It has become a lot more difficult lately to keep up with the DCEU, especially when figuring out which characters are still considered canon. The fact that Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of the Caped Crusader in The Batman has been confirmed to be a different Bruce Wayne than the one played by Ben Affleck (who is even slated to return to the role soon along with Michael Keaton’s additional reprisal in the upcoming Flash movie) is not really helping things either. At least it has been easier to identify which Batman villains exist in each universe… well, somewhat.
I mean, it was initially confusing to learn that Joaquin Phoenix would star in a solo movie about The Joker instead of the current live action Clown Prince of Crime at the time, Jared Leto, until they specified it was an “Elseworlds” origin story, of sorts. Speaking of Joker, there are actually a few possible references in the Oscar-winning film to the DC villain Ratcatcher, who will also be featured in the DCEU continuity, but in an entirely new iteration. Plus, we could talk for hours about how Carla Gugino was meant to play Catwoman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice before that plot detail was scrapped, or the many actresses considered for the same role in Gotham City Sirens before they released Birds of Prey instead. Hmmm…
Ok, clearly I am not doing the best job trying to clear all of this up for you so far, so how about we just try breaking it down one by one? By our count, there are 11 well-known foes of the Dark Knight who have been confirmed to exist in the DC Extended Universe in some capacity. The following is a quick, convenient explanation of who they are, the actors who play them (if any) and how they are involved in the continuity, starting off with Batman’s undisputed arch nemesis.
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the DC Extended Universe franchise, so take a cue from Batman and prepare yourself before you venture on.
I must admit that I never expected to see this iteration of the Joker get the last laugh after Jared Leto’s polarizing performance (to say the least) in Suicide Squad - and this is coming from somebody who genuinely believes he was unjustly given the short end of the stick in DC’s villain showcase from 2016. Yet, the Academy Award winner (who recently transitioned to Marvel as the vampiric lead of Morbius) is getting a second chance in the HBO Max exclusive Zack Snyder’s Justice League, thus finally allowing the chance for him to interact with Batfleck and officially marking his first reprisal of the clownish criminal after he was merely mentioned as Harley Quinn’s ex in 2020's Birds of Prey.
Speaking of which, aside from perhaps Wonder Woman, it is probably a safe bet to think of Harley Quinn as the unofficial face of the DCEU, having appeared in two of the current total of eight films (Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey - the latter of which she headlined), with a third (The Suicide Squad) on the way. The secret to the success of “Mistah J’s” equally clownish, but comparatively better-natured former paramour is the luminous, electrifying portrayal by Australian Academy Award-nominee Margot Robbie, who brought the popularity of the already fan-favorite character (originally created specifically for Batman: The Animated Series) to unexpected heights on the big screen.
There may be less of a chance in seeing arguably DC Comics' most skilled assassin return in a future DCEU installment, but I think most would agree that he was granted a pretty decent arc in Suicide Squad, which revealed that behind the mask, Deadshot (née Floyd Lawton) is a really a devoted father trying to do right by his daughter. Plus, we got to see him face off against Batman in some capacity, and the fact that he was portrayed a two-time Oscar-nominated A-lister like Will Smith is a solid boast.
I do, however, wish we could have seen a little (or, better yet, a lot more) from Waylon Jones, better known as Killer Croc for his unusual reptilian condition, played by Lost’s Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje in Oscar-winning makeup in Suicide Squad. It appears, though, that James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad has incorporated King Shark (in a mo-cap performance by Steve Agee) as the team’s animalistic member this time, but that does not necessarily mean a DCEU redemption moment for the sewer-ridden Batman foe in the future is completely behind him.
Speaking of DCEU redemption moments, just take master masked assassin and Deadpool inspiration Deathstroke as an example - whose only contribution to the DCEU thus far has been a post-credits scene opposite Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor in 2017’s Justice League that many feared would amount to nothing after poor box office returns. Thankfully, Joe Manganiello returned to reprise Slade Wilson in reshoots for the Snyder Cut, and the actor even claimed that he may get his own movie, providing that justice does exist in this world.
Justice was certainly served to this powerful Gotham crime boss and club owner in the most permanent of ways in Birds of Prey, which saw his explosive demise at the hands Harley Quinn and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). However, while it lasted, most found Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of Roman Sionis, nicknamed Black Mask for wearing the painted skull of his father (whom he murdered himself), to be a fun addition to this 2020 DCEU installment as its main antagonist and representation of misogyny - although it still would have been cool to a more overt depiction his famous rivalry with Batman than the subtle mention in Justice League he received.
Also no longer a living contributor to the DCEU thanks to the group effort of Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett) and Harley Quinn, is Victor Zsasz - played by Chris Messina in Birds of Prey, which depicted him as the right-hand man to Black Mask. While the film did retain many of his defining features (such as homicidal tendencies and self-inflicted scars to represent each victim), his scarring is far more grotesque and his mental health is more irreparably damaged in DC Comics - not to mention his toils with Batman (also unseen here) are beautifully brutal.
Brutality has rarely been required for Batman to take down Polka-Dot Man, who sounds like some joke on a DC Comics fan message boards. He's actually the alter-ego of Abner Krill, whose self-made suit is fitted with removable polka-dots that can transform into deadly weapons or functioning vehicles. It is a concept that I never thought I would actually be excited to see brought to the big screen in The Suicide Squad, as played by David Dastmalchian, already an alum of Christopher Nolans The Dark Knight trilogy, both of the MCU’s Ant-Man movies, Fox’s hit prequel series Gotham and even the Arrowverse too.
Also being brought to the big screen for the first time in The Suicide Squad is Ratcatcher, a Gotham City exterminator-turned-murderous rodent royalty, but not in the sense that one may have expected. Instead of the Batman villain’s OG alter ego Otis Flannegan, 23-year-old Portuguese actress Daniela Melchior will appear, credited as “Ratcather 2” in the film. Plus, based on a brief glimpse in a recent behind-the-scenes clip of who may be her character as a little girl with an older man in a sewer, this second generation criminal could be Flannegan’s daughter.
While Oswald Cobblepot, played by a completely unrecognizable Colin Farrell, will be prominent character in The Batman, you may not have realized that The Penguin also exists in the DCEU unless you were paying attention. This is confirmed in Justice League by Alfred Pennyworth’s (Jeremy Irons) almost-longing recollection of “the days when one's biggest concerns were exploding wind-up penguins,” which also pays tribute to Danny DeVito’s portrayal in Batman Returns.
One would have had to be especially eagle-eyed to pick up on The Riddler’s “appearances” in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in the form of a green question mark-covered shirt hanging in the Batcave or a graffiti mark of said signature logo spray-painted onto a Gotham City pillar. Edward Nygma (going by Nashton this time in reference to the Batman villain’s origin) will also be a less subtle presence in The Batman, brought to life by Oscar-nominated actor Paul Dano after his big screen debut in Batman Forever with Jim Carrey.
What do you think? Are you happy to see Batman’s fiercest foes get a taste of the spotlight once again in a non-canon feature after being only subtly mentioned or completely unacknowledged in the DC Extended Universe, or is this more of the same ridiculous recasting rubbish that made you give up on the X-Men franchise years ago to you? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on what is next for the DCEU, as well as even more insight into the superhero movie genre in general, here on CinemaBlend.