Ewan McGregor might not be the first actor who comes to mind for a fearsome crime lord. But behind a black mask, maybe he’ll be more believable as a sadistic Gotham City gangster who enjoys disfiguring and torturing his victims.
As first reported by The Wrap’s Umberto Gonzalez, McGregor has been cast as the main bad guy for the Birds of Prey film. He’ll play Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask, who murdered his parents to take over their cosmetics company but squandered that fortune with poor business decisions. When his company went under, Sionis blames Gotham City high society — including Bruce Wayne — for his downfall, dons a mask made from the wood of his father’s casket and puts together a gang of criminals called The False Face Society.
But this is the Birds of Prey movie, not the next Batman flick. And with the introduction of Huntress (to be played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) alongside Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, it doesn’t seem like there will be time for a bad guy’s origin story. Yet maybe that’s all somehow tied together.
Black Mask has become a prominent member of Batman’s rogues gallery since his introduction in 1985. He’s been notably featured in the Batman: Arkham Origins video game, in addition to animated series like The Batman and The Brave and the Bold, and animated films like Under the Red Hood and Bad Blood. (I like the ebony wood-carved mask, rather than the skull but that appears to be well-established.)
He’s a good choice for a movie villain that isn’t from the familiar collection of the Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Mr. Freeze. (Maybe we should include Bane and Ra’s Al Ghul in there too.)
McGregor is a curious pick since he doesn’t typically play an outright bad guy (though he has played a criminal, co-starring with Titans’ Brenton Thwaites in Son of a Gun). But Birds of Prey is apparently been looking for a somewhat comedic presence who can maybe go unhinged. Previous actors attached in rumors to the Black Mask role were Sharlto Copley and Sam Rockwell.
But according to director Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs), the Birds of Prey script (written by Christina Hodson, who’s also writing a Batgirl movie for DC) has a lot of dark humor to it. The movie is also going to be rated R, which could indicate a harder edge or pushing the violence and language as the two Deadpool movies have.
Birds of Prey is set to hit theaters on Feb. 7. 2020. As it stands, the movie will follow Aquaman, Shazam, and Joker on the DC Films release schedule.