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Who Should Replace Ben Affleck As Batman?

With the Caped Crusader role now vacant, it’s a fine time to narrow down a list of potential new Bruce Waynes

Potential new Batmans Getty Images/Ringer illustration

A fun news story is that Matt Reeves, who will be directing The Batman, might be eyeballing Jake Gyllenhaal to replace Ben Affleck for a trilogy of upcoming Batman movies. It’s a fun news story (even if it ends up being a toothless one) because it’s generally enjoyable to speculate about what someone who’s not currently in a role might bring to it if given the chance. So let’s extend that conversation to include more possibilities for New Batman, and same as when we tried to figure out which NBA player could beat Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, let’s walk backward through a list of prerequisites and then eliminate people at each stop until we end up with just one person left. Because that’s a fun thing to do too.

First, a list of 20 potential New Batmans:

  1. Tom Hardy
  2. Jude Law
  3. Idris Elba
  4. Jon Hamm
  5. Armie Hammer
  6. Edgar Ramírez
  7. Luke Evans (He’s maybe best known as the bad guy in Fast & Furious 6.) (The fact that I have to explain who he is would appear to be a bad sign with regard to whether or not he would/could be chosen as New Batman.)
  8. Michael Fassbender
  9. Colin Farrell
  10. Keanu Reeves
  11. Hiroyuki Sanada (You maybe don’t know him by name, but you definitely know him.)
  12. Jason Clarke (He’s maybe best known as the likable guy from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.) (This isn’t a bad sign for him like it was for Luke because Matt Reeves also directed that movie, and so there’s at least a relationship there for Clarke to lean on.)
  13. Channing Tatum
  14. Gal Gadot (She was just so good as Wonder Woman that it felt like she had to be added into contention here.)
  15. Michael B. Jordan
  16. Jason Bateman (This is ridiculous, yes, but his name is so close to literally being Jason Batman that I had to include him.)
  17. Chadwick Boseman
  18. Oscar Isaac
  19. Ryan Gosling
  20. Alexander Skarsgard

Prerequisite 1: New Batman has to be someone who was never defeated in a previous movie by the current Batman.

This one, really, is less a matter of ability and more a matter of respect to Ben Affleck because, like it or not, he’s secretly been a very good Batman, and we should honor that. I don’t want to lose Affleck and then replace him with someone that Affleck’s already beaten in a movie, so that means we have to cut off anyone that Affleck has defeated in any movie at any point. That means we’re losing Colin Farrell (he played a villain named Bullseye that Affleck defeated in Daredevil), Jon Hamm (he was an FBI agent that Affleck defeated/outsmarted in The Town), and Jason Bateman (he played a tertiary character in State of Play, a political thriller starring Affleck; in it, Bateman was part of a scheme to hustle Affleck’s character, Congressman Stephen Collins, but Collins sniffed out the scam).

Of these three losses, the Colin Farrell one is the most upsetting. He seems like he would’ve been a kind of good Batman, if only because it’d have been great to see him turn on the juice whenever they do the Bruce Wayne Is a Very Eligible Bachelor scene that they do in those movies.

Remaining options: Tom Hardy, Jude Law, Idris Elba, Armie Hammer, Edgar Ramírez, Luke Evans, Michael Fassbender, Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Jason Clarke, Channing Tatum, Gal Gadot, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Oscar Isaac, Ryan Gosling, Alexander Skarsgard

Prerequisite 2: New Batman cannot ever have grinded on a construction table while listening to Ginuwine.

It’s just not a very Batman-like thing to do, is all. (Although, I will admit, it would definitely make for an interesting change of pace. Like, remember that scene in The Dark Knight when Christian Bale’s Batman was trying to get the Joker to tell him where Harvey and Rachel were? The Joker was refusing to talk and Batman was just getting madder and madder, slamming the Joker around and beating him up and whatnot. How about if instead of pulverizing the Joker’s body after he jammed the chair into the door of the interrogation room so nobody could get in, Batman put the chair there, then took out a small bluetooth speaker, turned on “Pony,” and then started grinding around on the interrogation table? I can’t be the only one who thinks that’d have made for a good scene.) (At any rate, we’re losing Channing Tatum here.)

Remaining options: Tom Hardy, Jude Law, Idris Elba, Armie Hammer, Edgar Ramírez, Luke Evans, Michael Fassbender, Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Jason Clarke, Gal Gadot, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Oscar Isaac, Ryan Gosling, Alexander Skarsgard

Prerequisite 3: New Batman cannot be played by someone who has had a semi-to-big role in a Marvel movie, or who plays a superhero in an existing DC franchise.

This rule is obvious, but also it’s very sucky because it means we’re losing Idris Elba, Gal Gadot, Michael B. Jordan, and Chadwick Boseman, all of whom are incredible. Three things here:

  1. I knew Chadwick Boseman was going to be a star after that scene in Draft Day where he gets drafted and just sits there in perfect shock as everyone around him explodes.
  2. It’s always funny to me to imagine Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get on Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, repeatedly turning down the lead role in Black Panther until one of his agents convinces him that T’Challa is a real person and Black Panther is actually a biopic. “Really?” asks Boseman. Everyone else at the table looks at each other, then at him, then after a second they all start nodding their heads sheepishly and saying yes. “Then I’m in,” says Boseman.
  3. If this rule were not in place, then Idris Elba would 100 percent be the odds-on favorite. He’s the exact right age (he and Affleck are both 45), he’s the exact right build (there’s no villain you could line up across from Idris and feel like Idris didn’t have a chance in that fight), he’s the exact right level of attractive (this is important), he’s the exact right level of suave (we need for him to be able to wear a business suit in a devastatingly stylish manner without it feeling even the tiniest bit unnatural), he’s the exact right kind of cool (grumbly cool, if that’s even a thing), and he’s the exact right level of famous (famous enough that people would be very excited about him playing the role, but not so famous that he’d overshadow it; incidentally, this is why Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t even considered in the initial list of 20).

Remaining options: Tom Hardy, Jude Law, Armie Hammer, Edgar Ramírez, Luke Evans, Michael Fassbender, Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Jason Clark, Oscar Isaac, Ryan Gosling, Alexander Skarsgard

Nicole Kidman Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Los Cabos International Film Festival

Prerequisite 4: New Batman cannot ever have been mean to Nicole Kidman in a movie or TV show.

Nicole Kidman is just great; positively great. And she should be treated as such, in real life and also, for the purposes of this particular article, in movies and television shows. That means we’re losing the devil Alexander Skarsgard (who regularly beat and manipulated her in HBO’s Big Little Lies) and Jude Law (who was a big-time drag in Genius). Both of these appear to be critical losses (Skarsgard is tall and muscular and intimidating and Jude Law is incredibly handsome, which always counts for something). But, when you really look at it, neither of them ever really had a chance (Jude just isn’t imposing enough to get the job done, and Skarsgard has too much mysterious evil in his face to ever convincingly play a hero, which is why The Legend of Tarzan tanked). (Skarsgard truly is terrifying. The whole time I watched Tarzan I kept waiting for the scene where his Tarzan was going to snap and just start murdering people and animals.)

Remaining options: Tom Hardy, Armie Hammer, Edgar Ramírez, Luke Evans, Michael Fassbender, Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Jason Clarke, Oscar Isaac, Ryan Gosling

Prerequisite 5: New Batman … BUCKLE UP TIGHT, EVERYONE … cannot be white.

  1. Can you even imagine?
  2. CAN. YOU. EVEN. IMAGINE?
  3. Oh, man. Think about the Breitbart headlines. (“The Dark Knight Goes Literal … And I Am Literally Disgusted.”)
  4. Oh, man. Think about the Trump tweets. (“The assault on White America has made its way to Gotham City. Sad! I visited Gotham City many times and cannot believe this!” and then 10 minutes later: “I did not know that Gotham City was not an actual city.”)
  5. If the response to America electing Obama as its president was to elect Trump as its next president, just think about what the response would be to turning Batman into a black guy or an Asian guy or Latino. We’d probably get a tentpole movie franchise for some new very racist superhero (Supremacy Man or some shit like that) and his superpowers would be he could use his laser eyes to teleport immigrants out of America and his super strength to simply and literally throw immigrants out of America. “Back to Mexico for you,” he’d say as he tossed a little Mexican girl over the border wall.

We’re losing Tom Hardy (he’s too short to be Batman), Armie Hammer (he’s too pristine to be Batman), Luke Evans (if he was 40 percent more famous he’d make for a great Batman), Keanu Reeves (the dark-horse pick — or, perhaps more appropriately given this category, the white-horse pick), Jason Clarke (he never really had a chance), Ryan Gosling (this one would only either go exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly), and Michael Fassbender (he actually would be a pretty perfect Batman — he’s handsome, smart, physically capable, and juuuuust enigmatic enough to pull off the I Have a Secret Identity thing — but he falls victim to our discriminatory practices).

Remaining options: Edgar Ramírez, Oscar Isaac, Hiroyuki Sanada

Prerequisite 6: New Batman cannot have ever been beaten up by Usher.

Because if you can’t beat up Usher, how are you going to beat up Bane?

Remaining options: Oscar Isaac, Hiroyuki Sanada

Prerequisite 7: New Batman has to not only have a solid understanding that non-human things exist in the universe, but also a very clear comfort level with them.

The reason here being: The further along we get into these comic book movies, the wilder and stranger things seem to get. Before, it was just that Batman had to be able to defeat a wacky guy in a strange suit or whatever, but now, in 2017 and beyond, Movie Batman has to be able to beat all manner of organisms, including but not limited to extremely aggressive space aliens. And while both Oscar Isaac and Hiroyuki Sanada have been in movies with extremely aggressive aliens, Isaac was able to fight them (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), while Sanada was not only killed by an alien, but also partly responsible for that (deadly, deadly) alien making its way to an unsuspecting earth (Life). So we’re losing Sanada here. Which means: Oscar Isaac is your New Batman.