Ben Affleck, DC Comics’ current cinematic Batman, is reportedly not donning the Batsuit in Matt Reeves’ upcoming Batman movie. While those widespread rumors have yet to be officially confirmed by Affleck or Warner Bros., that hasn’t stopped people from already casting his replacement.
The newfound interest in finding the next Batman arrived after reports surfaced Wednesday that Henry Cavill would no longer play Superman in future DC Comics movies. The move, which Cavill later addressed in a cryptic Instagram video, is happening as Warner Bros. turns its focus toward a Supergirl movie in the works and what’s being called a “reset” of the DC universe.
Affleck’s likely exit was covered in the Hollywood Reporter, which noted that “Cavill will join Ben Affleck, who isn’t expected to reprise his role for director Matt Reeves’ forthcoming Batman stand-alone film, as a hero on the way out.”
At least one actor is already throwing his name into the mix. In an interview with In Depth that went online Wednesday, Jon Hamm revealed that he would be open to portraying Batman on-film. Although Hamm says that he’s never met with anyone to discuss the possibility of playing Batman, he noted that rumors have followed him since season 1 of Mad Men. There would just be one big factor for him.
“It depends on the script, what the story is,” Hamm said. “I am a huge comic book fan, always have been. I’ve read comic books since I was 9 or younger. And I’m pretty knowledgeable about a lot of them. And I like the genre, and I like when they’re done well.”
Rumors spread that Game of Thrones star Kit Harington was also being considered, but those were quickly debunked by Harington’s rep, who only learned about the rumor after being asked about it. And dream casting for both Batman and Superman has already begun, with some actors being put forward for both roles. (There are even reports that Michael B. Jordan, who’s already played two comic book characters, is being considered to replace Cavill.)
It’s possible that Hamm might make a good or even great Batman, although the call might be a bit premature. It’s unclear if Hamm or any other actor would even need to step in the role because—despite the rumors and Reeves refusing to answer whether Affleck will be in his Batman movie—Affleck hasn’t technically stepped down.
But here’s a novel idea: Maybe we don’t need another Batman—not anytime soon, at least.
Batman, regardless of whether he’s shown up, has always loomed large in DC Comics movies and TV shows. He’s been portrayed in live-action movies and TV shows by eight different actors to date (nine if you include a young, pre-Batman Bruce Wayne in Gotham) and voiced by even more actors; he most recently appeared in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. His presence is felt even when he doesn’t actually appear, like in the Titans trailer, which features a clip of Robin saying, “Fuck Batman.”
And then there’s Christian Bale’s Batman, which casts the biggest shadow of all as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is still held in the highest of regards by fans. The current iteration of DC movies also embraced the gritty Frank Miller tone that the Dark Knight trilogy flourished in, and although details are sparse, Reeves’ film could go in a similar direction.
As evident by the last few iterations of Batman on the big screen, it’s a story we’ve seen before. We’re well-versed in a dark and gritty DC universe, which is a stark contrast from the tone of many of the Marvel movies. And while it’s perfectly fine for DC Comics and Warner Bros. to do its own thing instead of copying Marvel, it doesn’t always work. Many of the DC films are dour and dark (both thematically and literally), but they’re often lacking—they punch first, ask questions later. There are plenty of fans of the films and the tone set largely by director Zack Snyder, but it’s not one that always works on both the smaller and larger scale. The humor is often questionable or unintentional.
As a result, many of the films have been critically panned by reviewers and audiences alike, and while they still make hundreds of millions at the box office, they sometimes end up losing money. The sole exception to date is Wonder Woman, a film that wore its heart on its sleeve, offered some optimism in the wake of a raging war, and felt like its own story outside its connective tissue. (It’s also perhaps not a coincidence that it’s the first time we’ve gotten a Wonder Woman story versus the countless Batman stories we’ve already seen.) Not only is it the highest-rated DC film to date (out of what’s called the DC Extended Universe), it’s also the most financially successful—and the only DC film to date whose sequel is a sure thing.
With the focus on the Miller Batman stories, we’re missing out on so much Batman potential. There’s Batman as a detective, who uses more than his fists to fight crime in Gotham. Batman as a mentor, molding the next generation of Gotham superheroes including a young Robin or Batgirl. The good that Batman could do not just as the Dark Knight, but on the public front as Bruce Wayne. Batman as a hopeless romantic. A film could explore his relationship with Alfred or even long-term effects of donning a Batsuit to fight crime on his psyche and body. Maybe Batman could even smile once in a while.
Do we really need to see yet another Batman origin story complete with a tragic flashback to Thomas and Martha Wayne’s murder? (Even Marvel and Sony have stopped showing the death of Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben on-screen with its most recent Spider-Man films.)
What would be even more interesting, in both the short and long term of the DC films, is seeing brand new superhero stories that reflect ourselves. As films like Wonder Woman and Black Panther have shown, there’s definitely an audience for them. DC Comics and Warner Bros. already have a start on that front as they’re working to develop films centering around Supergirl, Batgirl, the New Gods, and the Birds of Prey—not to mention the wealth of heroes who already appear in the CW’s Arrowverse—but that’s only scratching the surface of what DC Comics’ decades of archives can offer. More inclusive heroes can take up the mantle.
Sure, Batman’s iconic (and Reeves’ Batman movie is pressing onward), but he’s far from the only superhero out there. And while he rests on the backburner, the rest of the universe could take a stab at saving the world. Not only would we get so many more superheroes to root for, taking a break from Batman (and the time it’d take to find a deserving story) might make his ultimate return that much better.