The thing Michael Keaton understood about Batman is that Bruce Wayne is, deep down in his soul, a huge weirdo. That’s why Keaton’s take on the character is beloved by so many, still, today, 30-some years after he last played him in a film opposite Danny DeVito as Penguin. Things got a little campy after that (hello Batman & Robin) and then they got dark (Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, Robert Pattinson, and various other actors with jawlines cut from marble), which is all fine, mostly. Probably. There’s room for various takes on the character. Batman has been around for decades now. There’s something to be said for keeping things fresh by switching them up.
But there’s also something to be said for letting Batman be a weirdo again, for letting the series have some fun, for acknowledging that this dude is a billionaire playboy who hangs out in a cave and dresses up like a bat to battle the most theatrical villains you’ve ever seen and whose best friend is his butler. There is comedy to be mined here, even within the structure of the story. The trick is finding the right combination of star and director, like the Thor movies did with Chris Hemsworth and Taika Waititi. Let’s focus on the star for now. I have ideas.
Here are some guys I would like to see get a crack at playing Batman.
- Jake Johnson rules
- I feel like he would capture the correct goofball disaffected billionaire vibe as Bruce Wayne, especially at some fancy cocktail party
- The other thing I need in this version is Adam Pally as the Joker
This one would work for a bunch of reasons — talent, oddball charm, etc. — but there’s one main reason I keep coming back to: Glover already has experience playing a reclusive wealthy weirdo who lives in a creepy old mansion. You remember the Teddy Perkins episode of Atlanta. It was so good. So we add a dash of that to Bruce Wayne. This whole thing works almost too well. I don’t know if Donald Glover even wants to play Batman. He would be really good at it, though. Close your eyes and picture it right now.
I just thought about this one and started laughing for about 90 seconds straight. Let Danny McBride write it, too. Let him cast Walton Goggins as The Riddler. It would be weird and chaotic and littered with enough cussing that it would probably work better as an HBO series than a summer blockbuster.
Which I want to see now.
Danny McBride, please consider making a weirdo Batman series after The Righteous Gemstones is over.
Let Edi Patterson play Catwoman.
Just think about it a little.
I could have written out a whole thing here but I really think this set of screencaps from The Nice Guys make my point better than any collection of words I could type would. Let’s move on.
Between Always Sunny and Mythic Quest, Rob McElhenney already has a history of playing characters who cover up deeply-rooted insecurities with comic levels of showy masculinity. I think he could do a pretty good job with “a wealthy orphan who dresses up like a muscular rodent to fight crime.” Plus, we could loop Danny DeVito back into the franchise and let him play Alfred. This last thing is either the best or worst idea I’ve ever had, with no middle ground between those two extremes. These are my favorite kinds of ideas.
Some notes, once again:
- Sam Richardson rules
- I would like it if he became a big star
- I don’t know how he would handle various fight and/or zipline-type scenes but it’s not like Michael Keaton was ever the UFC light heavyweight champion or anything, so who cares?
A solid case if there ever was one.
Brett Goldstein plays Roy Kent on Ted Lasso. He curses a lot and is always cranky and carries himself like a guy who burned his last bagel every morning at breakfast. I love him very much. I don’t know if he can do an effective American accent — Christian Bale did one, so there is precedent — or if we should just let Batman be a British guy who says the f-word a lot, but those feel like Day Two problems. We can get to them tomorrow.
This one should probably be filed under the Gosling/Glover “so obvious it maybe should have happened already” category, but still. Rudd has all the tools to make this work, even including the jawline, and he has superhero experience thanks to playing Ant-Man in two movies over in the Marvel Universe. He can do the Batman stuff. More importantly, he can do the Bruce Wayne stuff. I have this image in my head of him at some stuffy gala tossing cocktail shrimp into the air and catching them in his mouth, or sticking toothpicks and olives into his dinner roll to turn them into little chubby men that he then voices to the annoyance of the other rich people at his table. These ideas are free for anyone to use. I don’t even know if they’re good. I just really want to see them.
One of the Succession boys
Any one of them will do. Give me Jeremy Strong getting so into the character that he starts living in a cave in real life. Give me Kieran Culkin just kind of slithering around in the Batsuit like a naughty little reptile. Give me Matthew McFayden giving Bruce Wayne the full Tom Wambsgans. Give me Nicholas Braun as the most awkward and lanky Batman the world has ever seen.
Especially that last one.
Extremely that last one.
I suspect I will be thinking about this for a period of time not less than 5-7 years.
We’ve already had enough gloomy Batmen. We’ve seen many lifetime’s worth of on-screen brooding from beneath that mask. We’ve heard people do the unreasonably deep and raspy voice that sounds like it hurts to deploy for more than two or three sentences at a time. It’s time for something new.
It is time, specifically, for a chatty Batman. One who shows up on the roof to answer the Bat Signal and starts doing a whole bit on the impracticality of the whole thing. One who goes on extended riffs at home that Alfred suffers through. One who talks fast and a lot and schmoozes relentlessly. It’s worth a shot.
Some notes, one last time:
- Matt Berry rules
- I’m not entirely sure if/how this would work at all but I really do want to see someone try it
- Please take at least 10 minutes today to think about Matt Berry screeching up to a crime scene in the Batmobile and then struggling to climb out of it
This is the best one. I need it at once.