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I'm not happy, you all know, I'm not happy, and despite appearances... ...this ain't a damned smile on my face.
~ The Black Mask
I have another face now. One that suits me far better.
~ The Black Mask
If you have a gun, you can rob a bank... But if you have a bank, you can rob everyone...
~ Black Mask
You know she's better off without you. You were right, Lawton. All the things you did... it all caught up to you.
~ Black Mask,
Roman Sionis, better known as Black Mask, is a major antagonist from DC Comics, and is mainly an antagonist for Batman and Catwoman. He is a ruthless, greedy, and egotistical crime lord and mafioso. He is also the son of a very wealthy couple, that died in a fire, which he caused intentionally. He got their money and their company, but went bankrupt. His company was saved by Bruce Wayne, and Sionis hates him for taking everything he had, resulting in him becoming one of Gotham City's most ruthless crime lords. His mask is carved out of the black coffin of his father. Despite being sent to Arkham Asylum, his mild insanity is overshadowed by his greed that he was often reconsidered to be relocated to a regular prison instead of an institution due to knowingly and competently committing his crimes.
Roman Sionis was born to a rich and influential family in Gotham City, his father being a very successful industrialist. His parents were narcissistic egotists who only cared about maintaining their social standing and public image; when a doctor dropped Roman on his head after his birth, they were more concerned about covering it up from their high society friends than their son's well being. During his childhood, Sionis was attacked by a rabid raccoon at the family's country estate, but his parents forbade him from telling anyone about the incident.
They frequently dragged him around to parties and would force him to become friends with the children of other wealthy families in Gotham City, including the young Bruce Wayne. In reality, his parents hated social climbing nouveau riche types like the Waynes, but they continued affiliating themselves with them to preserve their public image. Sionis was deeply affected by his parent's hypocrisy, and he grew to despise them and the "masks" that they wore in public.
After his high school graduation, Sionis was given a high ranking position in his father's company, the prosperous Janus Cosmetics, where he fell in love with a working class model named Circe. However, he was outraged when his parents disapproved and demanded that he break off his relationship with her. This proved to be the last straw for Sionis, who proceeded to burn down the family mansion, killing his parents.
With his parent's deaths, Sionis was free to propose to Circe and inherited his family's fortune and Janus Cosmetics, but lacked the business acumen needed to successfully run the company, running it into the ground by funding a failed line of face-paint makeup. In an act of desperation, he poured his money and resources into an experimental waterproof makeup, which he quickly released to the public without proper testing; the makeup turned out to be a deadly toxin that left hundreds of women disfigured. Following the incident, Circe broke up with Sionis in front of his entire company staff. Afterward, Bruce Wayne, now head of Wayne Enterprises, bought out Janus Cosmetics, relinquishing control from Sionis and appointing his own Board of Directors,
Sionis was driven mad from losing everything he had; unable to admit to his own mistakes that ruined his life, he turned his hatred towards Bruce Wayne. Donning a mask carved from his father's ebony coffin, he murdered three Wayne Foundation executives, planning to eventually assassinate Bruce himself to fulfill his revenge. In the ensuing battle with Batman, Sionis' mask became permanently burnt into his face as a living death mask, ironically granting his wish of removing all traces of his former identity. In the following years, he would become one of Gotham City's most ruthless and sadistic crime lords, commanding the False Face Society, an army of masked henchmen. With each loss to Batman, his empire shrank and his sadism grew.
During No man's land, Black Mask forgoed masks and the false facers, he instead carved up his own burnt face to resemble a human skull.
Among his many crimes were the destruction of a community center on Gotham's East End, the painstaking murder of Catwoman's brother-in-law, and driving her sister Maggie insane by forcing her to eat her husband's corpse. His action's against her family lead to Catwoman seemingly killing him in revenge, attacking him in his penthouse and sending him falling to the street below.
Believed to be dead at Catwoman's hands, Black Mask survived, and when Gotham City's gang wars erupted, part of a "war game" created by Batman that went horribly wrong. They created a power vacuum in the underworld that he could exploit to build a criminal empire. He murdered Orpheus, a costumed gang leader secretly working with Batman to end the unrest in Gotham, and he took the tragic hero's identity and gained the trust of the teen hero Spoiler. This way he learned information vital to his cause before he betrayed and tortured her. Following Batman's plans, the fake Orpheus rallied all the factions, revealed his true identity and initiated a spree of carnage. Black Mask became the undisputed ruler of the entire Gotham City underworld.
Deathstroke later approached Black Mask offering him a place within the Society. Black Mask was eager to strengthen his increasingly tenuous grip on the underworld since Batman was targeting his operations. He accepted the offer and Captain Nazi and Count Vertigo were sent after Batman. However, these villains were defeated, and Batman ultimately prevented the Society from securing a foothold in Gotham.
In an attempt to "improve himself" after this debacle, Black Mask threatened the most important people in Catwoman's life, from Slam Bradley to Holly Robinson. Still thinking that Catwoman adhered to a strict no-kill rule, Black Mask was caught by surprise when Catwoman took revenge by shooting him in the head and blowing his jaw off.
After the shooting, Selina Kyle passed the mantle of Catwoman to her friend Holly Robinson. Not long after, Holly was arrested for the murder of Black Mask.
Black Mask II
In the "Battle For The Cowl" storyline, a new Black Mask surfaces. He has drugged several of Arkham Asylum's inmate, including the Great White Shark, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, Victor Zsasz, Jane Doe and the Scarecrow, with a substance that can kill when triggered. Black Mask is quickly acknowledged as the leader of the group when he blows up much of Arkham Asylum. He then prepares for his ascension by destroying Two face and Penguins reign and becoming Gotham City's crime lord again. Eventually, the new Black Mask is revealed to be Jeremiah Arkham, administrator of Arkham Asylum. After being defeated by Batman, he is imprisoned in the rebuilt Arkham Asylum.
During the Blackest Night event, Roman Sionis was reanimated as a member of the Black Lantern Corps and intended to hunt down and kill Selina Kyle. However, when Selina refused to show him any fear, Roman decided to provoke her by torturing her traumatized sister Maggie. Although Black Mask was eventually stopped, the experience proved too much for Maggie who later becomes an adversary of Catwoman.
Black Mask's history was altered for the New 52 continuity. Roman Sionis managed to survive being shot by Catwoman and eventually turned himself in at Arkham Asylum in exchange for medical treatment. Jeremiah Arkham only became Roman's brief successor while Roman himself recovered from his injuries. It soon becomes evident that Sionis is also more unhinged than before, as he now believes his iconic mask to be sentient and is compelled to carry out its wishes.
It's later revealed that Black Mask's origin had been changed for this continuity as well. Roman was the son of Richard Sionis, a powerful crime lord who founded the False Face Society and was known by the criminal underworld as "The Mask". With the help of his right hand David Franco (a.k.a. White Mask), Richard lorded over a large criminal empire that spanned across America and Europe. However, the False Face Society eventually split into two halves. One half remained loyal to The Mask while the other half accepted White Mask as their new leader. Roman Sionis desired to reunite the splintered society by taking control of both halves as Black Mask. He tracked down and killed David to usurp leadership of his faction before ending his elderly father's life while disguised as a nurse. With the False Face Society whole again due to Black Mask's efforts, Roman focused his attention on eliminating the gang's competition.
However, it appears his origin has been reverted to being the same as his Post-Crisis counterpart during the Year of the Villain saga.
A character loosely based off Black Mask named Richard Sionis appears in the first season of Gotham in the episode "The Mask" as the CEO of Sionis Investments who pits his candidates against each other for a position at his company. Richard makes a reappearance in the opening of season 2 where he ends up being killed.
Richard was later brought over into the main DC Comics continuity as the father of Roman Sionis. Richard Sionis is also the name of Roman's son.
Black Mask has appeared as the main antagonist in the 2020 film, Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). He was portrayed by Ewan McGregor, who also portrayed Patrick McKenna in Angels & Demons.
Black Mask appears as one of the main antagonists of the second season of the CW Arrowverse series, Batwoman. He is the mysterious leader of the False Face Society and a sadistic crime lord, who is notable for wearing a black mask, who puts a dangerous drug known as Snakebite on the streets of Gotham City.
By day, Roman is a pragmatic and charismatic CEO who plays the "white knight" against Gotham’s corrupt systems. As Black Mask, he is an evil mastermind with a deep hatred of The Crows and masked vigilantes, he is willing to tear down Gotham to enact his revenge. He is played by Peter Outerbridge.
Powers and Abilities
Intellect: He is considered the top strategist and organizer in the Gotham Underworld.
Skill in torture: Has been known to torture people into insanity. It is considered his defining skill, as he both physically and mentally tortures them to a degree few could match.
Skill in hand to hand combat: Highly accomplished athlete and has been seen to be on par with heroes and villains such as Nightwing, Robin, Red Hood, Catwoman, and at one point the Batman.
Peak physical condition: All aspects are considered on par with most adventurers in his time.
Gunsmanship: Considered by many to be deadly accurate.
Mastery of disguise: Has been able to blend in and even fool the Batman with his disguises.
Mind control: Sionis has the ability to control other people's minds with his mask.
Kill him and I will pay you whatever you want. Make him suffer and I'll double it!
~ Black Mask in Batman: Arkham Origins.
All the martial arts ninja training in the world doesn't matter a thinker's damn. The only thing that counts is weather or not you have the will to do what needs to be done. That's why I win even though you beat me.
~ Black Mask
First you fall then Gotham.
~ Black Mask during his game over screen in Batman: Arkham City.
I like to keep the lights on. That way I can always see who's at the table. That way, there are never any surprises.
~ Black Mask
And between the two of us, little man we both know I'm the one who's not afraid to die.
~ The Black Mask
Do me a favor and die already! I got a business to run.
~ Black Mask's message to the player in Arkham Knight's game over screen.
Gotham's my bitch.
~ Black Mask plotting to take over Gotham City by force.
You're supposed to be dead. Let me fix that for you.
~ Black Mask ordering Batman, unaware that he is really Dick Grayson, dead when he notices that he is alive in Batman: Bad Blood.