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Batman characters who deserve their own movies

For quite a while now, a Batman film has only meant one thing: a film about Batman. But with the Birds of Prey movie and the Joker solo film, it seems that DC has now seriously loosened up in terms of which denizens of Gotham they're willing to give their own feature films. So assuming it's now open season on characters from the extended Bat-verse, we thought we'd put together a wish list of all the friends and enemies of Batman we'd like to see get a shot at top billing for once.

For the purposes of this list, we'll be leaning towards characters who aren't just good villains or supporting characters for Batman, but the characters who would work best as the protagonist of their own movie, in a story with minimal involvement from Bruce Wayne. Additionally, we're going to try to favor characters who haven't had a chance yet to star in their own live-action movie. (Sorry, Catwoman. Yes, that movie does count.) And on top of that, we're going to discuss some possible plotlines and talk about how these movies might actually work.

Batman will always definitely be the hero we deserve, but after headlining ten films in the past three decades, he's not the hero we need right now. Let's take a look at all the other Batman characters who deserve their own movies.

Clayface needs his own horror movie

If you want a character who's begging for a solo movie, Clayface's origin story is basically already the plot to an amazing horror film. It's all set around the filming of a slasher movie called Dread Castle, which is a remake of an older film. But whenever it's time to film a death scene, suddenly the lights go out, and the actor playing the victim mysteriously dies for real. Those who catch glimpses of the fleeing killer see that he looks like "Clayface," a famous fictional monster from another old horror film.

Eventually, Batman intervenes and discovers that the "Clayface Killer" is actually horror actor/makeup artist Basil Karlo, who played both the movie monster Clayface and the killer in the original Dread Castle. Karlo claims he committed the murders because he didn't want anyone replacing him as Dread Castle's killer. He'd apparently played so many fictional monsters that the creatures had "taken possession of his mind and soul," turning him into a real-life horror movie villain.

A version of this story, with or without Batman, could be an awesome horror flick, like Scream set in the 1940s. Also, if you want to add some elements of later, more monstrous versions of Clayface, Karlo's secret to success in horror makeup could be that he uses illegal experimental makeup compounds to reshape his features, a side effect of which is that his body basically becomes living clay, letting him shapeshift or transform his limbs into weapons with only a thought. How's that for a third-act twist?

Eraser deserves a crime-comedy

Usually, the only Batman villains who make it to the big screen are the truly threatening A-list masterminds like the Joker and Ra's al Ghul. That's all well and good, but a wonderful thing about Batman's villains is not just the quality of his rogues' gallery but the sheer quantity. Gotham has an extremely deep roster of B-list baddies, so we'd be remiss if we didn't include at least one of Batman's minor, more comedic enemies.

Somewhere far down towards the bottom of the roster, a dozen or so spots below Calendar Man, right between Kite Man and Condiment King, you'll find an obscure Batman villain known as "the Eraser," real name Lenny Fiasco, and he's our pick for a point-of-view character in the world of Batman's many forgotten foes.

The Eraser has found an interesting niche in Gotham's criminal underworld, in that he works as a fixer for other villains, helping them "erase" the evidence of their crimes in exchange for a 20 percent cut. A film centered on the Eraser could be a low-stakes crime comedy akin to The Big Lebowski or Pineapple Express. Whenever another Batman villain botches one of their supervillain plots, the Eraser, a shy put-upon everyman, dons his giant pencil costume and does his best to clean things up. This would allow for an episodic structure to the film, a series of comedic sketches in which different Batman villains need to call upon the Eraser's services.

A Batwoman movie could be a visual masterpiece

In a post-Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse world, one potential frontier that superhero films should be looking to explore is visual stylization. And if there was ever a character who could take advantage of a more visually experimental approach to storytelling, it's Batwoman.

Ever since the modern incarnation character was codified in the pages of Detective Comics in 2009 by writer Greg Rucka and (especially) penciller J.H. Williams III, Batwoman stories have become synonymous with mind-bending page layouts and dazzling colors. The association is so strong that when Batwoman shows up in someone else's comic, the art style changes to fit her aesthetic.

Rucka and Williams' first Batwoman plot arc, a story called Elegy, could be the plot to an excellent movie. Most of the page count is devoted to Batwoman's present-day struggles against a thoroughly creepy supervillain named Alice, who dresses and acts like the protagonist of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland — that is, if Alice was also a mass murderer. However, this story also shows us how Kate Kane became Batwoman in a series of flashbacks spread throughout the tale, which allows for a Batwoman origin story that doesn't feel like just an origin story.

Also, since the comic alternates between fairly standard storytelling techniques during Kate's daytime life and totally bonkers panel layouts and colors while she's fighting crime, an animated film could employ a similar shift in art style and cinematography whenever Batwoman puts on her mask.

Dick Grayson deserves to be the new Batman

Although we've had many different actors play Batman over the years, we've never had a movie where a character other than Bruce Wayne becomes the Caped Crusader. The Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely comic called simply Batman and Robin from 2009 could be adapted pretty much directly into an excellent film about someone trying to fill Bruce Wayne's big black boots.

When the story opens, Bruce Wayne is dead, and Dick Grayson, formerly Robin and later Nightwing, doesn't want that the criminals of Gotham to learn that Batman has kicked the bucket, so he decides to become the Dark Knight. He also takes on Damian Wayne, Bruce's son with Talia al Ghul, as his Robin. Because Damian was raised inside an order of assassins without ever knowing his father, he grew up rebellious, arrogant, and violent, and he has no respect for Dick as his partner. 

So naturally, Dick and Damian's first few missions don't go particularly well. At one point, Dick tells Alfred that he feels like a kid doing a Batman voice, rather than actually being Batman. Alfred encourages him by telling Dick to tap into his show business roots and "think of Batman like a great role, like Hamlet ... and play it to your strengths." Eventually, Dick stops trying to be Bruce Wayne, and he learns to be Batman in his own way. And after Damian's recklessness almost gets him killed, and Dick has to save him, he too starts to realize that maybe this new Batman actually knows what he's doing.

A Poison Ivy film could be an epic action movie

Perhaps no single Batman character has had a wider array of comic book portrayals than Pamela Isley, aka Poison Ivy. She's been a thief, a brilliant scientist, an eco-terrorist, and even a superhero. Sometimes she's been a nearly normal human with an immunity to toxins. Other times, she's been an obscenely powerful green-skinned monster who can crush skyscrapers with her vines. One option for a Poison Ivy movie would be to fuse all these different portrayals together into one story. So let's come up with a plot for our fantasy film. 

As a college student, radical environmentalist Pamela Isley is tricked into being the subject of illegal medical experiments by her amoral professor, Jason Woodrue. These experiments leave her hospitalized for a time, but once she recovers, Pamela discovers that she has a connection to the spirit of the Earth, a force known as "the Green."

Ivy then becomes an eco-terrorist, seeking to destroy human civilization and return the Earth to the Green. But by the end, Ivy learns that humanity as a whole isn't bad, and she starts going after the specific evil-doers who actually deserve it.

Similarly to a movie like Captain Marvel, Pamela's control of her plant powers would slowly ramp up over the course of the film. She'd start off basically human, but by the end, she'd grow a plant body for herself that's the size of Godzilla. The final act would be a showdown between Ivy and Jason Woodrue, who by now has gotten plant powers of his own and become a plant-controlling supervillain, the Floronic Man. Even if Hollywood wanted to go another route, we're sure they can do better than Poison Ivy's appearance in Batman & Robin.

Mr. Freeze is a Batman character who needs a cool story

There are a lot of origin stories about bad guys who learn to be good. But how about one where a good guy turns bad?

There are numerous versions of Mr. Freeze's origin story, but typically, Victor Fries (pronounced like brain freeze and not french fries) is a brilliant scientist whose wife, Nora, contracts a terminal illness. Fries searches for a cure for Nora's sickness, and in order to buy himself some more time to look, he puts her into cryonic stasis.

Later, an accident in the cryonics lab modifies the way Victor's body regulates temperature such that he's unable to live outside a subzero environment. He turns to crime to fund his increasingly expensive research, not to mention his presumably massive air conditioning bills, so he makes a freeze gun and starts stealing stuff.

Beneath all the wonderful campy nonsense, the tragedy of Mr. Freeze holds a surprisingly touching message about love and mortality. Because of Victor's unwillingness to accept his wife's impending death, he ends up squandering both their lives trying in vain to change her destiny, when he should've just enjoyed what time he and Nora had left together, fleeting thought it might be.

Or to put it another way, after a dire diagnosis, a brilliant yet cash-strapped scientist invents a criminal alter ego to help get money for his family. It's Breaking Bad, except if rather than making meth, Walter White invented a freeze gun and started robbing banks while making ice puns.

Gotham Central would make for a compelling cop drama

This one isn't so much a character, as much as it is a group of characters, but bear with us. Gotham Central is a comic book series from 2002. It's a police procedural set in Gotham City with an ensemble cast, and it features a number of stories that could be adapted into an excellent noir detective movie.

Perhaps the most famous story from Gotham Central was Half a Life, in which Two-Face puts into motion an elaborate plan to destroy the life of Renee Montoya, one of Gotham's best detectives, by hiring someone to out her as a lesbian. It then turns out that this is just step one of his plan, giving Montoya a motive, because later, Two-Face murders the person he hired and frames Montoya for it. Montoya ends up in jail, and the rest of Gotham Central needs to catch Two-Face and clear their colleague's name.

Another way to go would be a story like Dead Robin, which is a fascinating look into how the criminal justice system of Gotham intersects with the world of superheroes. In this tale, Gotham police find the dead body of a teenage boy in a Robin costume with no identification. They're not sure if it's the real Robin or just a kid in a Robin costume. Regardless, they then have to attempt to identify the body and figure out who killed him. It's an excellent hook for a murder mystery, and it only gets better from there.

Batgirl definitely needs her own film

You'd think we'd have seen a Batgirl movie by now. Joss Whedon was writing one for a while, but has since left, claiming he "didn't have a story." Currently, Christina Hodson, the writer of Bumblebee, is attached to a potential film, but the project still lacks a director.

Maybe the reason it's taking so long is because Barbara Gordon's continuity is a total mess. But here's the quick version. She was Batgirl. She got paralyzed, so she became Oracle, an information broker for superheroes. Some readers liked this because it was cool to see a disabled superhero, but some didn't because they thought it was "fridging" Batgirl. Then Barbara's paralysis went away, and she became Batgirl once more. And again, some readers liked this ... and some didn't.

Given all this, how do you make a movie about Batgirl? Well, you could make it a dual timeline story, with some scenes taking place during Barbara's days as Batgirl and others during her time as Oracle, sort of like True Detective season one. Alternatively, you could just tell a breezy, continuity-light story and not mention the paralysis at all.

With most of these characters, we know how we'd make a movie about them, but with Babs, we know she needs a movie, but we're just not exactly sure how to do it. We can't figure it out, Joss Whedon couldn't figure it out, but a while back, veteran Bat-family writer Gail Simone tweeted that she had finally figured out how to do a Batgirl movie, so maybe it can be done. Fingers crossed.

Catman and the Secret Six could be DC's answer to Guardians of the Galaxy

If you haven't heard of Catman, we don't blame you. From his earliest appearances in the 1960s, he's been mostly just a punchline. Between a costume that is a blatant copy of Catwoman's outfit and his use of "Catarangs," Catman has the somewhat unique distinction of being a fictional character who's accused in-universe of being a ripoff of other, much cooler characters.

Although he languished in obscurity for decades, Catman came back in the mid-2000s in the pages of Gail Simone's Secret Six, alongside characters like Deadshot, Scandal Savage, Ragdoll, and Bane. The series tells the story of a type of super-team that hasn't been seen much in the movies so far: super-mercenaries. The Secret Six are superhuman muscle for hire, and as such, their morality is somewhat flexible.

Perhaps the Six's most film-worthy adventure occurs when they gain possession of a mythical item known as a "Get Out of Hell Free Card," a card which allows its bearer to rescue any one soul from Hell and return them to the world of the living. As you might imagine, once it becomes widely known that the Secret Six possess this, every supervillain in the world starts coming for them. A film adaptation about Catman and the rest of the Six during this time could be a madcap, Guardians of the Galaxy-style, dirty action-comedy with a heart of gold.

Sure, Catman might be a dumb name, but is it any worse than Star-Lord?

Vicki Vale could investigate crime in a journalism thriller

Similarly to how a Gotham Central movie would show how law enforcement operates within a superhero setting, a movie centered around photojournalist Vicki Vale could be a look into the world of Gotham journalism.

In case her alliterative name wasn't a giveaway, Vicki Vale has her origins all the way back in 1948. In her earliest incarnations, she was attempting to learn the identity of Batman in her professional life while dating Bruce Wayne in her personal life, without ever realizing that the two men were the same. It's basically the same dynamic as the relationship between Lois Lane and Superman, and this similarity might be the reason why Vicki Vale's prominence in the Batman mythos was eventually reduced in favor of other supporting characters.

A film about Vicki Vale would still be about crime fighting of a sort, in that Vale is attempting to expose corruption through investigative journalism. However, given that she doesn't have the training and gadgets of Batman, she has to catch her enemies in hard mode. Basically, it would be All the President's Men or Spotlight, but the bad guys are supervillains.

There'd of course also be a subplot in which Vicki is attempting to learn Batman's identity, while simultaneously dating Bruce Wayne. Based on how Bruce Wayne reacts to the things that Vicki tells him, there would be the occasional clue that he is actually Batman. Vicki wouldn't catch these clues, of course, but the viewer would. And if Kim Basinger wanted to have a cameo somewhere, that would be pretty awesome.

Give Terry McGinnis a Batman Beyond movie

As much fun as it is to talk about these different Batman characters who deserve their own movies, let's be real. DC is way more likely to just do another Batman reboot. And there's nothing wrong with that. Batman is great! But rather than making us watch Bruce Wayne's parents getting shot in Crime Alley again, what if this time they chose a different Batman?

Batman Beyond is, simply put, one of the greatest superhero cartoons of all time. It takes place in the year 2039, in a futuristic cyberpunk Gotham. Bruce Wayne has retired from his life as Batman, and now he's a bitter, jaded shut-in.

Enter Terry McGinnis, a rebellious teenager with a good heart who accidentally discovers the secret identity of Batman. When Terry's father is then murdered, Terry steals a Batsuit from Bruce Wayne and sets out to bring his father's killer to justice.

Although Bruce tries to stop him at first, once he realizes that Terry is a good kid with pure intentions, he decides to take Terry under his pointy cape and serve as Terry's guy in the chair, doing research and giving him advice.

There's so much to love about the idea of a Batman Beyond movie franchise. The cyberpunk setting would look gorgeous in live action, and there's an entirely new rogues' gallery of creepy villains like Blight, Inque, and Spellbinder. And you know what? Michael Keaton is just about the right age nowadays to play a retired Bruce Wayne. Just sayin'.