Jon Hamm as Batman from Detective Comics #27, May, 1939
He smokes, he drinks, he’s a womanizer. He does not give a fuck about anyone but himself. Who better than to play the Gotham Playboy. This Bruce isn’t a persona or mask, he is just a terribly selfish man. This isn’t the sensitive young green horn from Miller’s Batman: Year One. This is the original ass-kicking, take no prisoners Batman who knocks teeth down throats and throws bad guys out of windows and off of balconies without a second thought.
A rough and tumble Batman who has yet to meet Robin or question his own tactics or morality in his war on crime. This is Batman as drawn by Matt Wagner or Darwyn Cooke. This Batman is pure ego and alpha male aggression. A nostalgia free trip back to 1939. A corrupt and violent world, Gotham the biggest cesspool of organised crime and dirty cops in America, Batman the only force willing to stand up in a city that has lost all hope of redemption, a dark avenger for a dark city.
“We were magnificent then, an unholy instrument of vengeance, relentless as a shark, blacker than their dark hearts…” – from Batman: Ego by Darwyn Cooke
Clint Eastwood (at age 60) in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns Batman
It almost happened, this movie could have been mind-blowing. Then again, had it been made I’m sure some clueless studio executive would have forced them to put a giant spider in the third act or found some other way to ruin a perfectly good film, like turning Batman into one of those obnoxious singing chipmunks. For over a decade, this was the dream casting that fans were salivating for.
The wiry but fit and strong Eastwood could have been he perfect bitter cynical sixty year old Bruce Wayne pulled back out of retirement in a world where superheroes have been phased out or are persecuted by a government that previously turned a blind eye. Eastwood’s iconic turns as the Man with no Name, Dirty Harry, and a dozen other tougher than nails and old shoe leather personas make him the pick for the morally decaying Gotham City that forgot it needed Batman to not just keep it in check, but hold it back from sliding right into hell on earth. Eastwood Batman does the job that you can’t interview for, and no sane person would ever want.
Karl Urban as Batman from Frank Miller’s Year One
He was awesome as Judge Dredd. He’s got the chin, the gruff manliness and tough S.O.B attitude and is still relatively young enough for a Frank Miller Year One Batman. While Nolan’s Batman Begins uses elements of Year One and other stories, this is a fantasy list where I pick any cast at any age. I’m talking about a total adaptation of Miller’s Year One, not just elements borrowed from it.
While we are are here, let’s keep Bryan Cranston as Gordon. He voiced young Jimbo in the animated version of Batman Year One. Cranston is too old you say? I don’t care, make him look younger with make up, die his hair rusty auburn and your eyes will be glued to the screen.
Chris Pine as Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond
He’s been Kirk and Jack Ryan, I say he can be the cocky young and arrogant Terry McGinnis in a live action version of the animated DC show. Set it a few years after the animated show, with McGinnis in his mid to late twenties. Throw in Clint Eastwood as our man Bruce as the mentor to Terry – retired of course -and don’t forget the big black dog that keeps Bruce Wayne company as he guides young Terry. Chris Pine did a fine job as the young arrogant and over-confident James Tiberius Kirk, and he would make a damn fine young arrogant hot shot Terry McGinnis in my opinion.
Daniel Craig as Batman in the 1970s
Playboy? Check. Intense stare? Check. Brooding angst? Check. Bond Batman, or Batman Bond, it just makes sense. One of the most popular versions of Batman is the Denny ‘O Neil / Neil Adams run from the 1970s. Here Batman was transformed from a local crime fighter to a lean mean tumbling machine, he could dive and roll like nobodies business, full of athletic grace and realistic muscles, this Batman was a globe-trekking Bond in all but name, heavily influenced by the best Bond movies and he even had his own would be world conqueror villain – Ra’s Al Ghul, the Demon’s Head, the immortal Alexander of the modern age.
To have Batman actually be played by Bond may cause a tear in the fabric of space and time, but I don’t care, I would love to see that film and damn the consequences. Make it a period film set in the 1970s with as much globe trotting and fancy suits and parties as an actual James Bond film, and this time make Ra’s Al Ghul the arrogant immortal madman he is, and not some watered down version who is too cowardly to admit who he is to Bruce Wayne’s face for fear of not being one of Batman’s Facebook friends. The famous sword fight between Al Ghul and a bare chested Batman in the desert is of course essential, and makes for a thrilling climax to the film.
Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy era) as Dark Knight Returns Batman
While he doesn’t have the same pull with studios as Clint, Ron Perlman would be a perfect physical shape (as in bulk) to fill out Miller’s chunky stylized vision of the darkest Dark Knight of all. We’ve seen him in enjoyable runs in Beauty and the Beast, Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy. In a cynical corrupt world , shades of Batman’s pulp origins combine with Ron Perlman’s chin and Robert Rodriguez on directing duties, in a 1980’s set post cold-war tale of constantly shifting moral ambiguity and ultra-violence, with QT as producer. He rode a horse and wore a cape in that crap Season of the Witch movie with Nic Cage, now just imagine the cowl and the stubby ears… and look at that square jaw!
Idris Elba as the modern day Batman
Born in Gotham, educated in the UK, a dark and intense Bruce Wayne terrorizes the criminals of Gotham in his never ending war on crime with the aide of his trusted Butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth.
The Butler? Daniel Craig or Ray Stevenson, as a special forces trained mentor to Bruce Wayne ripped from the pages of Geoff Johns’ Batman Earth 2. Idris Elba has gone from strength to strength. Sure he’s done his share of dodgy movies to keep those sweet meal deal checks rolling in, but anyone who has watched him as the obsessesively driven brooding and violent John Luther in the British drama series Luther knows that Idris Elba is perfect for Batman, and my top personal favourite choice from this list.
Micheal C. Hall as Batman in Arkham Asylum
One word: DEXTER
His entire persona of “Dexter” is a false face of normality he wears to fit in, to hide who he really is. Bathed in the blood of his parents, He knows Ju-Jitsu and spends a lot of time creeping around in the dark. It was no accident that the writers of the Showtime hit Dexter, the story of serial killer who takes out other killers – wrote the lead character as a dark avenger.
Dexter serves some kind of indefinable dark purpose. Call it Justice, the dark passenger, an evil deity, call it whatever you like, but put on that cape and cowl and see the instant transformation from man to myth. From Dark Knight Detective to an unhinged crusading Demon in a Cape. Then lock him in Arkham Asylum with all the freaks and let him go to town. Have him bark Rorschach’s immortal line:
None of you seem to understand. I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with me!
Micheal Fassbender as Batman in Cataclysm / No Man’s Land
He’s brilliant in everything from Fishtank and Shame to X-Men:First Class, A Dangerous Method and Prometheus. His well wicked turn as the intense man on a mission
007: Magneto BOND in X-Men:First Class was the highlight of the movie for me. His intense shark like portrayal of the most conflicted and yet relatable X-Men villain glued my eyes to the big screen. A cold-hearted unforgiving bastard , a devil in a suit (and later a cape) who scares the living hell out of his enemies.
Sounds like Batman material to me. Have him fighting to survive in No Man’s Land, the post viral outbreak, post earthquake disaster zone state that US Government is content to ignore as if it doesn’t exist. Fassbender Batman and allies fighting to take back the Quarantined City of Gotham one block at a time makes for a riveting tension filled movie.
Damian Lewis as Thomas Wayne / Flashpoint Paradox Batman
The dapper gent with the glowing red eyes and twin pistols. A more vicious and deadly Batman (more like his inspiration The Shadow) lives in the alternate universe DC Story Flashpoint Paradox. When Bruce Wayne and Martha Wayne died in the arms of Thomas Wayne, Thomas went on to become a Batman who runs casinos and has alliances with the mob. A darker Batman for a broken world, I can think of nobody better than Damian Lewis, co-star of Homeland (with the under-rated Claire Danes) to become the tortured and broken violent man that is Thomas Wayne’s Batman.
Welcome to The Cut List TM&© Cutty McCuttington
He’s cut. And him, oh that guy too, and you better believe that guy over there is cut. This may be a fantasy list, but that doesn’t mean ruthless cuts were not made in the name of keeping this list lean and mean like the Batman himself.
While the range of actors here are all people whose work I really enjoy, some guys just didn’t make the cut. Not that they are not worthy of the Bat, all of them could conceivably be Batmen. But these guys, good as they are in their various roles, just don’t FEEL quite right to me as Batman.
Tommy Lee Jones
Maybe it’s the Texan accent, or that I associate him Western movies, real cowboys and The Fugitive. Or the fact that he is a bit old to be jumping off of roof tops, although he generally does keep in good condition. I see present day Tommy Lee Jones as more of a Jim Gordon than a Batman, and he would suit that role just fine. But knock off a few years, and Tommy would do just fine as a possible Batman, dapper smooth gent that he is.
This guy was really hard to cut, my girlfriend and my brother both tease me about my Ryan Gosling man crush. Like the McConaissance, Tom Hardy or Leo, Ryan Gosling has been on a nearly unbroken run of must see film roles in recent years. He is another internet fan favourite for Batman. My favourite role was Gosling in Nicolas Winding Refn’s DRIVE, my favourite film of all time. DRIVE is my very favourite post modern neo-noir existentialist fairy tale, hell it is probably the only post modern neo-noir existentialist fairy tale.
Gosling is nothing less than mesmerizing as the Man with No Name (right down to the toothpick in place of a Cigar). He exists in a twilight zone place between worlds, he haunts the Micheal Mann esque streets of a neon-infused eternal night. A hypnotic fever dream of getaway driving, bad deals and worse consequences on the streets of L.A. He’s got guts, charisma and makes a great outsider/ loner anti-hero. Sounds like Batman to me.
Ray Stevenson is good in well…. EVERYTHING. So why don’t I Iike him for Batman? Well, he just looks evil. So evil I’d say make him a villain in a Batman film. He was brilliant in Dexter as a ruthless killer and average in Punisher War Zone. But which villain should he be? Not one of the usual lunatic parade, instead have him be an anti-Batman. An evil/ amoral Batman doppelganger who kills without hesitation and Bruce Wayne must take him down as fast as he can before the body count rises. There are no shortages of Batman doppelgangers, take your pick: Owlman, The Wrath, Killer Moth, Catman, Batzarro, Zur-en-ahh.
My pick would be have to him play The Wrath. Let Ray’s booming voice scare the hell out of Bruce Wayne when he beats him within an inch of his life, Batman only escaping when Robin saves his ass. But update The Wrath’s ridiculous costume. Great character, dumb costume. Lose the bloody purple and have him wear something closer to the Big Daddy costume from the Kick-Ass movie worn by Nic Cage. Throw in Nic Cage as Catman if you like, who gets killed in the first act by The Wrath.
“You want to get nuts? Come on, let’s get nuts!”
Riggs is crazy! Another contender – the third in this list for Dark Knight Returns version of Batman. He’s done crazy and tough. He’s done crazy and passionate and funny. He’s done crazy and sensitive and um… crazy. As DKR Batman he would kick ass and take names. And have you seen how he looks lately… check out those arms. Sorry Micheal Keaton, you just got out-crazied by the master.