Dear Hollywood, please put Bruce Wayne's actual best villain in the next Batman movie
Heroes are only as good as their bad guys, and Batman's best bad guy hasn't been put into a movie yet.
It isn't exactly big news to anyone who has been keeping up with superhero movies lately that there is a bit of a villain problem.
Marvel, who reign supreme on the subgenre at the moment, have a weak hit rate when it comes to getting their bad guys (and bad gals) right: Thanos is obviously doing well, and then there is Loki, Killmonger, the Red Skull, and Vulture from Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Considering there have been 20 movies, that is a pretty weak showing for the baddies.
DC currently have an even worse score-cord with their latest batch. Zod from Man Of Steel would seem to be the obvious highlight, as the rest are a mix of straight-up bad (Doomsday in Batman V Superman, Steppenwolf in Justice League) to entirely forgettable (Did you remember Ares was in Wonder Woman? Because we didn't.) to a mix of both (Enchantress in Suicide Squad. Oh, and Incubus in Suicide Squad. OH! We almost forgot... The Joker in Suicide Squad).
Which is a real shame, because Batman is in DC, and Batman has the best baddies in the game.
Aside from The Joker, everyone is already aware of the likes of Catwoman, Bane, The Penguin, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Two Face, Ra's Al Guhl, Talia Al Guhl, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn, Hugo Strange, Killer Croc, we could go on and on.
How many other superheroes have lists of foes this memorable? Zero.
And yet, even with different directors, screenwriters, and approaches to the character over the years, the best and most interest Bruce Wayne villain has not yet been tackled.
We speak, in case you don't know, of Hush.
Hush first appeared in the Batman comics in December 2002, representing a major psychological shift in just how dark The Dark Knight tales can go.
Christopher Nolan attempted to shade in some of that darkness, but the biggest problem with Batman movies to date have been their own success. Two of the Batman movies made over a billion dollars each. The least profitable one is also the most twisted: Batman Returns.
The issue here is that Batman is a twisted story! A grown man dressing up as in a full-body bat-suit is a hair away from being fetish play. Batman is a mentally scarred vigilante and should be treated as such. He isn't here to save the world, he is here to punch other mentally scarred individuals in the face.
And it is tough to imagine a more scarred villain that Hush.
(Warning: some old school spoilers from this point on.)
There have been different ways the character and storyline were told over the years, but perhaps the greatest version of Hush was actually told in the Arkham video-game series.
The origins remain pretty similar - Thomas Elliott was named after Bruce Wayne's father, with both families very close, and Thomas and Bruce very good friends as children. However, Thomas was an apparent sociopath from a very young age, and attempted to kill his parents in a sabotaged car accident. Bruce's father saved Thomas's mother, meaning the inheritance did not go to the young boy, creating a vindictive grudge he would hold on to for decades.
Years later, Thomas Elliott had become a world-class surgeon and attempted to re-integrate himself into Bruce Wayne's life. Right around this time, several men in Gotham were going missing, only for their bodies to be found later, with parts of their faces removed.
Eventually, the plot was revealed that Thomas Elliott was killing men with similar facial features to Bruce Wayne, and constructing a new face to surgically replace his own. He would then attempt to destroy Bruce Wayne's life while pretending to be him, in revenge for what he perceived to be how the Wayne family had destroyed his.
Clip via Batman Arkham Videos
While we normally associate Batman with big, colourful bad guys and bad girls who want to either blow up Gotham, or... well, no, that is usually as far as their plans go.
Hush is more like something you'd see in a David Fincher-directed thriller. (Sidenote: please get David Fincher to direct this movie.)
We've already seen the comic book movies aimed at adults can both do well with critics and with audiences (Deadpool: 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, $783 million at the box office. Logan: 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, $619 million at the box office), and that was with "lesser known" characters.
If you go too big and loud on Batman, it fails (see: Batman & Robin, Batman V Superman), but there is no real limit to how dark you can take him. Unlike Superman, for whom grittiness and reality get lost in the mix of flying man-aliens and laser eyes, Batman can test the waters of violence and psychological horror.
The Joker is Batman's best villain, but Hush is the one who could rip apart Bruce Wayne's world.
With Ben Affleck apparently out of the picture from now on, and director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, War Of The Planet Of The Apes) currently working on a new standalone Batman movie while multiple Joker movies are in the works, this is the opportunity to re-invent. To reset.
After camp day-glo of Batman & Robin, we got smaller and realer Batman Begins.
After the OTT bombast of Justice League, we need something a little quieter.
We need some Hush.
Main image via DC Comics