So now that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is now dominating theaters and dividing critics (well, not dividing exactly …), we can begin to dig in and start endlessly debating the merits of this stupid, loud movie. So, let’s begin at the beginning of the film’s hype cycle, when it made perhaps its most controversial move by hiring recently resurrected Ben Affleck to play the part previously inhabited (to near perfection) by Christian Bale. Nerds immediately went into an uproar before slowly resigning themselves to their fate and waiting to see what would happen. Well, the movie’s out and we can officially say that pretty much anyone else would have been a better Batman than Ben-freaking-Affleck. Now here are 13 people who would have done a way better job baring the cape and cowl.
1. Harrison Ford
To begin with, Ford has definitely got more free time since his high profile departure from that other sci-fi series. He’s also very much willing to be in the action hero business as he’s signed on for another Indiana Jones film. Ford would also bring the kind of grizzled vet with a haunted past that Snyder’s Batman really needs.
2. Idris Elba
Elba has proven throughout his career that he’s got the range required to capture pretty much any role. You know he can play it suave thanks to Stringer Bell. You know he can play intense because of Luther and Beasts of No Nation. He’s also got the stature to do it, and Elba is more magnetic sleeping on screen than Affleck is on his best day.
3. Michael Keaton, again
I mean, if you’re going to cast a Batman that once wore the mantle only to cast it aside for old age, then why not go with the modern era’s first movie Batman? Sure, you could cry stunt casting, but since Keaton is still film’s best Batman (eat it, Bale), then it makes sense. Keaton has made a comeback in recent years and his name on the marquee would be a draw again.
4. Angelina Jolie
Yes, I know … what, a woman?! But consider this. In a real world scenario, let’s say both Affleck and Jolie ordered the last Caesar salad while lunching at Spago and they’re both following a strict diet for their newest movies. If the two actors get so heated that they take it outside and decide that fisticuffs is the only resort, who do you really think will win that fight?
5. Jackie Earle Haley
Let’s try to forget the fact that Jackie Earle Haley is like five foot nothing (Hollywood magic could make him the tallest man on screen). He’s got the best Batman voice in the biz (just watch The Watchmen) and he can go toe-to-toe with the best of them (just watch Robocop).
6. Jon Bernthal
Though Bernthal is currently working through an inspired turn as the Punisher on Netflix’s Daredevil, he could definitely jump Universes. He’s also more physically intimidating than Affleck without even trying and it’d be very interesting to watch the talented actor stretch himself to cover the rigors of playing Bruce Wayne (he could totally do it).
7. Matt Damon
My theory, personally, is that the people at DC meant to call Matt Damon and — because Ben Affleck’s name is right there next to it in the rolodex (you know, because of riding coattails) — the numbers got mixed up and when Affleck showed up to talk to Snyder no one was brave enough to tell him to go home and Zack Snyder is such a hack he just kind of went with it.
8. Bruce Willis
Grizzled action hero history? Check. Ability to turn on the charm? Check. Sure, he’s rocking the cueball look now, but Bruce Willis spent more than a decade willingly wearing a silly wig; what’s one more romp? He’s also definitely got the action chops (and the wide, open schedule) to handle several films at once.
9. Terry Crews
Terry Crews has definitely got the physique that Zack Snyder was looking for in his Batman reboot, and while a lot of Crews’ roles today tend to be more of the comedic variety, there’s no doubt that this man wearing a scowl is not someone bad guys want to mess with. And if there was a little humor injected into Snyder’s grey world, all the better.
10. Edward James Olmos
You know, in order to go head-to-head with the Man of Steel, Batman has to wear a complete set of armor. In other words, Bruce Wayne doesn’t really need to be the pinnacle of human fitness. So, why not just cast a commanding actor in the role? And who’s more commanding than Edward James Olmos?
11. Denzel Washington
Really, is there anything that Denzel can’t do? Put a tux on the guy and he could charm his way through any situation without saying a word. Even better, the actor has proven throughout his career that he has the kind of intensity that can be truly fearsome when called upon.
12. Mariska Hargitay
Name a tougher woman on TV than Law & Order: SVU’s detective Olivia Benson. You simply can’t, because the actress who plays her, Mariska Hargitay, radiates a kind of toughness that is rare in any actor, man or woman. If you have your doubts the actress could turn on the charm just check out her bubbly turn on an old Seinfeld episode (1:53).
13. Sylvester Stallone
There are only so many more Expendables movies that Hollywood will be willing to film, folks. And, I don’t know about you, but I like watching Stallone punch people and blow crap up way more than Affleck. Even though he’s in his twilight years, Stallone is still in top shape, and while he probably couldn’t growl the way Batman is supposed to, who wouldn’t be totally down to watch two-plus hours of “Yo! Superman. Your ass is grass.”
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