Friday, July 25, 2008

Mad Hatter


Jervis Tetch is really into Alice in Wonderland. Really into it. His backstory is a little muddled to me, but as of late he's portrayed as a guy who has somehow come up with mind control technology. In the animated series, he was a neuroscientist who invented it himself, in the comics I'm not clear on what his background is or how he acquired the tech (originally, in the 40s, he didn't even do the mind control stuff, and he was just a hat-themed villain). The catch with the mind control seems to be that the one doing the controlling gets some sort of mental feedback that drives him insane. So his fondness for Alice in Wonderland blossoms into a whole career as the Mad Hatter, building mind control hats for nefarious schemes. For most of his existence, he's been a jolly old crazy guy who just happens to be a criminal, but semi-recently (beginning here, I think), he's often been portrayed as a pedophile with a penchant for little blonde girls named Alice.

Pros: The pedophile angle has made him downright creepy, which elevates him above most other gimmicky villains.

Cons: He's still gimmicky. Mind control technology is a tough fit in the environment they've built the films in. Molesting kids might not fly in a PG-13 movie either.

How I'd do it: Ditch the mind control. Tetch is an escaped Arkham inmate who gets hold of some drugs tainted by the Scarecrow, and he goes a new level of nuts. He kidnaps or murders a couple little girls named Alice. The pedophilia is implied, but never stated outright (which might make it that much creepier). Maybe there's a police sketch of him in a hat, and the press label him the Mad Hatter. He can quote Alice in Wonderland and wear the hat just so fans will recognize him, but I really can't see the more overtly gimmicky elements of the character working.

Casting Guesses: Dustin Hoffman already looks like Jervis Tetch, so he's the obvious choice, and although he's not the actor he once was, I still think he can put together a really disturbing character. If not, someone unsettling, like Clint Howard, but not actually Clint Howard. Garret Dillahunt maybe?

Verdict: Possible, but doubtful. The version I threw together barely resembles the Mad Hatter of the comics, so announcing him as a central villain, then changing him so much might be disappointing to fans. If he appears, it might be hard to make it more than a cameo.

17 comments:

Kirk Warren said...

There's some potential for a Mad Hatter-like character, but he'll never hold up a movie on his own and he's no physical threat to Batman while lacking the insanity of a Joker to make up for it.

I wouldn't mind seeing a simple action sequence where he takes down a "tea party" at the start of the next movie where Mad Hatter is the throw away villain. They wouldn't have to explain anything and it would just serve as a quick James Bond opening action sequence.

TidalSpiral said...

Had a creepy idea for a scene myself... Batman is fighting crime while on the run from the law, looks into missing girls and tracks down Tetch. When he busts open the door to his home, it's all styled like Alice in Wonderland and the girl is tied to a chair. He has some short running away sequence, throwing objects in Batman's way and trying to get out but of course gets beat down or knocked down a flight of stairs. Batman frees the girl but looks in another room and we see two other girls, long dead and tied to identical chairs as the other one. Sort of implies the other bad things like you suggested and would be a short but very memorable appearance.

missy said...

I nominate Crispin Glover as the riddler for the next nolan batman sequel to the dark knight. he would be perfect for the role. he is serious and psycho and thats what batman villains all have in common. they are all psycho!

Chad said...
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Bill said...

I definitely think of it was a Batman Begins/Dark Knight series. There have been lots of different Batman movies, and through the comics lots of different interpretations of Batman and his villains. But with the success of The Dark Knight, I don't expect to see a campy Silver Age Batman, or gothic horror Batman in the next movie.

A said...

One of the Joker's minions was named Jervis Tetch in a shout out to the comics. I think it was the one that Dent pretended to threaten. That character becoming Mad Hatter seems unlikely, however, unless you ditch the mind control, which doesn't seem to be an option.

Bill said...

Are you sure about that? I don't remember anyone named Tetch, I don't see anyone on the imdb page, and googling doesn't really come up with anything.

Bill said...

And according to the script (fairly large PDF here) his name was Thomas Schiff. Some more googling shows a few people heard it as Jarvis Tetch, but the script clearly says Schiff.

Brian Shapiro said...
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Brian Shapiro said...
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Brian Shapiro said...

I think you have this wrong. I like what you call the 'gimmicky' aspects of the character, and if you appreciate Alice in Wonderland you appreciate that more.

Alice in Wonderland came out of an interest that came about in English literature dealing with the idea of 'Nonsense'. You see this also with Edward Lear who published a book of limericks called "The Book of Nonsense." The writers were questioning the rationality of language, society, and nature and exposing much of it as absurd.

The point with Jervich is that he no longer sees reality as reality anymore where right and wrong exist, but as absurd, and the only thing that matters anymore is his selfish lust and maintaining his delusionary world.

I could see Jervich as someone from a post-modern academic background, ie in literature or art, who begins to see more and more of his life as *performance art*, where everybody elses rules no longer apply---he is an *artist* and can make whatever world he wants for himself.

His first Alice can be one of his students.

He could also be taking drugs, and his 'mind control' could be replaced by a cult-like charismatic personality, getting others on hallucinogenic drugs (think MUSHROOMS, like in the story) and convincing them to do 'performance art' with him.

Anonymous said...

Next movie will probably end a trilogy, so the enemy has to be Batman's ultimate enemy in some sense. I'm thinking Bane or Hush, etc. But this guy, a pedophile obsessed with Lewis Carrol books, of all things, is certainly not the type.

Jason said...

I always felt the Mad Hatter was one of the most underrated villains out there. I DO see a lot of potential in him , as far as gimmicky lunatics go, and to be honest, the "Alice" gimmick REALLY isn't too big of a stretch when compared to other villains (*cough Maxie Zeus sucks).

What I find most interesting is how he is a character who can either be lot of fun, or incredibly dark.

I don't think he should be 4'5 tall (WAY too short), nor do I feel the pedophile angle is called for.

Anonymous said...

this may work for him. its sort of a huge departure from the original but it might work.

Tetch is younger, possibly in his early twenties (And if the paedophilia still wants to be alluded to - its said most of them are that age anyway). Or even teenage - as a way of saying he is 'old enough to know right and wrong, but he chooses not to be right', or a hatred for authority (Wrath reference).

He has no mind control tech, but he is in control of media corporations and advertising - Nolan could use that as a sort of statement on the influence of the media.

Make him almost as wealthy as Batman, giving him enough gadgets and weapons to hold his own with him (possibly themed like razor-edged card symbols or something.)

And the Alice references could be recited in sometimes gloating fashion, only sometimes. Not all the time - which would be cheesy.

Sounds a bit like Anarky and Black Mask, but it could work.

Anonymous said...

I nominate Martin short for mad hatter. I believe he played the role before for aiw but he can pull off a creepy character.

Anonymous said...

al pacino the mad hatter now thats what i wanna see.

Troy said...

AL PACINO MAD HATTER THAT WOULD BE KILLER!!