We seem to get the same villains in Batman films, but I’ve always wanted to see something with the Ventriloquist set in the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton continuity.
In this version, Arnold Wesker works for an insurance firm. He’s the office old guy (old not only in age but old as in the person who has been consistently with the company). He’s quiet and meek, but if given the chance he’ll wax poetically about his childhood; how his father let him stay up late to watch old gangster movies with him, how he’d watch Howdy Doody and how his father would tell him stories about going to see Vaudville shows.
Everyone in the office humors Arnold, but as time goes on, his new supervisor–the son of his previous employer–keeps hinting that he should retire. Arnold politely declines, saying he’s still got a few good years left in him. His employer isn’t interested in how many good years Arnold has left. He’s more interested in bringing in one of his college buddies to take Arnold’s spot so they can hang out during work hours. He lays it down for Arnold: you’re old, you don’t have a family and no one cares about your childhood. If you don’t retire now, there’s gonna be some irregularities in the books and the blame will fall on poor old Arnold.
Arnold walks home in a stupor. He comes home to his empty apartment and looks at all the things he held on to: movie posters, old programs and a case. He thinks about the good times he had with his father, but those happy memories are interrupted by his boss’ words “No one cares about your childhood.” “The old must make way for the new” Arnold hears a new voice…a voice coming from the case. It tells him he shouldn’t take this lying down. It tells him that he doesn’t deserve this treatment. It tells him that this new boss is gonna run the company into the ground just to hang out with his college buddies. It’s his father’s voice, albeit with a Gagney-esque accent. He opens the case to find the ventriloquist dummy his father got him for his birthday when he was younger. He pulls the dummy out of the case, looks it in the eyes and says “Go on, Mr. Scarface…”
How does Batman fit into this? Keaton’s Batman is a little older now, reaching that point where he wonders if his age is affecting his ability to be Batman; he can’t do this forever. He see’s Wesker as someone else facing his own mortality and wants to bring him back before he goes too far over the edge.
My pick for Arnold Wesker aka The Ventriloquist…John Lithgow. I found this piece of fan art online and it’s perfect.