‘Gotham’ Needs To Use These Batman Villains
Gotham has introduced us to younger versions of notable villains in the Batman universe. Even though fans are graced with some of the most well known rogues, there are still plenty that deserve to be introduced who could exacerbate the current atmosphere full of crime and corruption.
The show inconsistently goes to the ‘villain of the week’ formula, but a lot of these installments don’t benefit the greater good (or more correctly the greater evil). Black Mask was ill-used as a white collar fight club leader who was detained at the end of the episode, instead of letting him elevate to a real threat in the Gotham City crime war. Gotham has been rightly pulling material from the lesser known characters and elements from the 75 years of Batman stories, but largely they’ve been mishandled and blundered so they don’t benefit the show in the long run.
If anything, using these villains would provide the satisfaction of seeing these characters finally brought to life. Movies have relied largely on the same rotation of well-known villains like the Joker, the Penguin, Catwoman, etc., but these lesser known and lesser appreciated villains warrant a chance to be something bigger, to help make Gotham something better.
Honestly, this one is a bit of a stretch for the TV show but they did just use him in Batman: Arkham Origins, and they just used Black Mask who also appears in the game. Croc has been in a handful of cartoons and direct-to-video releases (voiced by notable persons such as Stephen Root and Ron Perlman) so Croc is due for some real screen time.
Because he looks like a crocodile, Killer Croc is a tough sell for Gotham which seems to want to stray from comic book laden elements and play it more realistically. The one pro for using Croc is that the character always aspired to be the top mob boss in Gotham City, and Gotham could use as many hands on deck to battle it out for mob boss supremacy as they can get.
Not unlike the previous entry, Clayface is not in the wheelhouse for Gotham, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get a shot. Most interpretations use Clayface as an aging actor who uses chemicals in order to stay relevant in such a vain profession. Circumstances then grossly distort his appearance but grant him shape-shifting abilities to mimic a person’s appearance or mold his body into dangerous objects.
Gotham could utilize Clayface as a shape-shifter because otherwise it would be heavy on the CGI and going toe-to-toe with him is something more reserved for superheroes than the GCPD. He also sometimes aligns/is under the spell of Poison Ivy so he could be a lackey for her if she comes to prominence. Clayface is better used with Batman actually being in play, but this villain has never played on-screen so it would be fun just to see it done.
On paper, the Cluemaster is a lot like the Riddler. The neat caveat with Gotham is that the Riddler isn’t around yet and right now is just a quirky and weird forensics tech for the GCPD. However, viewers can clearly see the angst and frustration building in young Edward Nigma, which is exactly why the Cluemaster would be a welcomed addition that would set the groundwork for Nigma to eventually become the Riddler.
Both are criminal masterminds that leave behind hints to their overall schemes, whereas the Riddler uses riddles and the Cluemaster uses clues. Both characters have a distaste for their fellow Gothamites. Both feel as though those around them are completely inadequate and they are much superior in intellect. All that a young Edward Nigma needs is a beacon of inspiration to finally make the jump from potential to reality. Along with a personal conflict or experience to make him as a person break, he could use a motivator in another villain to mimic or emulate and that’s why Cluemaster is great on many levels.
As with some other villains on this list, Cluemaster is not without hangups to using that character on a prequel show. Cluemaster is the father of Stephanie Brown, who in the comics eventually takes up the mantle of Robin and then eventually Batgirl, which means she is somewhat younger than Bruce Wayne. While not a complete snag, it might hinder the potential of the Cluemaster in that if creators wanted to use Stephanie Brown in the same way they would have to watch how they resolve any episode with the Cluemaster. Even still, the Cluemaster is untapped potential.
It is such an easy sell: a man who kills based on a calendar and all of the crimes are related to the date. This is tailor-made for a police procedural and would make a great and simple ‘villain of the week’.
Here is where things get more interesting, albeit exponentially trickier. The Calendar Man is a consultant for the protagonists in The Long Halloween, and even though Batman is ruled out, Gotham could still do a loose adaptation of the popular mini-series that pits the Falcone family against the Maroni family that heavily utilizes Harvey Dent, just like in the comic, and also features the Calendar Man. The logistics are tough, but that story adaptation would have such great potential.
It is a sliding scale in terms of using Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter, as a villain. It could range from something as mechanical and ‘realistic’ as the version used in the 1966 Batman TV show where he created mind control devices from hats to the more grandeur and pompous Mad Hatter Jervis Tetch that is straight out of Wonderland. One lends itself more easily to Gotham than the other, but the idea of mind control grasping hold of Gotham City hasn’t been explored yet.
The greatest aspect of Mad Hatter is the potential long game. Jervis Tetch is unhinged, to put things mildly. Creators could either introduce the character as always being off-kilter and bizarre, of which Gotham seems to be replete with, or they could introduce him as someone slightly misaligned who is then sent to Arkham Asylum where he then completely goes off the rails. If they really wanted to play a satisfying long con, they could have Tetch’s transformation be the result of intended manipulation from…
If there is any one villain on this list that is on the short list of ‘if they don’t use this character we riot’, it’s Hugo Strange. Underappreciated and underutilized, gamers will recognize this character from Batman: Arkham City and comic book fans will remember him for such phenomenal arcs as “Prey”. A trained psychiatrist who is able to figure out Batman’s true identity, stories featuring Hugo Strange are wonderful reads into the psychology of Batman and why he has turned to a lifelong pursuit as a vigilante.
As far as Gotham goes, with episode nine they couldn’t have set the foundation more perfectly for them to bring in Hugo Strange. They just reopened Arkham Asylum! They can bring him in as a psychiatrist! This writes itself! If they really wanted to go further they could have him visit Bruce Wayne to diagnose him with any anxiety or stress disorders from the murder of his parents. The showrunners could use this character and this plot point to shape young master Bruce into the Batman!
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