With news this week that Christian Bale officially won’t be in any future Justice League movie, whether based on the script David Goyer’s currently at work on or not, there’s a bit of a vacuum to the roster. It’s possible, we suppose, that Ryan Reynolds could return as Hal Jordan, but after the disaster that was the Green Lantern movie, DC and Warner Bros. seems pretty intent on leaving that story and continuity behind.
And it begs the question: Outside of Henry Cavill’s Superman, who rounds out the Justice League ensemble? We’re certainly not the first to ask the question, but the 4th of July weekend seems a particularly apt time to talk about casting possibilities for the Justice League of America. Our staff’s come up with a few options, some rote, some a little out there. Perhaps keying off the comedy of errors that has been the various attempts to get a Justice League film up and going (in contrast to Marvel’s wildly successful Phase 1), one of our staff even cast the whole thing as a comedy. (For the record, Desetoiles’s lineup went like this: Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell as Batman, Kristen Wiig as Wonder Woman, Kevin Hart as Flash, Kevin James as Green Lantern, Melissa McCarthy as the Martian Manhunter, Rachel Dratch as Aquaman, Mike Tyson as Hawkman, Charlie Sheen as Green Arrow, and Ashton Kutcher as Cyborg. That would be some movie indeed.)
But in all seriousness, who could fill the roles? Let’s take a look at the potential lineup:
The Necessary: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman
You can’t have a Justice League without DC’s big three. Superman is already competently covered by Cavill, so that leaves two roles.
Batman: If the producers of the eventual Justice League were to cling tooth and nail to the Christopher Nolan/Dark Knight continuity, our Steven Kilbourn suggests that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be a fine replacement for Christian Bale.
Though the John Blake/Robin concept in Dark Knight Rises was completely mishandled, I have complete trust in Joseph Gordon-Levitt to continue the franchise if that is what is decided. Though he cannot replace Bale’s Batman, he could serve as a Dark Knight personification, possibly in the form of Nightwing.
An compelling notion. A Gordon-Levitt notion would allow Justice League to benefit from the Dark Knight gravitas without needing to cling religiously to the rules of the Nolan Gotham. But could Justice League really survive without Batman? I’m not so sure. Neither is Mr. Kilbourn, so let’s let him finish his thought.
That being said, if a clean slate were to be done, Michael Fassbender would serve an ideal Batman. As seen in Shame and A Dangerous Method, Fassbender can play a tormented character who still has the ability to act through his pain. And as demonstrated in Prometheus, Fassbender can hold his own in a hyperreal setting with an ensemble cast. He can definitely portray Bruce Wayne, and bulk up in both size and presence when he puts on the mask.
The “when he puts on the mask” bit is pretty key, as it’s unlikely we’re going to see much of Bruce Wayne in Justice League. Fassbender would make a great choice but who else could take on the cowl? Janelle De La Cruz has one answer:
Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln could be an unexpectedly good fit for Batman in Justice League. Thanks to his role in the zombie series he has been able to showcase his ability to not only play a badass, but also his ability to play a character that, at times, is tormented by morality. The darker themes of humanity that run throughout the show might just prove to be the perfect prep for the actor to play our favorite dark knight.He wouldn’t look half bad in the mask either.
Lincoln would almost certainly have to bulk up a bit and his age is something of a question, but I could certainly see him playing a grizzled Batman that leans heavily on the detective side of the character, something he may well need to do if Man of Steel is any indication of the universe Justice League will be inhabiting. So what about someone whose had the practice bulking up? Someone whose already convinced us of his physical acting capabilities?
Gerard Butler could make a compelling Batman. We’ve already seen his penchant for acrobatics in 300. Though Machine Gun Preacher didn’t prove to be a superlative movie, Butler certainly evinced some of the smolder needed for Batman. Tune that back a bit more and you’ve got the aura, slap on an American accent and I think you’ve got the voice, too.
Wonder Woman: This may be the single most important character for Justice League to get right. Costume design is sure to be contentious, but that will be nothing compared to the job of the actress who lands this iconic role. So who should occupy it? Jaimie Alexander was one option that came up.
Okay, okay, so it might seem a bit redundant to be playing a superhero after she played Sif the warrior goddess in Thor, but she would make a great fit for the classical idea of Wonder Woman – strong, beautiful, and capable of being lethal. Her role in Thor showed off her athletic ability and it would be nice to see her kicking butt again, this time alongside Superman.
– Janelle De La Cruz
Ryan Reynolds blazed the trail between Marvel backup and DC star (Deadpool to Green Lantern) already, so the jump isn’t out of the question. The difference is that Reynolds moved from X-Men (the movie rights to which are held by 20th Century Fox, and are not part of Marvel’s connected universe) whereas Alexander would be moving from Thor. So who else?
Evangeline Lilly from Lost is my personal favorite for Wonder Woman. She looks the part without being overtly sexual and athletic enough to make her believable as an action hero. As see in her Lost Kate role, Lilly is fully capable of playing a tough as nails female lead. As we will hopefully see in the upcoming The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Lilly has demonstrated that she can bring character development to fantastical roles. Most importantly, she has a sense of humor and “easy-goingness” about her that would make the character more enjoyable. She can tap into what made Lynda Carter’s portrayal so memorable.
– Steven Kilbourn
Another excellent choice, and one that fits to the traditional conception of Wonder Woman. But consider: these characters were created in a period in history when racial divisions were extreme. Comic books have been trying for years to combat the view that they’re whitewashed. So what about an update on Wonder Woman’s character? She’s an Amazonian princess. Make her Latina. Michelle Rodriguez has the looks, demeanor, and physical presence to take on the role.
The Probable: Flash, Green Lantern
Like The Avengers, Justice League has to be careful about how many heroes to include. That said, it would be surprising to see these two miss the party.
Flash: Again we have two suggestions, but they both fall into the same general mold. If you can convince Ryan Gosling, I think he’s still young enough to bring out the youthful energy of the Flash. Think back to his almost happy-go-lucky role in Remember the Titans. Gosling has played a lot of very serious roles in recent years, but he certainly has the acting chops to pull off anything thrown his way.
Pine is consistently able to balance a fine line between drama, comedy, intensity, “laid-backness,” charisma, and douchiness. And, as shown in his Captain Kirk role, all this qualities rise to the surface in the moments when the stakes are highest. Kirk is the Flash.
– Steven Kilbourn
Green Lantern: Let’s assume for the moment that Reynolds is out.As illuminated by an excellent article over at IGN, the question with the Green Lantern isn’t just who will play him, but which Lantern will he play? Reynolds portrayed Hal Jordan, the first of the human Green Lanterns. But as both the article and Steven Kilbourn point out, that doesn’t make Jordan the most recognizable Lantern to today’s audiences:
Djimon Hounsou for Green Lantern (John Stewart). He has proven in Gladiator and Blood Diamond that he is more than just a supporting character actor. In roles that could have very easily been overshadowed by leading men, he always holds his own ground. An older Hounsou could bring some wisdom to a cast of younger actors…Over the last few decades, everyone has grown up with the African American John Stewart incarnation of the character.
Apart from, like a Michelle Rodriguez Wonder Woman, the diversity that Jon Stewart as Green Lantern adds to the group (he’s one of the best-known minority characters in the DC Universe), his background as a U.S. Marine gives the character the sort of world experience and leadership that would be valuable to the team. As IGN points out, all of the above could apply very compellingly to Idris Elba as well, although again there could be some issues with the Marvel/DC crossover.
The Possible: Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Hawkgirl
If all the heroes before this tier make it in, that’s already five heroes to worry about. It’s very possible that one or two of these characters make it in, but it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if this is where Warner Bros. starts making the hard cuts for the sake of mass audience appeal.
Martian Manhunter: Let’s stick on the subject of Idris Elba for a moment. The actor’s been generating a lot of mainstream buzz lately, and with good reason. If he didn’t show up as Green Lantern, could he be the Martian Manhunter?
Just watching the Pacific Rim trailers alone is enough to convince that Elba is right for the part. Elba is able to balance the leadership and sophistication necessary for the Martian Manhunter role. Both physically and vocally, Elba fits the part.
– Steven Kilbourn
Physically might not end up mattering much outside of some motion capture. It’d be great if the Manhunter were done with a costume, but I find it hard to believe that, what with his propensity for shapeshifting and phasing through objects, that he won’t be given the CG treatment. Hey, it worked for Hulk, right?
And if J’onn J’onzz is CG, you have to consider bringing back Carl Lumbly, who voiced the character in the Justice League cartoons. But if not, if the Manhunter could also be very capably played by Liev Schriber.
Aquaman: This has got to be one of the trickiest roles to play, not the least of why because the plot would have to invent some circumstances to make his superpowers useful. But those concerns aside, Alan Ritchson has played Aquaman before on the Smallville TV show. He’ll have experience with the superhero genre in film, too, as he’s currently filming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, where he plays Raphael.
This seems like a role that would’ve gone to Sean Bean if he were younger or Chris Hemsworth if he weren’t Thor. So if Ritchson is too young for the role, what about Josh Holloway? Or:
Armie Hammer. Not only is he a fan favorite for the role, he has the presence and physique to pull off the character. In a role that easily could be pushed aside, there is an opportunity here to have a serious actor make the character universally recognized, similar to how Chris Hemworth treated the Thor role. Plus, I just picture Hammer in his rowing outfit from The Social Network.
– Steven Kilbourn
Hawkgirl: Two names immediately come to mind here. The first is Emma Stone, who, despite the blonde she’ll be donning to reprise her role as Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, has the look down easy. Which means it’s the physical part of Shayera. We haven’t really seen Stone take on a forcefully physical role. I’m not sure she couldn’t do it, but it’s no guarantee.
If you want a guarantee, you go with the second suggestion: Haywire and Fast and Furious 6 star – not to mention MMA fighter – Gina Carano. There’s no question she could bring Hawkgirl’s aggressiveness. She’s probably not the actor Stone is, so most of the decision on Carano would probably be whether DC and Warner sees her as someone they could build multiple movies (say a JL2 and a Hawkgirl stand-alone) around.
The Unlikely: Hawkman, Green Arrow, Cyborg
While each is a compelling character in his own right, it’s hard to see any of these characters being drafted before any of the above. Hawkgirl makes more sense than Hawkman to add more female presence, Green Arrow is A) a carbon copy of Marvel’s Hawkeye, who we’ve already seen plenty of, B) too much the same character as Batman (billionaire genius alter ego, impeccably trained human without superpowers), and C) already has his own TV show, and Cyborg is just a little too obscure for the mainstream audience. Any one of them could make a roster, but it’s more likely they show up in a sequel.
So that’s our list. Which characters and actors would you like to see in a Justice League movie? Let us know in the comments below!