This October we're going to see exactly what DC and Warner Bros have up their sleeves with their latest cinematic interpretation of the Joker. And this time, Joaquin Phoenix is stepping into the clown shoes that Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger made famous.
Taking the character down a Scorsese-esque character study route, a la Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980) and The King of Comedy (1983), Joker offers a slightly different take on the character, bringing some more realism, weight and emotion to the famous grinning villain.
There are a whole host of interesting villains to be found in DC’s canon who would make for interesting, and potentially unsettling, character studies. And we think we’ve picked a good selection of five other DC villains who deserve their own movie after Joker…
1. Ra’s al Ghul
Despite the fact we got a good look at Ra’s al Ghul thanks to Liam Neeson’s role in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, there’s more to this complex character than the Batman mentor and League of Shadows head honcho of that film.
Ra’s al Ghul is an international criminal, a shadowy character who wants nothing more than to see entire towns, cities and nations razed to the ground in order to see out his vision of the perfect world. As the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) appears to be re-imagining its take on Batman, a solid Ra’s al Ghul is needed to act as mentor, adversary, and perhaps even puppet master.
What better way to introduce this character than in his own film? We could see a young Ra’s al Ghul becoming a member of the League of Shadows/Assassins after the death of his wife and falling out of love with the world, leading into the destruction of the Sultan’s City.
Depending on how the film-makers want to develop his character, they could opt for the 600-year-old Ra’s al Ghul, focusing on how he made his name, the secret of the Lazarus Pit and more. There are a few interesting possibilities here.
2. Gorilla Grodd
Gorilla Grodd is precisely the kind of antagonist DC and Warner Bros. should be looking at in terms of enemies for the Flash, and the Justice League.
This hyper-intelligent, mind-controlling and telepathic gorilla is a mighty foe for anyone, but he needs his own movie before he’s exposed to the likes of the Flash, Superman and Batman.
This is where the DCEU can flex its science-fiction muscles. Grodd was a normal gorilla before an alien spaceship crashed down onto Earth, in the process lending Grodd and his fellow gorillas hyper-intelligence. We can envisage a Rise of the Planet of the Apes-style film in which Grodd works with his father, King Grodd, to build up the hidden Gorilla City.
A power struggle could ensue between Grodd and his father over differences between rule and dominance before it all culminates in a mighty battle between the two family members.
3. Lex Luthor
Let’s face it, Lex Luthor deserves a second shot at villainous fame in the DCEU. After all, Jesse Eisenberg’s twitchy take on the classic character in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice famously divided opinion.
Warner Bros. could decide to stick with Eisenberg’s interpretation, detailing what became of him after the events of Batman v Superman. DC and Warner Bros. could, however, decide to bite the bullet and give Luthor his own origin story.
We could see Luthor’s rise to the top of his empire, doing whatever he deems necessary in order to get there. This could be an intense character study, detailing the darkness that bubbles underneath Luthor’s philanthropic and charitable persona as well as his troubled relationship with his father.
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Scarecrow is another villain who got a decent showing in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, courtesy of Cillian Murphy’s creepy performance. Despite this, we think a horror movie showcasing Dr. Jonathan Crane’s ghastly transformation could be dark, chilling and entertaining.
We’d like to see the New 52 backstory of Scarecrow, in which his father uses him as a test subject for cruel experiments, which lead him to become obsessed with fear. Just imagine seeing Dr. Crane testing out new fear toxins before going insane and killing his patients. Just thinking about this one makes us terrified.
5. Vandal Savage
If you thought Ra’s al Ghul was old, you haven’t heard of Vandal Savage. Although his comic book backstory varies, Vandal Savage’s New 52 interpretation is what would work best in film.
Film-makers could base Savage’s solo film on Demon Knights, which is based on the legends of King Arthur. This would show Vandal Savage’s turn as a master tactician in the fight against Xanadu and the search for the Holy Grail, which results in a gruesome battle against hordes of demons.
Honestly, though, there are tons of different things one could do with a Vandal Savage film. He’s a brilliant villain and has tormented just about every hero in DC’s line-up over the years. He’s said to be over 50,000 years old and can survive just about everything. We’d be excited to see just about anything DC and Warner Bros. could cook up with Vandal Savage.
Toby Saunders is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.