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Sequel Adaptation Iconic Villain

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Jim Gordon: Take this guy: armed robbery, double homicide. Got a taste for the theatrical, like you. Leaves a calling card.
[Gordon hands a playing card to Batman, who flips it over to reveal a joker.]
Batman: I’ll look into it.
— The final scene of Batman Begins

In works adapted from TV shows, books, or other media, the first film/season is getting an unfamiliar audience acclimated to the world, getting them to like and root for the protagonist, and proving that the adaptation can be successful. For this aura of uncertainty, a creator may hold off on the hero facing his major villains right away, and pit him against more B-list or C-list fodder, or even an original character. Then, now that a sequel has been greenlit, bring in the iconic Arch-Enemy that everyone knows. Or, it may be that the presence of such an impactful character is its own sort of Sequel Escalation, so including them is a natural progression to step things up a notch.

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Note that this is not applicable for when the early villains are comparably iconic to the later villain, only when the second villain is considered more famous and iconic than the first.

May be a part of a Sequel Hook if the villain is set up in the first film, to tease the audience of what a sequel will bring. May be related to Saved for the Sequel or Refitted for Sequel. See also Superhero Movie Villains Die, in which the lesser-known villain would be killed off so that the more recognizable villain can take center stage for the sequel. Contrast and not to be confused with Iconic Sequel Character, when a character introduced in a sequel becomes iconic. Also compare Breakout Villain, where a newly introduced villain becomes popular that they become a future mainstay in the franchise, and sometimes even replace a prior antagonist.

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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Film 
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    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Season 1 of Batman: The Telltale Series featured Lady Arkham (actually Vicki Vale) as the Big Bad, with The Penguin and Two-Face as secondary antagonists. While The Joker does make an appearance, it's mostly to set him up for a second season, which later materialized as Batman: The Enemy Within.
  • The overarching mystery of The Great Ace Attorney duology centers around a decade-old case regarding a mysterious Jack the Ripper-esque serial killer who murdered his victims with a large attack dog and serves as the inspiration for The Hound of the Baskervilles in-universe. Oddly, the killer goes by James Moriarty's dreaded epithet, the Professor, rather than Stapleton. The killer in question is neither Moriarty nor Stapleton—at least in name. While the man committing the murders was Klint van Zieks, the deceased husband of Lady Baskerville, he did so at the direction of Moriarty's expy, Lord Chief Justice Stronghart, who serves as the game's Big Bad.

    Western Animation 
  • The first season of Transformers: Animated focused on human villains and lesser-known Decepticons like Lockdown and Blitzwing. The season ended with the return of Starscream and Megatron getting his own body after spending the series as just a head, and they became the forefront antagonists of the rest of the series.
  • The Batman contains a non-villainous example. Season 3 introduced Batgirl as Batman’s sidekick, before his most iconic sidekick Robin debuts in season 4.

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