By now, you’ve heard the news: after what felt like years (but was really closer to like, 18 months) of tedious back-and-forth, hemming and hawing, and non-committal vague statements, Ben Affleck is finally, officially, for real, out of the DCEU‘s Batman franchise. The writing’s been on the wall for a while now. Initially, Ben was set to act but also bring his Best Picture-winning talents both to the director’s chair and the script for a solo Batman movie. Say what you will about Ben, but the guy who made a crowd-pleaser like Argo and directed solid shootouts in The Town taking a stab at Batman couldn’t have been any worse than what Zach Snyder gave us.
Alas, as critical reception for the films around Ben’s Bruce flailed and the harsh realities of anchoring a huge legacy franchise with nine figures and mercurial fans set in, Ben’s enthusiasm waned. First, he dropped out of directing and the honor fell to Matt Reeves, he who revamped the Apes trilogy and directed the original Cloverfield. A few half-hearted statements later, it was conceded that Reeves probably definitely wouldn’t be following Affleck’s story drafts to pursue his own take on the Caped Crusader. And finally, yesterday it was definitively announced that Ben will hang the cowl up, as Reeves’ story—which he teases will highlight Batman’s more noirish-mystery, detective traits, an aspect of the character under-utilized in all of his big-screen adventures thus far—aims for a younger take on the character. Of course, the DCEU is so splintered right now that it was highly possible for Ben to continue on as his grizzled, jaded Miller-esque Dark Knight while Reeves went forward with his own vision—this is the same company with a dozen different Jokers on the slate after all.
But let’s be honest. Ben never really wanted this shit, and his buyer’s remorse was increasingly evident in every interview. His tenure was a strange one. For my money, he did exactly what the role called of him in Snyder’s joyless Batman v Superman. But an attempt to lighten up the character in Justice League fell woefully flat; you can practically see him blinking SOS as he sleepwalks through every scene muttering quippy Joss Whedon dialog through clenched teeth. Affleck’s great but he’s no David Boreanaz!
So, fare thee well CrossFit Batman. Onward to a new era. We’re never getting Chris and Christian back. Jake is, sensibly steering clear of this mess (even though a man of his talents could certainly do better than MCU villain if he wanted to). Forward is the only motion. And with “younger” as the only directive, that leaves the field wide open with no clear front-runners. So the we’re here to do our best and think waaaaayyyyy outside the box. You don’t have to agree with our picks but someone has to put a few non-sensible sensible ideas out into the universe before we end up with Noah Centineo under the cowl, God forbid.
It’s 2019, baby! We’re not beholden to a white guy just because that’s how Bob Kane drew son back when a white guy was the immediate thought upon conceiving a billionaire superhero. It’s not about choosing a person of color just to be transparently woke either, though. Truly, we just need the right person for the role, race be damned. Neck-bearded people with PATRIOT in their bio are already mad for people suggesting Idris Elba…well, buckle up snowflakes because I have an even more radical suggestion…
Your boy Henry is a fresh face in the industry, and he proved he can do rich, debonair and charming in his sleep in Crazy Rich Asians. Remember how George Clooney was great as Bruce Wayne in the scenes where he was just a jovial, model-smashing philanthropist? Golding could pick that torch up easily. But if you caught last year’s highly underrated A Simple Favor, where Golding plays a rich, debonair, charming husband who might have had something to do with his wife’s disappearance, then you know he can carry that hint of darkness needed to present a fully well-rounded Bruce. Really, he’s just un-proven in the action arena. Inner-darkness is one thing but can he strike fear in criminals and believably kick ass? That’s what auditions are for, but at least get him in the room!
Fine, maybe he’s more fit for The Joker than the Dark Knight, but here us out. If you had to ask who LOOKED like they were most likely to play Bruce Wayne, it might be Billy Magnussen. If you don’t know his name, you’ve at least seen him in a number of films and series, especially over the last few years. From Game Night, Netflix’s Maniac to the upcoming Aladdin, Magnussen’s carving an intriguing resume for himself—he already nailed the “rich dick” role in Ingrid Goes West—and if you just dyed his hair dark brown or black, gave him a sharp black suit and a belt full of gadgets, and this MF is Bruce Wayne. Just look at that image above, the cowl fits him so well at first glance you wouldn’t even realize it’s not a promotional photo.
John David Washington
Everyone, even Jonah Hill, who’s caping for a brotha as Batman is saying Idris, who is a king for sure but…did y’all not see Reeves say he was going younger? He may not look it, but Idris is the same age as Ben, my brothers and sisters. Let’s get him on as the Martian Manhunter or something. Now, if we want a young black man in the vein of what Idris would bring to the table as the Caped Crusader, I say we go with Denzel Jr. Black KkKlansman showed the taciturn-but-magnetic-leading-man gene didn’t skip a generation. John David would have to step his game up to fill those boots for sure but he’s a solid, dark horse pick. Hey, all franchise roles can’t go to Michael B. Jordan.
Look, I know. I KNOW. Stop it, I know, but just hear me out. Why not Shia? As long as Yung Shia can stay on the straight and narrow, the 32-year-old actor should be a shoo-in for the role. Hell, maybe landing the role as the Caped Crusader is just what the doctor might order to keep Shia in the black. We know dude’s a free-thinker; he’s big on these grand art project/moments. Think of how much bigger they’d get if he had that box office back-end funding his exploits? And on the flipside, who’s more Bruce-like IRL than Shia? His upcoming film, Honey Boy, sounds like it’ll be his masterpiece, and could put him back on the radar of studios looking to inject some new energy into the DCEU. If the studio execs that be want to pursue an established, but still young name who hasn’t dabbled in superheroics elsewhere yet, Shia becomes more of a no-brainer the more you think about it. He’s anchored franchises before, he’s got gravitas, he can probably do a gravelly voice. Layup.
However, for a same age bit much less problematic Shia-esque type, how about indie-everyman Christopher Abbot? We’ve seen him get gruff in movies like It Comes at Night. He’s got proven dramatic chops in a host of movie and TV roles, where he’s built up a steady character actor resumé. This could take him to leading man in franchises and beyond. Who knew Charlie from Girls could take it this far?
Oscar Isaac isn’t as tall as the Batmen before him and isn’t white, but he’s played numerous white men before, so why not Bruce Wayne? With a quick shave, Isaac can become the heir to a tech billionaire’s fortune and a ninja detective overnight. Isaac is a chameleon: is he white? Italian? Puerto Rican? One can never be sure (he’s actually Cuban and Guatamalan.) He’s played all kinds of racially ambiguious roles over the years and is a pretty handsome cat in his own right. I think it would be dope to have Batman be a Dominican from Uptown Gotham. His name could be something like Brian Rodriguez or some shit. This could give Hollywood the chance to really drive the Latin Lover stereotype home. Imagine the Batmobile with Dominican flags wrapped around the headrests? You might catch Batman at the Chimi truck after partying at Locksmith or La Marina. Instead of a Batarang, Batman takes care of beef with a machete or a baseball bat. I originally thought about Donald Glover as Batman and Lakeith Stanfield as the Joker, but I won’t waste anymore of your time.