In celebration of Batman Day and the recent casting of Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke in Ben Affleck’s upcoming Batman film, we’ve decided to create a casting wish-list of who we’d like to see join the film and the inevitable sequels. This new Bat-franchise will already be stacked with the likes of J.K. Simmons, Jeremy Irons, Margot Robie, Jared Leto, and other cast members from Suicide Squad, but that’s only the beginning of building a cinematic Gotham City for the ages!
* For another look at our Fantasy Draft Casting, featuring some of the Batman rogues not featured in this, check out our lineup for Suicide Squad sequels.
John Goodman as Detective Harvey Bullock
We’ve yet to see the irascible, eternal schlub Harvey Bullock in any of the live-action Batman films, which is a damn shame because he’s a fantastic character who has a great dynamic with both Gordon and Batman. The occasionally corrupt Bullock has been Batman’s go-to source when Gordon’s been off-duty or incapacitated, and despite their dislike of each other’s methods he and Batman have established a system of trust over the years. Goodman has consistently been one of our finest character actors, and not only does he look spot-on like Bullock but he’s got more than enough screen presence to stand toe-to-toe with J.K. Simmons’ Commissioner Gordon. Those two could easily succeed in creating the beleaguered buddy cop dynamic that Fox’s Gotham has tried so hard to create.
Emily Rios as Rene Montoya
Major Crimes Detective Rene Montoya is a more recent addition to the Batman mythos, first appearing in Batman: The Animated Series. She’s frequently paired with Bullock, though she has a much more civil relationship with Batman than her partner. Montoya is one of the most prominent lesbian characters in comics, and after she was outed in the GCPD she enjoyed a stint as the faceless vigilante The Question. Emily Rios, an open lesbian, has had prominent roles on Breaking Bad and The Bridge. With the DCEU’s Gotham having a well-established system of order and corruption, Rios’s Montoya could provide a new means of tackling Gotham’s biggest issues while bringing in some youthful idealism. And once that idealism has been quashed, Rios would make a hell of a Question too.
Sarah Paulson as Maggie Sawyer
Originally Metropolis’s Captain of the Special Crimes Unit, eventually she was transferred to the GCPD where she becomes the Commissioner in Gordon’s absence. Sawyer’s known as one of the toughest cops in the DC Universe. Having served in cities of Green Arrow, Superman, and Batman she truly is someone whose seen it all. Another of DC’s prominent lesbian characters, Sawyer shares a unique friendship with Montoya, one that Paulson’s casting could provide a unique perspective on given the age difference between she and Rios.
Taye Diggs as Crispus Allen
Another officer originally from Metropolis, Allen took a lead role in the acclaimed series Gotham Central along with Bullock, Montoya, and Sawyer. Allen is no fan of the Batman, preferring to keep their interactions brief, though he understands the need for him. After he’s killed, Allen becomes the host of The Spectre, the supernatural entity who carries out the wrath of God. This was a major change for the faithless Allen, and gave the criminals of Gotham something worse than Batman to fear. Diggs not only has Allen’s collected composure, but he’s also got a voice that would lend itself well to the Spectre if that version of the character was ever introduced.
Steven Yeun as Nightwing (Dick Grayson)
We can’t take credit for this popular fancast and recent rumor, but we’d be remiss if we if didn’t cement the fact that Yeun would make for a fantastic depiction of Batman’s first partner, Dick Grayson. Yeun’s got the charisma and boundless energy to brighten up Batman’s world, while still coming across as a serious threat. And at 32, it’s easy to believe that Yeun could have operated as Robin nearly 20 years ago near the beginning of Batman’s career.
Elle Fanning as Batgirl (Barbara Gordon)
Here’s an idea: We don’t start with Barbara Gordon as Oracle. Instead Batgirl would just be getting started in the DCEU, as Batman’s most recent ally. We don’t need Batgirl to simply be a female version of Robin, so the character would work best as a more independent hero who didn’t receive training from Batman and thus doesn’t feel the need to enable his occasional childish and dickish behavior. Elle Fanning is one of the most talented young actresses working today and she’s got a fiery independence to many of her roles that would fit quite well with the character of Batgirl. Plus, she has the benefit of co-starring with Ben Affleck in his upcoming film Live By Night.
Caleb McLaughlin as Robin (Tim Drake)
It’s been nearly 20 years since Batman movies convinced general audiences that Robin was uncool. But here’s the thing, Batman not only needs Robin, but he’s an awesome character as well. There’s a two-part solution to this question of Batman’s need and the fact that he would endanger the life of a child. First, Robin should be used as a character who keeps Batman aware of what life in an inner city is like. It’s never really quite worked that all of Batman’s sidekicks have been white guys, so Robin through Dick, Jason, and Tim should depict what it’s like to be a young Asian-American, white, and black kid growing up in Gotham. The second part of this working is that the role of Robin, even with its danger and violence, must be a life better than the one Bruce is taking them from. Robin isn’t so dangerous when it’s between that and getting mugged and shot by a crook, or stopped and shot by the police on a daily basis. While he’s new on the acting scene, McLaughlin made an impression as Lucas on Stranger Things and we think he could easily show the kind of detective skills and quick-thinking Tim is known for.
Alfie Allen as Red Hood (Jason Todd)
There’s something pathetic about the villainy of Batman’s second partner turned brutal vigilante, Jason Todd. While you’ve got to feel a little sympathy for the guy who was beaten to death by the Joker, the resurrected Todd has never found a way to fit in as either hero or villain, which what has made his appearances so interesting over the recent years. Jason’s return to punish Batman for not killing the Joker after his death has the potential to raise some interesting issues about Batman’s willingness to kill or not kill. While we’ll likely see this post-BvS Batman take a step back from taking lives, there’s an interesting conversation to be had among he and Jason about why he only killed small time crooks instead of taking out their biggest enemies. This could easily lead to Jason becoming the brutal murderer of villains that he became in the comics in his quest to be better than Batman. Allen’s performance on Game of Thrones is evidence that he could easily create the sadness and failure of Jason Todd, while exploring a remorseless edge that we’ve yet to see the actor take on.
Rachel Weisz as Catwoman
Given that Batman’s relationships have been established for 20 years in this universe, we’d like the casting to reflect that with Batman’s love interests too. While most of the fancasting for Catwoman has suggested women in their 20s, we’d like to see the casting skew older. If we’re seeing a more experienced Batman, I think it’s only logical that we’re seeing a more experienced Catwoman too. We’d like to see Weisz challenge Affleck’s Batman as a Selina Kyle whose exploits as Catwoman have allowed her to build a crime empire. Believable as both a costumed character and a major crime boss, Weisz could create a fantastic take on the character whose been allowed to evolve as a more serious threat within this world.
Casey Affleck as Riddler
Of all of Batman’s major villains, the Riddler is the only one who hasn’t had a great live-action depiction (sorry, Jim Carrey). While the Riddler deducing Batman’s identity has been a popular story idea since Nolan’s movies, we think it would be more interesting to see the Riddler as more of a villainous detective, a collector of information who’s got the edge on everyone in Gotham and frequently exploits them for his own hedonistic desires. Before his brother was cast as Batman, the younger Affleck has long been our pick for Edward Nygma. He’s shown time and time again that he makes every character his own, and he looks different enough from Ben to avoid any familial oddness within the film.
Vince Vaughn as Clayface
All right, all right, settle down. We know that Vaughn, known primarily from his frat boyish comedies, is a bit out of left field. But after his performance in True Detective we think he’s perfect for Batman: The Animated Series’ take on the character who’s a former leading man whose best days are behind him. Hagen’s situation is made worse by a disfiguring car accident. Turning to an experimental rejuvenating substance he becomes the shapeshifting Clayface. Vaughn can play a mean bastard with no problem, but he’s also shown an impressive talent for impersonations and character acting which is a must-have for Clayface.
John Cusack as Calendar Man
Calendar Man is an infrequently used Batman villain who bases his crimes on holidays with the creativity and historical basis worthy of an Arkham escapee. His most notable appearance was in Batman: The Long Halloween where he played a Hannibal Lecter-esque role in helping Batman track down a new serial killer. While he’ll never be a primary adversary, we do think this new Batman franchise could do well to feature some lesser-known Batman villains to add a greater dynamic to Batman’s war on crime, outside of adversaries with city-ending plans. We’re also pretty keen on the idea of Batman visiting Arkham to get insight from a guy who was one of the first villains Batman ever took down, a guy who knows what happens behind the walls of Gotham’s infamous institute. Cusack could deliver a cool intelligence of a quick-witted sociopath who knows that Batman would fit right in at the asylum.
Benicio del Toro as Two-Face
We imagine this depiction of Two-Face as an unhinged version of the Elephant Man, who has managed to carve out his own criminal territory within Gotham. The traces of the confident D.A. Harvey Dent have almost entirely fled, leaving us with a character who swifts between manically depressed an d horribly cruel. Take a page out of Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns or Scott Snyder’s recent All-Star Batman and completely cover the character’s face with either bandages or a white bag, to drive home Two-Face’s unsettling disconnect from those around him. Benicio del Toro has carved out a path for himself as a actor who can tap into this kind of disconnect while always being a welcome presence in any ensemble. If you’re reading All-Star Batman just read Two-Face’s dialogue with the voice of Sin City’s Jackie Boy in mind and you’ll see why we’re so convinced del Toro would be perfect for this.
Jude Law as Black Mask
Imagine a serial killer with the empire, resources, and following of Al Capone and you’ve got Black Mask. Jude Law is one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors who we don’t talk about nearly enough. He’s also proven his ability to handle eerie, complex characters (Road to Perdition), and it’s hard not to see him giving his all to Roman Sionis’s sadism. An adversary of Batman and Catwoman, we think there’s plenty of potential to two dueling criminal empires within Gotham City between Sionis and Kyle.
Bryan Cranston as Mr. Freeze
This was the hardest character to cast given the emotional weight of the character’s backstory and cold detachment of his delivery. Truth be told, it’s pretty difficult to separate the character from Michael Ansara’s performance in Batman: The Animated Series. But we think Bryan Cranston would do a wonderful job conveying the character’s depth of heartbreak and complete callousness towards human life. While Cranston’s often cast as quick-tempered men who wear their emotions on their sleeves, we think it would be an interesting challenge to see the actor balance the character’s tragedy and subtle expressions of humanity.
Matt Damon as Owlman (Lincoln March/Thomas Wayne Jr.)
Fans have long been looking for a way for Affleck’s buddy Matt Damon to play a part in the DCEU alongside Batman, and we think we’ve figured out the perfect angle. A recent villain, March works for the Court of the Owls, a secret society that controls everything in Gotham. Revealed to possibly be Bruce’s brother who he thought died as an infant, Owlman sought to destroy everything Bruce had established over the years. He’s a villain who only works with the established history of Batman which is why we think he and the Court of the Owls would be such a welcome presence in the DCEU. It’s not hard to see Damon under the guise of the smarmy but seemingly well-intentioned mayoral candidate March, but also the unstable and ruthless Owlman.
Featured Image: Warner Bros. Pictures