The internet was set ablaze in speculation when Ben Affleck released a mysterious video on his Instagram showing off DC Comics fan favorite villain Deathstroke in what appears to be a promotional video for what some people believe to be a teaser for the Justice League film. It was later confirmed that he’d be the villain for the new Batman solo film to be helmed by Ben Affleck. The video has already been dissected for Easter Eggs and fans are already trying to figure out what can be done differently then the character’s iconic appearance in the second season of Arrow. What makes this reveal even more exciting for starved fans of the DCEU is the potential introduction to a whole new class of villains that movie fans have never had the pleasure of experiencing like so many fans of the comics and cartoons have.
Rise Of The Anti-Batmen
Traditionally, Batman on film has fought most of the usual suspects from his Rogues Gallery: We’ve all seen the Jokers, Catwomen, and Riddlers — hell, we’ve even seen Penguin. They’re all crazed criminals each with some kind of psychosomatic disorder that colors their particular brand of villainy. Each one has mostly been a threat that Batman could easily overpower through his genius level of intellect and deadly martial arts skills. Ra’s al Ghul doesn’t really count, as he’s more of an organization leader and ninja. He doesn’t use the kind of gadgets Batman does, which is why the movies have never seen Batman being forced to go up against an anti-Batman, basically imagine a villain with the same background and skills as him. Deathstroke is a lethal mercenary who’s mastered five fighting styles similar to Batman’s hand-to-hand combat stylings.
He’s also been enhanced with a super soldier serum giving him super-human reflexes and regenerative skills. He utilizes as many lethal weapons and gadgets as Batman and his military experience has given him an equal ability for tactical planning. He’s not a mere villain who’s out to rob banks or cause societal chaos just for funsies. There’s a reason he’s known as the Terminator, and it’s something we’ve never seen Batman face onscreen given that he’s mostly had to overpower all of his main villains in the movies we’ve seen thus far. Could this signal a shift in the DCEU; could this be paving the way for other anti-Batman villains for him to face off in the inevitable sequels?
The most obvious one would be the Red Hood. In fact, many suspected due to the costume of the dead robin seen in Batman v Superman that it was possibly building up to this storyline. For those of you not familiar, Red Hood was originally Batman’s second Robin, Jason Todd, who was infamously and brutally murdered by the Joker thanks to a fan poll and toll free number at the end of a comic book. But like so many other characters before him, Jason Todd didn’t stay dead; instead, he was resurrected by the Lazarus Pit and came back and assumed his own vigilante persona of the Red Hood.
The Red Hood is basically like Batman, only he’s not afraid to use weapons to kill. He has all of the training and skills of Bruce Wayne, but none of the moral compunction. Perhaps DC is trying to see how audiences react to Deathstroke onscreen before they bring out the emotionally charged storyline of Under the Red Hood. Comic fans also got to enjoy this storyline in video game form with the Arkham Knight ultimately being revealed to be Jason Todd and doing its own version of the story. Given the fact that we’ve seen the Red Hood in comic, video game, and in animated form, maybe Deathstroke is the first step towards seeing this on the big screen.
There have been rumors that what DC could be building up to try and match the scope of Marvel’s cinematic universe is a Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline where they would potentially crossover every single TV and movie version of all their major characters. Imagine Ben Affleck Batman teaming up with Christian Bale Batman and Michael Keaton Batman. Or, Erza Miller Flash racing alongside Grant Gustin’s TV Flash on the big screen. To really make this multiverse story work you’d need the ultimate anti-Batman. Owlman is the classic evil counterpart of Batman having become an instrumental member of the Crime Syndicate of America — a league of villains who or operate as the reverse of the Justice League with Owlman serving as their Batman.
What makes Owlman such a terrifying villain is his complete lack of empathy. He’s a cold, calculating character who, when written by truly great writers, managers to embody a cold, detached nihilism. He’s a character who’d easily destroy the entire multiverse because he believes the multiple universes invalidate the choices of his own existence. Plus, we’ve seen the order vs. chaos dynamic of Joker vs. Batman done to death. Someone who has all of the skills of planning of the infamous Grant Morrison Bat-god, who uses those skills against the Justice League could provide a fresh iconic villain to rival the likes of Heath Ledger’s Joker in terms of being one of the greatest cinematic villains of all time.
Jean-Paul Valley: Azrael
Valley has become one of the more interesting additions to the mix of anti-Batman villains, because at one point Jean-Paul Valley was Batman. Of course, he’s also a brainwashed fanatic programmed by the Order of St. Dumas to become a sort of Manchurian candidate assassin and guardian named Azrael. But honestly, the most interesting thing about Valley is his brutally violent behavior. He was created by the DC editorial staff to sort of be like the ultimate extreme ‘90s version of Batman to help make readers appreciate why giving Batman a moral code and boundaries made him a better character.
Ironically, his methods had the exact opposite effect turning him into a fan favorite and giving him his own comic series even after he lost the mantel of The Bat. However, the idea of Batman passing on his mantel to another adult is one that’s never been explored in any of the films. Audiences aren’t even used to the idea of having him work alongside multiple generations of Robbins, so the introduction of an adult who he passes on his legacy to his fertile grounds. Given the introduction of Azrael into the Gotham TV series, it seems like now more than ever before, there’s a vested interest in bringing this character into the live-action realm.
Given how Ben Affleck’s Batman is going to soon be palling around with the Justice League, it makes sense that he might seek a replacement to keep order in Gotham. The two clashing over their ideals of justice could lead to some fantastic drama, especially given how brutal and violent Ben Affleck’s Batman was in Batman v Superman where a newly reformed Batman who’s regained his hope in humanity after Superman’s death would have a great foil in being pitted against someone who uses his more brutal and lethal methods from the previous movie. So, out of all of these anti-Batman villains, which one would you like to see on the big screen? Let us know your thoughts in our poll below on who you think would make the best anti-Batman for to face off against in a future DCEU movie.