• Frank

#SuperheroCasting Challenge: Batman

With rumors swirling that Robert Pattinson will star in Matt Reeve's The Batman, I've decided to tackle the well-known hero first, because it's one that almost always comes up and always causes controversy. It also happens that this character is constantly being recast, as the property is a valuable one for Warner Brothers. That character is Batman.


Karl Urban


There is a certain gruffness to Karl that I think would fit the character well. He's no stranger to superhero/action/fantasy/Sci-Fi genre, appearing in the Lord of the Rings franchise, the Star Trek reboots, Judge Dredd and Thor: Ragnork. He's also worked as a detective on the short-lived show Almost Human.

In all of those projects he was rarely featured as lead hero, despite his ability to do so, though we will see how he fairs as the lead in the new superhero parody show The Boys, where his character will be working to take down that world's power-abusing supers.


As far as lining up with Batman/Bruce Wayne, Karl Fits the bill perfectly. He looks the part, though his frame isn't as large as what we've seen on screen lately. He can clean up, be charming, playful and commanding as Bruce Wayne. He's proven over and again that he can play a "no-nonsense" Batman, working to solve crimes, and out-think his opponents.


He would certainly have to be playing an experienced version of the character, but doesn't have to play the worn, jaded hero that was portrayed in the DCEU.


Nick Wechsler


Here's where I think things get more interesting. Nick is not a widely known actor. He's best recognized for his role as Jack Porter on ABC prime time soap Revenge.

As Jack Porter, Nick played a poor character who was thrust into the wealthy social scene of The Hamptons. He is able to mingle, charm and hold his own, but constantly displays his discomfort with that life style... as it feels like he's putting on a facade. Throughout the show Jack is tasked with keeping dark secrets, protecting those he cares about, foiling corrupt schemes and even becomes a cop by series' end.


Sound like anyone we know? He'd get the chance to play a younger version of the Batman, who would do well with a story surround the entire Bat-Family, taking them under his wing (pun?) and is still enthusiastic about his mission to end crime in Gotham.


Brett Dalton


I've seen this one on the interwebs before. Initially viewed as the boring Agent Grant Ward on Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, fans found a new respect for the actor upon the surprising 'Hydra-twist.'

I think Dalton would play a very straight-forward, almost clinical Batman. Given his experience playing multiple versions of the same (or similar) characters, I think that he'd be great at displaying how Batman could easily cross the line into criminality if he doesn't maintain the necessary restraint being the masked vigilante requires.


Dalton's surprising range and credibility in the superhero genre would make him a really interesting choice, and having played multiple versions of the same character on AoS of the past several seasons shows that he can provide the depth that Bruce Wayne and Batman have been lacking in recent outings. He too could play a younger version of the character, who can handle the action and effortlessly display Batman's extreme intelligence onscreen.

Eddie Cibrian


A lesser known quantity by name, but Eddie has been on television for years in a variety of different shows. Probably best known for being the husband of country singer LeAnn Rimes, I remember Eddie first appearing as Cole on NBC soap Sunset Beach, which I used to watch with my Mom during lunch on summer breaks in high school. He's been on dozens of shows since, from Third Watch, CSI: Miami, The Playboy Club, Ugly Betty, Rosewood and It's Always Hot in Cleveland.

Eddie always plays some type of charming, law-enforcement type, using his charisma and wit to navigate the situations his characters are placed in. He'd definitely get a chance to flex a mature batman and would be able to lean into the character's millionaire playboy side. His acting chops are fine for either Bruce or The Bat, but he offers something special for the cowl: his dimples. Eddie has the square jaw that we've been accustomed to seeing, and while he doesn't have Ben's cleft chin, there would be a uniqueness to the literal physical appearance compared to other actors on this list.


I think that Cibrian could also bring certain levity to the character, something that Joss Whedon seemingly tried to inject into Ben Affleck's Batman. It's not that his version of Batman would need to be goofy or campy (RIP Adam West), or even quippy (like JL's Affleck) but one that shows he's an intelligent human being still out in the world, and sometimes, people appreciate humor.


Josh Bowman


Another actor from the ABC show Revenge, I think Josh Bowman fits the casting for Bruce Wayne/Batman perfectly. On Revenge, Bowman played Daniel Grayson (Bat-family name connection!), the wealthy immature son of powerful and sinister couple in The Hamptons. During his time on the show he grew from naive and reckless playboy to a devious foe and finally a hero. Bowman demonstrated great range within that character, and showed that he can handle all of the facets of the character while also fitting the right age range fans are hoping to see from their next Batman, and checking most of the boxes on other physical attributes they expect to see from the comic book legend.

While Bowman's character on Revenge evolved over the course of several seasons, he has also played a sophisticated version of the surgical serial killer, Jack the Ripper, on ABC's Time After Time. Although playing a character on the opposite side of Batman's crusade against evil, he masterfully crafted an almost likable version of the killer, who was equal parts charming, cunning, intelligent, resourceful and was always one step ahead of his opponents...


All of those characteristics that Bowman displayed in the ruthless killer are extremely similar to that of... The Batman, making him a well-suited and interesting choice for the character.


Conclusion

I've forgotten where I had read it years ago, but a paraphrased quote that has stuck with me about casting this character has been...

"Anyone can play the Batman, the trick is finding the right Bruce Wayne."

I love this statement. It does seem like it might be easy to put on the cowl, alter your voice and fight the bad guys... but adding complex layers to the hurting billionaire with a secret identity has to be at the core of the next casting. The Batman is rumored to be set in the 1990's, and will feature Batman as more of a skilled detective. I enjoy this concept. The silver screen has never really explored that aspect of the character, making him more of an extravagant action star... when really, he's always been a interesting balance of both in the comics.


While I know that Robert Pattinson's casting seems immanent at this point, I've always thought that Batman should be a character that is always around, and should be on silver screen and on TV. The Arrowverse has proven that heavy VFX driven characters like Supergirl and The Flash can flourish on TV nowadays, why not try true crime show with the Batman? .... a show that's one part Arrow, one part Gotham, and one part Dexter (where Bruce is truly on his own, struggling to stay a step ahead of those working to discover his secrets, while tracking down villains and perhaps slowly become more human over time... until it can grow into a Bat-Family ensemble show like those of Arrow & Gotham.)


I think any of the actors here can pull of really interesting, different version of Bruce Wayne and Batman than we've seen... and that would be extremely refreshing for the 80 year-old character.

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