FEATURE: Ten Villains Who Should Recur Throughout the DC Cinematic Universe

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The DC Universe hosts many of the greatest villains in comic book history, and the DC Cinematic Universe will take advantage of this prestigious library. Next year, we’ll see new incarnations of characters such as The Joker and Lex Luthor. Several villains will make their big screen debuts in Suicide Squad, including Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Captain Boomerang. Antagonists such as Darkseid and Brainiac have also been rumored to be in the Justice League films, while Dwayne Johnson will fulfill his dream of playing villain/future antihero Black Adam in Shazam.

One way to successfully approach these villains – and a way to differentiate from Marvel Studios’ general approach – is to have many of them recur throughout the films of the DCCU. Introduce one or more in one film with the possibility of their returning in at least one other. Don’t kill them off in their first movie, ala General Zod in Man of Steel or in many Marvel films. Below, I’ve compiled a list of villains who would be great recurring foes throughout the DC movies.

Lex Luthor
The Man of Steel’s arch nemesis will once again be brought to life in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. However, Jesse Eisenberg is/was reportedly in talks to reprise the role in Suicide Squad, strongly suggesting that Dawn of Justice won’t be the only time we see Luthor in the DC Cinematic Universe.

There’s plenty of story potential for Luthor. Perhaps he could go on to become President of the United States (or at least run), like in the Public Enemies comic book arc. Maybe he could lead the Legion of Doom/Injustice League in a Justice League movie. Heck, maybe they could merge him and Brainiac into one being, similar to Justice League Unlimited, in either a Justice League film or a Man of Steel sequel. Either way, Luthor is one of the most viable options for a recurring DCU villain, and the filmmakers should use him to his full advantage.

The Joker

The Joker is easily the best comic book movie villain to date. Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning performance as the Clown Prince of Crime in The Dark Knight set a new standard for these roles; one that has yet to be matched. Despite this, Warner Bros. are creating a new iteration of the Joker for the DCCU, this time played by Jared Leto in Suicide Squad.

It has been rumored (and is likely) that Joker has had many years’ worth of conflict with Batman by the time both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad begin. It would be fascinating to see that relationship further explored in other film(s), especially the next solo Batman movie. As for source material, there are plenty of options. The Killing Joke? The Dark Knight Returns? Death of the Family? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Black Adam

After years of pushing for the role, Dwayne Johnson will finally play Black Adam in a Shazam movie. “The Rock” has made it clear that Adam will go on to become an antihero at some point, and seeing that journey play out in not only potential Shazam sequels, but also in other DC films, could be very interesting to see.

Johnson recently expressed interest in having Black Adam take on the Justice League someday, something which makes too much sense. Either as a solo foe or as a member of a supervillain team, Adam would be a formidable adversary for any superhero. Having him fight Superman in a standalone Man of Steel sequel is another option. Or, perhaps Black Adam could star in his own spin-off film. Dwayne Johnson is one of the biggest names in the action movie business right now, and it would be wise for WB to use him in the DCCU as much as possible.

Deathstroke

Slade Wilson has emerged as a fan-favorite villain in recent years, thanks to his appearances in the likes of Arrow and the Teen Titans animated series. He is expected to make his big screen debut in Suicide Squad next year, with Joe Manganiello rumored to be playing him. However, it would be a waste to use Deathstroke in only one film, as he has potential to be an awesome recurring foe.

Wilson would be an ideal villain for a future Batman movie, as well as any potential films for Green Arrow and the Teen Titans. Possible sequels to Suicide Squad are other options, as well as 2020’s Cyborg. Deathstroke would especially be a good villain for the latter, as he is a recurring enemy of the Teen Titans. And since that team probably won’t be in a movie anytime soon, might as well have him fight Cyborg, a traditional member of the Titans. If the story makes sense, of course.

Harley Quinn

Since her creation for Batman: The Animated Series, Harley has emerged as a favorite among comic book fans. Most recently, she joined the Suicide Squad in the “New 52,” and she will be played by Margot Robbie in the upcoming Squad film. Robbie previously expressed interest in playing Quinn for many years, and assuming Suicide Squad is a hit, that will probably happen. 

Harley is yet another option for a villain in the next solo Batman, as well as potential sequels to Suicide Squad. Regardless, I think she will become an even bigger household name next year; Harley could be a new hit character ala Rocket Raccoon or Groot from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. And if that happens, then she will surely pop up in a few more DC films.

Sinestro

A former member of the Green Lantern Corps, Sinestro has gone on to become one of the most iconic intergalactic villains in the DC Universe. He was previously present in 2011’s Green Lantern, where he was brilliantly portrayed by Mark Strong. However, that film was a commercial and critical bomb, so if/when Sinestro returns to the big screen, it will be a completely separate iteration. 
However, Sinestro has the potential to make his presence felt throughout the DC Cinematic Universe. Beyond 2020’s Green Lantern and potential sequels, he could also appear in the Justice League series (as a member of the Legion of Doom, perhaps?). I personally can see Sinestro emerge as an antihero on par with X-Men‘s Magneto; a character frequently coming into conflict with the heroes, but he works with his own agenda that isn’t strictly heroic or villainous. Seeing that type of Sinestro in the DCCU would be very cool.

Deadshot

One of the biggest casting “gets” for the DCCU so far is Will Smith, who will play Deadshot in Suicide Squad. Again, it would be logical for Warner Bros. to utilize Smith’s star power as much as they could. And if Suicide Squad, again, is a success, then expect to see more Floyd Lawton in the future.

Whether it is a Suicide Squad sequel, a Green Arrow film or a Batman movie, Deadshot has plenty of potential as a recurring villain. Perhaps he could even star in his own spin-off film – based on John Ostrander’s Deadshot: Beginnings, perhaps? It would be another way to explore the more grounded way of the DCU. Clearly, much is riding on the success of Suicide Squad, and it has the potential to spawn dozens of sequels and spin-offs. And it would be obvious for Deadshot to be a big part of them.

Black Manta

Black Manta is arguably Aquaman’s most recognizable villain. Currently, he is rumored to be a part of 2018’s Aquaman film, but it would be cool to see him in other DC movies afterwards. Manta could serve as a mercenary/bounty hunter type antagonist; a role that could also be filled by characters such as Deathstroke. So, having him recur throughout the potential Aquaman series and other movies would be ideal if audiences respond well.

As for which other DC films he could appear in, Black Manta has connections to the Suicide Squad in the comics. So, if that movie spawns a sequel or two, perhaps Manta could become a member there. He could also join the Legion of Doom or Injustice League if one assembles in a Justice League movie. Black Manta has potential to be a unique cinematic villain, and if he becomes a fan-favorite among movie fans, then the studio will almost definitely do more with him.

The Rogues

This supervillain team consists of various foes of The Flash, including Captain Cold, Heat Wave and Weather Wizard. These and other villains can currently be seen on The CW’s The Flash, but with a Flash film set for a 2018 release, it would be surprising if at least one of them did not appear. Having Flash fight, say, Cold or Captain Boomerang – the latter is in the Suicide Squad movie – before tackling a bigger threat, such as the Reverse-Flash, would be ideal.

If I was in charge, I would introduce one or two of these in the first Flash movie, and add more as the series goes on. Then, for perhaps the third movie, the full team could assemble to take on the Scarlet Speedster. There is also the possibility for some of these characters to appear in a Suicide Squad sequel or two. The Flash has one of the best rogue galleries in comics, and it would wise to take advantage of that.

Darkseid

Finally, we have who could easily be the big bad of the entire DC Cinematic Universe. Darkseid is currently rumored to be the villain of 2019’s Justice League Part Two, following a tease of his arrival at the end of 2017’s Part One. However, it would be a shame if that was the only movie he appeared in. The mythology of Darkseid and Apokolips would be engrossing to see on film, and it is an obvious way to explore the cosmic side of the DCCU beyond the Justice League franchise.

As a villain who has frequently fought Superman, Darkseid would be a good choice for the main antagonist of a Man of Steel sequel. Another option is a Green Lantern film, which would pit the Corps against the forces of Apokolips in an intergalactic war. Heck, maybe they can spin off the New Gods into their own standalone film. There are plenty of options to utilize not only Darkseid, but other characters in the New Genesis/Apokolips mythos, helping the DC Cinematic Universe to truly stand out.

Honorable Mentions: Ra’s al Ghul, Brainiac, Metallo, Cheetah, Catwoman
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Which villains would you like to see recur throughout the DC Cinematic Universe?

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of WOBAM! Entertainment.