Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Black Mask


Black Mask is one of the many Batman villains who has a sort of anti-Batman origin. Roman Sionis' parents were wealthy jerks who eventually drove their son to kill them both. He took over the family business and ran it into the ground, then turned to a life of crime only to discover that he was quite good at it. After running a crime syndicate with a mask on, he was disfigured in a fire, and his Red Skull ripoff appearance became permanent. From No Man's Land to War Games, two of the biggest Batman events of the past decade, Black Mask was a major player in the comics (probably most notable for brutally killing Spoiler (sort of)), but for the past couple years he's been more involved in Catwoman's solo series. See wikipedia for more.

Pros: A non-superpowered villain who's basically just a meaner version of a traditional mob boss, Black Mask could fit in the Batman film universe without much change to his origin. Though derivative of a more famous Captain America villain, the black skull is a cool visual.

Cons: His origin story isn't terribly interesting. And part of The Joker's story in The Dark Knight was offering his services as a crazy killer to the mob, which is along the lines of what Black Mask would do. So it might be too similar to do in back-to-back movies.

How I'd do it: Not much would really have to be altered. Flashbacks to Roman and Bruce as kids (hopefully Linus Roache wouldn't be too busy with his TV gigs to reprise his Thomas Wayne role), Roman's parents are cruel, he grows up to be a criminal, disfiguring accident brings on the Black Mask thing, he does something horribly sadistic, then Batman kicks his ass. The End.

Casting Guesses: Being able to do crazy eyes is a must, since the Black Mask look doesn't give an actor much to work with but his eyes. James Callis is wonderfully crazy on Battlestar Galactica, but I've never actually heard him do an American accent. Jason Dohring might be too young to convincingly play a childhood friend of Christian Bale's, but he'd be a good fit for the part. I'm out of ideas though. Help me out in the comments.

Verdict: Possible, but not very likely. Black Mask, unlike Calendar Man, fits in the Batman Begins/The Dark Knight environment, but he just isn't that interesting.

20 comments:

niteowl said...

i think the possibility of black mask is pretty good. I heard that the character was originally written in the dark knight but was taken out during production. i think he should be played by the bank manager (William Fichtner) in the beginning of Dark Knight. "What doesn't kill you only makes you stranger". it doesn't fit the original genesis of Black Mask but it would be cool.

thinkernik said...

Black Mask would be a perfect fit. Clive Owen should play him.

http://thinkernik.blogspot.com/2008/11/poster-post-2.html

Greenlite said...

to thinkernik: I was thinking of Clive too!

Anyway, Good article, I'd have the Riddler as the mastermind leading the bat-hunt(while using the public pressure to knock off Gordon & enjoying being treated like a rockstar) and BLACK MASK plays the mean tiger destroying other headless gangs and helping the Riddler hunting down bat while the police pretend not seeing his drug deals.

As for the mask I'd use a combination of Michael Myers/Jason and ancient masks seeing in Gladiator or Kingdom of Heaven.

Xo-o said...

-_- in the new batman movie (comes out in the cinemas in 2011 i think) are called the dark knight returns... and the villians are... The penquin and the riddler...

Anonymous said...

Black Mask is almost perfect choice, but not my favourite villain. The character's themes are masks and their duality. Well, those have been already explored with Scarecrow and Batman himself.
If Mask is in it, I'd prefer if he was the mob boss side villain this time, like Falcone and Maroni. If he was the main villain, the only way to top the Joker with him would be to make him really violent and dark. That's a little problem however since they'll probably want to make the movie PG-13.

Anonymous said...

Black Mask is an absolute perfect fit for Nolan's Batman movies. There's nothing terribly unrealistic, he's menacing, and he ties in with the mob. Also, he's never really appeared outside the comic books so there's massive potential.

I disagree that he's uninteresting. In fact, I believe he's one of Batman's most underrated villains.

Bill said...

Black Mask was actually in the recent-ish The Batman cartoons, voiced by James Remar.

But I get what you mean, he's basically an unknown to the non-comics world. I just think he's... a mix of the Joker and a mob boss, which is territory already covered in the movies.

Anonymous said...

In reality though, the mob is going to be a central plot point in the next Batman film whether we want it to be ot not. Black Mask makes a whole lot morer sense considering that the mob is in ruins at the end of The Dark Knight.

Anonymous said...

The Black Mask would be a perfect fit for Nolan's Batman universe. Here's what I picture...The Black Mask would be a ruthless and hostile organized crime leader who has a deep hatred for Bruce Wayne. Roman Sionis develops this hatred after Wayne Enterprises buys out Sionis' company because of his failure as a corporate businessman. Therefore, he becomes an underground crime lord, probably in narcotics smuggling/dealing to show the connection between business and crime, to prove that he IS capable of being a successful leader. I'm picturing him as a sort of Frank Lucas (from American Gangster)/Dalton Russell (from Inside Man) character. And I see Ethan Hawke playing him. I mean think about it, if you've seen him in "Taking Lives" then you know he can play secretly demented and his role in the 2000 film "Hamlet" is a bit similar to Roman Sionis situation (a rich kid who is angered at a mega-corporation). Also, Hawke and Bale are about the same age so flashbacks of them as kids would be more believable. So that's my vision, any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Hell he would work. Black Mask is realistic, and a great secondary villain that would fit 100% into the Nolan films. And he's pretty believable, and not too farfetched

Anonymous said...

You know with a little change in character this could actually work. In my opinion someone like Nicholas Cage, who played Castor Troy in Face Off could pull it off easily. Flashbacks could be shown of his childhood and rather than working with the mob, he and his gang could be terrorists working for a corrupt George Bush like mayor played by Billy Bob Thornton, who villifies Batman in the press as a vigilante. As a reward the mayor could allow the Black Mask to have free pickings on Bruce Wayne. Heck you could even bring harvey dent into the equation and join the black mask only for him to snap to his senses at the end the movie with a brutal dark and scary shoot out between the 2.

Anonymous said...

Red Skull is now confirmed to be in the Captain America movie, so I think we can forget Black Mask being in any Batman movie for a while. Mask seems awful lot like a Red Skull ripoff, you know.

Anonymous said...

If you're going to cover Black Mask, we have to remember the point as a mob boss. The gangs, if everyone recalls The Dark Knight, lost their leadership when all of their leaders were put away on fraud. Black Mask comes, unites the gang, and wages unholy hell on Gotham. It's perfectly usable.

Anonymous said...

The mask doesn't have to be skull-like. I think he would fit very well. As long as he is very evil and depraved.

Anonymous said...

If some villain is worse than Joker, it's definitely Black Mask. (and by worse I mean evil and dangerous)

I've started to see his masked identity as a sort of a personification of Gotham, if you understand what I mean. He symbolizes everything that's wrong with the city, the corruption, the depravity, crime and despair, violence and death. Everything Bruce originally set out to fight against.

If he was interpreted like this, he would certainly top The Joker and be Batman's worst enemy.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see an inversion of the interrogation scene, so that Black Mask is beating Batman up. Of course it would end with him trying to remove the cowl and getting electrocuted or whatever.

Anonymous said...

It's strange that many have said Mask would be boring and unoriginal, because I've been searching for months for similar movie characters without finding any. Could someone give some examples?

Anonymous said...

The Black Mask would be Cool after all since The Mob\Marfia went crashing down He could recoop the finances with presumably with what remains of his inheritance then fill the roles of the mobsters with his gang The False Face Society and any still surviving mobsters and raise a war on Gotham meanwhile The Riddler is Commiting both Cyber Terrorism and Silent Serial killings at different times during the day and night including Bank Robbings as well and leaving behind Riddles of Bruce Wanye's sercret Id and playing cards of Question marks. The Cast Choices for The Black Mask are Nicolas Cage just watch Face Off and Clive Owen Just Watch Inside Man and Last but not lease Ray Liotta Just Watch Both Date Night and Wild Hogs.

Anonymous said...

The Black Mask aka Roman Sionis will the best villain for dark knight rises. His back story is very good, if you think about he is the opposite to Bruce Wayne aka Batman. They both come from a wealthy family and parents died when they were young, but Roman killed his parents and Bruce blames his self for his parents death. Roman Sonis inherited the family fortune and eventually ruined Janus Cosmetics, but Bruce Wayne made is company work. I believe Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play the part and play it well. But he needs to be violent and sadistic, the joker times a hundred.

Anonymous said...

I think Black Mask is a great idea. I was thinking someone like Jason Isaacs or Joaquin Phoenix would be a nice fit.