For those that don’t follow DC, the name Black Mask might sound like just another generic bad guy moniker. But to those of us who’ve read the comics, the decision to (presumably) make him the featured villain in the upcoming Birds of Prey film is a brilliant one. In a lot of ways, the origin of Black Mask mimics that of Batman himself.
Roman Sionis is a son of Gotham, like Bruce Wayne, who inherited his family’s fortune. In Sionis’ case, he murdered his parents, simply because they didn’t like his girlfriend. The family business he took over was a cosmetics one, which he quickly ruined when a new product left hundreds of women with permanent facial disfigurement.
Ashamed at his business failings, and oddly after getting struck by lightning at his family crypt, Sionis began to morph into the villain we’ll eventually see on the big screen. He became obsessed with disguises and formed a new underground society called the False Face Society. With his new organization in place, he began committing horrible murders under the newly adopted name Black Mask, after he started wearing a mask he’d made from his dad’s own casket.
As a DC bad guy he’s obviously squared off against Batman (check out the No Man’s Land and War Games arcs) and has become a staple of the comic world and beyond appearing in TV shows and even the Arkham video games.
He’s a terrific mirror to the idea of Batman the audience has, the one we saw Ben Affleck portray. While his origin is somewhat similar he isn’t a tortured soul. He knows what he is doing and is surgical with his precision and brutal with his violence. While I don’t expect Batman to make any sort of cameo here, Black Mask up against Harley Quinn will be fascinating. How do the Birds of Prey – if they are ever called that – counter his brutality? Do they answer it with violence of their own or resort to outsmarting him? The story potential is amazing and I’m beyond excited to see what direction director Cathy Yan takes the story.
Ewan McGregor has an incredible range as an actor, and I’m absolutely on board with the casting. I hope Black Mask has a permanent presence in the DCEU and is able to survive the inevitable battle with the Birds of Prey when it hits theatres in 2020. Are you as excited as I am about Black Mask? What another villain would you want to see instead?
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