UPDATE 2 – 10 Aug: Scott Adkins, according to some sources, has had an audition. The British stuntman/martial artist certainly has the physical ability to portray The Dark Knight (following impressive fight choreography in THE WOLVERINE and THE EXPENDABLES 2) – but can he actually act? I haven’t thus-far seen anything to make me assume that he can. Teaching fighters to act rather than actors to fight has historically had mixed results (just look at 80s action cinema). But who knows?
UPDATE – 7 Aug: Zack Snyder is reportedly wanting to go for an older actor as Wayne/Bats (Good!) and one of the current front runners is still Josh Brolin (still can’t see it). Brolin wouldn’t be a terrible choice though – he isn’t a stranger to comic book adaptations, and I guess he has the right jaw-line. But if you’re going for an actor around or just past 40, then I’d prefer someone like Richard Armitage or Matthew Macfadyen, both of whom are big guys well-versed Bat-growling.
Since it was announced at Comic Con at the weekend that Superman would be joining forces (or super-scrapping with) Batman in his next film appearance (again directed by Zack Snyder), one issue has been hotly debated above all others – who’s going to don the Bat-cowl? The bookies’ current favourites can be found at The Guardian.
Christian Bale recently ruled himself out of the running, though some sites are still reporting his return as “unlikely”. Bale was never in contention – he’s Christopher Nolan’s super-serious take on The Caped Crusader, and always will be. He wouldn’t fit into an expanded DC film continuity incorporating colourful and bizarre heroes like Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and Martian Manhunter. And no, the downbeat tone of this year’s MAN OF STEEL doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference.
Also out of the running, then, is one of the bookie’s current favourites Joseph Gordon-Levitt, tied as he is to the Nolanverse. It’s also highly unlikely that anyone currently portraying a superhero or villain in a series will be considered, so that rules out X-MEN stalwarts Michael Fassbender and Hugh Jackman. Chris Pine is still busy with STAR TREK, Armie Hammer will be considered box-office poison for a while following THE LONE RANGER, and both Bradley Cooper and Channing Tatum appear to be moving towards starring in more “serious” fare.
Critical darling Ryan Gosling is a popular choice, and he’s undeniably a fine actor, but I just can’t see him in the part. Jake Gyllenhaal and Gerard Butler would both be wrong, as would Josh Brolin.
In short, I don’t really like the idea of any of the “smart money” options donning the cape and ears. I’d love for an older actor to be cast in the role as it might set up an interesting relationship dynamic with Henry Cavill’s youthful Superman, but I think a lesser-known name than Brad Pitt or John Hamm would be preferable.
It would be amusing if they cast another Brit, so we can carry on boasting that the three most famous American superheroes (Superman, Batman and Spider-Man) belong to us. Maybe scour the UK telebox for someone who fits the bill, but hasn’t had their American break yet? Or take a risk and hire a comedian again – last time Warner Bros did that they got Michael Keaton and he was excellent. Why not just get on the fans’ side and hire Kevin Conroy? Yeh, he’s most famous for voice-acting and approaching 60, but he’s a big, handsome guy who everyone who watched BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES still loves.
I honestly don’t think we’ve even heard of the next Batman. I reckon he’ll be plucked out of obscurity just as Cavill was (yes, I know he was in THE TUDORS, but how many other people did?) The best Batmen (Keaton, Bale, Conroy) portrayed Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego as distinct personalities, and whoever the lucky winner is will also need to get in touch with the mournful soul of the character, and make the viewer understand his strict moral code. Not that they can’t have fun with it as well – Batman’s often portrayed as a bit of a misery-guts, but billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne could be taken in completely the opposite direction when in the public eye.
Patrick Wilson from WATCHMEN might also be an interesting choice, though his character Nite Owl essentially being a parody of Batman in that makes it a slim possibility. Still, of the previous Snyder collaborators, he’s the best fit.
Who will it be? I don’t know. It’s certainly a big utility belt to fill, and I look forward to the result. SSP