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How Can Clayface Possibly Translate to Live-Action?

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By Jitin Gambhir

Clayface Translate to Live-Action: Creating The Batman was a risky move, considering the character’s previous portrayals by Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder. However, the 2022 release of The Batman was a massive success, earning $365 million and widespread acclaim. Director Matt Reeves will helm the inevitable sequel, with rumors suggesting that the villain will be Clayface.

It’s understandable to question how Clayface could fit into the grounded universe established by The Batman. However, Reeves has proven his ability to make bold choices, and Robert Pattinson’s controversial casting as Bruce Wayne/Batman paid off in spades.

How Can Clayface Possibly Translate to Live-Action?

The Batman’s gritty depiction of Gotham and its corrupt police force set the tone for the film’s darker themes. Even the Riddler, who was killing people to expose the city’s villains, wasn’t a hero. Batman himself was the only character whose actions bordered on the insane, as his obsession to rid the city of its criminal element drove him to create his costume, tools, and gadgets.

If The Batman Part II follows the trajectory of the first film, Batman will be older, wiser, and grappling with the aftermath of a traumatic event. Clayface may be an actor, a Gotham native with a way of getting under Bruce Wayne’s skin. Drawing inspiration from Scott Snyder’s Nowhere Man, Clayface could steal Bruce’s identity and commit a series of murders. This would force Batman to think differently and showcase his detective skills, potentially even landing him in prison and bringing him into contact with the Joker.

Clayface doesn’t need to be supernatural to pose a threat to Batman. By exploiting his vulnerabilities, Clayface can challenge Batman in unexpected ways, ultimately setting the stage for his ultimate showdown with the Joker in the third film. With Reeves at the helm, there’s no doubt that The Batman Part II will continue to push boundaries and surprise audiences.

Making The Batman was a gamble. It had to follow Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder’s version of the character. However, it hit its mark with audiences, making the eventual sequel inevitable.

Director Matt Reeves will return to helm The Batman – Part II and so far, the rumors are that the next big bad will be Clayface. However, how can this villain possibly enter the live-action realm with audiences taking him seriously in this grounded universe?

When It Works, Make More

Matt Reeves
Variety

 

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Much like all things Batman, Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of the character was controversial. People weren’t sure how the guy from Twilight would be, much less how director Matt Reeves would handle this well-known character.

However, they hit it out of the park. The Batman opened in 2022 to high acclaim and earned $365 million. This put it among some of the top-grossing superhero debuts of all time. That means that Matt Reeves will most likely be around for a trilogy (studios love their trilogies), and every good trilogy needs a great midpoint. This second film will continue the dark tones of the first, with a younger Bruce Wayne than we’re used to, a decaying Gotham, and grounded villains with vendettas against the city, its raging underworld crime bosses, and its lone hero.

A clear synopsis has yet to be released, but all signs point to the character of Clayface as being the one who the Dark Knight will go up against next. It is an interesting choice and one that Reeves will need to explore in a way that fits his universe. But who is the character, what are his motives, and just how can they fit him into this seemingly grounded universe?

An Actor Turned To Goo

Clayface iterations Batman Pt 2
DC Comics

Though there are many iterations of Clayface in comics and television, The Batman – Part II may utilize a version of Basil Karlo. This character was the original Clayface and started life as an actor. He became disheartened and angry when he found that another actor would be taking one of his most coveted roles.

In his anger, he put on the costume of Clayface and began killing the stars of this new film until Batman stopped him. Later iterations could reform their bodies into any shape and even change their appearance to match those of others.

How Grounded Is The Batman?

Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne
Warner Bros. Pictures

Here’s the thing: The Batman dealt with a corrupt city that has been falling apart for decades. It showed the true underbelly of the police force and how the city was mired in its own criminal underworld. Even the character of the Riddler was killing people to prove a point about how awful the city had become.

He wasn’t a hero, but he was certainly attempting to show people who the villains were. By the end of the film, he realizes just how much he’s been misread and is left crazed and bereft. But from his plan to his costume, the entire thing had a very human aspect.

In the film, the only completely crazy piece is Batman himself. His costume, tools, gadgetsand vendetta are created because no normal person can handle the depth of terror in the city. But Bruce Wayne himself is young, has the means to go on a vigilante spree, and wants to clean up a city that is beyond repair.

How does this affect the character of Clayface? If the film follows the idea that Batman is attempting to clean up the city in the face of the first film, there might be a thread to pull. For the first film, Matt Reeves said that he wanted a personal narrative with a personal aspect. That is why we see just how deeply the Waynes and Gotham are intertwined only two years into Bruce’s self-appointed mission.

Therefore, if we continue the story on its natural course, Batman is now a bit older, a bit wiser, and has been through a traumatic and tumultuous event. It has set him on the path to justice and will continue to put him at odds with both the city he loves even as he attempts to reckon with his family’s shady past.

A Possible Plotline for Clayface

Robert-Pattinson-Batman
Warner Bros.

Clayface may still be an actor, most likely Gotham born and bred, with a way of getting to Bruce in a way that hits home even more than the Riddler. Much as the first movie took its cues from The Long Halloween (by Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb), this may take some ideas from Nowhere Man (written by Scott Snyder), wherein Clayface steals Bruce Wayne’s identity and commits a series of murders.

In The Batman Part – IIwe may find Basil Karlo as another person attempting to extort Gotham from the inside. In this case, he does not realize that Bruce Wayne is Batman. Karlo steals his identity and begins murdering important people close to the Wayne family, framing Bruce along the way.

Related: The Batman: What Is the Joker’s Role in the Sequel?

This would set up an interesting dynamic where Bruce must solve the case while also being arrested for the same crimes. It would force him to think differently, allowing the audience to see just how he becomes the world’s greatest detective and may even land him in prison for a time. If it does, it would be another great excuse for him to interact with the Joker in the same way he did during the first film.

If the Riddler was Batman’s trial by fire, Clayface is his opportunity to near-drown in a situation that involves both of his identities. It also puts him in the room with the Joker, the man who will inevitably be his final villain in the third movie.

Clayface does not need to be a supernatural force. He simply needs to be able to get to Batman through the spot he feels most vulnerable, his Bruce Wayne identity.

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