With The Dark Knight set to break box-office records, a sequel is almost certainly in the works. With Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhardt's masterful performances as The Joker and Two-Face, respectively, finding another villian or two to ably face off against the caped crusader, while staying true to Christopher Nolan's darker tone won't be an easy task. Here's 8 villains that may be able to pull it off.
8-Dr. Hugo Strange
Character's effectiveness and value: While Dr. Hugo Strange might not be very physically intimidating or threatening, his mental prowess and ingenuity make him a credible foe. His comic book schemes have included massive, genetically-engineered monsters that attack upon command, and the discovery and attempted auction of Batman's secret identity. He was also one of the first reoccurring Batman villains, appearing before both the Joker and the Catwoman.
Character's potential for realistic portrayal: The not-so-good doctor would easily lend himself to a practical portrayal, especially since his costuming would probably only include a lab coat and some Windsor glasses. There also seems to be a degree of mistrust with today's medical field and its practitioners, and the filmmakers could certainly tap into that fear when developing this character.
Influence of previous interpretations: Aside from one or two animated Batman episodes, Dr. Strange has been sparsely utilized on screen making him a character that has little previously-established bias.
Character's effectiveness and value: One of the most glaring weaknesses of the Penguin is his lack of menacing qualities. He's short, obese, and chain smokes, meaning his athletic prowess is pretty low. That being said, he does have an extremely rich history in Batman lore, and his character has been thoroughly fleshed out resulting in more depth than your average villain.
Character's potential for realistic portrayal: The Penguin is another character that would translate fairly easily into film. He seems to favor formal clothing, but given his physical attributes, masking his insecurities with feigned affluence seems natural. At one time the Penguin was rumored to be cast in The Dark Knight as a British arms dealer, which lends further credence to the idea that he could be done realistically.
Influence of previous interpretations: There have been a myriad of Penguin portrayals all of varying degrees of quality, so it would be tough to escape any foregoing prejudice and this could be seen as another weakness for the character. Hopefully that won't dissuade the usage of him because there is an underlying creepiness with the Penguin, and as we saw with Christopher Nolan's Joker, creepiness is something that he seems to do well.
Character's effectiveness and value: Mr. Whisper was said to be an ancient monk who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for eternal life, and an immortal would likely make a very formidable villain. In the comic Batman: Gothic, the shadowless Mr. Whisper runs amuck in Gotham, slaying numerous mob bosses in an attempt to win back his soul. Batman repeatedly does battle with Whisper, but it's especially tough to defeat someone who's death-resistant when you've taken a vow not to kill.
Character's potential for realistic portrayal: Mr. Whisper's outside appearance would not be a problem in terms of rational depictions, but the fact that he survives falls from skyscrapers and head-on collisions with trains might seem a bit too improbable for the next Batman movie. An ambiguous approach to Mr. Whisper's perceived powers might be the best way to portray the character on film, keeping the audience guessing whether or not he really is superhuman.
Influence of previous interpretations: As previously mentioned, Mr. Whisper can only be found in the graphic novel Batman: Gothic, and as a result there haven't been any distorted interpretations done. So if Mr. Whisper was utilized, no audience member would have any preconceived partiality.
Character's effectiveness and value: Zsasz is a serial killer who cuts tally marks into his skin after each subsequent murder. He regularly refers to his victims as zombies and he insists that he's liberating them from pointless existence by slitting their throats. He briefly appeared in Batman Begins as an inmate in Arkham Asylum where he was identified as a hitman for the mob. During the film, his recognizable scars could momentarily be seen during his escape from Arkham.
Character's potential for realistic portrayal: His potential is obviously very high since he has already been imagined and introduced into the film's universe.
Influence of previous interpretations: Beyond the comic books, the only other source where Zsasz can be found is in the Batman Begins movie, and as a result the character hasn't yet been tainted by any earlier distortions. So a more fleshed out and prominent role in the ensuing film would set the cinematic interpretation standard.
Character's effectiveness and value: While less of a preacher and more of a cult-leader, Deacon Blackfire led a band of brainwashed Gotham citizens into what he described as a war on crime. Eventually this cult took over all of Gotham resulting in its segregation from the rest of the country. At one point a weakened Batman had even become an indoctrined sect member; however, by the end of the story he realizes the error of his ways and beats the reverend senseless.
Character's potential for realistic portrayal: There really isn't anything too unusual or improbable about the deacon to warrant not including him in the movie. While Blackfire makes claims that may seem too sensational for the film, specifically regarding the immortality he receives by bathing in blood, by the end of the comic we find out that indeed the deacon was more of a conman than immortal, firmly grounding the story in reality.
Influence of previous interpretations: The graphic novel Batman: The Cult is the only source where Deacon Blackfire can be found, so again, there aren't any other representations of this character to muddle his prospects.
Character's effectiveness and value: The Catwoman is one of Batman's oldest foes and on occasion she's portrayed as a love interest and ally. She is known for being a master thief and as a result she is often cleverly referred to by others as a cat-burglar, although her crimes are often given noble intentions similar to a black-spandex-clad Robin Hood. Overall, she is one of the most popular Batman figures, having appeared in more adaptations than any other villain.
Character's potential for realistic portrayal: The Catwoman is another character in the Batman mythos who, like the caped crusader himself, possesses no special powers. This makes her easily translatable into Christopher Nolan's very grounded Batman films. She also has costuming that is traditionally very similar to Batman's, so her acceptance based on attire in this universe would be no less likely than his.
Influence of previous interpretations: Being the Batman villain that has seen the most adaptations means the Catwoman comes with lots of baggage. From her appearances in several movies (notably, the terrible film starring Halle Berry) to countless television show spots, the Catwoman has become an ingrained pop-culture icon. And ultimately, it's this familiarity that becomes the biggest drawback when considering the likelihood of this character's utilization.
Character's effectiveness and value: The Riddler is another Batman villain that strikes little fear into the hearts of do-gooders. This could be due to his lack of physical weapons, or his insistence on leaving riddle-based clues at his crimes that always result in his schemes being revealed and then thwarted. That being said, the cerebral nature of the character seems to lend itself well to Christopher Nolan's more mature and thoughtful approach, and the character's rich history provides abundant potential.
Character's potential for realistic portrayal: Provided enough green fabric can be found to create an olive suit and matching Bowler hat, there really isn't anything too unusual about this character. Certainly a less cartoony, more mature interpretation would be necessary to make this character believable, but if an audience can buy a grown man fighting crime under the guise of a humanoid bat, it should be able to accept a criminal fond of riddles.
Influence of previous interpretations: Again, this is a character that has been done before and to limited success. So if the Riddler was going to be again seen on a movie screen, a deep reinterpretation would be necessary. There have been recent allusions made by several cast members though, indicating that indeed this character could be the next Batman villain.
Character's effectiveness and value: Black Mask is a deranged mob boss in Gotham city who wears a skull-like mask carved from his mother's ebony coffin. Growing up, Black Mask had a parentally forced-friendship with Bruce Wayne, one which he despised and which grew into a deep resentment of the Waynes. Black Mask frequently uses torture not only for personal gain but for personal satisfaction, often resulting in the death of his victims.
Character's potential for realistic portrayal: While some might see the skull-like mask to be a bit of a stretch in regards to realism, the motive of personal resentment and subsequent revenge certainly isn't. This is a very dark character and one can easily picture him fitting into the darker tone established in these Batman movies. As a mob boss, he also easily fits in with plots and themes used in the earlier films.
Influence of previous interpretations: While Black Mask has been used a number of times in comics, his universal recognition is pretty limited. To the diehard fan he is pretty significant in the Batman canon, but to those who are only casually interested in the Caped Crusader, he would be a complete unknown. To put it simply, Black Mask has a lot of theatrical potential.