Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Batman/Superman Dream Cast

By now it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that most people know that Ben Affleck will be the new Batman in the upcoming Batman/Superman movie.  The incredibly ridiculous and downright embarrassing reactions of many fans have made me almost ashamed to say that I am a Batman fan, but the controversy behind Affleck's casting did help to inspire this post.

What if you were the writer, producer, and director of this movie, and let's say you had a time machine at your ready disposable.  What if you could cast any actor, from any time period in movie history, and bring them to modern day to star in your ideal Batman/Superman movie?  That's the question I'm looking to answer for myself in this post.  I will be taking actors all the way from the Golden Age of Hollywood to modern day in order to assemble my all-time dream cast.   Now, I know this is not possible, but it's fun to speculate, isn't it?

Personally, if I were calling the shots on this movie, I would make it a lighthearted film in the vein of The Avengers.  While Batman would be fairly devoid of humor and driven by the deaths of his parents, I would represent Batman as a hero.  I've always preferred Batman when he's represented as a hero working alongside the police, rather than as a vigilante being hunted by them.  As well, I'd show a Batman that is slightly more fantastical.  He has a bunch of James Bond-like gadgets, which will put him on an even keel with Superman, and would also open the door to where many of Batman's superpowered villains can be done in this world.  As for Superman, I'd show Superman as an optimistic force.  He's charming and knows how to smile. The main thing I felt Henry Cavill's Superman was missing in Man of Steel, was that feeling of security and safety that Superman should exude.  He's the strongest man alive.  He's confident, he knows who he is, and he will take on any bully, and that's why I love Superman so much.  So that's the Superman I'd write.

Now, for my dream cast, many of the actors I chose were never part of a prior superhero movie or TV show, and some were.  I didn't want to just take the best actors who have played these roles before and throw them into my dream cast, because when I started to do that, the cast was not meshing together well.  The thing is when casting a movie, you might want to cast a particular actor, but you realize that the actor just doesn't look right when standing next to another.  The dream cast I would assemble I think perfectly captures the tone of what I'm going for, and each actor would work well off of one another.  So while there are a few actors who have played the characters that I've cast them as before, there are even more who have never been anywhere near the world of comic books.  So to start things off, I will do the villains of the piece, and then the supporting characters, followed up by who I'd cast as Batman and Superman!  Here we go:


The Joker - Mark Hamill

To those who have never watched Batman: The Animated Series, they'll be scratching their heads about this, but for people like me who grew up with Hamill as the voice of the Joker every Saturday morning, he is the quintessential Joker.  In fact, he's been so popular as the Joker he's portrayed the voice many times more over the past two decades, including the Batman: Arkham video games.  For me, I'd take an early Nineties Hamill, when he was still a little younger in features, deck him out in the Joker makeup, and just have him do what he did in every episode of the TV show.  If you've ever watched the Behind the Scenes videos of him doing voice-over work, he gets so into it he acts it, I mean all he literally is missing is the makeup to be a live action Joker, so why not give him the shot.

Lex Luthor - James Cagney

This one may seem a little strange at first, but to me it seems so logical.  One of cinema's most quintessential tough guys.  Cagney pretty much defined the film gangster, and managed to do it with a combo of class and toughness.  Shave his head, and Thirties or Forties-era Cagney would make a phenomenal Lex Luthor, especially if going the criminal genius moonlighting as a big businessman route, which is what I would do with Luthor.

Detective Harvey Bullock - Ernest Borgnine

Bullock is the one Gotham City Police Officer who has never gotten his due on the bigscreen, and if I were calling the shots I would change that.  What I love about Bullock, is that he hates Batman, he does not play by the rules, and he's a total slob, and yet he respects Commissioner Gordon's authority and believes in what's right, even if his methods of achieving the right thing aren't always by the book.  Bullock's also just a great means for comedic relief with all of his sly comments about Batman, which is why the overweight cop with a bad attitude would suit a Fifties-era Ernest Borgnine perfectly.  Imagine the Marty-era Borgnine that won Best Actor as Bullock.  It would be amazing.

Commissioner James Gordon - Gary Oldman

This is one of the few roles where I would literally take an actor who has already knocked the part out of the park three times in The Dark Knight trilogy.  Not only is Oldman one of the finest actors of all-time, but he's just one heck of a Commissioner Gordon.  He plays Gordon with a world weariness that shows a man worn down by all of the evil in Gotham City, and yet he never gives up.  That is why Gordon is one of the best characters in all of comics, and it's why Oldman's portrayal is the Commissioner Gordon portrayal I'd want.

Alfred Pennyworth - Alec Guinness

I think I've said this many times, but had they of made a Batman movie in the Sixties, Seventies, or Eighties, there was only one guy I think that should have played Alfred, and it was Sir Alec Guinness, better known as Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Guinness was one of those British thespians who could quite literally take anything you threw at him and turn it into a dynamite performance.  He was just a consummate professional, who also had a kind and gentle demeanor.  Plus, he was such a great mentor in Star Wars, Alfred Pennyworth would have only been a logical next step.

Jimmy Olsen - Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Yeah, I know JGL was in The Dark Knight Rises as their version of Robin, but I wouldn't cast an adult JGL as Superman's best pal, I would cast the teenage Joseph Gordon-Levitt from his 3rd Rock From the Sun days.  Gordon-Levitt showed a natural charisma even back then, handling comedy with a quirky ease, which is Jimmy.  Not to mention, this era of JGL would infuse a little more of a Gen-X sensibility that would bring a little more edge to Jimmy, rather than the traditional Golly-Gee-Whiz portrayal.

Perry White - Fred MacMurray

 Yes, I'm choosing the dad from My Three Sons, but MacMurray was a far more versatile actor than just being pigeonholed as one of the quintessential sitcom dads.  See his work in the film noir classic, Double Indemnity, to witness his dark side, but what makes me think he'd be perfect as Perry White is his work as Mr. Sheldrake in The Apartment.  While I don't think Perry White should be a businessman cheating on his wife, it's the charm that MacMurray has in the role, as well as a sense of authority, that suits Perry White.  Not to mention the fact that MacMurray was just one of the most likable onscreen personas of all-time.

Lois Lane - Jean Arthur

Arguably my favorite actress of all-time.  What I've always loved about Jean Arthur is that she played these characters that were tougher and spunkier than most men, but those same characters always had a moral compass and a gooey center that leaned towards sentimentality.  That is Lois Lane.  It's the reason Superman is attracted to her, because she isn't a damsel in distress, but she is someone who has a heart and will always do what is right.  Sure, she was a blonde and Lois traditionally has darker hair, but that's nothing that a bit of hair coloring can't fix.

Batman/Bruce Wayne - Clint Eastwood

I've bounced back-and-forth as to who the ideal Batman should be, and I keep coming back to the Man With No Name, aka a Sixties-era Clint Eastwood.  I don't think anyone would argue that a young Eastwood would have the grit to portray Batman, given he was Dirty Harry after all, but I also think that Eastwood could bring the necessary charm required to pull off Bruce Wayne and the friendship between him and Clark Kent.  If you see Eastwood in interviews or in countless of his more dramatic roles where he wasn't playing a grizzled man, he's really a rather sensitive and charming man who loves Jazz.  I think if you bring both sides of Eastwood out for this one role, you could have the most amazing Batman portrayal that's ever existed.

Superman/Clark Kent - Tom Welling

Tom Welling was my Superman.  I watched him for ten whole years playing the role of Clark Kent in TV's Smallville, only to get the briefest glimpse of him as Superman.  As it is, Welling always had the build, the voice, and the confidence to pull off both Clark and Superman, and I for one would pay money to see him flying around in a red cape.  What Welling excelled at, was presenting a more humanized Clark, who was often conflicted by his emotions, but always did the right thing.  That's what I love about Welling as the ideal Superman candidate.  He has charm at the bucket loads, and has a pretty good sense of humor as well, as is evidenced from some of the more lighthearted, comedic episodes from Smallville's run.  In short, he's everything I want out of Superman.  He plays the role not as an omniscient mythological God, but as a masquerading human being with human emotions, a strong moral compass, and most importantly, a charming persona that makes me feel safe when I see him swoop in to save the day.  What more can you ask for when casting Superman?

So that's what I would do.  Sound off in the comments below with your own suggestions for a dream Batman/Superman movie.

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