I think the question that the next Batman franchise must answer is what it can show the audience that it has not previously seen. The temptation may be to answer that in one of two ways: either importing as many new characters as possible, or by dispensing with the cerebral tone of the previous trilogy and opting for the pop-corny revelry of the Marvel films. I think an alternative is a shift of perspective, with the theme of each film built more squarely around its villain(s). This does not mean that Batman's role should be sidelined, nor does it mean that his adversary should win the Battle of the Screen Time. What I mean is that the tone and appearance of the film should flow inseparably from the enemy that Batman faces. For someone like The Penguin and Mr Freeze, an icy theme beckons, which is part of the reason I think they would compliment each other well. This would present Gotham through a different prism. But where does a city feel unlike a city? If you live and work in a city, which parts of it make you feel as if you have been transported? For me, a city's green spaces are like an alien, fertile world encroaching on concrete and steel. The light and air in them is different. And they are seductive. Children and young lovers go to parks to escape their parents, workers go to parks to escape their jobs for a while, and often the homeless treat the same spaces as places of shelter and rest. A city's green spaces are like little oasis from another world. Where else might be see Batman fight a hidden enemy, in a literal urban jungle? People disappear in these places. What if they came under one person's control? Poison Ivy, Earth Goddess Poison Ivy is obviously the character most able to be the centre of a conflict between these two worlds. Her longstanding status as a radical environmentalist is exacerbated in Gotham, which is a nightmarish reflection of the barbarity and ugliness of modern industrial architecture and urbanised life. If Ivy proclaimed herself the ruler and defender of the natural world against the world of steel and concrete, how many might opt to join her in her cool, lush oasis? Those who have been broken and rejected by the carnivorous life of Gotham City- from abused children and battered wives to ruined businesspeople who would otherwise be standing on a ledge- might side with this radical new natural world against the forces of modernity. Whether or not this Poison Ivy would have a mystical control over the flora itself, her power would be drawn from the fact that her followers were willing to believe that this was the case. This image, which looks unexpectedly explicit, is from a Renaissance painting depicting the adoration of Venus: There is something about the visual here which I think is quite powerful: the other subjects are in what looks like a secret garden, the power within which is this figure of a woman. In a Gothamite context, this might seem quite subversive of the industrial and masculine power structure of the world outside. Everything about the Ivy's little Queendom would represent the alternative. Let it all go, abandon your hellish city, enter the garden and accept this magnificent woman as your goddess and protector. Everything will be better. Poison Ivy, Sex Goddess (Credit to 'Ssandulak' for that provocative image). The flipside of this, of course, is Ivy's natural power as an attractive woman. It is exaggerated to an almost mythic level: her pheromones leave people in a trance, while her kiss is irresistible and deadly. Is this magic, science or nature? The important point is its consequences: her acolytes are addicted to her, willing to lay down their lives for her survival. The surface of her pearl-white skin is softer than any of Batman's enemies, but he must wade through an army of innocents to break it. And how could he? With the loss of his mother at a tender age, and the rejection of the distractions presented to his mission by women, Bruce Wayne as an adult heterosexual male is likely to be deeply conflicted in his dealings with a villainess like Ivy. We already know that he always lets Catwoman get away. Can he really undo all the good that she seems to have done, batter her disciples and bruise her skin? Poison Ivy's seductive femininity may pose a far greater threat to Batman than the anarchic violence of The Joker or the ingenious plotting of Ra's al Ghul. What if Batman came under her power? The image of him as her Dark Knight, defending her leafy throne, would be a powerful one. Poison Ivy, Matriach One of the best genre movies in the last few years, in my opinion, was Dredd. Part of its effectiveness resulted from the ultimate evil being represented by a woman, "Ma Ma". She held the most violent and animalistic of thugs under her complete control, by her coldness and vengefulness. I can imagine Ivy exuding just the same fear in those who would be her enemies. She would sit at the centre of her green empire, perhaps on a lagoon like Boticelli's Venus, dispensing reward and punishment with equal dispassion. She would seem like a loving mother to her followers and a she-daemon to her enemies. What matters to Ivy is the natural harmony and fertility of the garden that blooms around her, and will spread from her throughout the world. Garden of Death, House of Glass I believe such scenarios can provide very strong visuals. An audience would sense the trepidation with which Batman might enter her lair in the end, and the likelihood that he will not leave unchanged. Ivy's Queendom is not formed from the familiar elements of moonlit rooftops and empty backstreets in the urban glare. It is made of dark jungles, dense woods, and deep swamps. The vines that trail over him are scented but venomous. The leaves sway and sigh, whether against unknown wild beasts or from their own malevolent intelligence, he doesn't know. Deep in the interior, he thinks he can hear the beating of drums. Are they really citizens of Gotham, dancing crazily under torches lit with green flame? What is mounted on those poles? The horror! Who's Our Girl? It is pretty difficult to equate a living mortal with someone who tends to be written as a force of nature like Ivy. She has to be seductive, deadly, deceptive and passionate, while maintaining an exterior calm and as cool as an unrippled pool. Few actresses spring to mind, but one, for me, just feels right: young Gemma Arterton. Anyway, just some thoughts- I would love to hear yours!