Birds of Prey has their villain, and he’s become one of the top-tier rogues in Batman’s gallery. Part-mobster, part-supervillain, he’s been featured in comics, cartoons, and video games, but now Black Mask makes his live-action debut as he goes toe-to-toe with the Birds of Prey. Created in 1985, not many may be familiar with Black Mask despite his recent surge in popularity. What makes Black Mask a contender among the likes of The Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, and Riddler? NerdBastard’s gives an overview of who Black Mask is and what to expect from the masked gangster and the A-List actor cast in the Birds of Prey movie.
Born Roman Sionis to wealthy and self-absorbed parents, Roman’s childhood was filled with neglect. His parents forced him to hide every embarrassing incident that happened to him, in fear for their social standing. They also forced him to befriend the Wayne’s boy, Bruce, to help maintain their standing.
Roman joined his father’s company, Janus Cosmetics, right out of high school and immediately fell in love with working-class model Circe. His parents tried to force him to break it off with Circe, but Roman responded by burning down their mansion and killing both his parents who were inside. Inheriting everything, Roman quickly drove his father’s company into the ground. After a colossal failure with a new product that disfigured hundreds of women, Circe, then Roman’s fiancee, broke up with him in a public display.
Bruce Wayne offered to bail out Janus on the condition that Roman stepped down and allowed his friend to appoint a Board of Directors. Shamed, humiliated and enraged, Roman tried to break into his parent’s crypt. (Naturally. What else do you do in that situation?) As he approached the door Roman was struck with lightning and blasted through the door. Taking it as a sign of rebirth, Roman smashed his father’s ebony casket and used the pieces to carve a mask in the shape of a skull, then becoming Black Mask.
Black Mask quickly rose as a crime lord in Gotham, but his targets were predictable once Bruce Wayne, now Batman, deduced his identity. In a struggle with Batman and Robin (Jason Todd), Black Mask set fire to toys in his old room. Trying to run, Batman tripped Black Mask and Black Mask landed face first into the pile of burning toys. Though the Dynamic Duo was able to save him, the mask was burned into Roman’s face.
With the events of The New-52, Roman’s mask gives him mind-control abilities. These abilities extend to the masks he forces his lackies to wear, placing them entirely under his control.
One of the best stories Black Mask took part in is the animated feature Under The Red Hood. Jason Todd returns, donning the Red Hood name, seeking to take over crime in Gotham, starting with Black Mask’s territory and business. Black Mask was used to perfect effect in Under The Red Hood, highlighting the crime lord’s volatile nature and penchant for over-reacting with violence.
Ewan McGregor has been cast as Black Mask, his acting chops are sure to bring the character to the level he needs to be to present the correct level of threat to the Bird of Prey. The Star Wars star could bring the emotion to the character even through the mask.
Is McGregor the right fit for Black Mask? Do you think Black Mask is the right villain for Harley Quinn, Black Canary, and Huntress? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!