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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Static Thoughts - Gotham Season 2 Villains

Edited by Robert Beach

As we ramp up for the fall premieres, some details have been filtering through about Fox’s first big step towards superheroes on the TV Gotham. We’ve learned ‘90s Batman supporting character Azrael will be on the second season along with classic Batman love interest Silver Saint Claire. Additionally, we know there are a few mystery roles and the promise of more Joker this season. For those who don’t know, Gotham is a Batman prequel show set immediately after the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne revolving around Jim Gordon. While season one stayed mostly in prequel territory, albeit leaning very hard on the idea that a lot of Gotham’s crazy people will have children who follow explicitly in their footsteps, the season finale hinted at greater changes to come. As such, I came up with a fairly large list of heroes, villains, and crime bosses/organizations I think should or could show up on Gotham in the coming seasons. Let’s start with the villains:  

Hugo Strange was a pretty obscure Batman villain for a time before he was catapulted into the limelight thanks to Arkham City. The idea behind him was that he was an evil psychologist who was obsessed with Batman to the point that he actually figured out who Batman was.  That’s basically the only consistent part of his character as beyond his fixation with the caped crusader tends to ebb and flow with the whim of the writers at hand/ Sometimes he dresses up as Batman; other times he just wants money (writer’s choice).  As Gotham continues to expand on the reopening of Arkham Asylum, he’d be a useful evil doctor to have on staff. This is especially so because he’s also famous for creating a serum that turns men into hideous, hulk-like monsters, which would serve as a nice tie-in to the Viper steroid plot from season one. 

This is another choice that’s pretty open to interpretation with a lot of possibilities for which Clayface they could go with. The original Clayface was an actor named Basil Karlow who killed his co-stars while filming a cheesy horror film called "The Terror." Eventually, Karlow became the giant clay monster we all know from the cartoons and video games, but Gotham could still make a solid murder mystery warm up to what’s to come with his character.  Conversely, they could also go with Clayface III, a disfigured scientist who tried to make himself beautiful but ended up turning himself into a living acid encased in a containment unit. Alternatively, I could see them doing something along the lines of Batman The Animated Series’ Matt Hagen who acted as a composite of the 1st three Clayfaces. The good thing about Clayface is unlike a lot of other Batman villains he can pre-date Batman without running into the problem of aging like the Penguin or the Joker. 

Here’s another character where it doesn’t matter whether he’s 20 or 50 when he goes head-to-head with the Batman. Killer Croc is sort of a weird part of the Batman canon; he started out as just a weird additional villain in the background of the comics, but in the later 2000s, he just took off in popularity and appearances. This was right around the time authors decided to make him more of a giant crocodile monster than just a guy with scales, though if he was on Gotham, it’s hard to see how they could do him as a hulking lizard man. Still, he’d be a strong addition to Gotham’s sleazy crime drama affectations, like Untouchables by way of Sin City. 

(An obscure choice, I know, but hear me out) The K.G. Beast was a soviet super assassin that was tasked with killing a visiting dignitary to Gotham City and fought Batman in an excellent story entitled "Ten Nights of the Beast." Despite his goofy name and retro camp, K.G. Beast is a pretty awesome villain, mainly because of how much of a legitimate threat he was. He’s one of the three obscure villains that influenced Bane, and it’s easy to see why based on his physical abilities and how he pushed Batman to the edge of sanity in order to defeat him. Given Russia’s less than stellar moral standing on the world stage right now, we seem fairly ready to feature them as villains in TV and movies once again, so having a crazed ex-KGB spy show up to Gotham for a political assassination seems like it’d be a fun action episode at the very least. 

This one is a more specific adaptation than some of the others as I specifically mean the Calendar Man design as featured in Arkham City. The Arkham City design on Calendar Man re-imagined him as a Hannibal Lecter-type mastermind, capable of working out all kinds of ingenious yet still holiday-themed crimes from the safety of his jail cell. That super capable criminal character is big these days on shows like NBC’s Hannibal, and it’d be a cool way for Gotham to do a Dark Knight-style Joker villain if they wanted it.  What’s more, Calendar Man under this interpretation can actually still work as an old man super villain when the time eventually comes for him to fight Batman because he’s more cerebral than physical. 

Solomon Grundy is admittedly an odd choice for the list because he’s not really a Batman villain. Solomon Grundy was originally an antagonist for the Golden Age Green Lantern, but because that’s where Gotham City was first introduced, more modern interpretations of Batman have kept the zombie behemoth lurking around the Gotham City underground. Most casual fans probably know the undead monster from his boss battle in Arkham City, yet he’s actually been adapted in a number of other manners over the years including as a bizarrely erudite thug and even a mob boss. If Gotham did want to just have an episode where Solomon Grundy rises up to rampage through the city, it’d be a fun action episode; although, I think they’d actually be better served to introduce him as a rival supernatural crime boss to face the Penguin. 

Deacon Blackfire is sort of a forgotten Batman That unfortunately gets poorly recycled these days in Batman blandness like Batman Eternal and the very mixed Arkham Knight.  His first appearance was in the excellent Batman Cult as the freaky leader of a cult of homeless people that managed to break Batman and indoctrinate him as a cult member. Part of what made him such a great antagonist is that the story used a lot of ambiguity on who/what Deacon Blackfire really was with some heavy suggestion he was actually immortal. That bit of ambiguity would be a good way to integrate him into the world of Gotham, and his freaky cult business would complement Gotham’s horror aspects greatly. 

The Mad Monk is actually a Golden Age Batman villain, going all the way back to the start of the caped crusader’s career.  The Mad Monk was a the leader of a coven of vampires who had worked their way into Gotham and were extorting the rich and powerful.  The original story is decent enough, but the revival of his character in Matt Wagner’s Batman and the Mad Monk is a real knockout with plenty of room for adaptation; it’s only a matter of time before Gotham pulls out all the stops and goes for some more super-powered storytelling like they did with the Viper subplot. If they wanted to take a supernatural approach, the Mad Monk could work as a great season-long foe.  

This has been a long list, so I’ll bring up the heroes and criminals/masterminds list a little later on, keep your eye out for them. 

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