Film - Batman Day

Happy Batman Day! In order to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the dark knight, a reminder from earlier this year that our own dark knight David Ames gave himself the task of casting a new Batfamily for the rebooted Batman movie universe...

So, they tell me there will be a new Batman movie. The fact that this has been spoken about in hushed and uncertain tones for nearly four years now has not escaped me, and although I want a new Batman movie more than anything else in the DC universe, they have let me down so many times. If we look at the current DCEU, there isn’t a wealth of positive to be passed around. Before I jump into the purpose of this article, I first want to pay homage where it is due.

When it comes to the DC universe, I am really only interested in the Bat universe. The other characters in the universe have never really spoken to me. I have never cared for Superman in that he is the be all/end all of characters and is pretty black and white when it comes to character development. This is one of the reasons why I enjoyed 2013’s Man of Steel so much. I know that there were issues with the film, especially when we look at the collateral damage he caused, but I still think that Henry Cavill was a great cast. Also, I loved that Snyder made him feel like a three-dimensional character. There were issues with some of the writing, but that can be said for all of the DC movies to an extent.

If we look through the rest of the films in the current DCEU, the casting has been pretty great. Gal Godot is a spot on Wonder Woman and she carries that helm with all the necessary clout to make her feel both unbelievably strong and also sensual in the right aspects. Wonder Woman is probably, at this point, the strongest movie in the DCEU as of now.

I loved the casting of Jason Momoa as Aquaman because I love the surfer-bro feel they chose to embody. That character was always going to be hard to translate to the screen but James Wan did a wonderful job of embracing the cheese and still delivering something fun. It might not have been the best movie ever but I loved it and it was just so much fun.

If we look at Suicide Squad, I have already said a ton of that in my review here. I liked the casting of everyone except Deadshot, but only because I think Will Smith is just too damn likeable to be Deadshot. The movie was rough, with terrible writing and editing, but the cast carried it through, especially the amazing performance by Viola Davis.

Batman vs Superman and Justice League are movies that both suffer from identity crises. BvS has moments that are great, but it seems as though Warner Bros wanted to do what Marvel was able to achieve but in reverse. Looking at the movie, they try to introduce far too many characters and information into a movie that, if we are being honest, should probably have been another hour in length or cut into two films to deal with the overexposure of content. Also, they cut out some seriously important information about Darkseid and his control over Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor which would have made 90% of the film so much better. Lastly, why the hell would you hinge the entire point of the film on the name Martha? The idea makes sense in that it leaves a spot for Batman to view Superman as human but…just…it is such a stupid choice and it made the scene ridiculous rather than revelatory.

Justice League was its own brand of awful with writing that felt like it came from two people…oh wait…that is because it did. If you are like me and a fan of Joss Whedon, you can immediately tell where his influence is felt in the film. If you aren’t aware, after some personal issues, Zack Snyder had to step away, and WB brought in Whedon to shoulder finishing the movie. What we got was a fairly disjointed movie that never really paid off and held only a mediocre villain as the main antagonist. Also, keeping with DCEU movies, the CGI looked horrendous in a lot of areas. After reading up on the many iterations of the script for Justice League, I am saddened of what we could have had if the studio would have allowed 1) it to be two movies or 2) allowed Snyder to complete his vision. I don’t have enough time here to explain everything that was slated to happen but if you do a quick search, you will find out all about what Snyder wanted Justice League to be. It will break your heart.

Now you may be wondering why I added this unbearably long intro to a fancasting but I wanted you to understand how much I love the Bat universe. Also, I wanted you to see that I do genuinely enjoy the DC movies although I know that they could be SO MUCH BETTER. This fan casting will be focused solely on the Bat family. If you want to see my thoughts on Batman’s Rogue Gallery, there are three rather large articles (herehere and here) where I discuss 27 different villains.

One last note: I LOVED Ben Affleck as Batman. I say that to what I am sure is a chorus of boos but hear me out. My favorite iteration of Batman in the comics is the iconic Dark Knight Returns from Frank Miller. I like the angry, paranoid, mountain-of-a-man that is Miller’s Batman. He is violent and has grown tired of the idiotic pandering to criminals who don’t deserve it. Affleck’s portrayal is almost spot on, other than the occasionally terrible jokes that the writers have him crack. Also, physically Affleck is huge, towering over most Hollywood types at 6’4”, with a huge barrel chest. He is also a pretty great actor and if you look at his most recent decade of work, it has been incredible. Affleck is the victim of some pretty terrible writing which has sullied what should have been a landmark role for him and it hurts me. In this fancasting, even if I enjoy the actor who currently plays them or has in the past, I will recast all.

Batman/Bruce Wayne

Ever since I heard that Ben Affleck wanted out as Batman, I had only one actor in mind. From what I have read, this actor has also expressed interest in the role (hint hint Matt Reeves!). To be Batman, we need an actor who is large with broad shoulders and a deep, yet intelligent sounding voice. He needs to be physically imposing but also attractive when out of the cowl. As Bruce Wayne he needs to ooze class and intelligence as well as business savvy. For my money there was only ever one choice. I knew from the first episode of Mad Men that Jon Hamm would be a perfect Batman.

Alfred Pennyworth

This is a hard role to cast because both actors who have portrayed Alfred in recent big screen adaptations have been amazing in their own rights. Michael Caine and Jeremy Irons are incredible versions of the character and both leave rather large shoes to be filled. For my casting, I wanted the caring aspects put forth by Caine to mix with the slightly more upper class feel from Irons. This Alfred needs to have the acting chops to pull off all that might come his way, be it action or emotion. Also, as Alfred does tend to provide a bit of comic relief in the comics, this actor would also need to have some comic sensibility. With a body of work that spans nearly four decades, covering everything amazing from Underworld to Love, Actually to Harry Potter to Sean of the Dead, Bill Nighy is my choice to play Alfred Pennyworth.

Nightwing/Dick Grayson

As of now, there hasn’t really been a very good adaptation of Dick Grayson for the big screen. Chris O’Donnell was okay but those movies were so rough that his performance is somewhat lacking. Also, it is hard to pull off that costume in the films. As for the character, he is incredibly interesting. Unlike Bruce Wayne, whose parents’ deaths have turned him into a loner who cares for people from afar, the death of Dick’s parents hasn’t affected his sense of humor. He is smart, powerful, snarky, and exceedingly loyal. To stick with my favorite iteration of the character, Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows’ New 52 version, we would need someone who is strong, agile, intelligent, and of Romani descent (or at least able to pull that off). Now here is where I will do some ranting about the DCEU: why in the hell would you recast a character who brings in 4-7 million views weekly on a tv show? They should have left Grant Gustin to play Barry Allen in the movie and that way my choice, Ezra Miller, could play Nightwing. In Justice League, he looks so similar to the New 52 Nightwing that it seems meant to be. We know he can pull of the serious acting from films like Madame Bovary and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He also has the comedic chops from his amazing turn as Patrick in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I think Ezra Miller would be the perfect Nightwing.

Red Hood/Jason Todd

As the second character to don the mantle of Robin, Jason Todd was very different from his predecessor as well as those who came after. He was exceptionally gifted both mentally and physically, but unlike Dick and Tim, Jason had a serious dark side that came out in many of his exploits with Batman. Unlike the lighthearted joking of Nightwing, Todd is scathing and uncaring about those who commit crime. He was killed by the Joker, beaten to death with a crowbar at the behest of the fans who called in and voted on his fate, and was resurrected accidentally by Superboy-Prime and eventually had his health and memory restored by the Talia al Guhl, utilizing her father’s Lazarus Pit. He took on the mask of the Red Hood, a moniker worn by numerous villains in the DC Universe. Todd then begins a war on crime, using methods more akin to Marvel’s Punisher than to Batman. He still works with Batman on occasion but their relationship is tedious. The role would need to be someone who is strong, intelligent, but can play dark very well, as Todd’s personality is pretty bitter and angry. He would also have to be physically prepared to be Todd, both in muscle and in agility. I think the perfect casting for Jason Todd would be Jensen Ackles as he has shown all of these characteristics in Supernatural as well as films like My Bloody Valentine. He looks the part, can be darkly funny, and physically imposing.

Red Robin/Tim Drake

Tim Drake is the third character to take the mantle of Robin, but later left to join the teen titans, donning the role of Red Robin. He was in the audience the night Dick Grayson’s parents were killed and, through his own investigation, was able to discover who Batman really was. Drake saw batman spiral into darkness and violence after the death of Jason Todd and began to train himself to take the role of Robin, which Batman eventually bestowed upon him. Tim Drake is loyal, funny, and a great leader. He is also the most intelligent of the Robins. For this role, I needed to find someone who was strong of will and exudes both intelligence and sincerity. He needs to be athletic looking but still be nimble. I think with his turns in Fury, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Noah, and 3:10 to Yuma, Logan Lerman has everything he needs to be a great Red Robin.

Robin/Damian Wayne

As the newest edition to the Robins of the Bat Universe, Damian Wayne has yet to have a silver screen adaptation. If you aren’t sure who he is, Damian was created by Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert, and is the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Guhl, daughter of Ra’s al Guhl and on-again-off-again romantic partner of Wayne. He was conceived without Batman’s knowledge and grown in an artificial womb. He was raised by his mother and trained from birth by the League of Assassins. They instilled a killer instinct and a disregard for both sympathy and human life in Damian but after meeting his father, he has changed his ways and now is a member of the Bat family. The actor playing Damian would have to be young enough to play a kid but also have the chops to pull off the darkness needed to play such a complex character. There would be a lot of physicality in this role as Damian is basically a ninja. He also needs to have a dark, sarcastic sense of humor. I have two choices for this role and this was one of the tougher to decide. I think that David Mazouz would be a great Damian if they go with the older version of the character. He not only looks the part but could also pull off the acting necessary to deliver the character and do him justice. The fact that he plays young Bruce Wayne in Gotham would be simply a nice Easter egg.

My other choice would be Jack Dylan Grazer whose turn in It immediately convinced me that he could be funny and snarky but still pull off darkness in a believable fashion. He would be a great Damian if they went with the younger version of the character.

Batgirl/Barbara Gordon/Oracle

Barbara Gordon is the daughter of Commissioner James Gordon, and one of Batman’s closest allies. Her character has gone through a lot in the past few decades. She was a hero who was eventually paralyzed by the Joker. Afterward, she took on the role of Oracle and became a technological god for Batman, becoming his eyes and ears all over Gotham. She eventually underwent experimental surgery which brought back her mobility and she once again took on the cowl as Batgirl. As a character she is intelligent and resourceful. She is not afraid of much, and her heart and caring are two of her most important character traits. While she has never been written as a romantic symbol necessarily, her relationship with Dick Grayson has been something of a fan favorite for years. The two were married in one continuity, but even when they aren’t, there has always been some sexual tension. The actress playing Barbara would need to have the chops to pull off anyone of her many iterations, whether it was the strong female lead character she is now, the sidekick from the Silver Age of comics, or the resourceful paraplegic Oracle. If it is my choice she needs to be a redhead as that is a pretty iconic part of her look. For this role I chose one of the new, young, beautiful people from the CW. I have never seen her in anything else but her performance on Riverdale shows her range from insecure to sexy to strong and resourceful. Also, the red hair! That is why my choice for Batgirl is Madelaine Petsch.

Batwoman/Katherine Kane

Batwoman first appeared during the Silver Age of comics and her character was basically Batman but with a purse. Her weapons were normal feminine things like lipstick or other cosmetics but they doubled as weapons. I much prefer the newer iteration of the character, Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams’ version to be exact. She is darker and much more of a mystery to the rest of the Bat Family. She is also one of the few LGBTQ characters in the Bat Family, but it doesn’t feel forced. DC went for inclusion naturally with this character and it shows in the amazing character development Batwoman experiences. I absolutely love the choice of Ruby Rose as Batwoman but as I said earlier in the week, I am going to recast everyone to be fair. For Batwoman I wanted someone who had a crazy amount of range as Batwoman has complex relationships with friends, lovers, family, and co-workers. She must be able to play all roles well and deliver lines with both control, power, and sensitivity, so someone with a large range is greatly needed. While my choice doesn’t have red hair, I think that with some work on the look Evan Rachel Wood would be incredible in this role. From a young age Wood has shown serious acting prowess and her roles are incredible unique. Watch her performances in Thirteen, True Blood, Across the Universe, Westworld, The Wrestler, and Allure to see the vast difference in all of her performances. Wood could easily nail this role.

Lucius Fox

Lucius Fox is an integral part of the Bat universe, especially since the Christopher Nolan movies, where he became much more well known. He is the CEO and president of Wayne Industries but is also a very accomplished inventor and businessman in his own right. To play Fox, we would need a well-respected actor who makes everything he does seem interesting. Morgan Freeman is the perfect casting but since he has already been chosen, I think I know the second best choice, and honestly one of the best choices for any role ever: Idris Elba. As an actor, no one can deny how good at basically everything Elba seems to be. His range is huge, playing in shows like Luther and The Wire, but also in movies like Thor, Prometheus, and his unbelievable performance in Beasts of No Nation (for which he should have won an Oscar). The owners of James Bond have decided to be wrong and not cast him because he is “too urban” (yeah, we know what that means, you ass), but I think he is, or at least was, the best choice for Bond as well. For my money, I think Elba is the perfect casting for Lucius Fox and my cast for his son Luke (below) would look great as his son.

Batwing/Luke Fox

Batwing is arguably the newest addition to the Bat Family, having been created by Grant Morrison in 2011 for his Batman Incorporated series. He was to be the Batman of Africa. The first person to wear the suit was David Zavimbe, a police officer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After Batwing #19, Zavimbe gives up the role as Batwing. Lucius Fox’s son Luke is given the suit by Batman and takes over that role. His suit is the most advanced of the Bat Family, containing weapons, gadgets, wings, regeneration abilities, and armor. He has also been trained with nearly every weapon and was personally trained in police procedure and investigation by Bruce Wayne. Luke is incredibly intelligent, having received two degrees from MIT. The character to play Luke Fox/Batwing would need to be imposing physically, as Fox was a MMA and cage figher as well as an accomplished boxer. He is powerful is large, but also has an intellect and sense of humor which will need to be portrayed as well. For my money, there is only one choice and it is Winston Duke. His performances in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War alone make him my number one but if the trailers for Us are any indication, he can do everything.

Talon/Calvin Rose

As a side character in a much larger arc, Talon is the moniker taken by any number of assassins for the court of owls. The Talon I am referring to is Calvin Rose, who received his own standalone book during the New 52. He was abused heavily by his father as a child but when he ran away from home, he was taken in by an older man working as an escape artist for Haley’s Circus. By the age of nine, Rose could pick any lock and in the ensuing years became an incredibly skilled escape artist in his own right. After a very special performance, he is taken in by the Court of Owls and becomes their assassin. Eventually he breaks free of their control and joins Batman, Incorporated. He can reanimate dead tissue and is an incredible fighter as well as escape artist. He is also immune to pain and because of what the court did to him, he is nearly immortal. He is smart, resourceful, and intense but harbors some serious issues because of what he went through with the court. The actor would need to be skilled enough to touch on all these factors. He must be emotionally open but at the same time intimidating. He must be physically impressive but not bulking and huge. For this role I have chosen Matt Bomer, who has shown what he is capable of in White Collar, The Nice Guys, The Magnificent Seven, and American Horror Story. He would be a great addition to this cast and bring some serious humanity to the role of Talon.

Bluebird/Harper Row

Created in 2012 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, Harper Row was a small character appearing in backup issues of Batman, who eventually became Bluebird. She is first shown as a city worker who discovers Batman’s tech in the sewers and helps to make it better. Although she is continually confronted by Batman about stopping, she doesn’t and eventually helps to bring Batman out of a pretty dark place. She finally becomes Bluebird when helping Red Robin, Batgirl, and Red Hood to rescue her brother. She is a fiercely loyal and passionate young woman who has had to raise her brother after her mother’s death and her father’s incarceration. She has a very unique look, with colorful hair and an even more colorful attitude. The actress would need to be funny and intelligent but above all, exude a sense of attitude and snark. As soon as I knew I wanted to do this fan casting, I thought of this performer for Harper Row. She has shown the perfect attitude as Negasonic Teenage Warhead in Deadpool and Deadpool 2, but has also shown her chops in First Girl I Ever Loved. Brianna Hildebrand is the first and only person I think of when I think of Harper Row.

James Gordon

Commissioner James Gordon is Batman’s longest running relationship next to Alfred. He is the police commissioner of Gotham City and is usually shown to have a respectful yet occasionally tense relationship with the dark knight. He doesn’t always approve of Batman’s methods but knows that the city and even the police force need the dark knight to survive. He is smart and charismatic as well as brave beyond measure. He is unaware of his daughter’s role as Batgirl. To play commissioner Gordon, the actor would need to command a certain respect in both action and voice. The two most recent iterations, Gary Oldman and J.K. Simmons, are amazing and those actors are so hard to replace. For my money, I think that Bryan Cranston would be incredible. He commands respect as an actor, and we know he can play serious from his turns in Breaking Bad and the Infiltrator but has also shown his range in things like Malcolm in the Middle. Godzilla, and Argo. He has the intensity factor but can still play insecure and weak when needed. Bryan Cranston would kill this role. Also, he looks pretty badass in a moustache.

Harvey Bullock

To round out this fan casting, I think we need to make sure that we include at least one more from the Gotham Police Department. Harvey Bullock is the second most well-known member of the force, behind Gordon, and has made numerous appearances in all forms Batman media. Bullock is a hard-nosed, somewhat foul-mouthed detective, but a good worker and someone that Gordon knows he can trust. He was originally written as a crooked cop but turns over a new lead and becomes someone that Gordon can lean on to get things done. He has a closer relationship to Robin because of their love of old cinema classics. He is gruff and sarcastic but resourceful in that classic detective way. The actor needs to first off, have the right build. Bullock should not be cut and trim. He is a bigger guy, a classic NYPD style cop, complete with attitude and accent. For this role, I chose someone who can do both comedy and drama, has the build and attitude, and can even pull off the accent. Dan Fogler, usually a comedic actor in movies like Balls of Fury and Fanboys, has shown tremendous range in his role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He looks the part and I think he can definitely be a convincing Harvey Bullock.

Follow David on Twitter @TheDavidMAmes

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