The Dark Knight Rises managed to pack in a cheeky reference to Clayface — specifically, his roots in Batman: The Animated Series. Christopher Nolan’s iconic trilogy is packed with Easter eggs referencing Batman in various forms. Villains, locations and events ripped straight from the pages of the comics, or in this case, from the television screen, were all fair game for Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. In this particular instance, the film in question makes mention of one of the Batman’s most interesting foes: Clayface.

Clayface was first introduced to DC comics way back in June of 1940, and from there he has grown in not only physical stature but in terms of his characterization as well. Not as noteworthy as Two-Face or Joker, Clayface has come into his own as a villain over the years. Many individuals have taken up the moniker on both page and screen. Though he has yet to be seen in live action, there have been appearances from the character in animation, specifically the Matt Hagen version. There is a not-so-subtle nod to this particular tale in the unfairly disregarded The Dark Knight Risesor at the very least the man responsible for Clayface becoming the monstrosity that he is.


In the movie, John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn) is the head of the construction company Daggett Industries. Daggett’s motives in the movie are clear: he wanted to take over his rival, Wayne Enterprises, by any means necessary. He even went as far as having the cunning and intelligent Bane tamper with Bruce Wayne’s personal investments, bankrupting him and hurting his company’s stock value almost beyond repair. Though he was a minor character in the grand scheme of the film, and received a very uneventful death at the hands of his mercenary employee, Daggett’s name alone holds significance for those familiar with Batman’s most well-known cartoon run.

In the legendary Batman: The Animated series, Roland Daggett was a major player in the creation of Clayface. Matt Hagen, an actor who was left horribly deformed following a car accident, would become the metamorphic antagonist. He was enlisted by Daggett to test out his non-FDA approved face changing cream Renuyu at first, but soon got in deeper with his employer’s nefarious deeds. Following a falling out between the two, Hagen was forced by his boss’ goons to drink deadly toxic chemicals; however, rather than kill him, the concoction actually rewrote his molecular structure so that he could shape-shift at will. Thus Clayface was born in one of his constantly changing origin stories, albeit out of complete accident.

Never were Hagen or his clay form seen in The Dark Knight Rises, though it is interesting to entertain the possibility that he could exist in that world, given his “creator” was right there the whole time. The inclusion of Daggett and his business enterprise can only be assumed a reference to Batman: The Animated Series, despite a small name change. Subtle details like this are what helped make Nolan’s films so popular and well analyzed, as this is hardly the first time other Batman rogues have been spotted in the woodwork of these movies. Even a bizarre character like Clayface is not forgotten in the grandeur of the larger narrative at hand.

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