at all of the likely options, what is my final verdict? I think the best case scenario is that Ra’s al Ghul reemerges to finish what he started in Batman Begins and recruits a powerful villain to do what the Scarecrow couldn’t. My money is on his daughter, Talia al Ghul, but I haven’t ruled out Hugo Strange or The Riddler. There is even a chance that Ra’s al Ghul could bring Two-Face back for the third film.

Of course, I am fully aware that I could be entirely off the mark. Christoper Nolan is a wiser man than I am and there is a good chance he will come up something better than I ever could have imagined. Just as long as he doesn’t decide to put nipples back on to the Batsuit, I think whatever he decides to do will be fantastic.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.

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