There’s no easy way to say this, folks, but there’s a rumor making the rounds that Ben Affleck is done playing Batman.
Again, it’s only a rumor at this point, one that’s gone entirely uncorroborated since the news first broke yesterday. Collider‘s John Campea, who first broke the story, advised that the rumor be taken with “a massive, massive grain of salt,” and many have been quick to dismiss the idea that Affleck would even consider leaving the role. That said, it’s suddenly plausible that the actor’s tenure as The Dark Knight will end with Matt Reeves’s 2018 film, The Batman, or even before then, with the November release of Justice League. If the worst comes to pass and Affleck passes on the Bat-mantle, then he will be leaving a huge void in the DCEU for a new actor to fill.
While it would make thematic sense to have a hitherto unseen Dick Grayson/Nightwing step forward and take on the responsibility from a dead or missing Bruce Wayne, the character of Bruce is simply too important for the DCEU to simply abandon. More likely than not, if rumors hold true, they will recast the role. Such a move would be a shock, but not exactly unprecedented; if Affleck drops out, his replacement would join the ranks of other high-profile recastings like Val Kilmer stepping in for Michael Keaton, or when Mark Ruffalo replaced Edward Norton, or when Julianne Moore took over as Clarice Starling after Jodie Foster dropped out of Hannibal.
May Affleck’s reign be long and prosperous, but if the worst case scenario pans out, here are 15 Actors Who Can Replace Ben Affleck As Batman.
15. Karl Urban
One of this generation’s coolest actors, Karl Urban is probably best known to casual audiences as Lenard “Bones” McCoy in the recent Star Trek films. He also starred in the cult classic action flick, Dredd, based on the 2000 AD comic series. Like Batman, Judge Dredd is a dispenser of brutal justice with overtly fascistic overtones. However, unlike Batman, Dredd isn’t an outlaw vigilante, but a fully legal judge, jury, and executioner… Mostly the last one.
In some ways, Dredd can be seen as Urban’s audition to play the type of no-holds-barred Batman that would make even Ben Affleck’s kill-happy version of the character tremble with fear. Urban is an undeniable shoo-in for the Batman side of the equation, but can he handle the Bruce Wayne persona? There’s little in the New Zealander’s resume that paints him as the aristocratic type, but an actor as skilled as Urban is a safe bet to surprise audiences with unexpected versatility.
14. Matt Bomer
The star of USA’s White Collar has been on a lot of wishlists over the years: he was a fan-favorite choice to play Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel, and the fan-chosen frontrunner to portray wealthy if kinda rape-y Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey adaptation. Why not add the Caped Crusader to the list of pop culture staples for which Bomer would be perfectly cast?
Bomer is a broad-shouldered tank of a man, and he cuts an intimidating figure in a tailored suit, as demonstrated by his work in White Collar. In 2016’s The Nice Guys, he played an intimidating assassin, John Boy (like from The Waltons), showing off his ability to handle the physicality demanded from a role as rigorous and intense as Batman. Bomer is 39-years-old, but he sure doesn’t look it. Bruce Wayne is a character into which he can grow and evolve, shaping it for years to come, not unlike what Robert Downey Jr. has done in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
13. Wes Bentley
The legend goes that Wes Bentley was producer/Bat-expert Christopher Nolan’s first choice to play Bruce Wayne in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and it’s easy to see why. Just look at him! He exudes Batman’s unique brand of brooding charisma, and he’s also a total beefcake, which is always a great trait in a night-stalking vigilante.
Bentley first made waves with his scene-stealing performance in Sam Mendes’s American Beauty, but his subsequent personal issues with drugs and alcohol kept him from becoming a true A-list star. Now that those problems are behind them (as featured in the excellent documentary, My Big Break), Bentley is back, and slowly returning to Hollywood prominence. As previously mentioned, after impressing Christopher Nolan on the set of Interstellar, he was reportedly recommended by the director himself to play Batman in the Man of Steel sequel, but the studio ultimately settled on Affleck. In a few years, it’s possible that Bentley may wind up donning the cowl after all.
12. Richard Armitage
Like Wes Bentley, it was widely rumored that British actor Richard Armitage was one of the frontrunners to play Bruce Wayne in 2016’s Batman v Superman mash-up before Zack Snyder and co. decided to hand the role to Ben Affleck. Also like Bentley, it’s easy to imagine the rough-but-handsome Armitage at home in the Batcave, plotting a campaign of terror on Gotham’s criminal underworld. He’s big and rugged, but also handsome and charming. He would make a suitable choice to play that most famous of costumed heroes.
Sometimes an actor doesn’t get the part right away. Roger Moore was passed over for James Bond a decade before he finally took the role, and Pierce Brosnan was nearly cast for 1987’s The Living Daylights before he had to drop out due to commitments to the NBC series, Remington Steele. He eventually landed the role for 1995’s Goldeneye. If an actor is destined for a role, then they will always get an opportunity to prove themselves. Armitage lost out the first time around, but maybe he’ll have more luck in his second chance at it — if there even is one.
11. Jason Clarke
Australian actor Jason Clarke has been around for quite a while, but he’s only recently burst onto the scene as a headlining star in Hollywood. Over the past couple of years, he established his leading man credentials with his commanding performance in the icy real-life thriller Everest, and as Malcolm, the sympathetic human lead in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The latter film just so happened to be directed by Matt Reeves, who is currently set to direct the Batman solo film. Clarke also tried his best to salvage the otherwise middling Terminator Genisys with his unique take on franchise hero John Connor.
Clarke definitely has the acting chops to pull off the role, and heaven knows he has the chiseled jawline for it. He can do action, drama, and cool confidence, so he could conceivably be a natural heir to the cowl. If Affleck decides he doesn’t want to continue on, then Warner Brothers should definitely give a call to Clarke’s agent.
10. Anson Mount
Hell on Wheels might just be the most underrated show of the past decade. Debuting in the shadow of the cultural phenomenon that is The Walking Dead, AMC never gave the Western series the marketing support it deserved, even going so far as to place the show in the Saturday evening graveyard timeslot. The joke was on them, however, as Hell on Wheels nevertheless thrived, thanks in large part to its uncompromising view of the Old West, its dramatic plotlines, and the acting skill of its charismatic lead, Anson Mount.
Mount’s turn in Hell on Wheels makes a tremendous case for the actor to play Batman. His character in the show, Cullen Bohannon, is a tough-as-nails badass, a vengeance-minded vigilante hunting down those responsible for his family’s death. As the show goes on, though, he learns to abandon his bloodlust and try to build a future in the rapidly-shrinking western frontier of the United States. Plus, his blue eyes are totally dreamy.
9. Michael C Hall
If Ben Affleck ultimately decides to move on to other things (again, and we cannot stress this enough, we are not rooting for this), maybe Warner Brothers should look to recruit the star of Dexter as his possible replacement. Michael C. Hall’s most notable role to date has been his eight-year run as the titular serial killer in the Showtime original series, and it’s kind of a perfect match for Batman. Dexter Morgan is a mild-mannered forensic scientist by day and a vigilante murderer by night. Like the Dark Knight, he abides by a strict code of ethics during his vigilante activities, and he adheres to his own rules with a fanatical devotion.
Many of Hall’s roles cast him as a blue-collar everyman, but the man has the face of a Hollywood hunk and the perfect jawline to portray both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Thanks to his experience on Dexter, Michael C. Hall could be the right choice to play a character who transforms himself into a violent criminal once the sun sets.
8. Kyle Chandler
Kyle Chandler is an actor who can’t be pigeonholed into a “type.” He’s played a variety of characters, and he’s played them all with the confidence of an actor who is an absolute master of his craft. On television, his breakthrough role was as Gary Hobson on the television drama, Early Edition. It’s all but forgotten today, but it was a charming and uplifting series that gave us one of the industry’s most promising leadactors.
These days, audiences know Chandler for his roles in such disparate projects as Friday Night Lights on NBC, Netflix’s Bloodline, and as the cocky prima donna actor in Peter Jackson’s 2005 version of King Kong. Basically, there’s nothing Kyle Chandler cannot do. His overall look is not all that dissimilar to Ben Affleck’s, and he could naturally segue into the cape and cowl if Affleck gets cold feet. Such a high-profile superhero role would be the perfect Bat-catalyst to propel Kyle Chandler into all-time superstardom.
7. Colin Farrell
Colin Farrell is on something of a roll these days. His output never really slowed down, but the prospect of lasting star power was touch-and-go for a while, with such high-profile bombs as the ill-advised remake of Total Recall and the colossal bomb of Winter’s Tale bogging down his resume. However, he also made a splash in his nearly unrecognizable appearance as a cruel, balding troll in Horrible Bosses, a surprise box office hit. At the same time, he’s also made sure to star in lauded movies like The Lobster and Seven Psychopaths, thus offsetting his big-budget missteps. After impressing with a solid supporting turn in the Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Colin is ready to headline another blockbuster.
Maybe said blockbuster could be The Batman. Farrell’s made great strides in improving his American accent (it’s a lot better now than the old days of SWAT and Miami Vice), and he’s got the physicality and swagger to handle the vast complexity of Bruce Wayne’s tortured psyche. Plus, he played the villainous Bullseye in the 2003 Daredevil film starring Ben Affleck, which would make for a lovely piece of trivia.
6. Eric Bana
Eric Bana is no stranger to superhero roles, having starred as Bruce Banner in Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk film. The Australian actor is one of the most acclaimed performers of his generation, and his impressive rèsumè is a glowing testament to that fact. He’s done action in Hulk, Troy, and Black Hawk Down; romance in The Time Traveler’s Wife; and he was the wise, if unhinged, paternal figure in Hanna. There’s little that Eric Bana cannot do.
One of his best roles to date was as a Mossad agent in Steven Spielberg’s relatively unsung masterpiece of vengeful brutality, Munich. In the 1970s period piece, Bana plays Avner, a trained killer tasked with hunting down people responsible for the attack on the 1972 Munich Olympics, in which 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Black September terrorists.
The intensity of Bana’s character, his fearlessness, and single-minded devotion to the notion of justice at any cost could be channeled directly into a performance as the character who proclaims himself to be the living embodiment of vengeance and the night.
5. Keanu Reeves
Whether he is adopting the persona of a millionaire playboy or a caped crusader, Bruce Wayne is always a cool customer. When it comes to Hollywood leading men, they simply don’t get much cooler than Keanu Reeves. In his younger days, he played adorable rock and roll air head Ted Theodore Logan in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but his current output is far more amenable to the sensibilities of the Dark Knight.
Reeves’ acting style calls to mind Bruce Wayne as seen in Batman: The Animated Series; he can be affable when he chooses to be, but he always speaks with the firm authority of a man in control of his surroundings. In John Wick, he plays a rugged hitman who always shoots to kill. His brutal efficiency calls to mind Batman’s nigh-scientific understanding of how to incapacitate any target. He has a history with Warner Brothers, having starred in the genre-defining The Matrix and its sequels, so maybe they’re just the studio to lure him back to the realm of big-budget blockbuster spectacle.
4. Michael Fassbender
The word on the street is that Michael Fassbender’s time as Magneto may be at an end. Perhaps he will be convinced by 20th Century Fox to return as the metal-manipulating mutant, but for now, he appears to be a free agent in the superhero world. Perhaps such a move would be in poor taste, but Warner Brothers can swoop in and poach Fassbender if they really want to. But they have to act fast, because Fox is his home court, and they will try their hardest to lock him down for the long haul.
Fassbender is a tremendous actor, and his previous superhero experience proves that he can fill the void left by tremendous actors. This is, after all, the man who took up the role of Magneto from the great Ian McKellen. He’s got the strong jawline to fill out the cowl, and he’s more than capable of capturing both the billionaire Bruce Wayne and the fiery beast that is Batman. Plus, in Frank, he was able to play the lead singer of a band despite wearing a papier mache mask and being completely incapable of singing… And that should count for something.
3. Jon Hamm
Back in the day, Jon Hamm was a popular fan choice to play Superman in Man of Steel. The fandom liked the idea of a 40-year-old Supes, and Hamm was just about the hunkiest guy around. While the film ultimately elected to task the younger Henry Cavill with playing the Last Son of Krypton, they did opt for a slightly older actor, Ben Affleck, when putting together the sequel, Batman v Superman.
So, Jon Hamm didn’t get to play Superman. But maybe it’s not too late for him to play DC’s other heavy hitter. During his tenure on AMC’s game-changing series, Mad Men, Jon Hamm proved himself to be the kind of adaptable actor who can handle any situation thrown at him. If Ben ultimately decides not to go on as Batman (again, we’re sincerely hoping that that’s not the case), then Hamm would be a natural choice to don the bat-boots and pick up right where Affleck leaves off.
2. Luke Evans
One of the most reliable and hard-working actors out there today, Luke Evans is an actor who can do pretty much anything. In films like Fast & Furious 6 and Dracula Untold, he kicked a whole lot of butt, so he’s got the action credibility. In the often-overlooked 2011 version of The Three Musketeers, he displayed a distinctly Errol Flynn-brand of romantic swagger as Aremis, the charming leading man. Most recently, Evans showed a menacingly brooding side as a trigger-tempered angry husband in The Girl on the Train.
Combine all of these disparate elements, and you have an actor who can absolutely pull off the many sides of Bruce Wayne/Batman. If Affleck ultimately decides not to remain as Gotham’s favorite playboy/crimefighter, then Warner Brothers would be smart to get a lock on Luke Evans. He’s devilishly handsome, he has a commanding presence, and with his lead role in next month’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, his star could be set to go through the roof. Overall, he’d be a Bat-tastic choice.
Honorable Mention: Christian Bale
After the dismal critical reception to George Clooney’s Batman and Robin, it took the tremendous effort of director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale to make the character relevant to the masses again. Bale’s three Bat-flicks brought in nearly $2.5 billion at the worldwide box office. It was rumored that Warner Brothers offered Bale a staggering payday of $50 million to reprise his role in Batman v Superman, but the thespian refused, as he felt like he had completed his Bat-journey.
But what if Bale could somehow be made to return to his most iconic character? What if the writers came up with some kind of wild alternate-dimension storyline to justify dragging Bale’s Dark Knight out of retirement and into the realm of the current stable of Justice League films? This sort of thing happens all the time in the comics, and it would greatly expand the storytelling possibilities of the DCEU moving forward. The actor has expressed numerous times that he’s completely and entirely done with the role, but…guys, c’mon, it’s Batman.
1. Jake Gyllenhaal
When all else fails, bring in the replacement superhero! Some younger readers might not remember this, but Jake Gyllenhaal nearly replaced Tobey Maguire during production of Spider-Man 2. The legend goes that Maguire had a back injury which threatened to delay filming (or was holding out for more money…Hollywood legend gets murky around this sort of thing), and Sony very nearly ditched him for the erstwhile Donnie Darko. Eventually, cooler heads prevailed, and Tobey found the heart to play the wall-crawler again.
Maybe Gyllenhaal’s time is coming around again. When he was nearly Spider-Man, Jake was in his early 20s. Now, the actor is 36 years old, a bit younger than Ben Affleck, but old enough to confidently wear the legendary cowl. Gyllenhaal has the looks and the acting chops to make a convincing Bruce Wayne, and he was said to be a frontrunner to play the character in Batman Begins, but lost out to Christian Bale. Since then, Gyllenhaal has expressed an interest in playing the character, so he might be the best bet to pick up the Bat-torch, provided Ben Affleck decides he doesn’t want to stick around.
What do you think? If the worst comes to pass and Ben Affleck does drop out of the Batman role, which of these actors would you have replace him in the role? Maybe someone else entirely? Maybe George Clooney deserves another shot? No? That would be a terrible idea? Okay, fine. Let your voice be heard in the comments!