Every superhero needs a good nemesis, and the upcoming slate of DC Extended Universe movies has a tantalizing mix of villains – some confirmed and some merely rumored. The Batman is the next release on the DC slate and it will be followed by the Dawyne Johnson-led Black Adam and The Flash movie, as well as the adjacent sequel Shazam! Fury of the Gods, which is slated for a 2023 release. The King of Atlantis is also set to return in Aquaman 2.
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy left a lot for DC movies to live up to. Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as the Joker remains iconic, and Tom Hardy’s Bane in The Dark Knight Rises is one of the most quoted villains of the last decade. Not counting Joaquin Phoenix’s (also Oscar-winning) Joker, who was the star of his own solo movie, the DCEU has yet to deliver a supervillain that really wows audiences. Instead, its superheroes have largely faced off against CGI threats like Doomsday and Steppenwolf, and forgettable iterations of characters like Ocean Master and Ares.
That means that the crown for the DCEU’s greatest villain is within reach for the upcoming line-up of bad guys. Here are all the villains confirmed for the DCEU movies on the way – as well as villains that are rumored or likely to appear in each respective film.
The main villain of The Batman will be the Riddler, with Paul Dano playing the master of tricks and puzzles. So far all we’ve seen of Edward Nashton in the trailer is a man wearing a heavy coat, thick glasses and a masked face, but he makes his presence felt by committing grisly murders and delivering riddles that target Batman. Directed by Matt Reeves, The Batman doesn’t appear to be in any way connected to other DCEU movies, but instead will eschew world-ending alien threats in favor of a street-level detective story about a serial killer, featuring a younger Batman (played by Robert Pattinson) in the second year of being a vigilante. Since the killer’s face isn’t shown and he certainly doesn’t fit typical portrayals of the Riddler, there has been speculation that the masked assailant is actually Hush, being used by the Riddler as a proxy.
Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a Penguin will be a secondary antagonist in The Batman, played by Colin Farrell under a layer of prosthetics and make-up that renders him almost unrecognizable. Farrell has said that he doesn’t have a major role in The Batman, teasing, “I am not all over it by any means. But there are a couple of tasty scenes I have in it.” It’s possible that this movie could be setting him up to return as the main villain in a future sequel.
Mobster Carmine Falcone is a major part of Gotham City’s criminal tapestry in the comics. Last seen on the big screen in Batman Begins, where he was played by Tom Wilkinson, Falcone will return in The Batman with John Turturro in the role. Turturro was cagey about his role in the film when speaking to Inquirer, but he did confirm, “I’m playing the bad guy.” Like Penguin, Carmine Falcone probably won’t play a major role in The Batman, but his presence is a further sign of how the movie is getting right down into Gotham City’s sewers and dealing with common organized crime rather than superpowered villainy.
Peter Sarsgaard was cast in an undisclosed role in Matt Reeves’ The Batman, but there is speculation that the actor was cast to play none other than Harvey Dent, a district attorney who becomes the villain Two-Face. Reports of Sarsgaard’s casting suggested he would be playing a DA (which would be in line with Two-Face) or a corrupt cop. The former would be a more obvious choice and he’d be joining a multitude of other famous Batman if the speculation turns out to be true.
Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam probably won’t be an outright villain, since he’ll be starring in his own movie before crossing paths with his arch-nemesis, Shazam. Formerly known as Teth-Adam, Black Adam gained the power of SHAZAM before Billy Batson had it, but was defeated and imprisoned by the Wizard. Black Adam has been both a superhero and a supervillain in DC Comics, but for his solo movie it’s expected that he’ll embrace an antihero role somewhere in the middle.
While Black Adam is typically the villain for Shazam, someone would have to play the villain to Black Adam in his titular movie. That person is none other than Marwan Kenzari, whose casting was confirmed in February 2021. While it was unclear at first who the actor would play, it has since been confirmed that Kenzari will portray Black Adam’s primary antagonist. According to reports by Illuminerdi, The Old Guard and Aladdin star will portray Ishmael Gregor (aka, Sabbac). In the comics, this iteration of Sabbac is a New York City mob boss who sacrifices a lot of people to obtain his power before he unleashes a horde of demons on the world.
It’s been confirmed that Black Adam will feature Intergang, a group of criminals who first faced off against Superman in the comics. They have crossed paths with Black Adam in a small capacity when they attempted to strike a deal with him in connection with their smuggling. In Black Adam, Sarah Shahi’s Adrianna will be a resistance fighter against Intergang, which suggests their roles as villains will be expanded.
Those familiar with the Flashpoint storyline knows Eobard Thawne (aka, Reverse-Flash), Barry Allen’s most famous nemesis, is crucial to the storyline. While Reverse-Flash hasn’t been officially confirmed or cast in The Flash movie, it would be very surprising if he didn’t figure into the story at all. The Flash will introduce the multiverse and will see the return of Michael Keaton’s Batman. While it’s been confirmed that Reverse-Flash won’t be the main villain of the long-delayed film, it’s still possible he will at least make an appearance.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta was introduced as a secondary antagonist in Aquaman, with clear set-up for him to return as a greater threat in a sequel. Speaking to EW, Abdul-Mateen confirmed he’ll reprise the role. “Black Manta will be back – I feel confident in saying that,” the actor said. “I’m excited to step into that world again and cause some more trouble. I really want to add more personality and more character to David Cane and flesh him out in Aquaman 2 and give him more of a journey.” It definitely sounds like he’s expected to have much more screen time in the sequel, which makes sense given that Abdul-Mateen’s star has risen since he appeared in Aquaman, with leading roles in Watchmen and Candyman.
Black Manta isn’t the only villain returning for Aquaman 2, though it sounds like Patrick Wilson’s Ocean Master will be stepping back from his role as the main antagonist in the first movie. Wilson has confirmed that he’ll be back for the sequel, saying, “You can’t kill him. He’s too important to [Arthur’s] journey … he’s a foil to [his character]. He’s not gonna be a main villain in another movie.” It’s possible that, with Arthur Curry now crowned as the King of Atlantis and Ocean Master arrested, Arthur will be forced into a reluctant alliance with his half-brother, in order to defeat the greater threat of Black Manta.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is still a couple of years away, but the first movie’s post-credits scene clearly set up Mister Mind as one of the next villains that Billy Batson and his super-family will have to face. After Sivana is imprisoned and ends up frantically scrawling symbols all over his cell in an effort to create a doorway that will let him escape, he finds himself mocked by a large caterpillar with a electronic voice box. When Sivana exclaims, “What in God’s name…?” the caterpillar replies, “I named the gods, not the other way around.” Assuming that Fury of the Gods doesn’t completely ignore the post-credits scene, this hyper-intelligent alien bug could be a major nemesis in the upcoming sequel.
Mark Strong confirmed he wouldn’t return as Sivana in Shazam: Fury of the Gods, but he will have two replacement villains to fill his spot. The first is Helen Mirren’s Hespera, the daughter of the god Atlas. There isn’t much to be gleaned about Hespera and what she will be up to in the sequel since there is no comics equivalent for her character. However, she is indeed confirmed as the villain and will surely be stirring up some trouble for the titular hero as one can assume he’s angered them in some way.
Joining Helen Mirren is Lucy Liu, who was cast as the villain Kalypso in Shazam: Fury of the Gods. Kalypso is also a daughter of Atlas and the sister of Hespera. Together, fans can expect them to plot and scheme against Shazam and his allies. Details of Kalypso’s role are still under wraps and there isn’t a comics counterpart for the character, which means there might be a bit more freedom regarding their portrayals and plans.
Batman’s greatest enemy got his own solo movie last year. Joker, directed by Todd Phillips, proved powerful enough to break through the Academy’s built-in bias against comic book movies and score two Oscar wins and nine nominations. More importantly for Warner Bros., it grossed more than $1 billion worldwide – an incredible feat for an R-rated movie. Though it was originally intended as a standalone story, a sequel might be in the works with a script reportedly being written by Phillips. If it’s made official, the sequel will likely see the Crown Prince of Crime back in the action as one of the key villains in the DC Extended Universe.