In July, when Zack Snyder announced that Batman would have a role in the Man of Steel sequel, the internet went ablaze with excitement and speculation. A major issue of speculation was casting; who would play Batman? After Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale each succeeded and/or failed at making the character their own, who would be the actor to bring the next wave of Batman films into an eventual Justice League franchise for Warner Brothers and DC?
When that question was finally answered, and Ben Affleck was cast as the Dark Knight, the internet imploded in ways that, well, in ways that wouldn’t implode to such degrees until Miley Cyrus touched herself on MTV one week later. So, yeah, the Batman casting news came and went from the headlines, but we comic’s writers at Sound On Sight decided to bring the debate back, with our picks of who we think should have been cast to play the sixth incarnation of Batman.
Here are our choices…
By Tony Nunes
When Harry Lenix joined Zack Snyder on stage at Comic Con to announce the Batman/Superman crossover, he quoted theses famous words; “I want you to remember, Clark…in all the years to come…in your most private moments…I want you to remember…my hand…at your throat…I want…you to remember…the one man who beat you.”
Those words of course come from a 55-year-old Batman during a fight with Superman in what is my favorite, and quite possibly the greatest Batman story ever; Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Quoting those lines, and teasing at that most famous of conflicts between Batman and Superman made me hope that DC and Warner Brothers were actually adapting TDKR for the big-screen. As we now know, they are not. My question is however, why the hell not? Ok, I get it, I see that they want to mimic the success of the Marvel tent-pole effect which will lead to an eventual Justice League movie, but TDKR would make an amazing film. That’s why my pick for the actor who should play Batman is Mickey Rourke.
Rourke has the build and the broken look that 55-year-old Bruce Wayne has in Miller’s books. Sure, Rourke played another dark, hulking antihero in the film adaptation of Miller’s Sin City, but to me, that’s even more of a reason why he’d be perfect as Batman. I won’t go into plot details, because if you haven’t yet read TDKR I urge you to do so immediately. I will however note that Rourke’s Batman could have more heart and character than any other superhero portrayal we’ve seen to date.
By Alex McKinnon
I know it sounds crazy, but how about… Ben Affleck? Honestly, I was relieved to hear him cast after some of the names that were being tossed around (True Blood’s Joe Manganiello was a particularly horrifying suggestion.) First of all, Affleck looks the part. Henry Cavill’s Superman boasts a ludicrously imposing stature and physique, and Affleck is one of the few leading men out there who could at least share the screen without getting laughed off. Granted, Batman is supposed to be a bit more grounded in everyman qualities than our dear Man of Steel, but people like Ryan Gosling or Joseph Gordon Levitt would appear downright boyish and silly next to Cavill. Affleck’s just right.
I’ll happily concede that Affleck’s career has seen some uniquely putrid lows. Personally, I think that history serves him well. Batman should be seasoned, should be a guy who has been around the block. While Cavill is fresh faced, innocent, and practically anonymous, Affleck’s been on the cover of every gossip rag the world over. That’s exactly how Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne should be. There was a time (the much reviled Bennifer era) that Affleck was straight up untouchable, an object of unique scorn and contempt in our culture. Yet like Bruce Wayne himself, he pulled himself up from the abyss. Somewhat appropriately, he regained public favour with his performance as George Reeves in Hollywoodland. In that film, Affleck brought to life the dark underbelly and tragic downfall of a man famous for playing Superman. What is Batman if not Superman’s shadowy reflection? That’s literally the character’s genesis. Superman is the American Dream, and Batman the American Nightmare. Batman started his life at the top, and then faced a catastrophic fall from grace. The same can be said of Affleck.
Since Hollywoodland, Affleck has also proven adept behind the camera. Already an Academy Award Winning Screenwriter, his first features as a Director were the much acclaimed Gone Baby Gone and The Town, a pair of gritty crime dramas absolutely bursting with corruption, organized crime, and garishly costumed thugs. The Boston Affleck brought to life in those films was a cape and cowl short of Gotham City. He knows the world Batman inhabits. Intimately. Heck, in The Town, Affleck even played an authoritative, calculating figure fighting to bury profound senses of guilt and empathy in order to better do his job. Sound familiar? It takes a lot of intelligence, work, and discipline to put together an award winning movie. Few actors have masterminded big successes quite like Affleck, and what’s Batman if not the ultimate mastermind?
Back when Christian Bale was cast as Batman, I thought it was perfect. If there was a single actor in film history that embodied obsession, it was him. Yet Bale’s Batman wound up too gruff, emotional, and theatrical for my tastes. Bale’s at his best playing ‘big’, as his work in The Fighter and American Psycho can attest. Affleck, on the other hand, has been putting in the most subdued work of his career of late. My Batman isn’t ‘big’. He’s cool, calm, and collected. Hardened. Grizzled. He’s seen it all, done it all. Just like Affleck.
By Sean Tonelli
Tim Burton’s Batman is my earliest cinematic memory. I remember waiting in line, an image of the bat-symbol silhouetted by Michael Keaton and all my wonderful toys. I’ve seen every Bat-film on the day it has been released, and currently Batman is my only Big-two comic grab. Yes, I’m a hipster and only read indies. So it’s safe to say I’m a pretty big Bat-fan. Yet when Ben Affleck was announced as the new Batman for the upcoming Man of Steel sequel, my first gut-reaction was and probably always will be; wow, what an excellent choice.
A Two-time Academy award winning film-maker, who rose to the heights of the Hollywood echelon, only to be brought back down after flying to closely to the sun. Ben Affleck is a man who has battled his share of critics, alcoholism, gambling and his own hubris. He has his own Bat-cave. He can go toe to toe with any comic geek on the net. And yes, he was truly was the bomb in Phantoms. Ben Affleck is Batman and it’s inspired.
While my choice for Batman is Ben Affleck, I suppose if I had to pick someone else to play the caped crusader, I’d have to go the opposite direction, aim younger, and pick Ryan Gosling. My soft-spot for my London, Ontario neighbor aside, Gosling is one of the most fearless and talented actors working today. He’s made a knack recently playing tortured vigilantes and I can’t think of anyone more suited to playing Batman other than him. He’s well on his way to an Oscar and a storied career, so maybe since Batman is taken he could grab Ben’s old horns and hop onto the Daredevil reboot that’s being tossed around? Can I start that trend yet? #Gosling4DD
By Thomas O’Connor
Picking somebody to play Batman is really just a game of “pick the dark haired, white male actor with a strong chin and passable acting abilities, or Idris Elba if you want to be controversial” and Hollywood is never short of square-jawed thespians with at least some talent. But if you really want to do it properly, you need to consider what are the essential bat-qualities a really good bat-actor would need. Gotta be well-built, obviously, and have at least some experience with fight scenes. Gotta be able to brood and do the tragic hero bit, and be angry and haunted without going over-the-top and spending the movie shouting like he’s got a broken lawnmower engine for a larynx.
For me, the obvious choice is Michael Fassbender, who first really burst onto the scene back in 2011. Fassbender’s got the acting chops, having wowed critics in flicks like Shame and Inglourious Basterds. He’s proved he can do fight scenes in Haywire and 300, and IMDB even lists one of his trademarks as “Acting with his eyes”, a valuable skill if you’re spending most of the movie behind a mask.
But really, it’s Fassbender’s intensity that makes him work for the role, his ability to command a room and a scene, and if you need proof of that, the quiet intensity from this scene in 2008’s Hunger should just about do the trick.
By Logan Dalton
Karl Urban would be a great choice for Batman because of his acting range and lack of ego. Over a long career, Urban has played a variety of roles from the Rohan warrior Eomer in the Lord of the Rings and Kirill, the villain of Bourne Supremacy to the titular role in Dredd and Dr. “Bones” McCoy in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films. He has mainly appeared in action films so the training and martial arts part of being Batman should be a breeze for him. He will also be 43, which is the perfect age for the older Batman that Zack Snyder wants for this film.
Urban cares more about the characters that he plays and not his fame. For example, unlike Sylvester Stallone in Judge Dredd, Karl Urban never took the helmet off in Dredd and didn’t care about his own “face time”. The actor who plays Batman needs to be able to get lost in this psychologically complex character who has 74 years of back history to build on. Some fans and critics are concerned that Urban can’t play both Batman and Bruce Wayne. However, Urban has played a variety of characters from fantasy warriors and soldiers to secret agents and cowboys. Even though he mainly plays dirty, gritty characters, he cleans up quite nicely on the red carpet and could be a believable playboy debonaire. His background with military characters will suit a Batman who will probably use heavy weaponry to fight Superman and Lex Luthor and the film. Karl Urban is also a geek who loves Indiana Jones and Star Trek and actually read the Judge Dredd comics while preparing for the role. His experience making genre and comics films will ensure that turn as the Caped Crusader will be accurate to the comics.
By Will Cowan
Batman is dying out. His backstory and personal struggles are becoming routine in the films and we have all seen it done before. We have seen it done well and done terribly, so now I think it is time to step in a new direction with the character, at least on film. During the early 2000’s, Batman Beyond hit cartoon syndication and quickly made into a fan favorite, detailing the adventures of a young, new Batman as well as an older, frailer Bruce Wayne. Since the series end, many have wondered on who should play the part of the old Bats, and my pick is on Michael Ironside. This human tank has the presence as well as the toughness to be a believable older Batman, and can easily bulk up enough to show the sheer size of what Batman should be. It would be a new beginning in the character’s relationship with his audience and a chance to show the world a different side of the character that isn’t just a brooding man in a mask. Ironside can make people easily believe that he is the one in control of every situation, but he can also portray a softer Dark Knight, one of which that has a dry sense of humor that the character so desperately needs after the constantly dark and dreary Christian Bale Bats. Ironside can spark a new light in Batman that film audiences haven’t seen before and reinvigorate the character as a whole.