Batcowl Revisted: 9 Performers Who Could Believably Answer the Bat-Signal in a Post-Bale Gotham
Anyone who follows movies, and anyone who follows Batman specifically, has known that, for better or worse, Warner Bros. will keep financing Batman movies for as long as the character's franchise generates profits consistent with several sovereign nations' combined GDP. With the latest announcements that an actual Justice League movie scheduled for 2015 has a plot and villain lined up, that Zack Snyder's forthcoming Man of Steel will help set it up, and that Michael Caine is totally ready to return as Alfred Pennyworth as soon as somebody asks, it no longer seems outside the realm of possibility that Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight universe could continue on even after the director and his lead star have left, rather than getting the hard reboot treatment.
It's been a month since Joseph Gordon-Levitt's people denied rumors that he will be appearing in Justice League, much less a new Batman, but as we approach the new Superman flick's release date we're bound to start getting more concrete news on the topic. After all, if shooting starts in 2014 then a script, a director, and a cast will have to be in place by the end of 2013.
Before that happens, let's see if we can figure out where WB and DC can go next, shall we?
Without spoiling The Dark Knight Rises for the two people yet to watch it and are interested, JGL taking the role would be the easiest and cleanest way to continue the Gotham (never "Gotham City") Nolan created. We movie fans seem to love us some Nolan-Batman, and while there are plenty of other stylistic avenues and genres to go down with the character, the recent trilogy is almost too successful for the studio to just abandon on the steps of an orphanage. For profit-reaping purposes, of course, not necessarily for creativity's sake.
If continuing Batman by way of JGL's Robin John Blake would be the simplest solution, then continuing Catwoman with Anne Hathaway would be the easiest to embrace. Her Selina Kyle had enough layers and motivations to carry at least one film of her own, set either before or after Rises, and those qualities immediately make it a better idea than the Halle Berry version. That is probably the definition of "damning with faint praise," but that doesn't change the fact Hathaway was the best part of the entire movie.
Hammer here was actually already cast as Batman, in one of the earlier incarnations of the Justice League movie project proposed before Rises even began filming. He is probably best known as the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network or as the prince in Mirror Mirror, but I haven't seen either of those things. Apparently I should know him from the canceled-too-soon "Reaper" as the son of Ray Wises' devil, but I honestly can't remember him at all and I loved that show. But if this recent image from The Lone Ranger is any indication, he can definitely pull off the mask.
To be honest, though, when I look at Armie Hammer I can't shake the feeling that he looks like a less-wealthy man's Gosling. So why not get the real Baby Goose and call it a day? We already know he can pull off the requisite darkness and intensity, but he even looks enough like Christian Bale to pass off nearly seamless transition. Bruce Wayne isn't traditionally blonde, true, but neither was James Bond until Daniel Craig took the role and 007 seems to be working out just fine.
But maybe the character needs someone with experience playing pulpy, noir-ish super heroes. As much as I'd like to see The Shadow's liberal Twitter hero Alec Baldwin as Batman, he's too old to play Wayne in anything but a Batman Beyond adaptation. (Which isn't a bad idea, actually.) So instead, let's get Daredevil's liberal HBO hero Ben Affleck. With his small, yet impressive, directorial track record (Gone Baby Gone, The Town, Argo) he'd also make an interesting choice to follow Nolan at the helm. That chin really deserves a better class of criminal.
Some time ago I wrote an SRL suggesting possible adaptations from other Bat-media that Warner could tackle; one of those was the basically legendary Batwoman storyline from the pages of Detective Comics by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III. I'd still love to see Kate Kane on the big screen, and after Zero Dark Thirty Chastain seems like an ideal choice to bring her to life. Consider Maya's career one that Kate might have had if not for being a lesbian who was ceremoniously kicked out during the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell phase. If you're not sold yet, here's a sapphic photo of Chastain posing with Kat "Meow-Meow" Dennings.
But if we want to go really outside the norm and try a Batman movie that's never been done before, at least not since Adam West donned those blue and gray pajamas, because trying to follow Nolan is just that hard an act: intentional comedy. Holmes is a stand-up comedian with an addictive podcast, but his satirical take on the super-self-seriousness of the Dark Knight cycle is probably his best, most hilarious work to-date. As an added bonus, he looks exactly like once and former BatmanFat Kilmer.
But that's probably too far, isn't i? If we want something different from Nolan and Bale, we'll have to lighter but not so light it loses any of the relevancy people have to expect. So we'll go watered down with a snarkier, milquetoast Bruce Wayne and a one-liner spouting Batman somewhere between RyRey's Green Lantern and RyRey's proto-Deadpool. Someone in Hollywood really wants to cast our beloved Emu in a blockbusting super hero flick, and a rebooted, mediocre Bat-movie to tide us over until the next legitimate run might just be his ticket. As long as they stay far away from his proposed Crow remake, film as an art form ought to survive this.
That said, why worry about trying to recapture the magic, or churning out a guaranteed moneymaker before a good idea comes along, and not just make something different enough to be worthwhile of its own accord. Why not take the material as seriously as Christopher Nolan but forsaking some of that verisimilitude to allow for more fantastical stories and Rogues Gallery members, similar to the current Marvel method? Why not a straight-up adaptation of the Gotham in "Batman: The Animated Series" starring Don Draper as a Batman in the middle of his crime fighting career? The rumors of Hamm as Superman never made sense to me; he isn't the guy in the PG-13 movie everyone really hopes makes it happen, he's the guy in the rated R movie we aren't sure if we like or not yet. The fact that he can make even "The Ambiguously Gay Duo" work in live-action means he can do anything.
As always, whether I like them or not, your Bat-ideas and Bat-gestions are welcome in the comments.
Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He would say he isn't chomping at the bit for more Batman movies, but that would be a lie.