For some, the most tantalizing aspect of director Matt Reeves’s three-hour opus The Batman was not just a fresh look into the early days of the Caped Crusader. Rather, it was the surprise cameo of Barry Keoghan as the Joker. It’s not that the movie didn’t have its fair share of villains, ranging from big personalities, such as the Riddler and the Penguin, to John Turturro’s menacingly understated turn as crime boss Carmine Falcone. But Reeves took a surprisingly grounded approach to Batman, even more so than previous director Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. How many members of Batman’s famously colorful rogues gallery could fit this aesthetic?
Turns out, more than you would think. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Reeves is among many filmmakers, including The Suicide Squad director James Gunn and Black Adam star Dwayne Johnson, pitching ambitious DC projects to Warner Bros. The outlet reports that Reeves wants to make movies “focused on Batman rogue’s gallery, both established and more obscure, with characters ranging from the Scarecrow to Clayface to Professor Pyg.” While THR emphasizes that these projects are all “in the very early stages of gestation,” it does clarify that Reeves is talking about movies, not HBO Max series similar to the upcoming Penguin series starring Colin Farrell.
As Nolan already showed in Batman Begins and its sequels, the Scarecrow certainly works within a more realistic universe. But the other two names listed here do stand out for different reasons. Clayface has a long history as a Batman antagonist, first appearing in 1940’s Detective Comics #40. Thanks to his comic book appearances in the past few decades and prominent role in Batman: The Animated Series, Clayface is best known as a giant shape-shifting mud creature who can perfectly imitate anyone he chooses. But Reeves’s Clayface would likely resemble the character’s original version, where he was just a Lon Chaney-style actor who used make-up to disguise himself when committing crimes.
Meanwhile, one of the more recent additions to Batman’s collection of baddies, Professor Pyg made his debut in Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s acclaimed Batman & Robin run, which saw original Robin Dick Grayson take on the mantle of Batman after Bruce Wayne’s death (actually, he was sent back in time by Darkseid, where he manifested throughout history as a reoccurring Bat-myth because comics are awesome).
Professor Pyg served as the first antagonist for Grayson’s Batman and his Robin, Bruce’s son Damien Wayne. A mad surgeon in a pig mask, Pyg performed bizarre surgeries on his victims, transforming them into blank-faced and mindless “Dollotrons,” often while babbling disturbing and surreal nonsense. Pyg has made several appearances in the comics and has even made the leap into other media. Professor Pyg served as a key antagonist in the animated series Beware the Batman and in the fourth season of Gotham, as well as the video game Batman: Arkham Knight.
Despite these appearances, Professor Pyg remains one of the lesser-known and more zany members of the Bat-villains. Reeves’s willingness to dig this deep into the bad guy bullpen reveals not only a thorough knowledge of Batman but also a desire to tell stories rarely seen outside of the comics. Furthermore, it gives fans hope that more lesser-known characters can get wider recognition. Could we see KGBeast hit the big screen soon? What about Anarky, Enemy Ace, Condiment King, or Kite-Man? Whoever next occupies the cells at Arkham Asylum, it’s clear that the Joker was just the beginning.