The turbulent world of the DC Extended Universe took another twist yesterday, when Variety announced in a wide-ranging piece about corporate restructuring, that director Matt Reeves wants to recast the role of Batman for his upcoming solo movie. Ben Affleck will appear as the Caped Crusader alongside Ezra Miller in the upcoming Flashpoint movie, but Reeves is said to want new talent for his film, having replaced Affleck in the director’s chair.
That, of course, begs the simple question of who should replace Affleck. The illustrious list of actors who have donned the cowl includes Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale, as well as Affleck, but who will be next?
Michael B Jordan is the obvious choice. He’s an actor on the cusp of breaking out into the A-list, but has not quite found the blockbuster role to fit his talents. He has come close on several occasions, including as the Human Torch in Fantastic Four and with Creed, which saw him excel with a meaty role in that most crucial rite of passage for an American actor – the boxing movie. He looks set to take the next step as the brilliantly named villain Erik Killmonger in Marvel’s Black Panther.
Batman would be perfect for Jordan. He has shown intensity in his recent work and, with Creed, he certainly showcased a willingness to get himself into ideal physical shape for a big action role. Jordan has been hopping around the superhero world for the last few years as if looking for the perfect role. His villainous turn in Black Panther seems likely to be a simple, single outing en route to the big spectacle of Avengers: Infinity War and it’s pretty safe to say that Fantastic Four isn’t coming around again.
Jordan is an actor capable of bringing attitude and darkness to a role, as well as the essential moral goodness that sits at the heart of Batman, despite his antiheroic tendencies. His Batman would be very different to those that have come before him in many ways, not least his age. Jordan is just 30 years old, which would make him considerably younger than Affleck, who was 44 when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hit cinemas. He would likely be a similar age to Christian Bale, who was 31 years old when Batman Begins was released in 2005.
This injection of youth is exactly what the Batman character needs. It has been more than a decade since Batman was last as young as Jordan is now and it feels like the time has passed for Affleck’s weary take on Bruce Wayne, which was essentially what Bale’s character had become by the time The Dark Knight Rises was released. Marvel was able to inject some youth into its world by de-ageing Spider-Man for this year’s quippy, high-energy reboot Homecoming and it would be interesting to see DC so the same thing on a lesser scale.
It comes down to the DC Universe needing an injection of something different. Marvel has excelled within the confines of its formula, while Fox is experimenting wildly and widely with genre. DC, meanwhile, has shown an utter lack of identity and has created a series of wildly different films, but learned nothing from the various successes and failures of those movies. It seems they’ve not yet landed on a coherent tone and style for their extended universe, so the introduction of full-blooded youth is a great idea. The idea of Batman as the grumpy patriarch of the Justice League should die with that first movie.
The prospect of Jordan as Batman also creates some intriguing opportunities to cast people alongside him. Earlier this year, when several Joker projects were swirling around Hollywood at the same time, I suggested that Jack O’Connell would make for a perfect Clown Prince of Crime. A brand new Batman movie, directed by Reeves, in which Jordan and O’Connell go head to head? That’s a mouth-watering prospect for a superhero movie with a difference.
What do you think about Michael B Jordan as Batman? Do you think he would be a good choice? Who would you cast instead? Let me know in the comments section.
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