Spoilers for Batwoman Season 2 episode 9, “Rule #1,” continue below.
Black Mask made his grand debut in Batwoman Season 2 episode “Rule #1,” and that debut is bad news for Kate Kane. The episode revealed the famed DC villain, played by Nikita star Peter Outerbridge, is holding the battered, bruised and barely moving plane-crash survivor Kate (who is now being played by actress Wallis Day of Krypton) in a dirty cell, and plotting something sinister for the Wayne family heiress.
“He has plans for Kate,” Outerbridge told IGN. “I can’t really talk about them right now, but there are definitely big plans in store for Kate. … He plays a very long end game.”
Sunday night’s episode of the Arrowverse series offered some useful details about the Season 2 Batwoman villain’s backstory and his plans for Gotham City. The False Face kingpin is a ruthless crime boss with razor-thin (or should we say industrial saw-thin) patience for underlings who can’t complete a job (like finding a witness to a murder). He also blames the Crows for the imprisonment of his daughter — and Batwoman specifically for her death — carrying that grudge over to the new woman in the Scarlet Knight cowl: Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie).
“It’s quite possible had Ryan Wilder just decided to create her own superhero and worn a different costume maybe the Black Mask would’ve left her alone. But certainly, that particular image – that symbol, that Batwoman costume – he despises with a passion, so anybody who chooses to put it on and assume the mantle of righteousness, he’s going to hate them, he’s going to want them dead, basically,” Outerbridge explained. “I think her beef with him is she had a lot of friends who died from drug use on the streets and here’s this guy, he’s pushing drugs all over Gotham City, so she really wants to take him down. And she wants to do it in the guise of Batwoman, which is just not going to happen for him.”
It seems everyone in Gotham City could end up on the wrong side of Black Mask. When Batwoman called him a “sadistic drug lord,” he claimed it’s actually the city that’s sadistic, not him. He claims to be a symbol of liberation. Pot, meet kettle.
“I think that what he’s doing in his public persona is he’s playing the Gotham game. He’s trying to be, ‘I’m a white knight, I’m trying to say all the right things, I’m trying to schmooze with all the right people and stroke all their egos and be the perfect Gotham son,’ because it’s the perfect cover for what he does at night, which is the complete antithesis,” Outerbridge said. “So, I think Roman Sionis, even he himself – and this is where it gets kind of tricky in terms of characterization – even Roman thinks he is a hypocrite and in fact, in the comic books, eventually Black Mask abandons Roman Sionis completely. … I think that Black Mask is really truly who he is and I think this character of Roman Sionis is just a means to an end, right? Roman Sionis is actually the mask of Black Mask.”
As viewers learned on Sunday night, Black Mask’s plans involve Enigma, the character Safiyah used to wipe Alice and Ocean’s memories of each other during their time on Coryana. Outerbridge tip-toed around explaining the characters’ connection, simply saying, “He’s certainly working with Enigma right now and that definitely has to do with his plans for Kate for sure.”
With only a couple of Season 2 scenes pairing him with Kate Kane – and Kate being too hurt to speak – it’s not clear if Black Mask is aware that she was the first Batwoman. If he doesn’t know, could she be a pathway to Jacob Wayne (Dougray Scott), the head of the Crows? Could the two men have a past connection yet to be revealed?
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“I think that he knows Jacob. I think in terms of the Gotham elite, he might have gone to school with Jacob. He certainly knows him from the parties and the galas and all that stuff, but he also, as Black Mask, he puts the blame squarely on Jacob’s shoulders because Jacob was the head of the Crows when his daughter was [imprisoned]. So, I think that that’s really where his relationship with Jacob is going,” Outerbridge said.
As a lifelong comic book fan, Outerbridge spent plenty of time reading stories with the character. He was so well versed that despite being given generic scripts for “Skull Face” opposite “Red Hood” in his audition, he figured out who his character actually was before the producers revealed it to him.
“I did the audition, I got the part, which was fantastic, and then I started putting pieces together,” said Outerbridge, who quickly realized “Skull Face” was really just code for “Black Mask.” “He’s a big villain in the universe so it’s a real honor to actually be able to sort of try to bring him to life. But it’s been very – it’s been almost too easy because Caroline [Dries, Batwoman executive producer] and the writing team and the designers have done such a good job of bringing him off the page. The fans, I think, are going to be really happy with the way they’re portraying him and it’s very, very true to the comics. So as long as I’m doing my job underneath the mask, it’s going to come off OK.”
Batwoman airs Sunday nights on The CW.