Rebooting Batman – Hypothetical Casting

There are going to be more Batman films; that’s a given. While it seems weird bringing up the subject so soon after the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s stunning trilogy, in a year, maybe two, audiences are going to be hankering for some serious Bat-action. If the release of The Amazing Spider-Man and next year’s Man of Steel tell us anything, it’s that the masses don’t care about reboots. They want superheroes on-screen as long as filmmakers can offer the goods. But, where do we go from here? The answer: anywhere.

I posed a question to a number of friends: “What is Batman to you?” The answers were varied. “Batman to me is Sherlock Holmes who knows kung-fu,” said one person, while another noted that, “Batman is Zorro without a sword.” Only one friend proclaimed that, “Batman is James Bond without a government,” which is really the closest to what Nolan offered us. To say that we have seen anything near a definitive Batman film is an ignorant statement at best. Seven films have only begun to delve into the 80+ years of Bat-mythos. There is still so much to say about the bat, for instance…

Old Batman

The Dark Knight Rises tried greatly to tap into the feel of a long retired Bruce Wayne being forced into the cape and cowl again. But why only scratch the surface? Nolan’s greatest gift for the next person to film the Bat is that they won’t have to explain why Batman is the way he is. We know–he’s Batman–now run with it. Don’t treat your audience like they are imbeciles! Test them. Give them the future. Give us an aging but dashing Bruce Wayne who dishes out justice with brute force while existing in a world of technology. Frank Miller became a legend writing such a story! This would save Warner Brother from having to find a new “fresh face” to play the lead. Find someone with some chops and maybe a little legend of their own. Maybe an aging star who has something to prove as far as Batman in concerned.

Too soon? I don’t think so. By the time the next Batman hits theaters, it will have been nearly twenty years since George Clooney starred in Batman & Robin. I think it’s time to forgive. But if the taste is still too bad then how about Kurt Russell?

The fact that Kurt Russell’s only entry into Earth’s Mightiest Decade (Plug!) was when he hammed it up for the kiddie spoof Sky High is a disservice to us all. Who better to play old Batman than old Snake Pliskin? Unless of course you want to go. . .

Really Old Batman

In my coverage of Bat out of Development Hell (Plug!) we talked about the failed Batman Beyond film. I also said to keep an eye out as Warner’s will likely test these waters again now that they’re looking for the next age of Batman. Batman Beyond is a great take on everything we know about the Bat. Instead of a techno wasteland that Bruce would find in his fifties, how about a techno fascist city a la Blade Runner? Elderly Bruce Wayne played by Clint Eastwood?

Nah, too old.

Yeah, this guy! Robert Redford as old Bruce Wayne, crippled and reclusive for decades, watching his own Wayne Enterprises turn into an evil super conglomerate. He hires a new kid to put on a super techno Bat-suit and take the crusade from the hoods on the streets to the crime lords in the corporations. I’d cast Aaron Johnson.

He is already a super hero, I know. That never works.

Fine, then what do you think about Michael B. Jordan?

Is the future ready for a black Batman?

I highly recommend getting your hands on any of the seasons of Batman Beyond, it’s everything you love about Batman and science fiction all wrapped into one. Even more so, go watch the Batman Beyond movie. It’d serve as a great plot for a full theatrical version and we’d see the resurrection of the Joker. Thawed out and pissed off! Still funny. I’d get David Tennant.

Of course the idea of “future batman” and “black batman” may still be a bit risky for the average Joe. We must ready ourselves for what is the most obvious course of action.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Robin as Batman

This is a terrible idea. Not to forsake the grand ending of The Dark Knight Rises, which I personally squealed at, but let’s think what this really means? Whoever gets hired next is already going to have to deal with studio trolls wondering if it can be more Nolan-like, but if we continue with JGL they will literally ask someone to “be like Nolan.” The last time we had a director cower to the brass it turned out a bit like this:

But we won’t call this one dead just yet. Imagine that some genius reinvents the wheel and spins out a neo-Nolan (coined it here first!) masterpiece. If each of the last Bat-films were vastly different in their own way, why not keep the tradition while pushing the story of this new chap forward? This leaves us to find the perfect villain to bring this new hero into his own. Bale’s Batman fought three foes who all aimed for his soul. Maybe this new bad guy can aim to destroy Batman’s brain? How do you outwit the worlds greatest detective? With a riddle, that’s how.

How about Garret Dillahunt?

Nah, new era needs a big flashy face. How about Johnny Depp?

Fuck it, let’s get meta.

Or maybe we can really dig into the one character of Bat-lore that is crying out for the full service treatment.

Robin

First, I implore everyone to read a the graphic novel Dark Victory. It is a retelling of Dick Grayson’s origin. It’s a sequel too. The first part is The Long Halloween, which was used heavily when formulating script for The Dark Knight. What I love most about this book is that it finally explains why Batman has a sidekick and why it’s a kid. We all know Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s speech about the burning inside for justice and how you have to hide it. Bruce Wayne takes in Dick Grayson hoping the mask will purge the fire and hate within his soul in order to save him. Because if this boy can find inner peace, then maybe Bruce can have a life outside Batman. Whoa, deep shit.

Because the Robin origin so greatly resembles that of Batman, it would fold both back stories together, saving us from another damned origin reboot. If we all dare assume that the Warner Bros. execs aren’t knuckle-dragging idiots who want to churn out a Nolan clone as fast as they can, they’ll want to skip an origin reboot. Or maybe give us a new one starring Zac Efron.

I’ve already hypothetically cast Zac as Dick Greyson during Earth’s Mightiest Decade (Pu-Luggg!) and I still say that this is the guy to take the reins. But if smolderingly sexy isn’t your forte then how about:

Dylan O’Brien managed to make an MTV show based on a Michael J. Fox movie bearable. He’d serve as a great comic foil for a stoic Batman. Or how about Chris Colfer?

What? Gay kids can’t also have the burning desire for justice? You probably turned your nose at black Batman too. Shame on you. It’s not like I pitched that fat kid from Modern Family. . .

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3 responses to “Rebooting Batman – Hypothetical Casting

  1. Well. I am the first WordPressorBloggor to “like” or comment on this post. This post was amazing – very insightful, and with a refreshing sense of humour.

    I am also pleased that you’re a huge fan of Batman Beyond – I would have to say I enjoyed it more than Batman: The Animated Series! I haven’t seen Return of the Joker yet, although I have known for MANY YEARS it would be awesome, since Mask of the Phantasm was so amazing (Sub-Zero and Mystery of the Batwoman, not so much).

    As for The Dark Knight Rises, I saw it in theatre a few days ago – I loved Nolan’s first two films, but I was pissed off by the time the end credits rolled. In my mind, the first half was great, with lots of awesome elements, but the elements failed to come together, because the movie was too focused on being over-the-top. (But of course, it’s a “superhero” movie, so I shouldn’t be surprised). Also, I did not like the way certain plot elements unfolded in the second half. A movie reviewer buddy of mine was shocked that I disliked Dark Knight Rises – and he suggested waiting until I watch the movie in the comfort of my own home before passing final judgment. And that is the way I review movies, because I often like to pause the film, and take notes, when I do an actual review. My memories of the film are fading fast – and it has only been a few days!

    Although, I must say, the sight of Batman and Bane slugging it out was outstanding. I loved seeing a crippled Batman outmatched, and brutally pummeled, by a character as feared as Bane (I am no expert on the monthly Batman comics or any graphic novels, but I was glad to see Bane presented in a Batman movie similar to the way I remember him in a few of my brother’s Knightfall comics).

  2. Thanks for commenting. We actually went back and forth with our thoughts on TDKR here: https://shootingthescript.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/the-trouble-with-quibbles-the-dark-knight-rises-part-1/

  3. Two things Nate:

    1. Garret Dillahunt should be in all the movies. If I was ever casting a movie, I would first try and get him.

    2. I like David Tennant, but I do prefer the Nolan school of not casting someone super obvious to play “crazy” characters.

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