The success of any hero depends on the villain he faces -- hence a lot of the talk about Heath Ledger's Joker. So who could be next to step into the "Batman" films to face off against the Caped Crusader? "The Dark Knight" cast and crew had their suggestions, even characters they'd like to play themselves, but we thought we'd check in with some folks who actually make it their business to write Batman stories, and might be able to dig a little deeper into the rogue's gallery. Here's what they -- and a few other comics folks -- suggest:
Brad Meltzer (“Identity Crisis”): "The reason the Joker worked is because he's insane, and Batman is also crazy. You need someone who is more than evil. Anyone who saw Tommy Lee Jones as the cackling lunatic knows that."
Grant Morrison (“Arkham Asylum”): "Ideally, you want another movie with Heath. Without him, Catwoman, but really think that one through. Give her a new take."
Mark Waid (“Infinite Crisis”): "Catwoman needs to be part of it, that's even more obvious now that he's living on the other side of life. What a great parallel to Batman's situation as a fugitive. But it would have to be something we haven't seen before. The jewel thief thing was interesting, but it's hard to relate to a jewel thief. It's even harder to relate to a prostitute.
"It would be fun to see them put a spin on a less obvious one like they did with Ra's Al Ghul. I'd be hankering for the Mad Hatter. Granted, crimes about hats are a specialized field, but if you take it back to 'Alice in Wonderland,' and give it a weird, almost psychedelic worldview from that, it could be cool in their hands."
Tim Sale (“Batman: The Long Halloween”): "[Catwoman]'s such a powerful and sexual and strong woman, and I like that. But god, I hope not as Frank Miller's version of her as a prostitute. That's the worst part of 'Year One.' That's just Frank trying to be outrageous. It didn't ring remotely true to me."
Steve Niles (“30 Days of Night”): "I'd like to see Catwoman over the Penguin. Not as a prostitute, and not as the Tim Burton version -- what, cats sniffed her back to life? -- but perhaps the Adam Hughes design, with the goggles. That's very realistic. I can imagine her in street clothes that are designed just right. I also like the idea of them creating villains just for the movies."
Jeph Loeb (“Batman: The Long Halloween”): "There's a great story to be told of the triangle between Bruce/Batman and Selena/Catwoman. I love writing her. She plays with him like a ball of yarn. She's the only one that makes him all rigid when he talks to her."
Claudio Sanchez (“The Amory Wars”): "I would pick the Calendar Man (Julian Gregory Day). 'Long Halloween' and 'Dark Victory' happen to be my favorite collections. He's not an iconic character, but he means a lot to me. I'm called the Calender Man on the Coheed and Cambria tour bus, because I'm always on time. But he's more like a Hannibal Lector figure."
Geoff Johns (“Green Lantern: Rebirth”): "At one point, Batman had a therapist, Hugo Strange, who was actually a great villain."
Dan DiDio (Executive Editor, DC Comics): "When Hugo Strange found out about Batman's identity through analysis, he drugs him and takes over his identity. But realistically, there are limits to what villains can play. You can't have Killer Croc ..."
Johns: "… unless maybe he just has a skin condition? It would be weird, though. Riddler could work as well."
DiDio: "Characters like Catwoman, Riddler, and Hugo Strange make sense, because they're counterpoints to Batman's psychosis and fears. The Joker creates chaos. Two-Face shows the duality of the Batman-Bruce Wayne relationship, and how Batman's found peace with that duality. Batman searches for answers, and the Riddler has questions. Batman is driven, and Catwoman is sexual. They play well against each other and challenge aspects of what makes a hero."
The pros have weighed in, now it's your turn! Who do YOU think would be a good match for Bats?