Which direction would be most prudent for the Caped Crusader on the big screen after Christopher Nolan’s final installment, The Dark Knight Rises has come and gone? How about an entirely unexpected one?
Nolan’s trilogy is poised to go down as the best Batman movies ever made and consequently, a tough act to follow. Any Bat-film made in similar vein so soon thereafter would be both dissected and shat upon by critics and fanboys alike, whereas a departure to a more lighthearted Batman might only evoke the bitter, residual taste of Bat-nipples and neon-lit Gotham architecture from the Schumacher era.
Why not take a similar approach to what was done with Batman: The Animated Series when that oft-lauded series had begun to near its end? That is, if you can’t beat something… put a new spin on it.
Could this be a worthy successor and continue onward with the momentum of the Nolan juggernaut? (Please disregard the Nickelback, I implore you.)
Although many were reluctant of the premise (myself included), Batman Beyond extended the purview of the Batman mythos while remaining respectful to its roots. As with the intelligently written series, the futuristic ambiance gifts the director/writers with the opportunity to explore myriad new ideas/villains within Gotham, introduces a contrasting, more relatable main character in Terry McGinnis (think Peter Parker meets Dick Grayson, a kid who has to juggle school, work, and social life with his Batman alias moreso than Bruce), while retaining all the grim, gritty, street level hard-assedness that constitutes what we know and love in Batman.
So who would we chose to play the characters? Note: These choices are all predilection and don’t take into account agent negotiations concerning their actors taking “bit roles,” or other related Hollywood politics.
Terry McGinnis/Batman — Robbie Amell
For Terry McGinnis, the successor to the Bat mantle, we need a wholesome kid with a rebellious edge. Robbie Amel’s got the mien to embody the role; and still being a relatively unknown actor, the film could set him up with the opportunity for a breakthrough performance.
Others considered: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chace Crawford
Bruce Wayne — Stephen Lang
Bruce Wayne may have eschewed his physical role of Batman, hobble around with a cane, and be in his late seventies by the time Batman Beyond rolls around, but his imposing presence and involvement has barely diminished; he remains Terry’s greatest asset and mentor, and we all know anyone with Bruce Wayne’s prep time on their side is a match for damn near anyone.
We need an actor that’s more mature, obviously, but whose presence still displays vigor, commands respect, and exudes wisdom and lionheartedness despite his ageworn appearance.
Stephen Lang showed that he’s still swoll even at age 59 and his acting chops both on film and Broadway prove his befitting versatility. His performance as Colonel Miles Quaritch in Avatar, a strict, no-nonsense disciplinarian and bad-ass would lend well to bringing to life the Bruce Wayne of the future.
Others considered: Clint Eastwood 5-10 years ago.
Warren McGinnis — Bryan Cranston
For Terry’s late father, we have Bryan Cranston, the talented actor from Breaking Bad and Malcom in the Middle.
He brought a young Commissioner Gordon to life perfectly in the Batman: Year One animated feature, so the more involved he gets with the Batman mythos, the sooner we get to see him cast in the role of a young Gordon in a Batman: Year One live action film. (Whenever that happens.)
Mary McGinnis — Lori Loughlin
“Have mercy!” Lori Loughlin could channel her days as Aunt Becky on Full House to play Terry’s caring mother, Mary, to a tee.
Commissioner Barbara Gordon — Mariska Hargitay
A nice, cyclical nod to the original; Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order fame fits the bill for the former Batgirl.
Others considered: Linda Hamilton
Maxine “Max” Gibson — Kylie Bunbury
Slap a pixie haircut on Kylie Bunbury, dye it pink, and voila; Terry’s spunky and intelligent Robin/Oracle analogue brought to life.
Others considered: Zoey Saldena, Sanaa Lathan
Dana Tan — Shay Mitchell
Shay Mitchell of Degrassi: The Next Generation and Pretty Little Liars fame for the role of Terry’s recurring love interest and Mary Jane/Gwen Stacy analogue; she’d need to exhibit some catiness and temperamental tendencies, justifiably so, when Terry continually blows her off to “run errands for Mr. Wayne,” but remain so damn sweet and alluring overall that you can’t help but keep liking her.
Others considered: Kristin Kreuk, Jamie Chung
Mad Stan — Henry Rollins
There’s no other way. Role was literally created for the dude.
“There’s only one sane solution: BLOW IT UP!”
Shriek — Jackie Earle Haley
Derek Powers/Blight — Hugo Weaving
The role of Batman’s arch-nemesis, and the mastermind behind his father’s killing is one of dichtomies; one minute he’s cool, deliberated, and cunning businessman Derek Powers; the next, a capricious psychopath as the irradiated Blight. Weaving’s roles as Agent Smith in The Matrix and Red Skull in Captain America lend credence to to his tackling of the film’s main antagonist.
Others considered: James Spader, John Slattery
Inque — Hannah Simone
Hannah Simone would bring to life Inque, the shape-shifting femme fatale. Industrial Light & Magic + Hannah Simone + T-1000 and Venom amalgam = nerdgasms for all.
Others considered: Angelina Jolie
Ten/Melanie Walker — Amber Heard
Batman Beyond’s equivalent of Catwoman/Selina Kyle/and Shakespeare’s Juliet wrapped into one sensuous package, Ten is a part of the Royal Flush Gang, the formidable family of playing card-themed criminals. Amber Heard is smoking hot, looks the part, and would be a fucking national treasure for all to behold in the skintight playing card costume.
Others considered: Nicky Whelan
Director — Darren Aronofsky
Rumors surrounding an Aronofsky related Bat-project have been swirling since before Nolan set out to make Batman Begins. Aronofksy’s take was a very stripped down, “poor man’s” rendition of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One with Bruce “living above a car garage after his parents die,” and “transforming a Lincoln Continental into the Batmobile.”
He’s bringing that idea to graphic novel form this year for DC Comics, so his passion for the character is obviously there. Although a different premise entirely, Aronofosky would do a Batman Beyond film justice.
DC will want to keep the momentum of the Nolan series going. I’d say the Amazing Spider-Man reboot coming to theaters this summer will be very telling of whether or not people are going to be accepting of a reboot so soon. A new direction is needed and Batman Beyond is just unique enough while evocative of the original to reel fans in.
Writer — Paul Dini
His Emmy award-winning work on Batman: The Animated Series, and the Batman Beyond series are proof enough. Dini has passion, respect, and a knowledge for the Batman mythos that few others possess. In tandem with Aronofsky, something truly special could be made for fans of the Dark Knight and newcomers alike.
Interested in brushing up on your Batman Beyond? Amazon has a good deal on Batman Beyond: The Complete Series, where you can save over $30 on the listed price for the entire 52 episode run. Otherwise, the individual seasons are available on DVD or for download per episode as well. Get to it.