Longtime comic book nerd Nicolas Cage is always game for starring in a superhero movie. Although he was in two Ghost Rider films and the first Kick-Ass movie, he never got to play the Man of Steel in the ill-fated Superman Lives way back in the ‘90s, which means he’s yet to be in a DC movie. Cage knows which new character he wants to play and he wants Warner Bros. to let him have a crack at it, pun intended.
At this year’s SXSW, Cage told IGN he was interested in playing Egghead in the sequel to this year’s The Batman. If you haven’t heard of the character, don’t worry about it. He’s an obscure villain created for the 1966 Batman TV series who has only shown up in a handful of comics since, almost invariably as an Easter egg (pun unintended this time). Egghead’s deal is that his head is unnaturally big because it housed a brain so big and an intellect so great a normal human skull couldn’t contain it. It also caused Egghead to somehow adopt a completely egg-centric supervillain lifestyle, from using egg-themed weapons, egg design motifs, and saying “eggs” instead of “ex-” (as in “eggs-actly”). He was memorably played—well, memorably if you ever watched the 50-plus-year-old show—by horror legend Vincent Price, who brought a debonair and cold detachment to the genius character.
“Debonair” and “detached” aren’t words usually used to describe latter-day Nic Cage performances, who’s mostly known for lunacy like The Wicker Man remake. However, if you’ve seen his eclectic slate of recent independent movies, you know he’s had a wide variety of great performances, including the upcoming The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, which has been incredibly well-reviewed so far. The man can act, is what I’m saying, and playing any Batman villain is well within his talents. And as he said in the interview, if he thinks he can make one of the Dark Knight’s goofiest rogues—who literally wielded “tear gas eggs” laid by chickens raised entirely on a diet of onions—terrifying, I believe him.
I also believe that Egghead wouldn’t be the worst idea for a foe in The Batman follow-up. While the Caped Crusader has plenty of smart foes, the Riddler was more clever than brilliant, and more of a Zodiac-style serial killer than a criminal mastermind. Since The Batman was the first Bat-movie to focus on the character’s detective skills in addition to having him beat up a bunch of people, pitting him against a straight-up genius would be thematically on-point for the rebooted franchise. Drop the egg puns and egg-tech, lose the comically oversized head, have someone make an aside that “he’s an evil genius, a real egghead,” and boom, you’re done.
Admittedly, I desperately want to see a Batman movie that goes beyond the A-list of Bat-foes. But I also desperately want to see a Batman movie that lightens up a little. One of the great things about this golden age of superhero movies is that there’s room for all sorts of interpretations of these heroes (well, at DC, at least), which is why we’re getting Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne in The Batman, while Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck will reportedly both reprise their roles as the Dark Knight in the upcoming Flash movie.
Maybe they’ll be less dour than in their original films, but I sort of doubt it. And that’s all fine, but imagine a Batman film that wasn’t completely grim and dark? Not a goofy, G-rated comedy like the TV series or The Lego Batman, but a movie that took the hero seriously without making him completely tortured. Where the villains have evil schemes but don’t end up with a body count in the double digits. Imagine a Batman film where he was dressed in the blue-and-gray costume he wore for the bulk of his comics career. How amazing would that be? A movie that was neither goofy nor grim, but just… fun?
Unfortunately, for all the work Warner Bros. has been willing to do to put multiple Batmen on-screen, I have a hard time imagining the studio is interested in striding that middle ground. Or interested in putting an actor with such a notorious reputation for hamming it up—even if he definitively has the range; seriously, go watch Pig—lest its movie be perceived as anything other than deadly serious. At the very least, I doubt WB would be willing to go beyond the A- or B-list of Batman’s rogues’ gallery due to fears that obscure villains like Egghead won’t attract mass audiences (and maximum box office).
The studio honestly might be right, but damn, I would love to see Nic Cage as Egghead in a big-budget Batman movie as much as the actor would love to be in it. But if Cage as Egghead won’t work, maybe we could cast Rami Malek as King Tut?
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