This weekend at Comic-Con Warner Bros dropped a bombshell: instead of announcing a sequel to this summer’s “Man of Steel” (or a full-on “Justice League” movie), they revealed they would instead be bringing a Batman/Superman team-up movie to the big screen. Once again overseen by the “Man of Steel” team of director Zack Snyder and writer David S. Goyer (with Christopher Nolan taking a distant executive producer role this time around), the movie will likely retain much of the “Man of Steel” cast (including Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburne), while folding in a presumably new Batman mythology. What they didn’t say was who would be putting on the cape and cowl. Let the speculation begin!
The actor eventually chosen to be the new Batman will have to have a few attributes—they’ll have to be at least somewhat physically imposing and be able to perform a physically demanding role (not only will there be a number of fight sequences, undoubtedly, but wearing the suit is a task in and of itself); they will have to be comfortable with signing on for a number of movies (sequels, spin-offs, whatever); they need leading-man presence and acting chops (presumably whoever plays Batman will have a lot less screen time to establish who this Batman is compared to the already established Superman). Moreover, they’ll have to have some chemistry with Henry Cavill, while at the same not outshining him either. It’s a daunting proposition, but that’s not going to stop it being highly, highly coveted.
Even within that set of parameters the kind of actor they’ll be looking for depends on the kind of Batman the writers are going for. Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” series, after all, showed us that after many different kinds of Batman stories, there are always other ways to approach even the most established of characters. We’ve chosen five different potential kinds of Batman (seeing as we’re not privy to the tack they’re taking), and picked out a list of five actors who could fulfil the needs of that character if Snyder and Goyer actually go there.
The Equal/The Actor Who’s A True Rival – Matt Bomer
One of the actors who could truly pull off Batman and is an equal to Superman Henry Cavill‘s—both in terms of handsomeness and rough age range, while not being so famous as to be priced out of the market—is Matt Bomer. For years Bomer has been turning in small, memorable roles in movies like “In Time” and (hilariously) last summer’s “Magic Mike,” while starring in cable TV series “White Collar,” though mainstream stardom has eluded him. Playing Batman would certainly bring him stardom and then some, and besides having a really great chin (vital as it’s the part of the face that remains on view when donning the iconic Batman garb) Bomer has a darkness that he rarely gets to tap into, as evidenced in that scene in “Magic Mike” when he prods Channing Tatum into fondling his wife’s fake breasts. (He’s also proven himself comedically too, should Warner Bros. want to incorporate some lightness into the character.) Bomer isn’t a complete stranger to the DC Comics universe either; he voiced Superman in a direct-to-video animated feature earlier this year called “Superman: Unbound” and ironically, Brett Ratner wanted him for the lead role in the aborted, J.J. Abrams-penned Superman flick “Flyby” (read all about that right here). The only real downside is that Bomer’s so damn pretty, he’s not always threatening and he’d need to tap into some inner demons.
Odds They Go With This Kind Of Batman: It’s a possibility, though Bomer would probably have to have a phenomenal screen test alongside Cavill for chemistry. And is it possible the two are too alike?
The Idealist/The Actor That’s Familiar To The Franchise – Joseph Gordon-Levitt
At the end of “The Dark Knight Rises,” it was very clear that a new Dark Knight was rising in the form of Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s character, a beat cop from Gotham named John Blake (real name: Robin John Blake). At the time, it seemed like that was the end of the franchise and Gordon-Levitt’s role in it. In fact, that was the intention. There was never meant to be a sequel with Gordon-Levitt as Batman, and for fanboys hoping that would be the case, it’s far too literal an interpretation of what Nolan and Goyer built. What Nolan was trying to say was Batman was a symbol and symbols are eternal and live on. Nolan was adamant about that symbolism (this being much more powerful than the physical incarnation of John Blake as Batman) and as a producer of “Man of Steel,” it stands to reason the filmmaker would have argued the same going forward. But this is a new world now and Nolan’s not really involved in “Batman & Superman” (or whatever this world’s finest collaboration will actually be called) and will only take an executive producer credit, which means essentially very little active participation. So in many ways, WB and Snyder/Goyer are free of any Nolan rules in this new DC Universe. If they did go with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (which frankly, doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen, but it’s fun to discuss), there’s lot of potential DC Universe ramifications—effectively extending the Nolan Batman universe while simultaneously suggesting that both “Man of Steel” and those Batman movies exist in the same world (which takes a little logic leaping). The “cons” might ultimately outweigh the “pros” with casting Gordon-Levitt, whose physical stature suggests his Robin namesake more than Batman himself, and no matter how much Warner Bros. wants to quickly establish these franchises and this world (and this might be a shortcut to doing so), Nolan has long said his trilogy is closed and off-limits, so don’t hold your breath.
Odds They Go With This Kind Of Batman: Sorry, not gonna happen.
The Brute/The Actor Snyder Already Loves – Joe Manganiello
Zack Snyder has been outspoken about how hard it was to cast Superman. He made it equally clear that it came down to two actors—Cavill and Joe Manganiello, co-star of “True Blood” and (again) “Magic Mike.” Snyder, immediately after casting Cavill, was adamant that he loved Manganiello and that Cavill won out because of the “innocence” the actor possessed, something that would be wholly unnecessary for a certain black-suited avenger of the night who has been singularly obsessed by his parents’ murder for decades. Manganiello certainly has the physical presence for Batman and we can easily see him going toe-to-toe with Cavill both fighting-wise and in terms of swooning-lady handsomeness. Manganiello would have to shave his trademark salt-and-peppery beard but he’s got the extreme jawline necessary for wearing the cowl, so everything should be fine. His familiarity with Snyder, and Snyder’s genuine conviction that he was the only other real candidate for “Man of Steel” perhaps ups his chances considerably. This could be Snyder having his (beef) cake and eating it too. Problem is while known for his good looks, his imposing figure and his build, Manganiello’s not really known for his acting and while he’s fine in “True Blood” as the brooding, sensitive, ass-kicking werewolf hunk, he’s not exactly a thespian, and compared to say Christian Bale, this would seem like a major step backwards.
Odds They Go With This Kind Of Batman: A little doubtful, even if Snyder gives him his vote.
The Older, More Cynical Batman/The Actor We’d Love To See Them Consider – Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
As revealed in the Comic-Con presentation, this Batman/Superman movie will take a bit of tonal inspiration from Frank Miller‘s classic “Dark Knight Returns” series, though the filmmakers’ stressed it would not be a direct adaptation. However, one element they could be lifting from Miller’s take is the inclusion of an older, slightly grizzled and more cynical Batman. A darker Batman, one thinks, with a more of a by-any-means-necessary vigilante approach—at least compared to Superman’s method. If they decide to go with this approach, we think that a great option would be Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from HBO fantasy series “Game of Thrones” and this year’s sleeper hit “Mama.” Coster-Waldau is 42, which makes him 12 years older than Cavill, and as we’ve seen on “Game of Thrones,” he can certainly glint with handsome deliciousness with the best of them. More importantly, Coster-Waldau has the physical look and world-weariness that this interpretation of the character would require, and he can still kick ass with the best of them. If they are going with a slightly older version of Batman (or at least a wiser one with a much more pessimistic worldview which makes him the perfect rival for Superman), we can’t think of anyone better suited. The only snag, of course, would be fitting the shooting around Coster-Waldau’s difficult, time-intensive “Game of Thrones” schedule, but considering that both HBO and Warner Bros/DC are owned by the same parent company (Time Warner), we’re sure they’d make it work if they wanted to. And hey, it’s “Game of Thrones” so who knows if he even survives the next season?
Odds They Go With This Kind Of Batman: We’re not sure this is their approach, but we’d go with this choice in a heartbeat, simply because it’s potentially the most exciting.
The Brooder/The Actor In The Christian Bale Mold – Richard Armitage
Among the many questions posed by this new Batman is what direction the filmmakers and the studio will take the character, specifically after Nolan’s incarnation—is he going to be a somewhat lighter model, which should more easily allow for a team-up like this to happen (and pave the way for the more outwardly comic book-y “Justice League“) or will they stick with the more brooding version as established by Christopher Nolan‘s films with Christian Bale‘s performance? If the choice is the latter, we think Richard Armitage would be a pretty great option. Armitage would also be an “older” Batman option, since he’s 41, but the studio is already familiar with him, as he portrays Thorin Oakenshield in the three ‘Hobbit‘ films, and he’s got a bit of a comic book background, as well (he played a small role as a Nazi in “Captain America: The First Avenger“). Armitage has a similar, Bale-like intensity and the ability to convey a number of emotions through a glassy stare or purse-lipped facial expression. When it comes to the mood of the Dark Knight, especially when he’s at his darkest, Armitage could easily bring that to life. If they choose to go in the Christian Bale mold, he should be at the top of their potential list and with the ‘Hobbit’ movies done shooting, he’s very much available.
Odds They Go With This Kind Of Batman: A back-up choice, we could see this happening.
There’s one additional potential wildcard in the form of Armie Hammer. When we talked to Hammer a few weeks ago, he said he was “painfully close” to being Batman for the abandoned “Justice League” movie that was to be directed by George Miller (yes, he was in the cape and cowl at one point). With “The Lone Ranger” proving to be a nonstarter, that clears up Hammer’s schedule for the next few years and once again makes him a franchise free agent. The question, of course, is whether Warner Bros. will return to that well, or settle on someone entirely new. Hammer wasn’t exactly much of a personality in “The Lone Ranger” (he desperately needs a real director like David Fincher in “The Social Network,” his last decent role), so that’s a major strike against him. In the same way that the failure of ‘Lone Ranger’ frees up Hammer, the so-so box office of “Pacific Rim” could allow Charlie Hunnam to cross over, but he was the opposite of presence in the blockbuster, so the actor will have to prove himself before he’s considered for these big league shoes. We also thought that Luke Evans could be a good Batman (again) in the Christian Bale style, although his commitment to the on-again/off-again “The Crow” remake could throw that off and his charisma is up for debate. We’re also sure that there are a number of fresh-off-The–CW hunks that we’re completely unaware of, but that you can educate us about in the comments. So who are we forgetting about/unaware of? What kind of Batman do you think Snyder/Goyer/WB will go with? Sound off below as to who you would choose as the next Dark Knight.