Film - Batman’s Rogues Gallery


With the news that The Batman film is going to have a "rogue's gallery" of villains, here's some inspiration for the casting director from a couple of years ago and David Ames' own choices for Batman’s Rogues Gallery ...

There are few comic book characters who have the staying power and ultimate fan base of Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s iconic Batman. For myself, Batman was always my favourite comic personality. He was strong, resourceful, and above all else incredibly intelligent. He was also so incredibly dark that all of my teenage angst perfectly aligned with Batman’s removed, cynical personality.

My love first began as a five year-old watching the Batman ’66 series when it played through syndication. At that point I had no idea what was going on but it was colorful, had hilarious puns (puns that a five year-old could understand), and ultimately showed good triumphing over the forces of evil.

The next incarnation of the character that struck a chord with me was the amazing, Emmy Award winning Batman: The Animated Series. What Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski developed grew into a piece of art that was exciting, fun, and incredibly deep. Much like the X-Men animated series of the ‘90s, Batman: The Animated Series never shied away from the dark, humanistic qualities of its storylines. Case and point would be “Heart of Ice,” the heartbreaking fourteenth episode of Season One, in which we learn about Mr. Freeze and his unbelievably gut-wrenching relationship with his wife. From the animated series, I became an avid reader of the comics, loving everything from Alan Moore’s epic The Killing Joke to Frank Miller’s inspired The Dark Knight Returns to Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum to Jeph Loeb’s Hush and many in between. I love all of the past Batman stories and I could rank my favourites (maybe in a subsequent article) but I must make a special note of my favourite Batman author: Scott Snyder. His take on the Dark Knight was more of a borderline horror story which appealed to me on a number of levels and his complexity and writing prowess are next to unmatched. The Court of Owls is, in my opinion, a modern masterpiece.

The movies came and went and I loved all of them. 1989’s Batman was fun but surprisingly dark for its time and Jack Nicholson was incredible as the Joker. 1992’s Batman Returns went to an even darker place, pitting the Dark Knight against a wonderfully cast Danny DeVito as the Penguin and a sexy Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. 1995’s Batman Forever saw the first switch in casting from Michael Keaton’s Batman to Val Kilmer. I personally thought that Kilmer was a great Bruce Wayne but fell flat as Batman. Still, Chris O’Donnell as Robin (not a terrible choice although he is much older than he should be), Jim Carrey as an over-the-top comic version of the Riddler (a role I actually enjoyed him in for the most part), and a much more ridiculously expressive Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face (some moments are great, some are cringe-worthy at best). Even the loathed and unforgivable Batman and Robin (1997) had a few bright spots. I felt that although George Clooney had what it took to make an excellent Batman/Bruce Wayne, the writing, acting and direction were all so bad that the movie became what it was: a joke.

It would be almost a decade before 2005’s Batman Begins would bring redemption to the failing franchise. Christopher Nolan, who doesn’t make bad movies (i.e.: Momento, The Prestige, Inception, Interstellar), created a dark and gritty world in which Batman was actually realistic and believable. Christian Bale, death-metal voice aside, was a brilliant cast, as was Michael Caine’s Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon, and Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox. Cillian Murphy does a great job of portraying Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow and lastly, Liam Neeson played a wonderful Ra’s al Guhl. Next came 2008’s masterpiece, The Dark Knight, which saw Heath Ledger create a Joker that was both incredible and disturbing and deserved every ounce of praise that it garnered. Sadly his death over shadowed another brilliant performance in Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent/Two-Face. Nolan’s last entrance into the Batman universe was 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises which, while not without some MAJOR flaws, was a decent entrance and saw a performance that I loved: Tom Hardy as Bane. Nolan and Hardy took a juiced up Luchador and turned him into a criminal mastermind with nuance and subtlety that made him an amazing villain. Add the sexy and underappreciated Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman and we are given a movie that, while not without faults, still is utterly watchable.

The last instalment of the Batman film franchise was 2016’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. People lampooned the film and with good reason: it was so unnaturally dark that it was hard to identify with anyone and it was so large in scope and scale that almost everything was short-sighted to fit into the film. I will say that, despite those flaws, Ben Affleck may be my favourite onscreen Batman. While he may have killed people (a point that I really did have a problem with), he looked and felt like Frank Miller’s Batman and that, to me, was enough.

Sorry I droned on so long. I love the Dark Knight with all of his past and his character flaws and his legacy. I especially enjoy that fact that unlike any other comic book character ever, his rogue’s gallery includes a lot of great, three-dimensional and well-developed characters. The Batman rogue’s gallery contains some of the greatest comic characters in comic history and I have gone far too overboard in casting twenty-nine of the best Batman villains. Enjoy and if you have any arguments, suggestions, comments, feel free to leave them in the comments!



Anarky has seen many interpretations in the Batman universe but for the purposes of this casting, I am going to use my favorite version from the Batman: Arkham Origins video game. This Anarky isn’t necessarily a straight-up villain as much as a misguided domestic terrorist of sorts. He is a young genius and prodigy who espouses the tenants of anti-corruption and fights the government whom he feels is corrupted and greedy. I needed a character who was young and could play an intelligent and nuanced character but could also have the range to go from reserved and intelligent to unhinged and angry.

With his roles in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Noah, and Fury, Logan Leerman has both the charisma and the range to pull off Anarky, as well as the good looks to fill the role.


Bane is a character that was pretty one-note, although badass, in the Batman universe until Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises when he was reinvented. Bane is incredibly intelligent and, by using the drug Venom increases his size and strength by multiples. He is the only character in the Bat universe that can say he has “Broken the Bat.” I needed a character who was both intelligent and physically imposing.

I have a two-fold approach here. I truly enjoyed Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane. He had an amazing presence, was very physically impressive, and expressed so much through his eyes that I loved the performance he gave. I even enjoyed the weird accent. BUT for those that are sticklers for recasting, I think that Javier Bardem could make an amazing Bane. We’ve already seen him play amazing and intense villains in Skyfall and No Country for Old Men (One of my favourite onscreen performances by any actor). Plus, his voice fits almost perfectly with the original Luchador version of Bane.  Listen...

Black Mask

Black Mask, also known as Roman Sionis, is a crime lord in Gotham City. He is basically just a hardcore version of the Maroni and Falconi crime families. His name comes from the Black Mask he wears on his face, created from the ebony coffin of his father after Sionis burned down the family home and killed both is father and his mother in the process. I needed someone who had the intimidating qualities of a mob boss but was human enough to fit the bill as well. The actor needed to be strong, imposing, and be able to fly off the handle.

We have already seen Mark Strong play a wonderful mob boss in Kick Ass and he can be convincing as a powerful, otherworldly figure like his role in Sherlock Holmes. He has the demeanor and intimidation factor to be an amazing Black Mask.

Calendar Man

Calendar Man is a villain who, while never really a threat to Batman, offers an interesting addition to the Rogue’s Gallery. He is obsessed with dates and all of his crimes correspond to the specific dates on which they are performed. My favorite inception of the character was in Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Batman: The Long Halloween in which he plays Hannibal Lecter to Batman’s Clarisse, giving advice and insight to a villain named Holiday’s crimes. This actor needed to be able to portray intelligence while at the same time appearing pathetic.

Pruitt Taylor Vince has played many characters who fit into this mould but his turns in Constantine and Identity show that he could pull off the role wonderfully.


Is there anyone sexier than the sensual, intelligent, and agile jewel thief Selina Kyle/Catwoman. She was originally a supervillain but since the 90’s she has become Batman’s most intense love interest as well a constant, sexy thorn in his side. She helps while at the same time, causing much distress. This actress needs to have the look: sexy, dark hair and eyes, beautiful lips. She must also come across as intelligent and agile and would need to be charismatic.

I have been in love with Emmy Rossum ever since I saw her amazing performance in The Phantom of the Opera. She is beautiful and sexy and intelligent and she has the right body type to play the thief. She has shown her range in Phantom, Dare and Beautiful Creatures but her performance in the US version of Shameless is what made her the perfect casting.


Clayface is another of the characters in the Batman universe who has had multiple inceptions. For the purposes of this article, I am casting Cassius Payne, my favorite version of Clayface. He is the child of two previous incarnations of Clayface and is angry and brutal. He is made up of clay and can transform his body into anything or anyone, making him a powerful enemy of the bat. The person portraying this character needed to have an amazing voice as onscreen more than likely he would be mostly CGI.

If there is a person more suited to voicing Clayface than Idris Elba, I haven’t found them. Elba is ALWAYS incredible and should be the next James Bond but that won’t happen because…well…I don’t know. He was great in Beasts of No Nation and Luther and has shown incredible capacity for voice acting with Zootopia and Finding Dory but the real proof is in his terrifying portrayal of Shere Khan in The Jungle Book.


Deadshot, also known as Floyd Lawton, is the greatest and most skilled marksman in the world. He is a hitman and constant thorn in the side of the Batman. He is intelligent and stealthy and recently became more of an antihero than a full-fledged villain, becoming a member of both the Suicide Squad and the Secret Six. This character was recently cast and portrayed by Will Smith. I love Will Smith and think he is an incredible actor but I wasn’t crazy about the casting. I know people will say it is because he is black but that isn’t the case. I just never saw someone like Smith play Deadshot. He just doesn’t feel like Floyd to me. He has the charisma but I think he might actually have too much and may be utterly to likeable.

Instead, I chose an actor who has always played roles similar to Deadshot: Joe Pantoliano. He can be likeable but not too much and instead usually comes across as an asshole. Also, the resemblance of the characters was too much for me to pass up.


The Dollmaker, also known as Barton Mathis, had a rough life growing up. He would hunt with his father, who would kill and then eat people. Once his father was killed, he went into hiding, and reemerged as a serial killer who, much like Buffalo Bill, makes dolls out of human skin and limbs. This actor needed to be able to come across as creepy beyond belief but still be believable.

There are few actors who can do this well and Steve Buscemi is one of them. He is able to play creepy like his roles in Fargo, Con Air, and Ghost World but can also be intimidating such as his role in Boardwalk Empire. Lastly, he is simply a good actor which can be seen in films such as Reservoir Dogs.


As we have seen before, Firefly is a character who has had many different incarnations. My personal favorite is the obsessive former high school teacher, Ted Carson who attempts to burn down anything which may hold him from his ex-girlfriend. This actor needed to be smart but also play obsessive and angry very well.

Is there really another option for this type of actor? If you need a teacher and also someone who can fly off the handle, the only real option is Bryan Cranston.

Harley Quinn

Oh my sweet, sweet Harley Quinn. She is beautiful, she is sexy, she is intelligent, she is terrifyingly obsessive. There are few qualities more striking about the character than her intense suffering of Stockholm Syndrome at the hands of The Joker. She was a psychologist who fell in love and then in obsession with The Joker and then became his pseudo girlfriend, although was never really treated as such by him. In recent times, she has become more physically imposing and, in the case of the Death of the Family storyline, a much more sympathetic character.


I personally love the casting of Margot Robbie and even though I could stand to see a less slutty version of Harley, I think that Robbie will do an amazing job (the trailers have all seemed pretty good), but for the sake of this article, I chose another actress who is also sexy and intelligent and can play crazy very well: Amy Smart. We can see all of these qualities in performances from The Butterfly Effect, Mirrors and her recent wonderful turn in the US version of Shameless.

Hugo Strange

Dr. Hugo Strange has had many origin stories and interesting turns with his character development but he was never more imposing than the Batman: Arkham Universe version in which he had taken over Arkham Asylum. He has a history of behavioural experiments on patients and has no empathy for anyone. He is a certified genius and the only villain who has deduced Batman’s identity. I love the character and his signature chinstrap beard.


For this character, I chose Jeff Bridges because he is an incredible talent, as shown in films like Crazy Heart, True Grit, The Big Lebowski, The Giver (he was the only good part of that movie) and can be very physically intimidating like we got to see in Iron Man.


Hush, also known as Dr. Thomas Elliot was a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne who tried to dispose of his parents in an attempt to gain their wealth. He was unsuccessful and resented Bruce when the Wayne’s were murdered and Bruce received their fortune. Elliot eventually murders his mother, gains the wealth, and after creating the persona of Hush, teamed up with the Riddler to bring down their nemesis Bruce Wayne.


I needed to choose an actor that could be intelligent but underhanded and seedy and the same time. He needed to be able to play the affluent character but also to have a dark side. With his role in Dexter, Michael C. Hall showed that he could play with all of these elements.

The Joker

Arguably the greatest villain in Comics and one of the greatest in Film/Written history, The Joker is the ultimate villain. He is the mirror image of Batman and their symbiosis is palpable every time they are together on screen or on the page. There is even a sweet song about their relationship, performed by Coheed and Cambria (surprise, right?)

He has been played by mane people in the past, all with varying degrees of success: Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill (voice), Heath Ledger, and most recently Jared Leto. For my money, voice-wise, Hamill is the only option, but this is the whole package and so I must push on.


As we have already seen twice, I like some casting choices. There is no better performance of the Joker than Heath Ledger’s iconic, Oscar-winning turn in 2008’s The Dark Knight. He was terrifying and funny and scary in a realistic way that was unsettling the entire time he was on screen. Because I need to do my own casting, I will choose arguably the greatest character actor of all time: Daniel Day Lewis. If we need a slightly older Joker, Lewis could easily perform. He was the person I thought would be an excellent replacement if they went that route after Ledger’s tragic death.

Killer Croc

Killer Croc, also known as Waylon Jones, was born with a rare genetic condition which makes his skin take on the appearance of a reptile. Although his appearance varies from time to time, I personally love the full-fledged Crocodile version. He is brutal and animalistic and basically a serial killer. He is huge and strong and powerful.


To play Killer Croc an actor would have to be both talented and hugely muscular. Both of these aspects can be seen in Dwayne Johnson, who is now the highest paid actor of the year. Look at the similarities. He could definitely play the role.

The Mad Hatter

Jarvis Tetch, also known as The Mad Hatter, was a scientist obsessed with the Alice in Wonderland. He is also known to experiment with Mid Control technology. He originally was a somewhat comical or at least whimsical villain but as time passed, he became a much darker character. The actor needed to be funny but have the range, while being humorous, to be intensely scary and intimidating.


The list of qualities I just mentioned have been shown time and again in one actor: the amazing Christoph Waltz. His turn in Django Unchained was great but it was the intensely unnerving yet quirky and subtly funny roles in Inglorious Basterds and Water for Elephants which really make this role possible.


Man-Bat wasn’t always the monster he looks to be. He used to be Dr. Kirk Langstorm, a zoologist who created an extract to give human beings bat-like qualities. It worked but transformed him into a huge bat with limited intelligence and massive strength and anger. This character, much like Clayface, would need to be fully CGI but unlike Clayface, Man-Bat would need to retain human facial responses so the actor would need to be skilled in Motion-Capture performance.


Oh, did I say motion-capture? In that case, there is really only one choice and that is Andy Serkis. He has shown his ability to be an intense and disarming actor while having a fully digital body in films like Lord of the Rings and King Kong but the real proof is in his performance as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He has the emotional and physical ability to do both.

Maxie Zeus

This guy is a joke and I mean that in the best way possible. Maxie Zeus was a history teacher who went insane after his wife left him and became a gangster. He thinks and speaks like he is a Greek God which is funny in small doses. He can also be kind of intense so the actor needs to be able to perform serious roles while at the same time able to be hilarious.


I’ve seen Michael Pena in a ton of movies and he was always great. His portrayals in serious films like Fury and The Vatican Tapes and dramedies like End of Watch have shown him to have range but what really made me choose him was the comedic sense he showcased in Ant-Man.

Mr. Freeze

There are few villains more sympathetic than Mr. Freeze. While he was created as a joke villain, Paul Dini created a much deeper biography and backstory for the character. Dr. Victor Fries (pronounced Freeze) was a very gifted Cryogenicist who worked for GothCorp, creating a freeze ray. His wife, the reason for his existence and the love of his life, develops a fatal illness and Fries uses the ray in an attempt to put her in cryo-stasis until he can save her but things go wrong and she dies. His body temperature is lowered so far that he must stay in a cryo-suit in order to survive. He loses touch with reality and talks to his wife often but he blames everyone for the death of his wife and begins to commit crimes using his weapon and his intelligence.

I chose this actor based partially on looks and partially on voice. Laurence Fishburne looks and sounds perfect for the role and his acting ability has been shown in roles such as The Matrix, Event Horizon, and 21.

The Mutant Leader

This character is seemingly one-dimensional. He is a sociopath—a charismatic and cultish leader who is in charge of a brutal street gang known as the mutants. He is from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and he is a murderer and seemingly a cannibal as well. His massive size and strength make him a credible threat to the ageing Batman and he actually almost kills Batman before Robin can save him. This actor needs to be strong, imposing and, above, all have attitude to spare.

I have two different choices for this character. The first is Michael Clarke Duncan, the wonderful actor who showed what he was capable of in films like Sin City, Daredevil, and The Green Mile. The other actor is Kevin Durand who is strong and while he may not have the look of Duncan, he makes up for it tenfold with attitude. He has shown that in Smokin’ Aces, Noah and 3:10 to Yuma.


Not much is known about Onomatopoeia. He is a villain who is physically dangerous both with his fists and even more so with his guns. He has never revealed his face but comes across as somewhat of a hitman in terms of skill. He is a serial killer who murders non-powered superheroes. Although limited in appearance, he is a credible threat to Batman and just simply looks badass.

I think for this role, we need someone tall and lanky and knows how to hold himself in the way that a hitman would. I think that Clive Owen could fill this role greatly, considering what he was able to do in The Bourne Identity, Children of Men and The International.

The Penguin

One of Batman’s more well-known villains, Oswald Cobblepot is a crime boss and a wealthy resident of Gotham City who sits atop the crime families in Gotham. He is smart, resourceful, and not afraid to fight. He runs the Iceburg Lounge, a bar and casino, where he makes most of his wealth and issues most of his criminal orders. He is an especially dangerous villain mainly because unlike so many of Batman’s rogues, Penguin is completely sane.

I have always wanted to see Philip Seymour Hoffman play this role. I think that his intelligence has been shown in films like Capote, Almost Famous, and Doubt and we know that he can play an amazing villain because of his role in Mission Impossible: 3.

Poison Ivy

This fiery redhead was once the beautiful Dr. Pamela Isley, an accomplished botanist who became an eco-terrorist because of her obsession with plants and her view that humanity murders plants for selfish reasons. Poison Ivy is also one of the few Batman rogues who actually retains some sort of “powers” as she can control and manipulate plants. This actress must be sexy yet dignified and must be able to pull of the insane attachment to plants which is the prime character trait of this villain.

While searching for this actress, I was worried that I would have to venture outside of the realm of natural redheads but then I remembered that Jessica Chastain is both sexy and an accomplished actress. We have seen her range in films like Interstellar, The Martian, Mama, The Debt and Texas Killing Fields, but it was her amazing and chilling performance in Crimson Peak that made her perfect for this role.

Ra’s al Guhl

The near immortal leader of the League of Assassins, Ra’s was the one to train Bruce Wayne and turn him into the amazing fighter he became. His name translates into “the Head of the Demon” as he is the leader and near-god of the organisation. He wants to cleanse the world of filth and corruption and build a better world on its ashes. He utilises the magical qualities of the Lazarus Pits to remain young and strong but the pits have played havoc with his mind. The actor portraying Ra’s needed to be older and dignified but also have the ability to go to dark places.

For this role, I thought that Jason Isaacs would be a perfect cast. He has the older look but still somehow is intimidating. When he speaks he has an air of intelligence and dignity which is needed in the role. His turns in the Patriot, The Harry Potter Series and Fury all showcase his incredible ability.

The Riddler

Known also as Edward Nigma (Enigma…get it), The Riddler is a genius with a penchant for riddles and clues. He is widely respected by the other Batman adversaries because of his dangerous intellect, especially the Joker who thinks that the Riddler has kept Batman sharp. The actor playing The Riddler needed to be tall and lanky and have an air of intelligence which permeates the rest of his being.

This was the casting that made me want to write this entire article. I think that David Hyde Pierce could be an amazing older Riddler. His role as Niles Crane in Frasier helped this casting but it was when he played the psychopath in The Perfect Host, I knew that he could be an amazing villain as well.

The Scarecrow

Beginning life as Dr. Jonathan Crane, a criminal psychologist and psychiatrist, Crane specializes in the study of fear. As the Scarecrow, Crane developed numerous toxins which increase the natural fears of his victims causing many of them to go insane. He was somewhat of a throwaway character in his original inception but has since become a credible and serious threat to the Dark Knight, especially in the Batman: Arkham video game series. The actor to play Crane needed to have the right body type, tall and lanky, and in my opinion should also have a quality that makes him stand out somehow from his peers.

For this role, I truly enjoyed Cillian Murphy’s casting and portrayal. Although I thought he was great, I chose someone who I think fits a little more into the original idea of the character. Adrien Brody is an accomplished actor who has the body type and the acting chops to take the Scarecrow and create a whole new character, much in the same way Ledger was able to with the Joker. His roles in Summer of Sam, The Pianist, Predators, and The Village show that he as the ability to do so.

Solomon Grundy

Solomon Grundy is basically a giant zombie with super strength who is almost impossible to kill. My favourite biography of the character is that he was a worker whose wife was raped and killed by his boss and then she committed suicide. The foreman feeds her to some crocodiles and Grundy kills them all out of revenge before taking his own life. There was something amiss and he came back as a mountain of a man who is virtually unkillable. The actor needs to have a presence and be a larger, hulking man to play Grundy.

We have seen Ron Pearlman play this type of role so many times. He is a large, imposing actor with personality to spare. Sadly his personality won’t be as on the surface with this role but he would fit perfectly and with his performances in The Hellboy Series, Blade II and Sons of Anarchy I know that he could do the character some real justice.

Talia al Guhl

Talia al Guhl is the beautiful and dangerous daughter of Ra’s al Guhl. Like her father, she is an accomplished assassin. She is also deeply in love with Bruce Wayne/Batman and is consistently trying to convince him to marry her and take of the League of Assassins. She has had sex with Batman numerous times and in one instance even bore his son, Damien Wayne (the new Robin). The actress playing her needed to have an otherworldy quality and beauty and still seem as though she was powerful.

Olivia Wilde has the look. Let’s face it: she is beautiful and sexy and everything that an assassin should be. Her roles on House, The Black Donnellys and Vinyl and in films like The Lazarus Effect and Alpha Dog have all shown that she has the range to play the woman.


Once an amazing and fearless District Attorney, Harvey Dent fought the war on the mob with a passion that was both incredibly effective and dangerous. He became a broken man after a criminal threw acid at his face, scarring one side permanently. Because of this, Dent became obsessed with duality and turned to a life of crime in which everything must be decided with the flip of a coin. The actor portraying Dent needed to have a larger than life personality and still retain the intelligence of the DA. They would also need to have the ability to lose control and snap at a moment’s notice.

For this role, Jon Hamm has both the look and the acting chops. We have seen him play amazing characters in Mad Men and Million Dollar Arm and as looks go, he fits the bill perfectly.

Victor Zsasz

Victor Zsasz is one of the most twisted of Batman’s rogue’s gallery. He was a rich young man whose parents had died and who had amassed a fortune after their death. He fell into depression, turning to gambling and eventually lost everything to the Penguin. He was about to kill himself when a homeless man attempted to rob him. Zsasz took the man’s knife and murdered him, discovering the rush and thrill of the kill. From then on, he murdered without regard for the age or gender of his victims. He would position the corpses in lifelike poses and then carve a tally mark into his skin. The actor who would play Zsasz need to have an understated quality to his performance but the ability to go bat-shit insane at the drop of a hat.

Let me just say that I have a man crush on Ben Foster. I think he is an incredible talent who doesn’t get the respect he deserves. He can play nuanced characters who struggle with certain aspects of themselves like his roles in The Messenger, 3:10 to Yuma, Pandorum, and Alpha Dog. In those roles he has shown a talent for being both quiet and reflective while also insanely intense. His roles in 30 Days of Night and especially Hostage have shown that he can definitely play crazy too. I want more than anything for Disney to cast him as a Sith but that is a different article.

Follow David on Twitter @thedavidmames

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