ATOMIC BATTERIES TO POWER! TURBINES TO SPEED!1 of 13
This week marks the premiere of the final season of Fox’s Batman prequel show Gotham. It also brought news that Ruby Rose’s Batwoman would reportedly receive a pilot on the CW.
But what about the big screen Batman? Ben Affleck’s future in the role has some question marks around it, but as of August 2018 The Batman writer/director Matt Reeve said he was still onboard. And with that in mind, we couldn’t stop our wheels spinning considering which actors could round out a new cinematic Batman.
For our picks, we decided to consider that Affleck would remain as Batman, and that J.K. Simmons and Jeremy Irons would keep their roles as Commissioner Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth, respectively. Starting from that framework (and considering if there were a Joker in the film he’d be played by Jared Leto), these are our picks for the cinematic Batman/Gotham universe.
Love our ideas? Hate ‘em? Let us know in the comments.
JOHN GOODMAN as HARVEY BULLOCK2 of 13
John Goodman may be best known as a comedic actor, but he’s also shown dramatic chops during his long career. With the rest of the cast also occupying a somewhat larger than life area, Goodman would make a powerful addition as lightly corrupt cop Harvey Bullock.
As a former partner and confidante to Commissioner Gordon, Bullock often plays the role of the skeptical, hard-nosed critic of Batman. He’s occasionally been an unlikely ally as well – a dichotomy Goodman could easily embody.
KYLE CHANDLER as TWO-FACE3 of 13
For the role of Bruce Wayne’s friend turned arch-foe, we’re looking to a veteran of Ben Affleck's Argo – Kyle Chandler, best known as Coach Eric Taylor on Friday Night Lights.
Chandler would be perfectly suited to playing not only Harvey Dent, the altruistic attorney who takes on Gotham’s underworld, but also his evil alter ego, the twisted Two-Face. Chandler’s affable demeanor would play off his rarely seen dark side, making him the a good choice to play both the best and worst of Gotham City.
CASEY AFFLECK as THE RIDDLER4 of 13
Ben Affleck’s brother Casey is an accomplished actor in his own right, having starred in several of his older brother’s films (and won an Oscar). Casey Affleck often plays a reluctant hero, but it’s his dark side, seen in The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford that makes him such an intriguing choice to play the Riddler.
In that film, Affleck plays an outlaw overshadowed by his more successful and charismatic gangleader – an angle that plays into Riddler trying to outsmart the always one-step-ahead Batman at every turn. The onscreen chemistry of the Affleck brothers is also palpable, building a level of tension best reserved for Batman’s most vexing foes.
PAUL GIAMATTI as THE PENGUIN5 of 13
Paul Giamatti is not your typical Hollywood leading man – but the Penguin is not your typical Hollywood villain. Forget his first superhero role in Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Marvel and Sony sure want you to). Giamatti is due for a surprising turn in a role more suited to his talents.
Giamatti is a gifted character actor, and while he’s often played to a type, the role of Oswald Cobblepot would subvert expectations about Giamatti’s personality just enough while also allowing him to do what he does best – in addition to menacing Gotham City and chewing up the scenery of the Iceberg Lounge.
MORGAN FREEMAN as LUCIUS FOX6 of 13
Waitaminute ... didn't Morgan Freeman already play Lucius Fox in three other Batman movies?
Yes he did, and he did it so well we couldn't think of anyone better suited to replace him.
Freeman's silky smooth but authoritative Fox is perfect as the guy who knows all of Batman's secrets (and builds all his wonderful toys) - and there is precedent for such a actor-character revival.
Dame Judi Dench played M across two eras of James Bond films, beginning during the Pierce Brosnan era and playing the character again in the prequel/rebootish Daniel Craig films. And in the world of superhero media, John Wesley Shipp and Mark Hamill have each reprised their 90s Flash roles for CW's current Flash series.
So make this the prestige part for the Batman franchise (kinda the same way it's almost impossible to imagine anyone but J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson).
ANGELINA JOLIE as CATWOMAN7 of 13
The primary romantic foil of Ben Affleck’s Batman needs to be someone with monumental presence who can fill the screen alongside both Batman and Bruce Wayne. That’s where Angelina Jolie comes in.
Jolie is as marketable an actress as there has ever been, and as the sexy, ass-kicking Selina Kyle, she’d be as much a force to be reckoned with as Batman himself. Jolie has the charisma and gravitas to balance her dual roles as Batman’s enemy and love interest, and the action chops to back it up.
We’ve made this pick before, and we’re sticking with it – arguably the third most recognizable woman in the DC Universe needs a big name to back her up, and there’s none bigger than Angelina Jolie.
JESSICA CHASTAIN as POISON IVY8 of 13
With Birds of Prey coming down the pike and putting her pal/partner Harley Quinn in the spotlight, WB is going to need a Poison Ivy - and who better than an up-and-coming redheaded actress who has already said she wants the part?
We're not gonna overthink this one - Chastain is a star with the requisite presence and the ability to swing between cerebral and charming (Interstellar anyone?) that the part of the scientist-turned-villain Pamela Isley requires.
Chastain has a role in the upcoming Dark Phoenix, but there's nothing stopping her from potentially pulling double comic book duty.
CHANNING TATUM as DICK GRAYSON9 of 13
The role of Batman’s (former) sidekick needs someone with incredible physical presence who still strikes a dynamic balance with the towering Ben Affleck – and we think we’ve got just the man for the job in Channing Tatum.
Yes, there’s the little matter of the long delayed Gambit film, but with no solid movement on that film in quite some time (and with the production recently starting over from scratch) we’re willing to bet Tatum could be wooed.
The affable Tatum would be a perfect counterpoint to the dour Bruce Wayne, playing Grayson as an eternal optimist despite the level of darkness he’s experienced. And considering Tatum is a proven commodity with the physicality and presence to be a leading man, he’s got everything WB needs to make that reported Nightwing solo movie a hit.
And, if he showed up in The Batman, he might get a chance to go head-to-head with his Magic Mike co-star, Deathstroke actor Joe Manganiello.
Plus, there’s that little matter of Grayson being DC’s number one male eye candy for a legion of fans…
JANELLE MONAE as BARBARA GORDON10 of 13
With a Batgirl solo movie in the works, whoever plays Barbara Gordon needs to have the star power to carry her own film.
Enter Janelle Monae, musical superstar and rising star in the film world. With a growing film pedigree, Monae could be exactly the kind of breakout star to make Barbara Gordon a household name.
Monae could strike the perfect balance between the demure Barbara Gordon and the flashy Batgirl - just compare her Hidden Figures performance as NASA's Mary Jackson to the brash glamour of her ArchAndroid persona.
FINN WITTROCK as JASON TODD11 of 13
Finn Wittrock may not have the profile of some of the stars we’ve chosen, but he more than makes up for that with his superheroic good looks, his charisma, and, oh yeah – his dark side.
Over two seasons of American Horror Story, fans have seen Wittrock as both a bedeviled former model turned vampire, and a secret psycho killer. Somewhere in the middle lies the tortured, violent Jason Todd.
As Robin, Todd didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with his mentor, Bruce Wayne. After his death and return as Red Hood, he still doesn’t – and now he’s got a mean streak to back it up. Wittrock is the perfect choice to strike that balance, straying far from Batman’s path while remaining oddly likable.
DENZEL WASHINGTON as RA'S al GHUL12 of 13
It’s unlikely Warner Bros. will dive too deeply back into the Ra’s al Ghul mythos after his central role in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but if they plan to tell Jason Todd’s story – and we’re guessing, on some level, they will, thanks to that defaced Robin costume seen in Batman v Superman - Ra’s will likely at least get a cameo, with the possibility of an expanded role later on.
Considered by some to be Batman’s true nemesis, the immortal Ra’s al Ghul is a criminal mastermind on a global scale. For that, you need someone with gravitas in spades. Who better than Denzel Washington to fill that role? Washington have gone against type to play a villain a few times to great effect (Training Day remains one of our favorite Denzel performances) – and honestly, it’s gonna take someone with incredible magnetism to menace Affleck’s blunt-weapon Batman. Washington is that someone.
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