I'M BATMAN (No, Really)1 of 8
With Ben Affleck now confirming he's out as director Matt Reeves' The Batman, the Internet's attention is turning to who will be the next actor to don the cowl and utility belt.
While we can all expect a lot of 'Gosling,' 'Fassbender,' 'Hamm,' 'Hammer,' and 'Isaac' mentions in the months before the new Dark Knight is officially named, we can't help but think back to the late 1980's when the announcement of the first big screen Batman broke the Internet before AOL even existed.
Younger readers may not be aware of the level of hysteria surrounding then-comedic actor Michael Keaton's casting, which was entirely unexpected and widely-panned at the time. But hey, it kind of worked out in the end, don'tcha think?
So with this year being Batman's 30th anniversary, while fans measure how square the jaws of today's 30 and 40-something Hollywood A-listers are, we thought we'd take a stab at some actors who may not be anyone's first choice for Batman - but who we think could actually pull it off.
Lee Pace2 of 8
Michael Keaton's commanding performance as Batman was due in large part to his versatility as an actor - and Lee Pace has many of those same qualities.
Yes, he's played a Marvel villain, but is nearly unrecognizable as Ronan. And in the modern comic book-dominated movie world, almost everyone of note goes superhero eventually. Hear us out.
He can do serious. He can do comedy - but he's not an outright comedian. He can do prideful businessman (see Halt & Catch Fire), he can do comedy (see Pushing Daisies), and he knows how to act in a restrictive costume on a big budget film (see The Hobbit and Guardian of the Galaxy).
He's got everything it takes except for a string of leading man roles in big budget films, so why shouldn't Warner Bros. see that as an opportunity as they create a new Batman legacy?
Shia LeBeouf3 of 8
Christian Bale and Ben Affleck's most recent big screen Batman incarnations have been marked by their incredible intensity (though Affleck did tone it down a bit for Justice League).
So who better to keep up the ante than arguably the most intense young-ish actor in Hollywood - Shia LaBeouf?
Hell, he might even be the closest thing in real life to Batman. He's jacked, he's serious, and either borderline out to lunch or very, very good at pretending he is.
And while LeBeouf gets a lot of attention for this real-life misadventures and performance art, on-screen he's got legitimate dramatic chops.
Tom Hiddleston4 of 8
There's a bit of a problem finding direct 2019 comparisons to Michael Keaton. The fact is Hollywood isn't making mainstream comedies like they used to and there aren't that many comedic stars under 50 out there (Sorry, Kevin Hart, we just couldn't make your entry work).
But when thinking of then 37-year-old Keaton's devilish charm and charisma behind piercing, up-to-no-good eyes, we couldn't stop thinking about the now-37 Tom Hiddleston.
Hiddleston has played credible heroes in action movies and TV shows already, but it's his Loki-esque rogue-ish dark side in combination with his leading man qualities that makes us think of the chemistry that made Keaton so potent as the Dark Knight.
Donald Glover5 of 8
Some of you may already be preparing to type out 2,000 word diatribes about why Donald Glover should never be Batman just based on the mere suggestion, but when considering the Michael Keaton principle, we think the musician and filmmaker has everything it takes to be Batman (with apologies to Abed, of course).
Like many of the folks on our list, Glover's got a comedy pedigree - he started out in stand-up before moving into writing and performing on sitcoms such as 30 Rock and Community. But since then, he's rapidly expanded his repertoire with political works like his music video "This Is America" and his ever more experimental TV show Atlanta.
Glover was also a keen bright spot in the mixed bag of Solo: A Star Wars Story as the endlessly charming Lando Calrissian, displaying qualities that would undoubtedly make him if not a defining Batman, an unparalleled Bruce Wayne.
Bill Hader6 of 8
SNL alum Bill Hader probably isn't most folks' first thought when it comes to superhero roles, but the generally comedic performer has branched into surprising dramatic turns showing off a wide range in series like Barry and Documentary Now.
Like our touchstone Michael Keaton (who was mostly known for comedic roles like the zany Beetlejuice right up until being cast as Batman) Hader's got leading man potential - and one hell of a jaw to slide under a cowl. Look at that pic, when he’s not contorting his face for laughs, he's not too far from giving Jon Hamm a run for his handsome money.
Hader's also a well-known comic book fan. He co-wrote Marvel's Spider-Man: The Short Halloween (catch the Batman reference?) with Seth Meyers, and has often told a story about reading Neil Gaiman's Sandman while awaiting his SNL audition.
Plus, he'd have a wild Batman voice...
BONUS: Michael Keaton7 of 8
So since the point of this endeavor was to identify Michael Keaton-like candidates, who could be more Michael Keaton-like than Michael Keaton?
Consider this an additional entry at no extra charge because that's how we do.
Sure, the script would have to be reworked to feature a nearly-70 Batman coming out of retirement, but since Reeves is leaning toward the more cerebral, detective Batman over the street fighter, that all sort of comes together nicely.
Keaton's in the midst of a full-on Act II career resurgence and the nostalgia quality and attention the casting would receive could be a potent box office cocktail.
Annnnnd... there might be opportunity to introduce that "younger Batman" Reeves wants as his protege to continue the franchise down the road.
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