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Villain Overview
There is no Hagen. It's only me now... Clayface.
~ Clayface from Batman: The Animated Series.

Clayface is a supervillain from the Batman series. While there have been multiple people to take up the title, the most well known and iconic Clayface is the original, Basil Karlo.

History

Modern Age

Basil Karlo was once a renowned actor, but went insane with anger when The Terror, a classic horror movie he starred in, was remade with a different actor in the leading role (despite the fact that he was to be among the advising staff). Karlo proceeded to kill several members of the cast while dressed up as the movie’s monster, Clayface, intending to finish his killing spree by killing the actor who replaced him, before he was stopped and unmasked by Batman and Robin. Although Karlo soon managed to escape incarceration and attempted to murder Bruce Wayne’s fiancé Julie Madison, he was again foiled by the Dynamic Duo and was sent back to prison.

While Karlo was left in prison, several other individuals would take on the mantel of Clayface for themselves. The second Clayface, Matt Hagen, was a treaure hunter who accidently fell into a radioactive pool of protoplasm, allowing him to assume a clay-like form able to morth into almost anything he desired. The form was only temporary, however, and he had to continue immersing himself in the protoplasm in order to maintain his powers. During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Hagen was killed by one of the Ant-Moniter's shadow demons.

The third Clayface, Preston Payne, was a scientist who worked at S.T.A.R. Labs looking for a cure for his hyperituitarism. In order to achieve this, he took a sample of the then-living Matt Hagen's blood and isolated an enzyme that he injected into his bloodstream. While Payne was initially able to maintain his own appearance, his flesh began to melt while on a date with his girlfriend; when he grabbed her arm, she dissolved into protoplasm. Constructing a exoskeleton suit in order to support his flesh and contain his condition, Payne learned that he had to spread his dissolivng contagion onto others in order to survive, feeling excruciating pain if he did not dissovle anyone. As his sanity eroded, Payne began to fall in love with a mannequin the he named 'Helena'. believing that she was the only person he could touch without dissolving her.

The fourth Clayface was Sondra Fuller, also known as 'Lady Clay'. A member of the villainous team Strike Force Kobra, Fuller was willingly transformed by her employers technologies, giving her powers similar to those of Matt Hagen, although her's were permanent.

Around eight years after his imprisonment, Karlo was visited by Fuller and convinced her to help him form the Mud Pack; an alliance consisting of himself, Sondra and Payne with the common goal of eliminating Batman. However, Basil also secretly plotted to betray his comrades and obtain their powers for himself. He even tried to revive Hagen in hopes of recruiting him to the Mud Pack as well, but to no avail. After the group appeared to have defeated Batman, Karlo stole blood samples from the other Clayfaces and forced a doctor to inject the samples into him, transforming Basil into the Ultimate Clayface. Basil then used his new powers to almost kill Batman and the superheronie Looker in a showdown, until Looker used her psychokinesis to overload Karlo’s abilities, causing him to melt through the Earth’s crust.

Several other individuals took on the mantle following the Mud Pack incident, including Cassius Payne (nicknamed 'Clay'), the son of Preston Payne and Sondra Fuller. Other Clayfaces were company DEO Dr. Peter 'Claything' Malley (transformed following contact with a skin sample of Cassius), former army soldier Todd Russell, Gotham firefighter Johnny Williams (who gained his powers after an explosion at a chemical plant, leading to him being manipulated by Hush and the Riddler in his desperation for a cure), and an unidentified Clayface operating in Japan.

New 52

Basil Karlo's history and origin was altered for the New 52. In this continuity, Basil was once a temperamental actor who had trouble getting a particular movie role. He decided to make a deal with the Penguin in exchange for a way to land the role he wanted. Penguin gave Basil mystical clay that transformed him into the monsterish Clayface, which gave Karlo the power to shapeshift and impersonate anyone he wants. Basil then went on to gain a successful acting career while also working as Penguin's henchman in his down time. The jobs he was forced to do for the Penguin made his temper even worse and Basil eventually punched a director who berated him for ad-libbing on set. Karlo's career soon fell apart and Basil decided to fully embrace a life of crime as the supervillain Clayface.

DC Rebrith

Tired of his life as a criminal, Clayface finally decided to turn over a new leaf and made an effort to work as a hero in Gotham. Batman, respecting Karlo's choice to make himself better, recruited Clayface to train under him along with some other budding vigilantes and presents Karlo as more of a sympathetic character than seen in the past. Karlo accepts the offer to join Batman's new team, the Gotham Knights. It's also revealed that Basil’s origins were again changed because of alterations made to the time stream, with this latest revision of his past being based off Matt Hagen’s from Batman: The Animated Series.

During his time as part of the Gotham Knights, Clayface formed a friendship with Cassandra Cain, a.k.a. Orphan, learn basic hand-to-hand combat, and aided his teammates in training and battle. Unfortunately, he was eventually brainwashed by villains and sent on a destructive rampage. In Detective Comics issue #973, Clayface was apparently killed by Batwoman in order to prevent a building full of people from being destroyed. However, it's revealed a couple of issues later that Basil is alive and has decided to leave the city, but not before leaving a note for Cassandra to find.

In Doomsday Clock #5, it's been shown that Sondra Fuller still exists in the Post-Flashpoint continuity. While only briefly mentioned, Fuller's origin on Prime Earth seems identical to her New Earth one, except she is now referred to as 'Lady Clayface' instead of just 'Lady Clay'.

Other Media

Batman: Arkham Series

Main article: Clayface (Batman: Arkham City)

Clayface isn't an opponent in the game Batman: Arkham Asylum. He can be seen in a special cell, where he changes his appearance a few times. He is seen in the forms of the guard Aaron Cash, the warden Quincy Sharp and commisioner Gordon. One of the Riddler's riddles revolves around him. Even though he appears, he never shows his true form, though it can be shown in the Character Bios.

He has an entry in the Character Bios. His profile states:

Clayface img

Clayface as seen in the Character Bios of Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Initially an actor in horror films, Karlo went mad when he learned a classic film of his was to be remade with a different actor in the lead role. He took on the mask of the film’s villain, Clayface, and killed several of the remake’s cast and crew before being stopped by Batman and Robin. Later, Karlo joined the Mud Pack, an alliance of shape-changing, mutated villains who had subsequently used the name Clayface. While that group was defeated, Karlo tricked his allies and injected himself with the essence of several of them, becoming a superhuman imbued with the abilities to change shape, melt others into protoplasm with a touch, and mimic the powers of heroes or villains he copies.

Clayface appears as an antagonist in Batman Arkham City. In the game Joker hires him to impersonate a cured Joker. Clayface wasn't even supposed to be in Arkham City, but says that he accepted the Joker's offer for that he would have 'the role of a lifetime', hinting more at his backstory. In certain points of the game in seeing 'cured Joker' you see that he has no skeletal system in detective mode.  After Joker kindnapps Talia Al Guhl and Batman goes to save her, she stabs 'Joker' in the back and he appears to have died. Until the real, sick Joker shoots her, and Clayface reveals his true form. Batman fights him, and eventually gets the cure out of him, but not before Joker blows up the ground into a Lazarus Pit. Joker tries and fails to jump in, and soon dies without getting the cure. 

The Animated Series

This version of Clayface was an actor named Matt Hagen, successful in his career until he was disfigured in a car accident. Roland Daggett, the corrupt owner of a company rivaling Wayne Enterprises, gave him a cream that, once applied, would allow him to shape his face back to normal. The cream saved Hagen's career, but at a price: its effects were only temporary, and the cream was so addictive that Hagen couldn't stop using it without going into withdrawal. Hagen soon became one of Daggett's minions, committing crimes for him in return for refills of the cream.

One night, after running out, Hagen broke into Daggett's lab to get a lifetime supply. Daggett's thugs caught him, however, and immersed him into a vat of the cream. The chemicals absorbed into every cell of his body, turning him into a shapeless mass of clay-like substance. His transformation also granted him the power to assume any shape he wanted and perfectly mimic other people. He hatched a plan to get revenge on Daggett, but it was foiled by Batman. He appeared to die after electrocuting himself during a fight with Batman, but in fact survived and became a criminal.

The Batman

A new version of Clayface appears in this show. Batman's trusted ally police detective Ethan Bennett voiced by Steve Harris gets transformed by Joker via experimental chemicals and gets turned into Clayface. It turns him crazy and he becomes a sympathetic,recurring enemy of Batman. The Basil Carlo version later also appears voiced by Wallance Langham. He was an unsuccessful actor who broke into Waynetech and stole the same chemical that created Bennett and became the new Clayface and also a recurring enemy. In the episode "Clayfaces" Bennett tries to redeem himself by taking out criminals like Joker and the other Clayface. In the fight against the two Clayfaces Batman gives them a cure and both are successfully cured. In another episode that takes place 20 years in the future he is shown as the chief of police.

Batman the Brave and the Bold

In the episode "Joker the Vile and the Villainess" a picture of the Preston Payne version appears alongside a bunch of other pictures of Batman villains in a bar where a bunch of Batman villains hang out.

Scooby-Doo! Crossover

Clayface appeared as the secondary antagonist in the 2018 crossover film, Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Here, he was disguised as the Crimson Cloak.

Young Justice

In the episode "Downtime" the Matt Hagen version appears. He defeated the whole team and was about to finish them off however Batman comes in a is able to quickly defeat him with an electrical weapon. In the episode "Happy New Year" the team attacks him in a sewer however he gains the upper hand in the fight. Robin tries the electric attack on him however he states that it doesn't work on him anymore however they use a special pill that freezes him from the inside. In this show he is voiced by Nolan North.

Gotham

Basil Karlo appeared in the second season of the Fox DC series Gotham during the "Wrath of the Villains" story arc. He made his first appearance in the second to last episode of season 2, titled "A Legion of Horribles", and was portrayed by Brian McManamon.

Quotes

I was using you, you idiot. I was trying to stay out of Arkham. That was it. That's all it ever was. I don't care about any of you.
~ Basil Karlo Clayface

Trivia

  • There are a total of 7 Clayfaces and one of them is a female.
  • The name of the fifth Clayface, Cassius "Clay" Payne, is a reference to the borth name of famous boxer Muhammed Ali.
  • Clayface from Batman:TAS, New Adventures and Justice League, tranfomed in more than 10 personalities.
  • The Prime Earth versions of Basil Karlo are much younger and seemingly less theatrical than their New Earth counterpart, who is considerably more villainous and less sympathetic.

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