Gentleman Ghost has existed for decades in DC Comics, but has yet to be seen in a live action film. He deserves a film now more than ever.
Through numerous Batman film adaptations, the public has gotten a solid handling on some of the Caped Crusader’s biggest foes in DC Comics. However, one that they have yet to encounter is the Gentleman Ghost, whose absence from any DC film thus far is becoming more and more of a missed opportunity. With the newest DC film, The Suicide Squad, being unafraid to delve into some of the strangest creatures in the DC Universe, it is time that Gentleman Ghost also join the fray.
Gentleman Ghost is an older DC villain, having been around since 1947, but his character continues to be a dynamic part of the comics universe. Appearing as a well-dressed, headless specter in nineteenth century aristocratic clothing, Gentleman Ghost is from a delightfully weird and supernatural side of the DCU. Gentleman Ghost is an elusive villain, due to the fact that he can become intangible and invisible, while also being able to teleport and create weapons of his own. Given his membership on teams created by Amanda Waller, such as the Limbo Legion and the magic-based Suicide Squad Black, Gentleman Ghost already has a logical entry point into DC’s live action films. Previously, he has appeared in the animated series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Justice League Unlimited.
With next year’s film, The Batman appearing to take a more comics-accurate approach to his iconic rogues’ gallery, Gentleman Ghost provides an opportunity to give fans and the broader public something they have been denied until recently: a strange and lesser known supernatural villain. The Batman will feature foes such as the Riddler, Catwoman, and the Penguin, and while there isn’t anything inherently wrong with these villains, they are familiar characters that audiences have seen before. Thus far in the twenty-first century, Batman films have found a comfortable niche in the action crime genre, reflected in the types of villains he’s had to fight. But through a supernatural villain like Gentleman Ghost, another side of Batman’s comics could be explored for audiences onscreen, not only reinventing the character for the public, but also bringing new insight to what “comics-accurate” actually means.
A significant challenge for Batman in the comics is the fact that he is a non-powered human living in a world with gods, sorcerers, demons, aliens, metahumans, and other beings with natural powers. This has largely not been explored in DC’s films, save for the animated Justice League Dark, Batman v Superman, and Justice League. Batman’s dealing with only human enemies in his films reinforces a misleading characterization: that he is known only for punching people and being rich. Having him face off with a supernatural character like Gentleman Ghost would not only stay true to the diversity of foes present in his comics, but also explore his character’s greater meaning as a regular human forced to figure out ways to protect his city against the universe’s wildest creatures.
Like Batman, Gentleman Ghost has changed through time, but remains relevant to the state of the DC Universe. With his powers ranging from intangibility, teleportation, and growing into a giant monster that feeds off of fear, Gentleman Ghost would challenge Batman in a way that is yet to be seen in a live action film. The Suicide Squad gave many lesser-known DC villains split-second screen time, but perhaps it is time to give one of these villains the chance to go toe-to-toe with the world’s greatest detective.
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