The Batman: 7 Villains That Should Appear In HBO Max’s Arkham Spinoff

The Batman: 7 Villains That Should Appear In HBO Max’s Arkham Spinoff

Content Warning: Spoilers For DC Films’ The Batman Are Discussed In This Article.

With Matt Reeves finally having released The Batman, the future of this new canon is starting to become more concrete. Critical and commercial success has certainly helped this vision become clearer, with the budding Bat-verse set to expand beyond its prospective trilogy of movies and onto TV. Per Deadline, HBO has already greenlit showrunner Lauren LeFranc’s The Penguin limited series for their HBO Max streaming service, with Colin Farrell returning as the titular “Gentleman of Crime.”

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However, Reeves himself recently confirmed that another live-action series based on Arkham Asylum is in early talks as well. It’s an exciting prospect that could lean into horror elements of the foreboding asylum, and it presents an equally exciting opportunity when it comes to potential villains. The ending of The Batman does well to set up this potential series – especially when it comes to a hypothetical main cast – but it could arguably afford to get even weirder.

The Clown Prince of Crime is one of the most notorious and iconic comic book villains in pop culture. He’s one of Batman’s greatest villains from his comic mythos, and the closing moments of The Batman have him primed to appear elsewhere in this universe. The scene wasn’t necessarily intended to assure fans that the Joker would appear in the sequel, but after seeing his cameo and the deleted scene where the Dark Knight interviews the villain off-screen, having a role in an Arkham Asylum show would be an excellent move.

It could even prove to be the best of both worlds, as fans would still get an iteration of the Joker opposite Robert Pattinson’s Batman but still leave other villains in the movies to have the lion’s share of the spotlight. The deleted scene and the cameo do well to flesh out this canon’s worldbuilding and lore, establishing that the World’s Greatest Detective and the Joker have a history already. His current stay at Arkham State Hospital would make him ripe to be part of the main cast in a breakout plot, and perhaps Batman himself could appear in an episode or two to have them interact.

Arguably the next clearest pick for a villain in the Arkham Asylum series is the Riddler. The Joker’s cameo towards the end of the movie with Edward Nashton now behind bars hints at a return, which would be a refreshing change of pace. It feels like many movies opt to have their antagonist be a one-off, therefore, having the Riddler return in the series would be a great way to make him a genuine ongoing threat.

The Riddler proved his cunning in The Batman, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t continue in an Arkham State Hospital operating under Gotham City’s martial law. Not only did the movie’s ending hint at a return, but it could involve a story with the Joker manipulating him for a breakout. Likewise, it would offer something similar to having the Joker in a series in that the Riddler could return without taking up to much of the limelight from future theatrical villains.

Going back to the more obscure side of the rogues’ gallery, there arguably wouldn’t be a more suitable project to have a live-action Professor Pyg than in an Arkham Asylum show set in Matt Reeves’ universe. Pyg is one of Batman’s most gruesome villains, created by beloved comic book writer Grant Morrison. Lazlo Valentin was a scientist who suffered a schizophrenic breakout, leading him to become a psychopathic murderer with a warped perception of humanity.

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He sees humans as broken and incomplete creatures, which sees Pyg kidnap people and turn them into animal-human abominations called “Dollotrons.” Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Knight video game popularized the character the most in the mainstream. Arkham Asylum’s inherent “house of horrors” tone under the umbrella of HBO would make this villain a seamless fit for this series.

Though not nearly as prolific as Mr. Freeze, Julian Day/Calendar Man was similarly a joke villain in the early days of comic books before getting a compelling revitalization. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s The Long Halloween is among the most influential Batman comics for this movie and more, with Calendar Man taking on a Hannibal Lecter-like role to Batman’s Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs.

He has a gimmick similar to the Riddler, with the serial killer fixated on committing his murders on coinciding holidays to toy with the World’s Greatest Detective. Though Barry Keoghan’s Joker has already partly taken on this role in this Bat-verse through in The Batman‘s deleted scene, some creative liberty could be taken to make Calendar Man work in Arkham. Similar to the likes of Professor Pyg, there’s never been a better time to adapt Calendar Man with what HBO could provide.

Since Matt Reeves set up his first story in Gotham as a dissection of the city’s corruptive disease from a political level, the Arkham Asylum series could use its horror angle to throw in a taste of cultish fanaticism. Writer Jim Starlin is best known in Batman lore for his landmark A Death in the Family arc, but he and artist Bernie Wrightson put together a haunting and underrated story in The Cult.

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It was the debut of Deacon Blackfire, with the villain poised as a charismatic religious fanatic and leader who brainwashed Gotham’s downtrodden into a vicious murder cult. Arkham Knight featured him in a short side mission, with this version of Blackfire taking on a more overtly unhinged role. Arkham Asylum would be a perfect setting for a psychopathic cult fanatic with a messiah complex, especially should he escape into Gotham City while it’s at its most vulnerable.

Despite Victor Zsasz’s smaller place in Batman’s rogues’ gallery, he’s made a case for being an intimidating threat in his own right. He’s already featured in theaters twice in live-action, with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins essentially using him as a cameo and Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey in a supporting role as Black Mask’s right-hand man. Zsasz could also make a case for being a villain in The Penguin HBO Max spinoff given his origins, but his backstory could justify him appearing in both series in some capacity.

In the comics, Zsasz was born into wealth and eventually succumbed to gambling addiction. More specifically, he lost everything he had to Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin himself at his Iceberg Lounge. He spiraled further out of control from there, living his life as a serial killer who believes he’s “freeing” his victims. Given the tone and atmosphere of Arkham Asylum, a delusional mass murderer like this would fit nicely in a horror-inspired show.

When it comes to some of the higher-profile villains, Hugo Strange is debatably one of the most criminally underused. At the same time, Arkham Asylum would also be the best way to introduce him into Matt Reeves’ universe. His mainstream popularity was bolstered since Rocksteady’s sophomore game Arkham City, with Strange serving as the main antagonist. He’s a psychiatrist, though, his motivations are unique from that of the Scarecrow.

Strange has a special obsession with the Dark Knight, fixated on the dark machinations of Batman’s mind that makes him tick as the villain believes he can succeed him. He’s one of the few villains who’s known Bruce Wayne to be the alter ego, and using him as a mad, malicious doctor within the walls of Arkham Asylum practically writes itself. The villain surely deserves to feature in a sequel to The Batman, but an Arkham series could explore his origin story beforehand.

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The world of The Batman will soon be expanding beyond movies, and these are villains that could appear in HBO Max’s Arkham Asylum spinoff.

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