Now that we have a fitting conclusion to Nolan’s films, I’ve decided to direct my attention to the all but announced reboot that we will see. And to be honest, after getting an ultra-realistic satisfying trilogy I am alright with it being rebooted and having a few more fantastical elements added in order to fit into a Justice League universe. What follows are my casting choices for the reboot, as well as what I would like to see in the film(s).
We have seen every great element of Batman in Nolan’s films. The only one that was a bit left out was his detective skills. Sure, we got a hint of it in The Dark Knight during the bullet fragmentation scene, but other than that, we were just led to believe that the events of the trilogy transpired in such a way that it made his efforts linear and obvious.
For a reboot, there are two stories that would really set the pace for the rest of the franchise, and even the Justice League films. I don’t want to have an origin story. After Nolan’s films have made over two billion dollars collectively, we don’t need to see how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. We can dive right in, but if we need to ass an emotional layer to him, I suppose we can have one scene showing Bruce having a nightmare that is a flashback to the murders and a quick conversation with Alfred stating that it is the only “dream” he has ever had. A recurring nightmare.
First, I’d love to see a story that shows that the more awe-inspiring villains are back. Give us a film with Mr. Freeze, but keep it close as to the brilliant animated series episode that re-invented the character as possible. You could even twist it and keep the snow theme going by having Dr. Fries being fired by his cryogenics company and having to resort to borrowing money/financing technology from an arm’s dealing/gangster Penguin in order continue his work to save his wife, Nora. Have him not be able to pay the money back and refuse to create weapons in order to clear his debt. This could open his origin in a way that shows Penguin sending goons to cause his “lab accident” that turns him into Mr. Freeze. He would then swear revenge and go to war with Penguin, and commit robberies to fund his work/war. Hell, you could reveal at the end of the film that Nora Fries died during the lab accident and Fries was just trying to avenge her death by killing the man responsible why trying to still cure the disease in her memory. Batman would have to save a city in the grips of terror while also trying to reach the tortured soul of a brilliant and ultimately good man turned into a cold-blooded monster.
The other story I would like to see would show the aforementioned detective work of Batman. Imagine if you will a Gotham City under siege. Not in the way it was portrayed in the Nolan films, but rather with a series of grisly murders. Someone is killing celebrities in inventive ways. The strange thing about all of the murders is that they all seem to be by someone close to the victim. Think of it as a Se7en-styled Batman film where the killer, Clayface, assumes the shape of those closest to the victims so that he can get in close and then kills them in ways such as shoving his hand down their throats and filling their lungs with clay, or forging his body into weapons and slicing them to pieces. Batman notices the clay-like substance in their lungs after an autopsy report shows it. It would keep things dark, but also allow for the meta-human rogues. If that is too dark, you could also have a cyber-terrorist Riddler causing accidents through gas mains, traffic lights, bank funds being switched around, Identities being erased from computers. That particular film could end with Riddler being caught and sent to Arkham with an after credit scene showing him in a psychiatrists office. We see a woman sit down and introduce herself as his Doctor and telling him her name is Dr. Harleen Quinzel. This would get the fans excited for showing that Joker exists in this world and so does Harley Quinn.
Of course, it would be amazing if these films also alluded to a larger, already established universe. Even having a stray news report being overheard on a television talking about another DC hero saving the day in another city. Or, better yet, a scene in the Batcave where Bruce is looking at a screen filled with rogues and their current status of either “at large” or”in custody.” You could even show a newspaper headline that reads “Lizard in Sewers?” Ultimately, you want the Batman that has been doing this for a few years and has encountered certain rogues before. He is experienced. He has the gadgets, vehicles and cave he needs to be as effective as possible. We don’t need to show him just starting out again. This would make transition into a Justice League all the easier and more believable. You could even have Alfred be the catalyst (sort of like Nick Fury was) from film to film recruiting the new heroes as their films are released. It would fit because Bruce would like to have that kind of fire-power at his disposal as well as a semblance of control for the larger problems facing the world. Then again, it would also be cool to have him be the first one approached by another character and telling them that he “doesn’t have time,” but showing up uninvited to the group’s first meeting in the JL film anyway.
Now for the stuff you probably clicked the link for, my casting choices. The hardest person to cast would be Bruce/Batman. My choice would have been Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but that was squashed the moment he was cast in TDKR. We need someone who can come off as an arrogant playboy and also be believable as a badass crime-fighter. I would say Leonardo Dicaprio, but he can only pull off the playboy and is too short/skinny/blonde to pull off the look of Batman. I didn’t really have many problems casting anyone else, though.
Commissioner Gordon – Bryan Crantson
He certainly has the acting chops for it, plus he has the look down almost perfectly. And as he gets older, he just looks more like the Commissioner.
Alfred Pennyworth- Hugh Laurie
I know what you’re thinking. Why him? Simple, I want him to portray the new Earth One version.
Dr. Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze – Michael Fassbender
I know is it a pipe dream because he has already played a fantastic Magneto, but I think he has the look, acting chops and ability to portray a cold, heartbroken character. His work in Prometheus (which is why I included that picture) shows an almost lifeless, shattered person.
Edward Nigma/Riddler – Benedict Cumberbatch
After seeing him as both Sherlock Holmes and Stephen Hawkins, I can say he plays eccentric genius well. I would love to see that twisted into a maniacal villain who is obsessed with knowledge.
Clayface/Basil Karlo – Iwan Rheon
If it weren’t for his height (5’9), I wold say that he would be a decent choice for Batman after seeing him in Misfits (As a comic fan, if you haven’t seen that show -GO WATCH IT!). I think he would be a great choice to play a psychotic, vain actor who is disfigured and turned into Clayface. Get around the whole “If he is Clayface, why can’t he just continue to act by making himself look as he did before the accident?” by saying that either he snapped and discovered shape-shifting after the fact, or that so much concentration goes into holding a shape that he can’t mimic voices.
I know I am going to lose a lot of you here, but these are my choices for Bruce Wayne/Batman. They are based on their acting chops and their overall look. I don’t care how talented your are, if you can’t pull off brooding, you can’t play Batman. Some of them might seem like a strange choice because even I can’t fully see them dressed in a Batsuit kicking ass; however, all of them are the right height and are close enough to the body-type and age that they can just bulk up a bit. I’ve listed them from older more established Batman to younger.
He is possibly the best choice for an older looking Batman that is just on the edge of his prime. We all know he has the acting chops as well as the stature and Don Draper is just a set of murdered parents and a billion dollars removed from being Batman. He has the brooding, pensive tortured mindset for it. He even has the womanizing of Bruce Wayne. The smoking and drinking would have to go, though.
Say what you will, but he is believable in the role. Sure, he is an Aussie, but he isn’t the only one with an accent on this list. He may confuse audiences a bit because, under the cowl, he could look similar to Bale, but I bet he won’t have that mouth agape dumbfounded look. Give him a shot. If he can play a fantastic Bruce Banner, he can play Batman.
He is 6’1, needs to bulk up a little bit, and you can’t deny he has the acting chops. He may be the strangest to picture in the Batsuit. I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but he might be the best choice from the stock we have to choose from. Fear not, though. WB might not be willing to meet his fee.
While I’m not sure if he has the acting chops, he certainly has the look. And, like everyone else on this list aside from Leo, he is unknown enough to be affordable. Especially in an ensemble like Justice League.
He came onto my radar from Being Human (UK), he has the look and the brooding down, but most importantly, he is a very strong actor. Audiences in the US will come to know him as one of the Dwarves in the upcoming Hobbit films.
With casting out of the way, I can bring this entry to an end with just one more rant. The toys. If WB is thinking about linking the next Batfilm to a Justice League movie, or just wants to make a less realistic version, they need to embrace a Batman that knows what he is doing. They need to spend money on a technologically advanced Batcave that features the computer, training, medical, armory, and vehicle “docking” areas. We need it to be expansive. There is no shame in showing a CG overhead shot of the cave, but having practical sets built for the computer/armory. Thank god we have been lucky with Batmobiles, but we need them to stay away from the wackiness that was the Forever/B&R designs. Sure, they will still make them look cool to kids because they need to make toys out of everything, but keep it functional.
Another important aspect is the costume. While I will always LOVE the version of the Batsuit from the Justice Lords episode of Justice League, I have seen some other fan-made costumes out there. We also need to keep the gadgets as well. After seeing the military/realistic gadgets in Nolan’s world, we can’t go bat to just showing Baterangs and Grappling hooks. They need to keep the level of excellence we have come to expect. Above all else, everything needs to be functionally utilitarian over nothing but style. Sure, there needs to be some theatrics, but we can’t just have a rubber costume that looks good.
Here are three examples of what I am talking about:
I love the current suit in the comics, but you can’t trust that to translate well into the cinematic medium. There are a ton of designs that would look good, but you ultimately need something that keeps to the roots while also allowing it to be functional and practical while fighting.
Just so you don’t have to Google it, this is the Justice Lords suit I was talking about.
And this is a user created suit that incorporates a similar design that is more function over style. I doubt many will like it, I just think it is a cool mash-up of the Nolan costume and the Justice Lords one. Yes, the photo is huge.
I still say make it as close to this suit as possible, though. They seem to have modeled the Earth One after it. At least, it looks like the first version of what would eventually evolve into it.
Here is a fan made version of the Arkham City suit, so we know it can be done.
Now, with all of that out of my head and on this blog, I don’t have to think of it any longer. I know it is long, and anyone who reads it will most likely disagree with what I had to say, but regardless of how we feel about it and who they cast/what story they tell, Batman will be rebooted. I just hope they do better than casting an unknown and make the franchise cartoonish again. I honestly believe that the people I listed, especially those for Batman, are the best choices we have right now. Who knows, maybe there will be someone that shows his acting chops in the next five years that just happens to look the part? All we can do is speculate, dream up stories, share what we want to see and keep on reading the comics.
I’ll leave you with one more photo on this 2,350 word blog entry on Batman. What I think the perfect Batmobile looks like (Even though I love the current flying Batmobile in the comics):