The DC Extended Universe could be in turmoil following persistent rumors that both Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck have left their roles as the World’s Finest heroes.
Affleck has donned the cape and cowl three times for the series, but has recently made a return to rehab following addiction issues, so fans have been left speculating on the status of director Matt Reeves’ upcoming Batman project, reportedly set to start filming next year.
Whether or not Affleck has indeed handed in his official resignation, the fact is that Reeves has a tricky decision on his hands. He can either wait an indeterminate amount of time for Affleck to return or cast a different actor and give the DC Universe a fresh new jump start.
If Reeves and Warner Bros. decide to go with the second option, we’ve compiled a list of potential replacements to make things a little easier, as well as a few actors they should avoid at all costs.
From established stars and up-and-coming A-listers to box office curses and talented actors we’d much rather see as villains, here are our picks for the 12 Actors Who Could Replace Ben Affleck As Batman (And 13 We Don't Want).
25 Good Choice: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chiwetel has already gained comic book kudos from his role in Doctor Strange, playing the Sorcerer Supreme’s partner and eventual nemesis, Baron Mordo. Though he acted as a friend and mentor to Strange, he was last seen denouncing the world of sorcerers.
While we’re excited for him taking a meatier role in upcoming sequels, he’ll still be playing second fiddle to Benedict Cumberbatch, when his career highlights, such as 12 Years a Slave, have proved him to be an excellent leading man. Known for his compelling roles that champion the human spirit, he’s certainly proven that he can channel enough intensity to take on the vengeful hero.
24 Don't Want: Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender has been a popular choice for Bruce Wayne ever since his appeal went mainstream after indie hits like Shame, and his blockbuster role of Magneto for the X-Men franchise.
While he is one of his generation’s finest actors, there’s just something about him that we can’t quite put our finger on that turns us off whenever we think of him donning the black suit and cape.
Maybe it’s his rather gangly physic, or the fact that his smile always seems to hide villainous intent, even in his more heroic roles. He’s also become a bad omen for blockbusters in recent years, with his starring roles in X-Men: Apocalypse, Assassin’s Creed, and Ridley Scott’s Alien prequels all failing to spark box office or critical success.
23 Good Choice: Oscar Isaac
Even when Poe Dameron is being shot down and devalued at every turn, he’s still the suavest guy in the flight deck. His role as the go-getter pilot displays just enough cockiness and misplaced masculinity to make it the perfect prototype for a brand new Bruce Wayne.
His potential for star material is still in its early stages and, unlike Fassbender, his embarrassing villainous turn in X-Men: Apocalypse hasn’t been a setback for his career.
It’s also promising that his work up until this point has arguably mirrored Christian Bale’s more than Ben Affleck’s. Known previously for smaller films like Inside Llewyn Davis and A Most Violent Year, his charisma and pathos drove those movies to success. We think he’s more than ready to become the new face of the Bat.
22 Don't Want: Jon Hamm
Jon Hamm has been after this role for a while now, lifting his head above the waters whenever the position becomes open to confidently throw his name into the ring in hopes of receiving a call from Warner Bros. It might be controversial, but we can’t help but cross our fingers and pray he doesn’t get it.
He was a fantastic supporting player in Baby Driver, but his Don Draper days, an ideal blueprint for Bruce Wayne, are far behind him, and more recently he’s been channelling his talents down more comedic roads.
Hamm’s recently complained about being typecast as the "brooding, strong silent type," and his recent guest spots in Tag, Big Mouth, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt have all pointed towards a funnier path for his career. So, surely Batman is the exact type of role he wants to avoid?
21 Good Choice: Henry Golding
Golding is having a fantastic year, starring in two surprise hits, Crazy Rich Asians and A Simple Favor. The former has become the biggest rom-com of 2018, so expect to see the likes of Golding, Constance Wu, and Awkwafina popping up more and more. As you may have surmised from the start of this list, we think DC has a perfect opportunity to shake up the casting of their heroes by choosing someone of a different ethnicity.
Golding would be a no-brainer for the first Asian Batman. As his breakout role proves, he’s already got the crazy rich side of Bruce Wayne’s personas down and, as his shirtless scenes demonstrate, he’s certainly got the physique to take down Gotham’s criminal underbelly.
20 Don't Want: Ryan Gosling
Gosling has always been an excellent actor. Recently, he’s ditched the rom-coms (with the exception of La La Land) and started firing futuristic handguns and stomping dudes in the face, so now guys are actually sitting up and taking notice of him. He’s stared, squinted, and smirked his way into Hollywood’s hot list, and become popular enough that he’s now a common favorite to portray the Caped Crusader.
However, despite a magnetic and action-heavy role in last year’s Blade Runner 2049, we think he’s much better suited to introspective indie flicks than bombastic blockbusters - and there’s no way he can pull off Batman’s gravelly voice.
19 Good Choice: Luke Evans
Luke Evans is just on the cusp of becoming a fine Hollywood leading man, but so far he’s gotten by in the public eye largely portraying villains and scumbags. Most will know him either as the criminal mastermind Owen Shaw for the Fast and Furious series, or as the misogynistic beast-hunter, Gaston, in the recent remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
While both roles prove he has the perfect physicality to play Batman, some may need more persuading to buy him as a heroic vigilante.
We’re looking back at his more unappreciated roles, though, and can’t help but think that his performance as the brave and honorable Bard of Laketown showcases his abilities to portray someone you can really root for.
18 Don't Want: Tom Cruise
You’d think that casting one of movie history’s most popular characters would be as simple as finding the biggest movie star on the planet and stuffing him in a rubber suit. However, while Tom Cruise was a hair’s width away from being the face of the MCU until Robert Downey Jr was cast as our second favorite billionaire playboy philanthropist, he’s found his true home in Ethan Hunt, the reckless superspy for the Mission: Impossible series.
Sure, he’s a dependable, if a little nutty, action hero and he’ll willingly perform all his own dangerous stunts, but he’s pushing 60 now, and we’re not sure if he’s got more than two or three extra missions in him, let alone taking on another demanding franchise.
17 Good Choice: Jake Gyllenhaal
Jake Gyllenhaal has been rumored to take over the mantle of the Bat perhaps more than any other actor included on this list. While we’re very tempted to list him under the "we don't want" category based on his better work appearing in non-blockbuster movies like Nightcrawler and Prisoners, we can’t help but show our support for how fantastic he would be under the mask.
Although he dispelled the rumors that he had been tapped as the next Bruce Wayne, now that Ben Affleck’s future with DC is once again in question, we’re hoping that he may get a call from some eager Warner Bros execs very soon.
16 Don't Want: Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson is one of the most likable stars on the planet right now. He’s had a fantastic few years of late, and his charming Disney voice work for Moana, as well as his key part for surprise-hit Jumanji: Enter the Jungle’s comedic ensemble has put him firmly into our good books.
Were it any other blockbuster hero, there’s a strong chance that Johnson would be the perfect fit, but he’s just a little too charismatic to take on the role of such a damaged vigilante.
He’s also still tapped for Black Adam and, while the continuity of the DCEU might be up in the air, considering the departure of two of its leads, as well as the release of an alternate universe Joker movie, so we think Johnson taking on the simultaneous roles of a DC hero and villain would be a little too confusing.
15 Good Choice: John Krasinski
We know, we know – pretty much everyone and their dog wants Krasinski to take on the role of the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards, alongside his real life wife, Emily Blunt, as Susan Storm for the MCU. While we agree that would be perfect casting, we’d just like to offer an alternative if that doesn’t pan out.
Krasinski has been going from strength to strength following the conclusion of The Office, the work-based sitcom that made him a star. He’s shown of his action chops in projects such as 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and the recent Jack Ryan TV series, and his directorial efforts for A Quiet Place have put his filmmaking talents on the map.
For a while, Ben Affleck was down to not only star, but direct his solo introduction to the DCEU. Casting Krasinski would give DC another chance to showcase a singular vision for the Dark Knight Detective.
14 Don't Want: Idris Elba
Idris Elba’s the classiest guy in Hollywood, and there’s no doubt that he’d rock the public persona of Bruce Wayne; he looks great in a tux, and even better with a blonde Gotham socialite on each arm.
However, here’s the thing: Elba has been looking for that one role to give him his big break and, while he’s played an integral part as Thor’s best friend Heimdall in the MCU, he could have a more prominent role in another franchise just round the corner. We think he’d make a great Batman, but an even better James Bond and, if he’s signing on to either (as reports keep suggesting he might be), we’d rather he take the latter.
13 Good Choice: Mahershala Ali
The Batmen of the 21st Century have one thing in common: they’re both Oscar winners.
Ben Affleck has been recognized by the Academy twice for his work behind the camera, and, post-Dark Knight, Christian Bale lost 30 pounds and picked up an Oscar for his supporting role in The Fighter. The character, like the Joker, is one that is now attracting a certain pedigree of performer, and casting Mahershala Ali could have them all beat, as the first to have won an Academy Award for acting before he takes on the cape and cowl.
He was acknowledged for his stirring supporting performance in Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight, and received comic book acclaim for his criminal role in Marvel’s Luke Cage.
Now, he’s already set to play one crime solver for the third series of True Detective – is there a chance he could also portray the world’s greatest?
12 Don't Want: Chris Pratt
Since his impossible-not-to-like role in Parks and Recreation, Chris Pratt has become one of the internet’s go-to guys for roles that could have an impending recast on the horizon. Most notably, he’s the top fan favorite to eventually replace Harrison Ford as the daring archaeologist, Indiana Jones, partly due to his similar role for the revitalised Jurassic World series.
There’s definitely no doubt that we’ll be seeing anything Pratt does, but we’re not too hasty to throw out his name whenever a franchise is calling for a new leading man. His penchant towards goofiness and wisecracks makes him an affable hero but, in our eyes, the opposite of who you’d want to cast for the brooding Dark Knight.
11 Good Choice: Michael B. Jordan
On the opposite end of the spectrum is someone who’s still suggested for every movie role under the sun, and we love him so much we can’t help but say “yes, yes, yes.” Jordan has demonstrated huge empathy and sensitivity in earlier performances for movies such as Fruitvale Station and Chronicle, then went on to steal the spotlight from Sylvester Stallone as boxing champion Adonis Creed.
His incredible work in Black Panther overshadowed his previous comic book history (the embarrassing Fant4stic), and tapped into a darkness we didn’t know he had. No one in Hollywood has range quite like Michael B. Jordan and, as has been hotly speculated, we’d be thrilled to see him take on either Batman or Superman for the DC Universe.
10 Don't Want: Charlie Hunnam
Hunnam was all poised for an electrifying Hollywood career, but the Sons of Anarchy star hasn’t quite caught on as a box office draw. His role in Pacific Rim was competent, but we’re pretty sure he’s low down on the list of things people remember about that movie.
Guy Ritchie went on to cast him for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and his rough, British football hooligan performance put movie-goers off the hopeful medieval franchise.
He’s by no means a poor performer, but we think the former easy rider is much better suited to low-key roles in original movies, like the underrated colonial thriller, The Lost City of Z.
9 Good Choice: Justin Theroux
Theroux is an odd choice, as he’s by no means a blockbuster A-lister, but he’s proved himself again and again to be a strong, emotionally complex performer in his smaller movie roles, and his magnetic presence on television.
Initially known for his work with David Lynch, he dipped out of the limelight to focus on screenwriting (and dating Jennifer Aniston), but has now made a bit of a comeback, most impressively with his lead performance on The Leftovers.
With the show now wrapped up, he’s enjoyed a couple of movie appearances here and there, and has returned to television for Cary Fukanaga’s Maniac. He’d be a leftfield choice for Batman, but someone who’d absolutely deliver the damage and intricacies needed for the part.
8 Don't Want: Lakeith Stanfield
We don’t think anyone’s clamoring for Lakeith Stanfield to take on this particular comic book role, especially after his bizarre choices portraying L for Netflix’s awful Death Note adaptation.
However, with Atlanta and now Sorry to Bother You making him a bigger star than we anticipated, we just wanted to nip any possibilities of Stanfield appearing in lists like these in the bud, and swerve the conversation towards the idea of him portraying a villain.
His deranged intensity for Get Out combined with the mumbly self-assurance he’s displayed in other roles could make him an ideal candidate for an egotistical antagonist like The Riddler.
7 Good Choice: John Cho
John Cho’s A-lister status is almost ten years overdue. Beginning as a hapless accomplice to Kal Penn’s antics in the Harold and Kumar movies, he’s since made a departure from comedy, starting with his take on the Starship Enterprise’s Captain Sulu in J.J. Abram’s Star Trek reboot.
His supporting role in such a high profile franchise should have taken him to bigger and better places, but Hollywood’s reluctance to cast Asian Americans as leading men has meant that he’s only just become the first to headline a major American thriller, Searching.
We think he’s still ready for action and deserves a second chance, and Batman could be the role he deserves (and the one he needs right now).
6 Don't Want: John Cena
Good luck fitting John Cena into all that rubber body armor. Like The Rock, Cena should be the first guy we think of when we’re considering actors to take on tough, blockbuster heroes but, while he looks the part, the WWE superstar’s acting range isn’t quite as big as his biceps.
We’ve been enjoying his action roles in smaller movies like The Wall, and can’t wait to see him alongside Hailee Steinfeld and a giant yellow robot in Bumblebee, but we think that his strengths lie in comedy. He’s found his niche in movies like Daddy’s Home 2 and Trainwreck and, after seeing what he gets up to in Blockers, it’d be hard to take him seriously as one of DC’s darkest heroes.
5 Good Choice: Armie Hammer
With a name like Armie Hammer, there’s no way of becoming anything other than a ridiculously hunky Hollywood star. He first caught our attention playing against himself as the Winklevoss Twins in The Social Network and has since come close to reaching A-lister status.
Unfortunately, his first shot at the big leagues came in the form of The Lone Ranger, one of Disney’s biggest and most infamous box office bombs. Other than a Man From U.N.C.L.E. here and a Cars 3 there, his most prominent roles have been for some of the most acclaimed mid- to low-budget dramas of recent years, such as Call Me By Your Name and Sorry to Bother You.
He’s more than proved himself ready to take on another blockbuster, and Batman could be the perfect next step.
4 Don't Want: Adam Driver
Adam Driver suddenly became everyone’s favorite new actor in the last few years. He slipped under the radar for a while, starring primarily in HBO’s Girls, but since then he’s worked with the Coen Brothers, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Spike Lee, as well as landing a role for one of the biggest franchises in history, the new Star Wars trilogy’s Kylo Ren.
We, along with the rest of the world, would absolutely love to see Driver take on even bigger parts.
He’s definitely charming and sophisticated, however, his awkward style and unconventional good looks make him the perfect supporting player, but not quite Bruce Wayne material.
3 Good Choice: Sterling K. Brown
American media can now be split into two eras: pre-Sterling K. Brown, and post-Sterling K. Brown. The one-two hit of his Primetime Emmy Award for The People vs O.J. Simpson, followed by the premiere of This Is Us introduced the world to one of America’s finest living actors.
He has since been appearing everywhere, from TV guest spots on Brooklyn Nine Nine and Insecure to roles in major Hollywood movies like Black Panther and The Predator. We’re sensing that his Hollywood career has only just begun, and Batman could be the bright spot in the sky signalling Brown’s illustrious future ahead of him.
2 Don't Want: Scott Eastwood
We love Adam West, but it’s almost a shame that Batman was stuck in its campy phase in the '60s and '70s, as we would have loved nothing more than to see Clint Eastwood take on the mantle of the Bat when he was in his prime.
Though his acting days are behind him, Hollywood’s got the next best thing in Scott Eastwood, a chiselled American hero who looks just like his old man. However, before you get any bright ideas (we’re talking to you Warner Bros.), please first consider the fact that Scott doesn’t know a good performance from a pair of blue jeans.
Yes, it would be cool if Batman looked just like a lone cowboy from those Westerns your dad loves, but could we first direct your attention to his abysmal performance in Pacific Rim: Uprising?
1 Don't Want: Kit Harington
Kit Harington has been looking for post-Game of Thrones roles now that the series is starting to wrap up and, unfortunately, audiences have responded with a resounding “no thanks.”
While we love him as the curly haired illegitamate son of the lord of Winterfell, his performances outside of HBO’s prestige fantasy drama have been pretty lacking, most notably his disappointing appearances in Pompeii and Spooks: The Greater Good.
His voice work for the How to Train Your Dragon series, portraying the ostensibly tough Eret, is about as meaty as a vegan breakfast and by no means the right fit for Batman’s growly pipes.
Maybe he’s still got White Walkers on the mind and he’ll come into his own once his role in Westeros has come to an end but, until then, we strongly suggest he stays out of Gotham.
Who do you think should (or shouldn't) take on the mantle of Batman in the DCEU? Let us know in the comments!