With the latest releases from The Batman and the popular podcast series unburied batman on Spotify, fans of the Caped Crusader have no shortage of iterations to choose from these days. And yet, none of them are funny.
Since Adam West’s classic and hilarious take on the character in the ’60s, the closest thing audiences got to a dumb Batman was Will Arnett’s LEGO version in 2017. It’s been way too long since Batman didn’t have fun, and a comedic new take on the costume vigilante is exactly what the Bat-Signal ordered.
Andy Samberg may have the perfect combination of talents for the job. Since he made his name Saturday Night Live along with his Lonely Island teammates Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, Samberg proved to be a surprisingly capable leading man. He starred in two of the best big comedies in recent memory in Popstar: never stop, never stop and Palm Springsand leads Brooklyn nine-nine to eight successful seasons.
The common thread running through these roles has been a certain mix of confident silliness and youthful vulnerability. Especially that Conner4Real in Pop star, he is adept at playing a good soul led astray by ignorance and narcissism. Who is he but Bruce Wayne, a wealthy man-child playing heroics by beating up street criminals or engaging in mind games with similarly-suited crackpots.
As a former dancer, Channing Tatum is the type of movie star who has full control of his tools as a performer. With a classically ripped physique and a handsome face that doesn’t necessarily project intelligence, he’s been deployed quite effectively as a jester in 21 jump streetthe muscular hero of white house downand the moving outsider of Lucky Logan and Dog.
All of these characters fit perfectly into a comic Batman. Surrounded by cerebral villains like the Joker, the Riddler, and the Penguin, Tatum’s Dark Knight would be a blunt instrument that’s always the last to achieve anything. While that doesn’t necessarily align with the idea of Batman as the world’s greatest detective, it would be an effective dispatch of the force that makes the superhero righteous nature.
After 15 incredible and counting seasons Philadelphia is always sunny, Rob McElhanney has to become a superstar. In a show where the characters are routinely absurd in their depravity, McElhanney’s Mac often enjoys surprising moments of tenderness and humanity, and he plays them extraordinarily well, marking him as perhaps the best performer of the bunch.
But McElhanney’s real audition for Batman comes in his dynamic with Charlie Day’s Charlie. Each week, their insane schemes are so consulted and insane that they bring to mind the twisted logic of Adam West’s old series, with Mac as the confident Batman and Charlie as the eager-to-please Robin. If this interaction can be duplicated, It’s Always Sunny in Gotham cannot be missed.
Burnham has become one of the most interesting voices in comedy, and his take on the Caped Crusader would inevitably be compelling. His last special, On the insidewas an all-around solo effort as he struggled with his isolation during the pandemic, and it immediately became one of the era’s defining works of art.
While his slight snark mixed with a thinly concealed rage over the state of the world doesn’t necessarily mean he’s interested in a big superhero movie, there is an opportunity there. If the studio is willing to give Burnham complete freedom, it will likely deliver not just a Batman comic, but a thrilling and vital superhero satire that would be a powerful jolt to the system.
Nicolas Cage has had a decades-long career with countless offbeat performances. To some, it’s proof that he’s an inexplicable overachiever who will only occasionally make a good movie by accident. Others, however, recognize the unique genius that makes any film an opportunity to push the boundaries of on-screen action.
All of this makes Cage in a cape so natural that it’s surprising it hasn’t happened more often so far. His Kick ass The character, a well-funded vigilante paired with his powerful daughter, would have been modeled in part on Adam West’s Batman, and it shows in his affected cadence and chimerical moral certainty. A Cage version of Batman would likely be a mix of that character, Spider-Noir, and Benjamin Franklin Gates from national treasurewhich seems quite amazing.
In the character’s latest big-screen take on the character, director Matt Reeves and star Robert Pattinson showcased the neo-black energy, recalling The crow and the films of David Fincher. This Bruce Wayne was defined by his ghostly pallor, sharp features, and antisocial tendencies, all of which could easily turn into comic absurdity.
Known mostly as a scene stealer in Silicon Valley and Veep, Woods could be a fun reflection of Pattinson’s emo broody. The goofy, lanky improv master could bring the ghostly paleness, sharp features, and antisocial tendencies while infusing them with world-class sweetness. With Woods under the hood, Alfred (possibly played by fellow Veep alum Matt Walsh?) should always be ready for the nightly pep talk and a cover.
As if people needed more proof of Bill Hader’s abilities, his HBO series barry provides the SNL alum the perfect audition for Bruce Wayne. Arguably the finest impressionist Studio 8H has had in recent memory, Hader made a name for himself with his chameleon voice, wild eyes, and the mischievous smile that would form just before he was about to break.
But characters like Stefon and Vincent Price couldn’t prepare audiences for his work on barry, both in front of and behind the camera. Hader and his collaborators must thread the needle beautifully with dark comedy, imbuing each episode with dread, pathos, and humor in a way that would be just fine for a dimwitted dark knight. No doubt he already has the right voice ready.
If Batman is one of the world’s greatest and most recognizable superheroes, it stands to reason that one of the world’s greatest comedians dons the comic cowl. Kevin Hart, who regularly sells out stadiums and is one of the few comedians capable of leading a comedy to box office success, fits this idea perfectly.
The famously diminutive superstar comedian would bring his unique brand of overcompensation to the role. His Caped Crusader would probably approximate an Inspector Clouseau or Frank Drebin as a clumsy fool who somehow manages to win in the end, much to the chagrin of his opponents.
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