Since the 2013 announcement that Ben Affleck would be playing Batman, DC fans have been uncertain about the Dark Knight’s legacy. Social media was flooded with #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck tweets suggesting who could play the role better. Twitter was overwhelmed with opinions ranging from the downright absurd to semi-decent possibilities. Fans of the Nolan trilogy demanded the return of Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader but were left disappointed when the actor stated his Batman didn’t belong in Zack Snyder’s universe.
Despite his Daredevil disaster still fresh in their minds, some decided to give the actor a chance, recalling how many doubters were blown away by Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker. However, the reviews for Batman vs Superman didn’t do much to change anyone’s opinions of “Batfleck” nor did Justice League offer glimpses of a bright future for the DCEU. Recently, uncertainty about whether Affleck will remain as Batman has plagued the potential for another trilogy and once again people are quick to throw out their suggestions for who should replace him. Below is a list of the top 10 actors rumored to take up the mantle next and 5 possibilities on how the Batman franchise can be saved.
15. JAKE GYLLENHAAL
Since November of last year, Gyllenhaal has quickly risen to become the frontrunner to replace Affleck as Batman. With a strong background of successful roles and an Oscar-worthy performance in Stronger, the actor has the star-power to portray the infamous Dark Knight. In Prisoners and Zodiac, Gyllenhaal showed he could play an intense, investigative character with incredible accuracy. He is also no stranger to having to alter his physical appearance, working to gain the physique needed for Southpaw.
Though Gyllenhaal has expressed interest in playing a superhero, being David S. Goyer’s first choice for Batman Begins and rumored to replace Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 2, the actor has been wary of committing to such a demanding and career-defining role. Also working against him is his age, being much younger than the brooding, older Bruce Wayne that’s been introduced in the recent films.
14. RYAN GOSLING
When Batman vs Superman was first announced, The Hollywood Reporter came out with a list of potential actors allegedly in the running to play Batman. Among those named was Ryan Gosling, the swoon-worthy actor known for his romantic roles in The Notebook and most recently La La Land. Gosling has also shown his edgy, bad-boy side in Drive, Gangster Squad, and Blade Runner 2049.
Similar to Gyllenhaal, the actor is nowhere near Affleck’s age range and currently doesn’t have the muscle to play the crime-fighting vigilante. Working in his favor is his wife Eva Mendes who many Tumblr users have fan-casted as Catwoman and should she return to the world of acting, the two would already have the needed chemistry for one of DC’s most beloved romances.
13. JOSH BROLIN
Brolin confirmed he was in the running for the role in 2016 but ultimately backed away after disagreements with Snyder about how the character should be played. He remains a strong contender should Affleck decide to step down, showing he has the acting chops to portray the vengeful vigilante determined to bring justice to Gotham with performances in Gangster Squad, True Grit, and No Country for Old Men.
While Brolin appears to be the perfect choice for many, what’s holding the actor back is his strong ties to the MCU. He has already landed the roles of Thanos in The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy films and is set to appear as Cable in Deadpool 2. While having prior experience playing a DC character, Jonah Hex in 2010, the film suffered severely at the box office and received negative reviews which could dampen his chances to play Batman.
12. MATTHEW GOODE
When Batman vs Superman was first announced, Matthew Goode was on Warner Bros’ list of actors to play either role. Once both had been cast, Goode still remained attached to the film, possibly in the running to play Lex Luthor. However, the role eventually went to Jesse Eisenberg.
The actor has previously worked with Snyder in the 2009 Watchmen film as Ozymandias. Goode showed he could portray the suave businessman that Bruce Wayne is and knew how to pull off a cape. In Stoker, he was able to channel a perfect blend of seductive and sinister which he could channel into a more deeply damaged Batman, still reeling from traumatic events from his past. While he has the personality to play the character, Goode’s slender frame doesn’t match the needed rugged exterior of the Dark Knight nor is he within the right age range for the role.
11. RICHARD ARMITRAGE
Seemingly impressed with his performance as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit, a source for The Daily Star stated the bosses at Warner Bros. were keen on hiring the actor to play Batman for Dawn of Justice. The studio had been reported to be looking for an older Bruce Wayne, the latest incarnation being “a grizzled veteran who has been on the job for several years.” Armitrage has a lot working in his favor to play the role: a deep voice, his age, and an impressive build that can hold its own underneath a heavy costume.
While the actor has a strong fan base supporting him, it’s unclear whether he is interested in replacing Affleck. Armitrage has also been rumored to be in the running to play James Bond after Daniel Craig leaves the franchise. He is set to appear in the Ocean’s 8 film alongside Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett.
10. IDRIS ELBA
Eager to see DC become more diverse when it comes to its heroes, fans’ need for inclusion of more women and people of color led to the overwhelming success of Wonder Woman and the introduction of Cyborg in Justice League. If Warner Bros were persuaded to take a risk, Idris Elba’s been nominated for Batman.
The actor has shown his tough guy credibility in The Wire and his superior detective skills on Luther. His seductive swagger is perfect for Bruce’s billionaire playboy persona. His performances in The Losers and RocknRolla show he can work well with a team but also has what it takes to be a strong leader like in Pacific Rim and Prometheus. While having ties to the MCU, as Heimdall in Thor and Moreau in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, his roles have been relatively minor which could allow for an easy transition into the DCEU.
9. JON HAMM
Though most fan-art casts him as Two-Face, the Mad Men actor’s name has come up in regards to playing the Dark Knight. RadarOnline.com presented a rumor that “Jon’s gunning hard for the role” and is more than willing to give Ben the boot. Sources strongly suggest Matt Reeves, who will be directing the Batman trilogy, is a fan and believes the transition will be easier with Hamm, who is closer to Affleck’s age rather than Gyllenhaal, who is only 37.
With experience portraying a serial womanizer with the inability to maintain lasting relationships, the actor could be paired with any of Bruce Wayne /Batman’s various lovers and show the character’s unwillingness or hesitation to pursue a meaningful romance. Hamm also has previously worked with Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, so any lingering chemistry left from Justice League could easily transfer to one of the Batman films should the Amazonian make an appearance.
8. JOSH HARTNETT
Ever since he rejected Nolan’s offer to play the character, Josh Hartnett has regretted not playing Batman. In an interview with Playboy, the actor revealed turning down the role has haunted him ever since. Hartnett got his start in films like The Virgin Suicides, Pearl Harbor, and Sin City and jumpstarted his lackluster career by portraying the American werewolf in London in the 2014-2016 supernatural thriller series Penny Dreadful.
His performance on the show echoes a Bruce Wayne that is haunted by his tragic past. As Ethan Chandler, Hartnett was able to portray a man with dueling personalities: an outward, suave and somewhat apathetic persona hiding a deeply tortured individual struggling with his moral compass. Working against the actor is his age and increasingly muted star-power. If offered the chance again, the actor stated, ” I know now that I wouldn’t turn something down just because it’s a superhero role.”
7. KEANU REEVES
Before being considered for the role in Batman vs Superman, Reeves was also in the running to play the character in Batman Forever. The actor does have experience playing a stoic character bent on vengeance and justice in The Matrix, Constantine, and most recently in the John Wick films. A case could also be made that his monotone voice would pair nicely with a cowl and dark eyeliner. Plus with his martial-arts training, he has what it takes to kick butt in a seriously awesome way with amazing accuracy.
Reeves admitted that, along with the chance to play the Dark Knight, he also wanted the opportunity to play Wolverine but was unfortunately passed over for both. Perhaps knowing he has what it takes to create a successful franchise, Warner Bros could be persuaded to call upon the actor once again.
6. MICHAEL FASSBENDER
Michael Fassbender has been making the rounds as another potential actor set to play Batman. Known for playing incredibly intense characters from the wrathful Magneto in X-Men: First Class to the sex-addicted Brandon in Shame, the actor has enough charm to portray Bruce’s billionaire playboy personality but can also display a cruelness that would best show Batman’s brutal tendencies when pushed to the edge.
Should the Batman trilogy include The Court of Owls, Fassbender could draw upon his experience in Assassin’s Creed as an ordinary man made to turn into a costumed vigilante to stop an ancient, secret society from destroying the world. The biggest reason keeping Warner Bros from pulling the trigger is his contract with Marvel. Fassbender is set to make an appearance in X:Men: Dark Phoenix and perhaps more should the franchise continue down its path of spin-off series and solo movies.
5. JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN
Since his appearance as Thomas Wayne in Batman vs Superman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan has enjoyed teasing his eagerness to play the Caped Crusader. Last year, it was confirmed at San Diego Comic Con the solo Flash movie would focus on the “Flashpoint” storyline featuring Bruce Wayne’s parents becoming the Dark Knight and Joker.
If Warner Bros. wanted to introduce a completely different take on the classic Batman origin story, “Flashpoint” would be a perfect way to do it. After witnessing their young son being gunned down in an alleyway, Thomas vows revenge while Martha suffers a complete mental breakdown. The film would reunite Morgan with his Walking Dead co-star Lauren Cohan and arguably not have to feature Bruce at all, save for a shadowed silhouette and a close-up of a tear falling down his face after reading a letter from his father given to him by Barry Allen.
4. JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT
At the end of The Dark Knight Rises, it was teased that Levitt’s character, John “Robin” Blake, would take up the mantle as Batman. Since then, fans have been keeping their fingers crossed for a Nightwing film staring the actor. While it was recently announced a film will be made, the actor’s name has yet to be attached or even mentioned to be in the running.
If DC were to step back from the Batman phenomenon and focus instead on his extended family, the introduction of a Nightwing film would satisfy the need to explore his side-kicks in depth. Grayson took on the persona after outgrowing the need to be Batman’s young protege Robin. A Nightwing trilogy could be made based on the comics that put a Jason Bourne-like twist on the character or explore his desire to leave Batman’s shadows by being a hero to the nefarious city of Bludhaven.
3. KEVIN CONROY
Known as the man behind the voice of the beloved Caped Crusader, Kevin Conroy expressed a desire to finally play a live-action Bruce Wayne and suggests Batman Beyond would be the perfect way to do it. The series, which ran from 1999-2001, followed Terry McGinnis taking on the Batman mantle twenty years after Wayne retired.
After Batman & Robin‘s failure, an idea to make a live-action Batman Beyond was proposed but shelved to pave the way for the success of Nolan’s films. Boaz Yakin was meant to direct, describing his vision as “a teenage, kinda futuristic, cyberpunk Batman thing.” Fans of the childhood show believe the remake idea is too good to pass up. Conroy could reunite with Mark Hamill who could reprise his role from Batman Beyond: Rise of the Joker as a brain-washed Tim Drake who believes he’s the reincarnated version of the original Clown Prince of Crime.
2. JK SIMMONS
Simmons made his DC debut as Commissioner Jim Gordon in Justice League and since his small appearance, has been promised to return as Batman’s ally in later films. With the fate of the trilogy still left uncertain, perhaps the actor would be willing to play the masked vigilante.
When Scott Snyder first introduced the idea of Gordon as Batman in his “Divergence” storyline, he admitted “it could be the dumbest thing I’ve ever thought of, ever.” After the death of Bruce Wayne and the Joker in “Batman: Endgame,” Gordon dons a mechanical Bat-suit to become the new protector of Gotham. While the idea of Simmons running around in what looks like a giant robotic bunny sounds ridiculous, with enough design alterations and more visits to the gym, the Whiplash actor has potential to do well as Batman.
1. SCOTT ADKINS
Scott Adkins has gained a growing fanbase dedicated to seeing him become Batman. He auditioned for the role in Batman vs Superman, but like those before him, was denied. That hasn’t stopped a campaign for #AdkinsAsBatman; fans even going so far as to create a petition on ComicVine’s discussion forum.
Known for his roles in The Expendables 2 and Zero Dark Thirty, Adkins has an immense mixed martial arts background making him a worthy opponent for Gotham’s criminal underworld. When compared to images of Bruce Wayne in Snyder and Capello’s comics, he bares an uncanny resemblance. Using the “Telltale” video-game series as a platform for the film, more emphasis would be placed on Wayne’s beginnings as Batman and his developing relationship with Selina Kyle. The actor would face less pressure to play an accurate version of Batman and instead focus on his portrayal of the man behind the mask.