Who’s Playing Batman Now?
It’s 2019 and the time of reboots, recasts, and remakes are upon us all. There used to be a sort of challenge to anyone who wanted to play a role in any movie: play it as best you can. That alone was simple enough, but finding an actor for Batman? Now you are not just compared to yourself in other scenes of the same movie. Now, you have to stand up against the last two or three people who also played that part in the last few years.
This way of thinking is rife with problems. Not just for the actors portraying parts, but also for moviegoers in general. When you go to see a superhero movie, this problem is increased ten-fold. Every single actor who is taking what should be the role of their lives is put to the same test. The wholly unfair test of being compared to the other actors who played that role.
In previous years, when a remake was made, there was a contest between the original actors and the remake actors. This level of comparison was difficult enough, often taking an extremely popular but older actor at the height of their talent, and trying to compare them to an up and coming star trying to earn their wings.
That was, of course, nerve-racking for the younger actor who had to live up to the role, but many people managed to flourish under that model. Some remakes were even said to surpass the originals. But then, with the influx of the MCU, DCEU, and other ‘extended universes’, it seems that remakes started to take on a completely different slant. Nevermind the fact that we are remaking and rebooting things in two to three years sometimes.
They’re Remaking Spider-Man?! …Again?
The number of people who have played Spider-Man is just rising by the year. The level of how well any of these parts were portrayed by any actor, even very talented ones, have been watered down completely. The amount of time between remakes is now so small that it is impossible to remember which Spider-Man you even liked. And by the time they made another movie and cast ANOTHER Peter Parker, it has become such a joke that when they announce anything about Spider-Man at this point, the whole internet starts talking about yet another Uncle Ben being murdered.
But no superhero has been more a victim to this phenomenon than Batman. Since his creation, Batman has been one of ‘The Trinity’. It’s a friendly nickname given to the three DC superheroes who started it all: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. This means that Batman has been through more actors and revisions than most other heroes. But the popularity garnered by his long tenure in the comics community has given people STRONG feelings about him.
Anyone who reads a book and imagines how a character looks in their head knows this. Then you see a movie with a completely different actor playing that part. Most fans have been reading, watching, and talking about Batman since early childhood. They all have very intense opinions and theories. Not to mention most of them have specific actors already in mind for the role.
What Does That Mean For Batman Casting?
For every one person who agrees with a casting decision, there will be thousands of people who will disagree. With a character like Batman, no one will have the same mental image of him as anyone else. When casting such a beloved character, being 6’3” and having dark hair and blue eyes isn’t quite enough. The actors in question have to live up to a literal superhero physically and visibly. Then they have to put emotions into the part that in some cases are 80 years old. No acting talent can live up to the hype to that level.
But This Actor would be a PERFECT Batman!
Lots of people with angry opinions on the latest Batman casting have issues cosmetically with some of the choices that have been made. Aside from Val Kilmer and Adam West though, pretty much every single actor who has played the role, looked the part in some fashion or another. Culminating in the casting of Ben Affleck. Even if you weren’t a Bat-Fleck stan, every single quantifiable aspect of him matches the comics. Ben was the most physically close thing to an actual Bruce Wayne that Hollywood has ever given us. Yet his movies were MORE hated than lots of others, not less.
This shows unequivocally that it isn’t simply a matter of getting someone who looks like they are supposed to look. It’s a larger issue that isn’t being satisfied. What this issue is, unfortunately, is something different for every fan. Some people can’t find a Bat-voice they like, some don’t like the look of anyone in the mask, and some just personally don’t like the actors chosen for one reason or another. So it becomes a quagmire of not just trying to find the right person to be a superhero, and a billionaire philanthropist, but also someone who everyone on Earth will like. Not just a tall order, a nearly impossible one to tell the truth.
But I Know The PERFECT Person!
Unfortunately, there is a legacy here that isn’t one to be shouldered by anyone at this point in the game. Whether it’s because we are making the movies too quickly back-to-back, or just because we have made so many at this point isn’t clear. The character of Batman is one that a human being just won’t get universal recognition for playing. With a legacy that’s literally coming in on a century, the character predates all of his fans. Something like that changes a character into a myth, a legend. It’s not fair to put any human up to that level of scrutiny. Not to mention put their careers at stake just to see if they won’t be hated for it in the end.
So no, even if you think you know the right actor to play Batman, it either won’t happen, or it won’t be as popular as you hope it will be. But that’s not to say that all Batman movies are bad, or even that all Batman actors are bad. Quite the contrary, some of them are borderline amazing and yet they are swimming in an overpopulated pond. None of the parts can stand out from the crowd because everyone is trying so hard just to not be hated by the fans.
Ben Affleck was completely and utterly thrilled to get to play Batman at the beginning, sculpting his body into shape to earn it. Then, after the backlash, after the memes, and after the audience’s reactions… he’s admitted to never wanting to play it again and has started a daily Dunkin’ Donuts habit. That’s a POWERFUL level of backlash… good luck Robert Pattinson.
My name is Jon Schmitt and I am a writer through and through. Though I’ve spent my whole life obsessed with various sections of Nerd-dom, the thing I like most is writing. If I’m not here on the site, you will probably find me nose-deep in a book, playing games, or reading comics… and always with a cup of tea.