Op-Ed: The Nolan-Verse of Bat-Villains

nolanversevillainsvinrich

The following is an opinion piece written by Vin Richitelli, a friend of Batman-News.com.

With The Dark Knight Rises most likely being Christopher Nolan’s last Batman film, I wanted to review the selection of villains chosen for each film.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of all of the villains that Christopher Nolan and co. have used and will use is how powerful they are in their own way. I know some were disappointed when Nolan scratched a few villains off the list such as Mr. Freeze, Penguin, and most notably The Riddler but ask yourself this question, how powerful realistically are those villains? Sure they are great but when it comes down to it you want someone to push Batman to his limit, I really didn’t see how any of those villains mentioned above would be able to do that, again realistically. With how The Dark Knight ended with Batman pretty much in the dumps in the eyes of Gotham; you want someone to keep beating him down mentally and physically until he ‘rises’ which will be triumphant and quite possibly the best story in all the Batman movies to date.

Batman Begins, you have Ra’s al Ghul, Bruce Wayne’s mentor, the man who taught him a lot and wanted to make him his successor since he was his “greatest student,” Ra’s though is a terrorist and want’s to eliminate most of humanity to create balance that is something Bruce will stand up against and fight. Now Scarecrow (Dr. Jonathan Crane) he has the abilities to make your worst fear come true by using his fear toxin, Bruce’s greatest fear is letting his parents down (example on YouTube: Batman The Animated Series; episode ‘Nothing to Fear’). Obviously in Begins we didn’t see that but just goes to show you what Scarecrow is capable of doing.

"The will to act" - Ra's al Ghul

The Dark Knight, which includes Batman’s greatest foe, The Joker. Joker creates chaos, Batman fights for order, without Batman there is no Joker. No one quite pushes Batman close to the edge like The Joker, Batman has been given numerous opportunities to put Joker down for good but has relented usually at the last second because Batman has one rule as for The Joker he is inevitable, they are the mirror opposite. Harvey Dent, Gotham’s District Attorney who would do whatever it takes to punish criminals sometimes a little more severe than Batman, but when Dent get’s setup and half of his face burnt that’s when everything goes down hill and which turns him into Two Face and he makes all of his decisions with a flip of a coin. The guilt Gordon and Batman feel for Harvey makes him even more potent.

"You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun" - The Joker

The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan and co. just announced the villains which will be Selina Kyle aka Catwoman and Bane. Catwoman is known as the “anti-hero” who plays both sides to some but to the general audience she is simply known as a villain. This is the biggest love/hate relationship in the Batman mythology, two people who both have a secret identity, Selina and Bruce like each other, Catwoman and Batman have a thing for each other and it never ends but one thing for sure is Selina Kyle is arguably the best love interest for Bruce Wayne which can make things very complicated. Bane, this villain is best known for breaking Batman’s back in the book ‘Knightfall’, not only is Bane the most psychical villain but he is also highly intelligent.

I believe Christopher Nolan has used the best villains for his realism Batman franchise, some weren’t well known to the general audience but they sure are now and they all give Batman his best challenge. Ra’s al Ghul challenged Bruce Wayne/Batman mentally in Batman Begins, The Joker challenged Batman ethically in The Dark Knight & Bane will challenge Batman physically in The Dark Knight Rises.


You can follow Vin on Twitter at Twitter.com/VINRICH. Views expressed here are his own.

Related: Features The Dark Knight Rises

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  • Vimaljacob

    well .. yeah .. all of em are amazing villains .. …

    they couldve used hush too … he pretty much nailed down batman in the “hush” series …… and riddler too (he was the real mastermind behind everythin tht happened in HUSH) …….

    mr.freeze not tht much .. coz he just wannts money for his wife … hes not an actual criminal per say . just desperate conditions force him to seek desperate actions … in chris nolans univ .. bruce would just pay for freezes wife
    firefly would be nice .. coz of his chaotic nature

    black mask is a good candidate …. coz he is pretty sinister …. if they did somethin like “war games” (where gotham goes to civil war .. n batman n his allies are pushed to their limits to put every territory into check ……. n one of batmans contigency plans to use in situations like this … goes completely haywire because of black masks actions ) … they could make balck mask workin behind the scenes takin out batmans plans …. until batman has a contingency within a contingency plan .. to take out everythin

    i don see hope for killer croc or a guy like mad hatter to get into the movies

    lex luthor (the sinister kingpin like one .. not the original superman ones ) would be nice … coz hell be an excellent intellectual n financial adversary (while supermans off fighting dommsday or somebody)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vimal-Jacob/759375647 Vimal Jacob

    well .. yeah .. all of em are amazing villains .. …

    they couldve used hush too … he pretty much nailed down batman in the “hush” series …… and riddler too (he was the real mastermind behind everythin tht happened in HUSH) …….

    mr.freeze not tht much .. coz he just wannts money for his wife … hes not an actual criminal per say . just desperate conditions force him to seek desperate actions … in chris nolans univ .. bruce would just pay for freezes wife
    firefly would be nice .. coz of his chaotic nature

    black mask is a good candidate …. coz he is pretty sinister …. if they did somethin like “war games” (where gotham goes to civil war .. n batman n his allies are pushed to their limits to put every territory into check ……. n one of batmans contigency plans to use in situations like this … goes completely haywire because of black masks actions ) … they could make balck mask workin behind the scenes takin out batmans plans …. until batman has a contingency within a contingency plan .. to take out everythin

    i don see hope for killer croc or a guy like mad hatter to get into the movies

    lex luthor (the sinister kingpin like one .. not the original superman ones ) would be nice … coz hell be an excellent intellectual n financial adversary (while supermans off fighting dommsday or somebody)

  • Bazman05

    Good reading. I’m beginning understand the progression of the villains a little better. While I was aware of Ra’s and Joker’s mental and ethical challenges, I now see that it is Bane will exert the physical challenge while Catwoman (still don’t like the choice, and I don’t think I ever will) will be the emotional challenge.

    And the challenge to Nolan will be trying to make Bane as realistic as possible and Catwoman, who is the most “campiest” of all the villains, a total reinvention to fit the story.

  • Ej810

    I completely agree with you!
    The fact that Nolan took villains that were not quite famous in the comics and animated series and made them come to life was not only brilliant it was an “out of the box” approach that many directors are afraid to do considering it as a major risk to their respective careers. when Nolan brought the joker to life it was amazing as he showed us how the bat and the joker are similar aw well as worlds apart from each other, in other words ying-yang and now taking quite famous characters is just setting the bar high! which i am completely is within Nolan’s reach, after all he did fuck with all our minds in inception :)

  • FinnFTW

    Hell, I do not see where you are going with this story, Batman-News.
    For instance (to quote you guys) “I really didn’t see how any of those villains mentioned above would be able to do that, again realistically.”.
    I don’t see how Scarecrow or The Joker are villains that are physical challenging. If that was what Nolan was aiming for, i’d much rather see The Black Mask or Hush being brough in. Even more so then Bane (although he isn’t a bad character, just feels out of place comparing to the last two movies).
    Catwoman isn’t brought to screen in a memorable way, so personally I feel like that might not even be so challenging. I (however) do not like Hathaway’s acting at all, as to where I just doubted Heath as the Joker in general (nothing to do with acting). So for me that’s a dissapointment.
    I could see Hardy do Bane, but it almost feels like Nolan could have picked so much better characters. I’d love to see him do a take on The Riddler, Black Mask or even Penguin. Mr Freeze not so much though.
    But i’m losing my point. I’m not saying this movie is going to suck, but the “false leaked details” sounded way more promising then the actual news. The choice of Hathaway, the pick of villains, the cheesy-title and the fact that we arent really going to see a return (or justifying end) of The Joker, is kind of a bummer. Ofcourse, Noland COULD pull it off, it just seems like it’s going to be a hell of a hard job right now.

    • http://twitter.com/SHotMBlog SuperherooftheMonth

      Everyone wondered how they could ever *possibly* top Nicholson with TDK. Mission accomplished, though. Trust Nolan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1951892 Joseph B. Matuch

    I think Nolan could have managed to make Mr. Freeze or the Riddler into believable characters in his universe. They might not have been all that close to the way they are written in the comics, though. Either one could have been a genius serial killer type. The Riddler would have been really cool, leaving clues for Batman to figure out to get to his victims. There are plenty of examples of nuts doing that kind of thing in real life. Mr. Freeze might have been harder to do, but his method of murdering could have been cold-themed, like using meat freezers or liquid nitrogen.

    Anyway, I’m happy with the selection of villains (especially Scarecrow), and I’m sure the last movie will be fantastic.

  • unhappy

    This was an appalling article; Reads like it was written by a child.

    • YodaMan

      You must be from Batman-on-Film.

      • Manoschaos

        No, this article was indeed kinda choppy. But the last lines redeem it , as far as I’m concerned.

  • One-eyed Willie

    The Nolan´s villains were perfect until Bane… Let´s look closer at the Nolanverse: Ras fits perfectly with those FAKE supernatural elements… Scarecrow, crazy doctor with some medical toxins, just great! Joker as an anarchist terrorist crime genius with nasty scars – perfect translation of the comics for realism. Two-face as a burnt victim and insane-driven behaviour after a tragedy… Now, can Catwoman fit? Sure: anti-hero thief with no superpowers, maybe even a hooker like YEAR ONE.
    And Bane? Guy with ridiculous catheter pumping steroids in, becoming a berseker hulk? Wearing a terrible luchador mask? He´s really that smart? Only the Nolan´s visionary mind can help Bane.

    • Guest

      *knocks head against wall*

      WHY do you so stubbornly believe Bane will be a “berserker hulk” with “ridiculous catheters pumping steroids in” with a “luchador mask”? Why, why, why?

      Nolan’s Joker was not permawhite. Many fans complained and whined about it when they found out, but they soon ate their words once they saw footage and the movie itself.

      Nolan DOES NOT HAVE TO do the same interpretation of Bane as we’ve already seen. In fact, he WON’T do this interpretation because he said it’s a new interpretation. New, as in NOT DONE BEFORE.

    • Anonymous

      And yet, you dont know how bane will be in the film, if the perma white joker and the immortal ras can be adapted why not a man who uses steroids?

    • Manoschaos

      I’m sorry but your comment has no logic. Only rationalization.OF COURSE Bane won’t be a berserker hulk in the same fashion that joker doesn’t spray people with a flower or doesn’t fly a plane which has a shape of his face in the Dark Knight.
      In Nolan’s movies, Bane will be an obsessed bodybuilder, straight out of a hellish prison where he spent his whole life scheming how to be a boss in a whole city and building connections in Gotham. He will probably take some steroids and I doubt he will wear a mask.
      Either way. it’s gonna be awesome. Relax and enjoy. Even Joker was becoming pretty campy and pointless in the comics until the movie hit us in 2008. Nolan knows how to make this shit work.

      • One-eyed Willie

        Yeah, I´ll try to relax… like I said: only Nolan´s visionary mind can help Bane! He´s a guy with a plan and 100% trustable.

    • Cynactic

      And, in my opinion, that’s why Bane might come around to be Batman’s ultimate adversary…because he will be completely different from anything we’ve seen before.

  • http://www.facebook.com/konrad.keck Konrad Keck

    Okay, I agree: Nolen’s vision of Batman is about a deeper understanding of the superhero thing. It’s about the psyche (BB) and moral (TDK). However, I doubt that Nolan will put Bruce Wayne aka Batman through an ultimate physical test (personyfied in Bane) to make a final statement on his (so far) masterpiece.

    Just take a look at Nolan’s other Work: Memento, Inception and Prestige ain’t action movies. Yes, they have their “physical” moments, but they are no blockbusting, action packed Hollywood films. They always have such elements to get people into the theatres, sure! – But none of them is this “done on the assembly line”-stuff with nothing to say you usually get nowadays. Instead Nolan does only one project at a time and that very well thought through. His movies are in rank with those, you have to see dozens of times and still find something new.

    Again: I doubt the final scene will be a bare knuckle fist fight Batman vs Bane, in which Batman – after getting all his bones broken – triumphantly strikes Bane down, kisses the (cat)girl and rides into the sunrise. Instead there must be some twist to it, in which Nolan questions society, like he had done in all his previous works.

    PS: And of course, Batman will look like sh** after the last cut. But that’s trivial.

  • BrazilianBatFan

    Hi, DaCrissa, has any of your informers told anything more about the audition process for Catwoman? I ask because I have the impression this was the most difficult villain to be cast in this trilogy. Thanks. Keep up your good work. I rely on you immensely before the opening of the movie.

    • http://batman-news.com Batman-News.com

      I wasn’t told about the actual audition process, all I knew was that Anne Hathaway & Jessica Biel were “frontrunners”. If I find out I’ll let you know. Thanks for checking out the site!

  • Juan

    they should’ve used the riddler as one of his foes

  • Geeky Randy

    The Penguin could simply just be the mobster Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot; no different from how The Scarecrow was just Dr. Jonathan Crane who experimented on his patients. Same with The Riddler; a stalker of sorts who taunts his victims through riddles… maybe prefers the color green too. None of those are unrealistic and would fit in Nolan’s Batman universe. Nolan doesn’t think so, and I have the utmost trust in Nolan’s decision; but Nolan may have missed some of the parallels with the villains he’s rejected as unrealistic and the villains he’s already done (à la Penguin/Scarecrow). Two-Face seemed damn near impossible–and is probably the most unrealistic villain of Nolan’s series–but he was executed terrifically.

    Also, I’d like to point out that both Carmine Falcone and Sal Maroni were both in the comics and played a significant role is Nolan’s films. Their presences helped drive the story critically. Shall we expect another mobster villain in “Rises”? How about a cameo villain like Victor Zsasz in “Begins” or the reprisal of Scarecrow in “TDK”. Lastly, I’m very confident that Monique Gabriela Curnen will reprise her role as Detective Anna Ramirez, Two-Face’s only surviving victim that wasn’t in on the cover-up.

    • Cynactic

      Yes! I agree on Anna Ramirez’s significance in the third film. Possibly an ally to Wayne.

      • Geeky Randy

        Or a threat?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LNZWP23EUNMBUX4C5OQ7XX5UHE habakamabalao

    I disagree that the first film challenged him mentally. I think the first half challenged him much more physically than anything else, and the rest was more about overcoming fear; a mental task, I know, but not one based on intelligence. The second movie challenged him morally and emotionally, so by the end of The Dark Knight we had a strong, brave, righteous, and emotionally stable Batman. The only aspect missing from the equation now is him being the greatest detective on earth, my favorite thing about him as a kid, and I was hoping the last movie would challenge him to do some intelligent problem solving. He’s so far had to be everything a hero needs to be except for smart.

    • Cynactic

      Once again, it doesn’t seem so cut-and-dry that Bane is a simple powerhouse that will “break Batman’s back” or physically challenge him alone. I would like to see Bane do something somewhat similar to Falconi in Begins: Sanctioned Crime in Gotham. Bruce/Batman’s challenge would then be to rise to help Gotham’s “soul” discover corruption within the system. It seems like batman brought that hope for Gotham in the first film. It was clearly evident in The Dark Knight…but we were left with the reminder that Gotham isn’t perfect and their inherent structure was the source of all troubles (from casting out the batman to the mob’s undercovers in Gordon’s office). The next film will probably attempt to allegorize Batman’s rise as Gotham’s rise in general hopefully to a truly utopic society.

  • Shawn Hughes0318

    I wanted to see Riddler used as someone leaving clues that are beyond Batman’s intellect no matter what he does or use Victor Zsasz in a small way to just show a pure demented villain that was born in wealth and went the polar opposite to bruce

  • Guest

    i understand you are talking about realism with the villains…but how can you say bane is more realistic than the riddler or hugo?? idk i just don’t get that aspect of it….the dude is juiced up on some crazy steroids thats constantly pumping into his veins to make him huge. idk thats just my thinking, i think the riddler…provided they portrayed him in the right light would make a more realistic villain than bane. i could be wrong though.

  • SHEEK252

    Man this shit is crazy i mean i like the villians. I some what figured out the story line. BATMAN will be hit from all directions from the past with rah agul ,his daughter cat woman and bane to the point he will question can he still protect Gotham. Bane is going to bring it i dont know if he will go as far as breaking BATMAN”S back but i think he will come close just because of that epic battle in knightfall.I also demand a joker apperance if not robin its must for the trilogy to become complete. I dont think robin would suck in the film hey its no way in hell batman can defeat all these villians alone. They have to include NIGHTWING and ROBIN for the movie. They tell to litttle of the BATMAN story in these films. I mean the beff between BATMAN and ROBIN is fucking awesome. Its long due but on the DARK KNIGHT RISES they better make it a great fucking action story that dosent leave every body pissed as die hard BATMAN fans. And just some light on the reboot you gotta bring Dick Grayson in to help the old fart.

  • Gooddogmiami

    This writer really needs an editor. And refresher course in spelling, grammar and sentence structure.

    • Dfritzz

      asshole

  • Nagesemag

    What about Red Claw???