DC Animated Universe
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"You've upstaged me for the last time, Batman. Time to bring down the curtain."[1]

Matthew "Matt" Hagen was once a famous actor who became the villain Clayface after over-exposure to Renuyu.


Early career and transformation[]

At one time, Matt Hagen was a famous actor, but he became facially disfigured after a car accident. Finding work became difficult, and he feared the worst for his career. Things took a change, however, when he was visited by Roland Daggett, who offered Hagen a second chance. Daggett had developed the Renuyu cream, an untested drug that could reconfigure a person's face, and Hagen was the perfect specimen to try it. Though Hagen agreed to use the cream, he didn't realize the true nature of the situation.

Daggett offers Hagen some hope

A mangled Hagen accepts Daggett's offer.

Ever the businessman, Daggett demanded that Hagen commit various crimes using his ability to impersonate people. Daggett's main competition was Wayne Industries; as a result, Hagen began impersonating Bruce Wayne and attempted to murder Lucius Fox. Hagen failed due to Batman's interference, and Daggett had his supply of the Renuyu cream cut. Addicted to the formula, Hagen broke into Daggett Labs in an attempt to steal the drug. Unfortunately, two of Daggett's thugs surprised him and hyper-saturated the actor in the formula by drowning him with a canister of Renuyu.

Clayface fakes his death

Hagen fakes his death.

However instead of killing him, the cream bonded to Hagen's cellular structure and turned him into a hulking humanoid mass of living clay. He quickly discovered that the transformation gave him the ability to manipulate his body into any shape or form he desired, to the point of fashioning clothes - however, maintaining it for an extended period of time was as impossible as permanently clenching a muscle, meaning he would spend the rest of his life as a freak.

Though his boyfriend, Teddy tried to calm him down, Hagen angrily lashed out at him, and went after Daggett. Batman intervened and they battled until Clayface (the name Hagen had adopted) escaped through the sewers. Arriving at Gotham Insider, Clayface interrupted Daggett's commercial about Renuyu and tried to kill the businessman only to be stopped once again by Batman. Following Clayface at the AV Room, Batman used multiple images of Hagen's early movies to make Clayface emotionally unstable and cause him to lose control of his abilities. In desperation Clayface tried to kill Batman but destroyed a screen and seemingly electrocuted himself. However, his stasis was momentary; the police left with a shell, and the true Clayface escaped in a form of a woman.[2]

Decay and regeneration[]

Clayface falling apart

Clayface falling apart.

Clayface returned a few months later, but he was falling apart. The Renuyu formula was destabilizing his cellular structure, and he needed to restore it or dissolve altogether. Seeking help to keep himself alive, he visited Dr. Stella Bates, a doctor who had worked on one of Hagen's films as a medical consultant. It is implied that Dr. Bates had fallen in love with Hagen or more precisely his screen persona. Clayface, in turn, subtly manipulated her by reciting lines of dialogue from his films that she thought were directed at her literally, hence reinforcing her belief that he loved her. She found a way to keep Clayface alive through an experimental isotope called the MP-40, which would also restore if not increase his powers. The isotope, however, was property of Wayne Biomedical. Clayface broke into the labs and tried to steal the chemical, but only managed to grab a small amount due to the arrival of Batman.

Clayface suit

Clayface in his special coating.

At Stella's lab, Clayface underwent some of the restoration process, but Batman interrupted him, inciting a struggle. The battle coursed its way outside the building, into the rainy night, and peaked at a riverside cliff. Clayface threw himself at Batman, but his weakened state (amplified by the absorption of the rainwater) made him slow and cumbersome, and Batman dodged his attacks long enough for Clayface to start falling apart. Though the Dark Knight tried to save him, Clayface still plummeted off the cliff, falling to his presumed death in the ocean below where he dissolved.[1]

Clayface's shoplifting interrupted

Clayface's shop-lift scheme is interrupted.

However, Clayface survived. Though dissolving in the water, he remained composed long enough to reach a nearby factory, where he was doused with unknown chemicals that were being dumped into the river. The chemicals restored him, but he was at a complete loss. The restoration granted him the ability to separate his body into different entities, and he created a small spawn of himself to search the area. However, the spawn became amnesiac after its separation from the host, and left Clayface, thinking itself to be a mere child. Clayface wanted to complete himself, and after collecting his bearings pursued the girl. Meanwhile, Robin discovered the girl, named her Annie, and tried to help her find her identity. The trail led them back to the sewers, where Clayface waited. The familiar territory restored Annie's fledgling memory, and after a struggle, she was reabsorbed back into Clayface. In rage, Robin attempted to force Clayface to restore her, but the villain stated that was impossible. Although Clayface was defeated and taken to Arkham Asylum, Robin silently complained that he should be charged with murder for Annie's fate.[3]

Clayface escaped and returned to Gotham City, where he committed a series of thefts on Christmas Eve. Separating his body into a group of homeless children, he sent them to steal from Gotham Mall during the holiday season. Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya were undercover researching the thefts when Clayface finally appeared. With the help of Batgirl, the three used electricity to subdue and capture Clayface.[4]

Secret Society[]

Clayface rescued

Clayface with Gorilla Grodd and the Secret Society shortly after his rescue from Morgan Edge.

A few years later, Clayface was captured by black market collector Morgan Edge after being quarantined in bio-hazard containers. Desiring one more adept for his team, Grodd and the Secret Society broke into Edge's mansion and freed Clayface from his imprisonment. Unlike his new teammates, though, Clayface didn't want revenge, money, or power. He merely wanted to be human again. Grodd promised Clayface a cure that would allow him to look like his former self, yet retain his shapeshifting powers. Clayface accepted the offer and joined the Society. Batman tracked Clayface to a chemical factory, where the Secret Society attacked the Justice League. Though the fight ended poorly for the Justice League, they survived. However, immediately following the fight, the League's escalating personal differences erupted, causing the League to disband and literally walk away from each other. The Secret Society capitalized on the situation and began to capture the heroes one by one. In the second battle, J'onn J'onzz battled Clayface, posed as him, and duped Killer Frost into freezing the real Clayface (who had shapeshifted into J'onn's own form during the fight). J'onn continued the impersonation until Grodd planned to execute the Justice League in front of thousands of fans at Gotham Football Stadium. When J'onn freed the rest of the League, Clayface was unfrozen as well. The Justice League regrouped on the spot and fought the Secret Society once more, this time on a grand stage. The League was ultimately victorious, and during the battle, the Flash shoved several fireworks into Clayface which Hawkgirl ignited. The fireworks sent Clayface off into the air and exploded with him, but his fate remains unknown.

Abilities and equipment[]

"What gave me away?
"You overplayed your part, 'yo'.
— Clayface

Even before his mutation, Hagan was a brilliant master of disguise. Between his talent for acting and skill with cosmetics, he could effectively impersonate people with ease, even mimic their voices.

Clayface's unique cellular structure allowed him to transform his body into any shape or form he desired, allowing him to escape arrest frequently. Additionally, Clayface could extend his limbs a considerable distance, and could also control his size and density, granting him some level of superhuman strength. Because of this, he was able to fashion blades, spikes, and massive blocks out of his form. Finally, Clayface's amorphous body was able to absorb various objects, which he'd use to suffocate opponents.

After he was revived by the chemicals at a factory, Clayface had the ability to separate himself into different entities at once. While he faked death by electrocution in his first run in with Batman, it was later proven voltage had no detrimental effect on his clay body. In later circumstances, however, Batman was able to restrain him with an electrified Batarang. It was never revealed why this worked, though it is possible that the chemicals that revived him after almost dissolving also stripped him of this immunity to electricity. He also, at least at first, could not maintain his transformations since maintaining them required a lot of willpower, similar to keeping a muscle clenched.

Background information[]

  • There have been several different Clayfaces in the comics, with the DCAU version of Clayface taking elements from the Matt Hagen, Basil Karlo and Preston Payne incarnations.
    • The first Clayface, Basil Karlo, was an actor, and originally nothing but a man in a mask. Created by Bob Kane, Karlo was based on Lon Chaney, "The Man of a Thousand Faces" (a name also used for Hagen in "Feat of Clay") and named after Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff.
    • Matt Hagen was a treasure hunter who was turned to living mud after finding a mysterious pool of protoplasm. His powers were temporary, and he needed to return to the pool until he managed to recreate the protoplasm, which had a lasting influence on the Clayface legacy.
    • Preston Payne was a victim of chronic hyperpituitarism which distorted his body. Desperate to cure his physical deformities, Payne sought out the world's foremost cosmetic surgeons, to ill success, until he learned about the existence of Matt Hagen.
  • Much like Two-Face, Clayface's appearance underwent little change for his appearances in The New Batman Adventures. His appearance was a bit lighter and had sharper edges (like most characters at this point), but overall his form was quite similar to his original look. However, when Clayface used his shapeshifting ability on The New Batman Adventures and Justice League, there was a noticeable visual difference from his previous shapeshifting on Batman: The Animated Series. On a DVD special feature, Bruce Timm credits this improvement with a new studio who better understood how such a power would "flow" visually.
  • In the tie-in comic Batman Adventures Vol 2 #14, his interest in acting was revealed to have been from him being a fan of Simon Trent.


Batman: The Animated Series

The New Batman Adventures

Justice League


  1. 1.0 1.1 Burnett, Alan (story) & Perry, Steve (teleplay) & Radomski, Eric (director) (September 15, 1993). "Mudslide". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 2. Episode 3 (airdate). Episode 52 (production). FOX Kids.
  2. Wolfman, Marv, Reaves, Michael (story) & Reaves, Michael (teleplay) & Altieri, Kevin (director) (September 9, 1992). "Feat of Clay, Part II". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 1. Episode 5 (airdate). Episode 21 (production). FOX Kids.
  3. Goodman, Robert (writer) & Dini, Paul & Goodman, Robert (story) & Tanaka, Atsuko (director) (February 28, 1998). "Growing Pains". The New Batman Adventures. Episode 8 (airdate). Episode 8 (production). Season 1. Kids WB!.
  4. Dini, Paul (writer) & Riba, Dan (director) (September 13, 1997). "Holiday Knights". The New Batman Adventures. Episode 1 (airdate). Episode 1 (production). Season 1. Kids WB!.
  5. Justice League, "Secret Society"