10 Villains Referenced In The DCEU But Never Actually Shown

The DC Extended Universe will soon be rebooted, but in its decade-long lifespan, it has adapted a wide selection of DC Comics characters, including ten villains who are only referenced rather than shown. Following the pop culture-redefining success of Marvel’s The Avengers, Warner Bros. and DC initiated their own shared universe with 2013’s Man of Steel, whose focus on Superman’s origin did not prevent it from alluding to a larger DC Universe surrounding Clark Kent. By the DCEU’s final installments before James Gunn and Peter Safran’s partial reboot, the franchise has acknowledged or at least referenced ten supervillains without visually depicting them.

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In many cases, these tangential supervillains of the old DCEU are acknowledged via easter eggs or throwaway lines of dialogue, demonstrating how much of the DC Comics universe is part of the film franchise. In other cases, the villains themselves debut in non-visual mediums, making them part of the DCEU but lacking live-action appearances. In any case, the DCEU is a vast universe with a plethora of iconic and obscure DC Comics characters, including 10 particular supervillains who are referenced without being directly shown.

Related: Every Confirmed Villain Ben Affleck’s Batman Has Fought In The DCEU

10 Riddler

The Riddler by Brian Bolland for Batman One Bad Day The Riddler

The Riddler is one of Batman’s most famous foes, with his keen intellect challenging the Batman family with lethal puzzles. The Riddler’s DCEU outfit appears in the Batcave in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and his signature question mark logo appears as graffiti during Batman and Superman’s showdown. The DCEU Riddler was intended to appear in live-action as one of Lex Luthor’s supervillain allies, using his brilliance to solve the Anti-Life Equation, but since the planned sequels to Zack Snyder’s Justice League were scrapped, The Riddler’s existence is only acknowledged through references.

9 Penguin

The Penguin points a gun in DC Comics.

Another A-list member of Batman’s iconic rogue’s gallery, The Penguin’s most direct reference is found in the theatrical cut of Justice League when Alfred jokingly refers to “exploding wind-up penguins” in a conversation with Bruce Wayne. It has become clear that the theatrical version of Justice League is non-canon, however, as other DCEU films directly reference the director’s cut, but this is not the only easter egg acknowledging The Penguin. In Daniel Wallace’s in-universe guidebook, Time Out Shortlist Gotham and Metropolis, the Iceberg Lounge is confirmed as a Gotham City locale, thus confirming that The Penguin is still part of the DCEU.

Related: Batman: Every Live-Action Penguin Actor (& How Their Versions Differ)

8 Mad Hatter

Mad Hatter DC Comics

A particularly dangerous Batman villain with a penchant for mind control, Mad Hatter is referenced in a throwaway line in Peacemaker. The titular antihero’s neighbor mentions several of Batman’s rogues, noting that a key difference between Batman and Peacemaker is that the former does not kill. Notably, Batman is shown killing criminals in Dawn of Justice, but the DCEU has made it clear that Batman followed a no-kill rule for most of his superhero career, only breaking it during the events of the 2016 film as a way of showing how close he came to becoming a villain. After the events of Dawn of Justice, Batman reinstated his no-kill rule.

7 Doctor Aesop

Batman and Doctor Aesop.

In the pre-Flashpoint DC Comics universe, Doctor Aesop was a Modern Age member of Batman’s rogue’s gallery. While Aesop is a crime boss in the comics, he is reimagined for the DCEU in the 2016 book Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Cross Fire, by Michael Kogge. The DCEU’s Doctor Aesop is a former WayneTech employee who specialized in robotics before he threatened to use his inventions against humanity, leading him to be committed to Arkham Asylum. While Doctor Aesop does play a direct role in a DCEU property, he does not appear in any live-action material.

6 Jackalope

Arkham Asylum in Gotham City

Another DCEU villain who appears in Cross Fire is Jackalope, who is also a former Wayne Enterprises employee who later was committed to the DCEU Arkham Asylum. Jackalope has a rabbit-like appearance and prosthetic horns he is compelled to always wear. The exact reasoning for Jackalope’s firing and later admittance to Arkham is unclear, but he eventually becomes a criminal ally to Doctor Aesop. Jackalope is, notably, an original villain created for the DCEU, but since his only appearance is in the novel Cross Fire, he, like Aesop, lacks any live-action DCEU appearances.

5 Carmine Falcone

Carmine Falcone in a dark room in Year One.

One of Gotham City’s most notorious crime bosses in the Batman comics mythos, Carmine Falcone has made numerous appearances in live-action Batman adaptations. Unsurprisingly, Falcone is acknowledged in the DCEU multiple times, with the first instances being in the Time Out Shortlist Gotham and Metropolis guidebook and 2016’s Suicide Squad. Falcone is also referenced in The Flash when his son wreaks havoc on Gotham in the film’s opening act.

4 Sofia Falcone-Gigante

Carmine Falcone talking to his daughter Sofia in Batman The Long Halloween.

Another famous Batman foe and member of the Falcone crime family, Sofia Falcone-Gigante is famous for her roles in the iconic Batman storylines Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory, by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Like her father, Carmine Falcone, Sofia is referenced in the Time Out Shortlist Gotham and Metropolis guidebook as the owner of the restaurant and nightclub Falcone’s. The club appears in Gotham’s cityscape in Suicide Squad, also indirectly referencing Sofia and the Falcone crime family.

3 Tony Gallo

The Utopia Casino in Man of Steel.

One of the many DC easter eggs in Man of Steel is the Utopia Casino, seen in Metropolis during General Zod and Superman’s melee in the film’s finale. In the DC Comics universe, the Utopia Casino is owned by Tony Gallo, a corrupt businessman with ties to organized crime. Gallo notably introduced Kryptonite to the Metropolis underworld in Modern Age Superman comics, but in the DCEU, Kryptonite was first weaponized by Lex Luthor, as seen in Dawn of Justice. Still, the indirect reference to Gallo via his casino in both Man of Steel and Time Out Shortlist foreshadows Kryptonite’s appearances in the DCEU.

2 Naeco

Naeco Trident reference in Black Adam - The Justice Society Files Hawkman.

Naeco is an obscure extraterrestrial enemy of Aquaman from DC Comics’ Silver Age. In the DCEU, Naeco appears to be a past enemy of the Justice Society of America, and is referenced in the Black Adam prequel comic, Black Adam – The Justice Society Files: Hawkman. While Naeco himself does not appear in the prequel comic, his uritrium trident does, with the weapon being confiscated by the JSA following Naeco’s defeat.

1 Reverse-Flash

Flashpoint-Reverse-Flash

Reverse-Flash, also known as Eobard Thawne, is Barry Allen’s greatest enemy and was predicted to appear in 2023’s The Flash. Reverse-Flash himself does not appear in the film, but he is visually referenced several times. Barry Allen’s younger counterpart is first shown wearing the yellow and red color scheme of Reverse-Flash and the villainous Dark Flash’s lightning, while usually purple, occasionally appears red, further referencing Reverse-Flash’s connection to the Negative Speed Force. The Flash’s director, Andy Muschietti, also confirms that Reverse-Flash, despite not appearing, is Nora Allen’s murderer, confirming that he is part of the old DC Extended Universe.

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