A Clayface movie could be Warner-Discovery’s next standalone film if filmmaker Mike Flanagan has his way.
The Doctor Sleep director foresees bringing Batman’s gelatinous shapeshifting foe to life in a horror film approach. To that end he and Intrepid Studios have pitched this concept to DC Studio heads James Gunn and Peter Safran. At this time, there is no confirmation of either approval or rejection of the idea.
Flanagan is also best known to Netflix binge watchers as the mind behind Midnight Mass, The Haunting of Hill House, and The Haunting of Bly Manor.
Other than Clayface, Flanagan reportedly tossed other pitches for such horror-associated properties as Constantine. Regardless, there is much speculation as to how this project will fit in to DC Studios. Some sources claim it may be connnected to Matt Reeves’s sequel to The Batman. Others, however, contradict this belief with the possibility of Clayface being part of Gunn’s and Safran’s DC Gods and Monsters: Chapter One. As to how he would tackle the project, as revealed in a podcast last January, it would be a standalone “horror/thriller/tragedy.”
As a shapeshifting, malformed mutated human whose real identity has been lost forever, all three of those boxes are easily checked off.
The Clayface persona has been inhabited by many antagonists since The Golden Age of Comics, and has thus established a lengthy history. Created in 1941 by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the mantle of Clayface first belonged to Basil Karlo, modeled after silent film star Lon Chaney and Frankenstein actor Boris Karloff. This version merely disguised himself in his famous movie role of Clayface to seek revenge on both cast and crew remaking one of his old films without his involvement. The second Clayface was Matt Hagen, created in 1951 by Finger and Sheldon Moldoff. Hagen had been a treasure hunter who accidentally discovered a pool of plasma that made his skin malleable and granted him shapeshifting abilities whenever he bathed in it. After this version was killed in Crisis On Infinite Earth, Swamp Thing cocreator Len Wein and artist Marshall Rogers introduced a third Clayface. Instead of a shapeshifter like Hagen, Preston Payne was a scientist living with hyperpituitarism that sought to reverse-engineer Hagen’s plasma-fused blood and cure his deformity. Unfortunately he instead became deformed and in consistent physical pain that could only be stabilized through drawing out plasma from victims, reducing them to melted puddles. A fourth version was a woman named Sondra Fuller, who had a romantic relationship with Payne. In the 90s, things would come full circle as Karlo, the original Clayface, was reintroduced by injecting himself with blood samples from Payne and Fuller to become “the ultimate Clayface.” DC Rebirth saw a younger version of Karlo, whose path even saw him try to work alongside The Dark Knight and his team to redeem himself for his crimes.
Modern fans best remember the Matt Hagen version from his appearances in 1992’s Batman: The Animated Series, voiced by actor Ron Perlman. Instead of being a treasure hunter, however, elements of Karlo’s acting career were woven into his backstory. Disfigured in a car accident, Hagen is dependent upon a highly-addictive cream that enables him to reshape his face into not only his own, but others. When his luck runs out and he attempts to steal a large quantity from supplier Roland Dagget, Dagget’s men attempt to drown him with an overdose of the drug, transforming him into Clayface. A made-for-TV version appeared in 2004’s The Batman series as GCPD Detective Ethan Bennett, Bruce Wayne’s best friend from childhood, and yet pressured by his superiors to apprehend The Batman. Bennet is held hostage by The Joker, psychologically tortured, and accidentally inhales flakes of his volatile “Joker Putty.” This later turns his body grey and misshapen, but malleable at mental command. When Bennett eventually went on a redemptive path, that series also saw the mantle inhabited by down-and-out actor Basil Karlo, the first ever animated adaptation of the original. The Karlo version has also been featured prominently in Rocksteady Games’ Batman: Arkham series, voiced by Fred Tatasciore. The first live-action portrayal of Clayface was Cassius Payne – the son of Preston and Sondra in the comics – in the short-lived WB series Birds of Prey, played by Kirk Baltz. Though his backstory is not revealed, his relevance was that he was responsible for the murder of Selina Kyle at The Joker’s request. Another Clayface – this time Basil Karlo – appeared in the third season of the Fox TV Series Gotham. This incarnation, played by Brian McNanamon, was the result of Professor Hugo Strange’s Summerhill experiments, resurrected and empowered with shapeshifting powers through the properties of octopus DNA. Lastly, an original iteration of Clayface appears in Pennyworth, played by Lorraine Burroughs.
Official Source – Clayface Movie From Mike Flanagan Pitched To DC Warner Bros – Deadline