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Batman: The Animated Series episode
Feat of Clay-Title Card
"Feat of Clay"
Airdate: September 8 & 9, 1992
Production Number: 20-21
Airdate Order: 04-05
Animation Services by: Akom Production Co. (Part I)
Tokyo Movie Shinsha Co., LTD. (Part II)
Teleplay by: Marv Wolfman (Part I)
Michael Reaves (Part II)
Story by: Marv Wolfman &
Michael Reaves
Directed by: Dick Sebast (Part I)
Kevin Altieri (Part II)
Episode images (18)

"Feat of Clay" is the two-part fourth and fifth episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. It originally aired on September 8 & 9, 1992. It marks the transformation of a disfigured actor into the villain known as Clayface.

Plot

Part I

Feat of Clay Resignation

"Bruce Wayne" reveals his henchmen to Lucius Fox.

A strange meeting takes place in an abandoned tramway station in Gotham at three o' clock in the morning, between Lucius Fox and Bruce Wayne. Fox gives a suitcase full of evidence to Bruce, which incriminates Roland Daggett in an illegal scheme to take over Wayne Enterprises through insider trading. Bruce, with a rather sinister smile, says he plans to destroy them... and a group of armed henchmen appear from the upper levels of the tramway and try to kill Fox.

Batman springs from the ceiling and stops one of the three thugs, but is stopped short of detaining the remaining two. Wayne, obviously an impostor, escapes, leaving behind a near-fatally wounded Fox, who identifies Bruce as his attacker when he is found by the police.

Feat of Clay Forced

Daggett's henchmen force Renuyu down Hagen's throat.

It is revealed that Bruce's impostor is actually Matt Hagen, a famous movie actor. Hagen has developed a serious addiction to "Renuyu", a dangerous experimental chemical developed by Daggett's laboratories, which allows him to reform his facial features into any appearance he wants. The chemical is necessary to cover the disfigurement he suffered in a car accident years before, and which he has kept secret from the public.

After learning of the botched attempt on Fox's life, Daggett orders his henchmen Raymond Bell and "Germs" (a severe mysophobe) to dispose of Hagen. When asked how they will find Hagen, Daggett says that Hagen can be expected to come to them as soon as his supply of Renuyu runs out.

True enough, Hagen breaks into Daggett Laboratories and immediately slathers the chemical on his face. When Bell and Germs catch him, Hagen fails to pass himself off as Bruce Wayne. Holding him down on the floor, they pour an entire vat of Renuyu down his throat before placing him inside his car and leaving him for dead. Once they leave, however, Hagen lets out a dull groan as his body begins to mutate.

Feat of Clay Discover

Teddy discovers Matt in horror after his horrible transformation.

Turning up Bell's name as one of Daggett's henchman and a likely lead, Batman pursues him in the Batwing and lures him away from the city by hacking into Bell's stolen police radio and fooling him into thinking the police are searching for him. Outside the motorway, Batman forces him off the road, dumping his car to the river and dangling him high up in the sky by a mechanical arm. Batman demands to know who Fox was meeting, but Bell faints before he can fully confess. Police helicopters arrive and demand that Batman hand Bell over. Batman drops Bell into a swimming pool, which awakens him, and the police arrest him.

Meanwhile, Bruce sneaks into Fox's room in the hospital through the window to clear his name, but Fox, visibly frightened, summons the police guarding his door and Bruce is arrested.

Teddy Lupus, Hagen's stunt double and best friend (also the only other man who knows about his condition), finds Hagen's car in an alley. Approaching, he puts his hand on Hagen's shoulder, only to realize it has a consistency like that of clay. Hagen rises and looks into the rear-view mirror. Seeing that he has become a living golem of clay, he screams in horror.

Part II

Feat of Clay Transform

Clayface mimics his old roles without even thinking about it.

In his trailer, Hagen remembers how be became addicted to Renuyu in the first place: he was horribly disfigured in a car crash years ago, and Daggett approached him, offering to let him be a test subject for Renuyu. Hagen eagerly accepted, knowing that the substance could change his face in seconds, while plastic surgery would take years to correct his disfigurement. But after he became addicted, he became Daggett's henchman, often impersonating people illegally, just to keep his supply constant.

Now an animated mound of clay, he also remembers his past movies and successes, and Teddy is surprised to see his face changing to a normal human's as he walks past his various movie posters. Hagen stops and practices, realizing that now he can imitate any face, any garment, any voice, any shape. Teddy is exultant, but Hagen bellows that the shape shifting takes too much effort, and he can't keep it up for long before breaking down in tears.

With revenge on his mind, Hagen reasons that Daggett will send someone else to finish off Lucius Fox, and that person will lead Hagen back to Daggett. He infiltrates the hospital disguised as a male nurse, intent on killing Daggett's assassin, impersonating him and killing Daggett in the disguise.

Meanwhile, Bruce is released from prison on bail, thanks to some phone calls by Alfred. Batman also infiltrates the hospital and catches Germs in the act of trying to smother Fox. Germs flees, but is cornered, to his horror, in a storage closet holding a vast collection of bacteriological and virological samples. Batman places one of these, supposedly an incurable disease, above Germs' head, and demands to know who impersonated Bruce Wayne for Daggett. When Germs hesitates, Batman punches the wall, causing the vial to teeter on the edge. Germs breaks down and gives Hagen's name, but before he can reveal how Hagen impersonated Bruce, a police officer enters and demands Batman hand over Germs. Batman asks for a second longer (revealing the vial to be mere seawater) but the officer attacks him with a massive clay arm, revealing himself to be Hagen, and abducts Germs.

Feat of Clay Fight

Clayface generates metal weapons to fight Batman.

Taking him to the roof of the hospital, Hagen is about to throw him off the edge, but Germs is rescued by Batman. While Hagen tries to imitate Batman, he is unable to do it fully, and instead attacks him with an array of assorted weapons, from a fork to a massive block of solid clay. Batman, horrified at first at the extent of Hagen's powers, nevertheless realizes his true identity. He barely saves Germs as Hagen escapes by throwing himself off the building and slithering away through the sewers.

Hagen, while hiding out at Teddy's house, makes his final plans to kill Daggett, much to Teddy's objections. Hagen finally snaps, lashes out at Teddy and leaves.

On Summer Gleeson's talk show, Daggett is giving an interview about the wondrous properties of Renuyu, as an instant and over-the-counter alternative to cosmetic surgery. An obese woman stands up in the audience, asking Daggett about rumors she's heard that Renuyu is actually highly addictive and has harmful side effects. Daggett, sweating slightly, denies any such thing, but then the woman asks him to demonstrate what an overdose of the stuff will do — and reveals herself as Hagen, much to the audience's horror.

Batman sneaks into the studio's control room. Hagen strikes and nearly kills Daggett, but Batman arrives to stop him. Daggett tries a run for it, but Batman subdues him and begins battling Hagen, who now calls himself Clayface.

Feat of Clay Uncontroled

Clayface loses control.

The fight carries up into the control room. Batman is no match for Clayface's powers, but then he plugs a tape in and turns on all the monitors. Clayface is deluged with images of himself from his acting days, and he loses control as his body reflexively starts to imitate all of them at once. Crashing into a panel, he screams as electricity surges through his body, and collapses. During his spastic transformations, his Bruce Wayne face appears long enough for arriving police officers to see it. Hagen's face briefly assumes its real — disfigured — appearance, and he laments that he has just had a spectacular death scene, but won't be able to read the reviews.

Later, with Daggett in custody, Lucius Fox recovers and is relieved to know that the Bruce Wayne who attacked him was an imposter. Later on, Batman conducts test on a small piece of clay left behind after Hagen's body was taken away. He finds that electricity has no effect on it, and, alongside Clayface's cryptic description of his death as a "scene," comes to the terrible conclusion that Clayface is still alive.

Teddy, in front of the hospital, grieves for Hagen's death, while Clayface, disguised as a young woman, laughs in dark glee as his voice deepens and his eyes glow yellow.

Continuity

Background information

Home video releases

Production notes

  • Many fans and critics have praised the episode for its dark tone. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini were reportedly so pleased with the episode that they preferred to have it stand alone, and so did not bring Clayface back as a character for a very long time. Similarly, "Heart of Ice" stood alone as the only episode featuring Mr. Freeze for a full season, until "Deep Freeze".
  • Originally, Max Shreck, the tertiary (later secondary) antagonist of Batman Returns was supposed to appear in this episode, along his company Shreck's. But Tim Burton (the director of Batman Returns) didn't like the idea; and the producers created Roland Daggett and Daggett Industries for this and further episodes.

Production inconsistencies

  • When Bell is first shown at the "meeting" of Fox and "Wayne", he isn't wearing his headphones, but in the first close-up of him right after Fox is pinned down and knocked unconscious, he suddenly has them on.
  • When Bell pours the vat of Renuyu down Hagen's throat, Hagen is still able to yell, "No! Don't!" clearly, even though he should be gagging. Also, when Bell makes it clear that he intends to force-feed him the canister, Hagen does not close his mouth, and instead appears to swallow it willingly.
  • It is stated that Hagen's disfigurement from the car accident was a secret from the public thanks to the Renuyu formula, yet in his trailer, newspaper cuttings mentioning Hagen's disfigurement are seen hanging from his mirror. If this news made it to the papers, it seems unlikely Hagen would have not been able to explain the repairing of his face so quickly, as he later claims that plastic surgery would have taken a good few years to cure him.
  • Upon Germs and Bell's discovery of Hagen in the laboratory, they are both armed with pistols, but afterwards, Bell's gun vanishes, and Germs' weapon changes from a pistol to a rifle.
  • After using up the Renuyu cream, Hagen declares the jar is empty and flings it at the window. However, after he leaves, Teddy looks at the floor, and it is clearly seen that there is still some cream left in it, although it is possible that it is too little and could be considered as good as none left.
  • When Batman goes to Hagen's trailer for clues, he finds the empty jar of Renuyu that Hagen threw at the window. The jar is much smaller and of a different design than what was used by Hagen earlier.
  • Upon his release from prison on bail in Part II, Bruce tells Alfred that Bell claimed to have known nothing about who impersonated him, but in Part I, Bell passed out before he could tell Batman anything.
  • In Part I, Germs appears to be a rather good fighter holding his own against Batman, yet when Batman confronts him in Part II, Germs runs away, terrified of him.
  • Daggett orders Bell and Germs to kill Hagen, yet they do this by force-feeding an entire canister of the Renuyu formula down Hagen's throat and leaving Hagen's dying body in full open view. This would very likely lead to Daggett's arrest and conviction if the police found Hagen's body and performed an autopsy, leaving it unclear why Germs and Bell did this rather than kill Hagen outright or take his body to a safer place.
  • In Part I, Bruce is forced to sneak into Fox's hospital room through the window in order to confront him and is arrested by security guards watching the door when Fox summons them, yet in Part II, Germs, a man of much less social fame than Bruce, easily enters Fox's room through the door, and when he runs away from Batman, there are no guards present.
  • In Part II, Clayface plans to kill Germs and impersonate him in order to get close to Daggett and kill him, but upon capturing Germs, he prepares to throw him off the hospital roof in full public view rather than hide his body to ensure Daggett won't be suspicious.
  • In Part I, when Daggett asks Bell about the man he hired, Germs takes off his headphones when he doesn't respond. Daggett says, "Now then...", and Bell answers him, even though he obviously didn't hear the question (although it is possible that Bell was deliberately ignoring him).

Trivia

  • First Appearances: Clayface, Lucius Fox, and Roland Daggett.
  • According to Batman's all points bulletin while on the lookout for him, Raymond Bell is 5'10, 170 lbs, and about 35 years old.
  • This episode has some similarities to the two-parter episode "Two-Face":
    • An origin story centered around a public figure with a troubling secret (Matt Hagen with his facial condition and Harvey Dent with his "Big Bad Harv" persona).
    • Before his transformation, the main villain's secret is kept by a powerful criminal who could easily destroy him (Roland Daggett supplies Hagen with Renuyu to restore his face, while Rupert Thorne keeps the file with the incriminating information against Dent).
    • Part I ends with the main villain looking into a mirror and screaming in horror upon seeing what he has become.
    • In Part II, the main villain seeks revenge against the one who turned him into a monstrous being.
    • The main villain adopts a new name with the word "Face" at the end of it.
    • Out of compassion, Batman offers to help the main villain find a cure for his condition.
    • Batman is able to defeat the main villain in a psychological manner (overwhelming Clayface by showing him his past roles, and agitating Two-Face by mixing up his coin with others).
  • The title is a pun on the biblical phrase feet of clay from The Book of Daniel, 2:33-45, used to indicate a weakness or a hidden flaw in the character of a respected person:
Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image ... his feet part of iron and part of clay. ... And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.

— Daniel, 2:33-45


  • The episode shares its title with an episode of the short-lived Birds of Prey TV series, which also featured Clayface.
  • The Imperial Pictures lot bears a striking resemblance to the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank, California.
  • This episode has a similar subplot to the feature film Catwoman, as both stories feature a rejuvenating cream with harmful side effects, addictive properties, and some superhuman enhancement.
  • This episode also has a similar subplot to Christopher Nolan's film, The Dark Knight Rises, as both stories feature Daggett, in the latter renamed John Daggett, joining forces with supervillains to take over Wayne Enterprises by unethical and illegal means, though the supervillains are Bane and Catwoman instead of Clayface. Daggett betrays Catwoman early on in the film, making him her target for revenge like in "Batgirl Returns", but he is later betrayed and killed by Bane.

Cast

Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Bruce Wayne/Batman
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Alfred
Ed Asner Roland Daggett
Ed Begley, Jr. Germs
Stagehand (uncredited)
Mari Devon Summer Gleeson
Dispatcher (uncredited)
Fat Woman (uncredited)
Young Woman (uncredited)
Ron Perlman Matt Hagen/Clayface
Brock Peters Lucius Fox
Scott Valentine Raymond Bell
Dick Gautier Teddy Lupus
Cop (uncredited)
Wayne's Lawyer (uncredited)

Quotes

Teddy: That stuff makes your face like putty. It can't be good for ya.
Hagen: It probably ain't good for me, but unless I only want to do horror pictures, it ain't bad for me either.


Germs: Please, let me out of here! All these viruses and bacteria! I could be... infected!
Batman: I know.


Batman: (trying to identify Bell) I know my fist has landed on that jaw once before.


Clayface: What are you doing? Stop it!
Batman: Look at them, Hagen. Look at was you used to be.
Clayface: No, no. Turn them off.
Batman: You can play those roles again, Hagen. Let me help you find a cure.
Clayface: No! Hagen's gone! Make him stop haunting me!


Clayface: You know what I'd have given for a death scene like this? (Transforms to his disfigured face) Too bad I won't get to... read the notices.


Batman: I wouldn't be surprised if the body they took to the morgue was just a shell. Don't forget, Hagen was once an actor. He said so himself. He called it a "scene", maybe the greatest scene of his career. A death scene so real, he fooled us all.



Previously produced episode:
"Prophecy of Doom"
Episodes of
Batman: The Animated Series
Next produced episode:
"Joker's Favor"
Previously aired episode:
"Heart of Ice"
Next aired episode:
"It's Never Too Late"

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