FAN CAST: Batman, the live-action TV Series!!!
As I’ve said many times before, Batman would own in prime time, and now that Nolan has wrapped up his trilogy, there's never been a better time to do it. Also, I think it should air on the CW, because the CW needs a kick in the ass. If you think of all the really successful shows Warner Bros. Television has produced since they decided to launch their own channel, next to none of them have actually aired on that channel. That needs to change if CW wants to be a major network rather than the kids’ table.
A Batman TV show would rock, and here's who I want to see in it!
Ideally, I would want to see a show that starts with Batman’s early days, his dismantling of the mob, his first encounters with his various rogues, etc. Early on the show would take many story cues from the Nolan films of course, but develop them in a way that makes sense for a TV show.
Another great thing about a TV show is the potential expansion of the supporting cast. The rogues would show up occasionally, but fleshing out the GCPD and other secondary characters would go a long way towards populating this fictional universe. For a weekly series, you’d have to do Robin, if only because it’s much easier to develop him as a character and play out his story on TV than it is in the movies. Dick Grayson could show up at the start of the season 2, and his training could fill much of the season.
I would love to expand Catwoman’s role on a new show, even make her as significant a character as Harvey Dent. She wouldn’t necessarily be a recurring villain, but following her long-term evolution from cat burglar to crime fighter would be awesome (especially since TAS kinda screwed her up), not to mention her complicated relationship with Bruce/Batman.
So here’s a rundown of just about everyone I would expect to see in the first 2-3 seasons of a Batman live-action prime-time show:
BATMAN: Jared Padalecki ("Supernatural")
Padalecki is my #1 choice for a TV Batman. It’s been a long time coming, but he’s got the chiseled features, the voice, the presence, the acting chops, and he’s turned in years of dedicated service for the WB. Literally my only objection is that he’s a huge guy. Bruce Wayne doesn’t really need to be 6’4”. And *gasp* he would have to cut his hair.
ALFRED: Anthony Daniels
I love this pick. After almost thirty five years of playing the same robot, it’d be awesome to see him take on another iconic role and nail it immediately. I also like the idea of Alfred being more George Smiley than James Bond, gentlemanly, mild-mannered, and highly perceptive.
JIM GORDON: Bryan Cranston, Michael Biehn, Bruce Boxleitner
Cranston is everyone’s favorite, and is even playing Gordon in the animated YEAR ONE. He’d be a great fit for the strung-out but ever vigilant good cop in a crap city. Here are two other guys who would also rule:
Michael Biehn is the same age as Cranston, and is still great with the weathered hero type.
Boxleitner is my pick; he has that aging good guy vibe and loads of built-in geek cred. Plus he’s got a voice aged like fine scotch.
HARVEY DENT/TWO-FACE: Nathan Fillion, Sam Witwer, Phil Winchester
Harvey needs, as they say in Hollywood, a Harrison Ford-type; a guy who can be laid-back and dashing one minute (a la Han Solo) and intense the next (a la Jack Ryan). I don’t have to tell you why Nathan Fillion (“Firefly”, “Castle”) definitely qualifies for that mold. Unlike other fans, I have trouble seeing Sam Witwer (“Being Human”) as Bruce, but as Harvey he could definitely work. Philip Winchester (“Strike Back”) is an underrated actor IMO; he somehow manages to be captivating even when the material is mediocre.
SELINA KYLE/CATWOMAN: Lauren Cohan, Erica Cerra, Holly Valance
(Toby Turner voice) HOT-HOT-HOT-HOT-HOT-HOT-HOT
Lauren Cohan is carving out quite a niche of morally ambiguous bombshells lately on “Chuck”, “Vampire Diaries” and “Supernatural”.
Erica Cerra is a great tough chick on “Eureka”, and even better when she lets her hair down (plus that smokey voice would be great on Selina).
Holly Valance is amazingly talented and is overdue for some exposure on this side of the pond.
DICK GRAYSON/ROBIN: Callan McAuliffe, Jake T. Austin, Leo Howard
I’d start Dick Grayson off at about 15 or 16 and go from there. That way he's old enough to be a convincing crimefighter, but young enough to still be considered "young".
So here we’ve got three candidates, all currently under 20. McAuliffe played a good not-annoying sidekick in ‘I Am Number Four’. Jake Austin has grown out of “Wizards of Waverly Place” and seems poised for an upgrade. And while we're on the subject of Disney, Leo Howard would be a good choice if they want a teen actor who does martial arts.
BARBARA GORDON/BATGIRL: Molly C. Quinn (“Castle”)
All the talented young ladies out there and my list of choices for Babs is still one name long. Batgirl is another character it would be great to develop over time, starting out practically as a background character in the first season and evolving into a full-fledged superhero later on. Quinn is simply radiant on “Castle” and it’s fun to imagine that type of character eventually delving into some extracurricular badassery.
LUCIUS FOX: Clarke Peters (“Treme”, “The Wire”)
Probably my favorite actor from “The Wire” (and that is some mighty stiff competition).
LESLIE THOMPKINS: Ellen Burstyn
She’s 78? Seriously? Anyhow, Leslie would fulfill an emotional and moral counterpoint for Bruce similar to Rachel Dawes in the movies, but more maternal and less love-interest. And you can’t aim much higher than an Oscar-nominee like Burstyn.
RENEE MONTOYA: Dania Ramirez (“Entourage”, X-Men 3)
Anyone who kicks the crap out of Halle Berry is all right in my book. And she’s Dominican too! How sweet is that!
HARVEY BULLOCK: Wade Williams ("Prison Break")
Normally I wouldn’t do something as obvious as cast Bellick to play Bullock, but in this case Williams is perfect. He’s already a DC fan (he’s even acted in a couple of their DTVs) and he fills out the role as the gruff, abrasive detective
SARAH ESSEN: Connie Britton (“Friday Night Lights”)
Just the kind of lady detective an overworked commish could fall for. FNL is over, but I still need my Tami Taylor fix.
VICKY VALE: Autumn Reeser
It’s time to bring back Vicki Vale. The idea of a reporter trying to get the scoop on the Dark Knight is good meat for a prime time series. Reeser was by far the best thing about the lackluster “No Ordinary Family”, which is important for a character as potentially annoying as Vicki.
SLAM BRADLEY: Jeffrey Dean Morgan (‘Watchmen’)
Another “Supernatural” alum, and another one-name list of candidates, Morgan fits the bill better than anyone as everyone’s favorite badass over-the-hill PI.
HOLLY ROBINSON: Jordan Hinson (“Eureka”)
On a TV show, you can explore everyone’s supporting cast, and if Selina got an expanded role, we would have to meet her surprisingly capable would-be sidekick.
Not much to say about the mob guys, I mostly just grabbed a few of my favorite ‘hey it’s that guy’ actors.
CARMINE FALCONE: David Morse
SAL MARONI: Bobby Cannavale
ROLAND DAGGETT: Gregg Henry
RUPERT THORNE: John Doman
Now enough of those puny humans, it’s time for a better class of criminal!
JOKER: Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”, “Big Love”), Ryan O’Nan (‘The Dry Land’), Paulo Costanzo (“Royal Pains”)
Heath Ledger wasn’t anybody’s first choice; he probably wasn’t anybody’s thousandth choice. And he knocked it out of the park. Even Nolan didn’t expect Ledger to do some of the things he did with the role.
At the very least, you need a great actor with good comedic timing and a lot of range. Aaron Paul is constantly amazing on “Breaking Bad”, often funny and captivating at the same time. Paulo Costanzo is the sole reason I continue to watch “Royal Pains”. I mentioned indy-film actor Ryan O’Nan in my Gargoyles cast; like the other two, he’s got the crazy eyes and he knows how to use them.
HARLEY QUINN: Jena Malone (‘Sucker Punch’, ‘Into the Wild’), Rose McIver (‘The Lovely Bones’), Ari Graynor (‘Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist’)
Harley is the kind of juicy role that I think a lot of young actresses would try to land. Here are three that I particularly like, although I can’t decide which one I prefer.
Jena Malone, on top of her natural edgy cuteness, showed impressive physical ability in ‘Sucker Punch’. Ari Graynor has great ditzy-smart charisma plus a killer bod. Rose McIver (another former Ranger), has the physical prowess covered and has far more range than one would expect from an actress her age.
PENGUIN: Willie Garson (“White Collar”)
Garson’s a great character actor and plays a fantastic likeable lowlife on “White Collar”. He’d be a perfect fit for a strangely charming scumsmear like Penguin.
RIDDLER: James Callis (“Battlestar Galactica”, “Eureka”)
Callis is great with the smug insufferable magnificent bastard that a live-action Riddler would likely be. The TAS version would be perfect, plus longer prime-time episodes would mean more wiggle room for the really crazy plots TAS couldn’t pull off.
SCARECROW: Mark Pellegrino (“Lost”, “Supernatural”)
Pellegrino is really cornering the market on soft-spoken dead-eyed creeps.
POISON IVY: Evan Rachel Wood (“Mildred Pierce”, “True Blood”)
Skewing a bit young with Ivy, but ERW is such a wonderfully nuanced actress yet still knows when to camp it up and bring the crazy.
MR. FREEZE: Tobin Bell (‘Saw’)
The role may be a tad physical for a guy his age, but good God that voice. Say whatever you want about the ‘Saw’ movies, but can you imagine that Jigsaw voice topped off with some freaky Darth Vader robotics?
KILLER CROC: Kevin Durand (“Lost”, ‘I Am Number Four’)
He keeps popping up in my casts. I have no problem with that. Croc is one of the trickier rogues to pull off in live action (especially on a TV budget), but Durand’s hulking frame and creepy demeanor would get them more than half-way there.
HUGO STRANGE: Jared Harris (“Mad Men,” “Fringe”)
Harris did a great evil scientist shtick on “Fringe”. And I decided not to grab a shot of him with the identical yellow shades. Tempting though ;-)
MAD HATTER: Simon McBurney (‘Body of Lies’)
Another English character actor; he’s got the look for whatever iteration the show would do, though I wonder how well he could pull of the lovelorn ex-labgeek version from TAS.
VENTRILOQUIST/SCARFACE: Colin Mochrie (“Whose Line is it Anyway?”)
Not sure about his ventriloquism skills, but the “Whose Line” veteran has the right look and comedy chops to pull of one of Batman’s more oddball rogues.
RA’S AL GHUL: Sean Bean, Chow Yun Fat, Laurence Fishburne
Batman’s most powerful foe needs star power. On a TV show, he’s the kind of villain that they would build up to for a long time before we finally see him, much like Darkseid on “Smallville”. When we DO see him, he has to exude menace and authority from the moment he walks in. For this, I decided to make it interesting, since Ra’s is the most race-liftable character in the Batman canon. The only requirements for the actor is that he strike an imposing figure, speak (near) perfect English, and be great with a sword. Jason Isaacs is the fan favorite. Here are three other guys who I assume need no introduction.
TALIA AL GHUL: Dichen Lachman, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Freida Pinto
If we’re gonna play race-lift for Ra’s, it’s only fair we do it for Talia as well. After “Dollhouse”, I want to cast Dichen Lachman in everything. Gugu Mbatha-Raw was quite good on “Undercovers”, even though the show was ass. And the lovely Freida Pinto has been on the rise since ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, and also strikes the perfect Bond-girl vibe for a character like Talia.
UBU: Robert Maillet (‘Sherlock Holmes’, ‘300’)
Remember the giant French thug in ‘Sherlock’ who was impervious to hammers? Yeah.
And as a bonus, a few characters who would probably appear well into the series:
HUNTRESS/HELENA BERTINELLI: Tania Raymonde (“Lost”)
LADY SHIVA: Maggie Q (“Nikita”)
BATWOMAN/KATE KANE: Deborah Ann Woll (“True Blood”)
And those are my picks. Still think a Batman show is a good idea or a bad one? Leave your comments below
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