Good morning fellow gamers, now today is Wednesday, which means that I pretty much, have no scheduled item to talk about. That being said, I’m more than eager to fill today’s slot with a thought that’s been mulling in my brain as of late. I’ve tried to hold it in, but the thought just keeps beating at me. Now I know in past weeks those of you who have followed me will recall that I have an overwhelming love and appreciation for Batman.
I’m practically enthralled with anything that has his logo plastered all over it, and I consider the Batman: Arkham series to be one of the best superhero games to ever be released. This got me wondering though about one very peculiar detail, which many may have overlooked:
Why hasn’t there been a live-action Batman TV Series since the 1960’s?
Is it because Batman’s too provocative of a comic book to be put on the small screen? Is it because Christopher Nolan’s had so much high quality success with his Batman universe that nobody else wants to dare to attempt take on The Dark Knight in a small screen adaptation? I want to know, because honestly I think that’s what television is missing lately. I remember when I was younger and watching every different form of Batman I could glue my eyeballs to:
- Batman ( 1960’s – Adam West )
- Batman: The Animated Series ( 1990’s – Kevin Conroy )
- Batman Beyond ( 1999 – Will Freidel )
My point is – Batman’s been around, and for as many cartoon iterations that he’s had over the years I’ve always longed to have a live-action one back in my life. I’ve wanted a Batman show that I could look forward to as an adult now. I remember watching the 1960’s version on AMC with my grandparents and remembering how campy and humorous it was – but it still made me retain a memory and that’s what counts.
So, where do we go from here? Batman: The Animated Series was probably one of the most well known Batman lore ever to be produced for the small screen, certainly we wouldn’t dream of tarnishing that – but I suggest we honor that tradition with a live-action version for today’s modern audience.
Many adults, like myself, were once comic-book reading nerds hunkered down in their rooms like it was a burrow at Bag’s End. Why should they have to be subjected to comic book ideologies designed for children? So that poses a brand new question:
If a Batman: Arkham series [or a live-action Batman of any kind] was made for television – what channel would broadcast it? – And who would fulfill the roles?
Well it’s worth noting that within the past couple of years we’ve seen a dramatic leap of some major movie faces taking roles upon the small screen – and I think it’s a joy to see that. You’ve got actors like:
- Steve Buscemi [Boardwalk Empire]
- Dustin Hoffman [Luck]
- Anna Paquin [True Blood]
- Keifer Sutherland [Touch]
- Dominic Monaghan [Lost]
- Olivia Wilde [House]
- Jennifer Morrison [Once Upon A Time]
My point is that television audiences are now getting experiences that they never have, with actors that they’ve only thought were film based stars. They are branching from their traditional formats and coming to the small screen, which, provides a wonderful backdrop for a high-production live-action Batman to be able to successfully be done for this generation. The station it would go to would have to be one willing to take a risk.
There’s always this sort of risk/reward thing when trying to develop comic-book television shows. [ just look at the clearly under-watched and under-rated Cape from NBC ] The benefit for anyone who were to grab this franchise though, would be the popularity factor. Batman is an insanely popular pop-culture icon. If you slap a Bat-Signal on a television screen they will come [ if even for only a moment if it sucks. ] So, how do we begin, and who would play these roles? Well here goes:
I personally say that some of the higher end, more premium networks would have to take charge of this if it ever came to be. I’m not saying shows like Smallville, The Cape, and other comic/sci-fi genre shows aren’t good on networks, but there’s something that premium channels like HBO and Stars can provide franchises like Batman – freedom of expression. The comic book versions of Batman are surprisingly dark and often deal with lots of very intense violent situations that I don’t think could accurately be depicted via a network company judging on my past viewing experiences.
Is it possible that a network could pull Batman off?
Yeah, certainly, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Fringe and Grimm and they’re much darker than past shows on their respective networks, but my point is, taking away that risk of restriction will help to tell a better-rounded story – so my vote goes to HBO, Showtime, or Stars.
Now on to, who would play these iconic roles?
This is a very difficult task and by no means am I an expert or am I a casting agent who knows what he’s talking about when it comes to placing people in roles. These are just a gamer’s musings on who he feels would fit and suit a live action television version of Batman: Arkham. Honestly, I’m hoping people will disagree with me and post their own opinions of cast members. The more odd and interesting the better, who knows if suggestions made here may actually become a reality some day?
Now some folks may hurt me with this suggestion – because nobody will ever out-do Kevin Conroy for a Batman voice. Conroy has something special in his soul that allows him to be the quintessential Dark Knight – but I digress. I personally believe though that one man may be able to pull this off if given the chance. I’m a massive Mad Men fan and for some reason whenever I see John Hamm on the screen I instantly think of a certain superhero billionaire playboy – of course there is also Matt Bomer from White Collarto contend with. Either gentleman, I feel, has the charisma and swagger of Bruce Wayne, while still having enough intensity and muscle to put on the cowl for a television screen.
Now Harley was probably one of my favorite Batman vixens when I was growing up. There was just something so charming about her flirtatious nature, her charisma, and her brute ruthlessness that was so deceptive to the common of Gotham. This is why, when I scavenged through the remains of Hollywood I was disappointed that I couldn’t put Brittney Murphy in this place [ RIP Brittney Murphy ] I always felt that Murphy would have made a wonderful Harley due to her humor, infectious personality, and take-charge female attitude. Alas, I had to look elsewhere and so my choice for Harley would have to be none other than Malin Akerman.
She’s already got enough geek-cred for being a vital part of the Watchmen series as Silk Spector. She’s got humor and wit and we’ve witnessed she’s definitely got some ass-kicking vixen in her. Definitely my one and only choice for Harley Quinn at the moment, but any other suggestions are extremely welcome.
This one is extremely hard to deal with. I find Joker to be the one villain I can never place a face with. I was also one of those guys who, when posed the question as to whether Heath Ledger could pull of Joker, stated that I couldn’t picture him fulfilling that role. How stupid do I look now hmm? I was blown away by his performance, so to even attempt of fill someone in this spot is hard – extremely hard. I’m going to try to anyways though – so please outcry your distaste if you think my choice blows.
My choice for Joker comes off of two things:
Can the person play an evil villain convincingly? – and does the person have a wit to them when doing so?
I originally wanted to throw NPH’s name out there – because I felt he did a wonderful job as Dr. Horrible, but alas, Neil Patrick Harris is just not imposing or vicious enough for me to consider him a real threat in the Batman universe. I finally broke it down to two people I feel could fill that role: Steve Bucemi or Michael C. Hall.
Steve may seem like an old choice, far too old to play a supposedly 30-something Joker, but Bucemi is a wicked, dark, brooding badass in Boardwalk Empire. He exudes this aura of fear in people even for his lanky stature and I think that’s something that Joker brings out in his character. Hall would be my second choice, because he’s younger and he’s got experience playing a serial killer on television’s Dexter. The man knows what playing a psychopathic individual is all about and he can do it with style. So either of these men I think would make fine additions to the Joker pool for a tv series.
Oh Scarecrow, how underrated you are, I love your concept and yet – as much as Cillian Murphy tried to pull you off, I think that you were the one villain that fell short for me in the Nolan saga of Batman. This is why I propose a change. You need someone behind your persona who’s going to provide your character with the brooding, psychotic, psychological deviant that you are. This is why I propose that you be played by, none other than, Jackie Earl Haley.
Haley has played a number of psychotic, demented roles in his vast movie career. He’s played Rorschach, Freddy Krueger, etc. so he knows a little something about playing with people’s minds and dreams. I personally believe that if this were to become a television show Batman would have his scariest adversary in Scarecrow if Haley played him. I mean seriously, there’s a resemblance of ol’ Dr. Crane there isn’t it?
Say what you will about Bane, I love him. You can say he’s the most comically produced character in the Gotham universe, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but Bane is meant to be huge, over-the-top, fantastical, and so I propose that he be played with a finesse and a style that will make him respectably believable, but at the same time larger than life. The only personality that I feel can fill this role is none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Now I’m going to probably get slapped for that, but honestly, think about it for a brief moment before you judge me and say that wrestlers aren’t ‘real actors’.
Wrestlers put on shows for people every night, and even Bane’s mythos revolves around him wearing a mask like a Luchador – so why is it unfeasible to say that a pro-wrestler couldn’t portray a brooding intellectual beefed-up assassin? Now it could be anybody certainly – you could choose anybody from a wrestling roster and toss them into Bane’s spot and it would probably work, but what makes Rock special is that he fits Bane’s motives. Rock has the intimidation factor and he also has an acting resume that most other wrestlers can’t say they have. I’m not saying it’s a perfect match, but Dwayne Johnson would be my first plug for the Big Bane – or you know, you could also go with Joe Maganiello from True Blood.
Aaron Eckhart portrayed a wonderful Two-Face, and I won’t take anything away from his performance. I will say that Eckhart did fantastic with coming up with a performance that showed the dichotomy of his actions and for that I think he helped me choose a man I feel could definitely play Two-Face. Two-Face has to be a guy that can definitely deal with psychological pinball – a gentleman who can play a confident, debonair lawyer, but snap at the same straw.
If anyone has seen Breaking Bad I think they’ve seen that Bryan Cranston is that kind of man. He may not be a young brooding lawyer face, but he’s got the background and chops of playing a man on the edge. A man who’s gone from having a good life to being reduced to doing bad deeds to achieve what he deems are good ends – which is why I would vote him for a Two-Face plug. Who says Two-Face has to be some young hotshot heartthrob?
Poison Ivy is one villainous vixen that I don’t think anyone has ever gotten right except for Paul Dini in the Animated Series. The live action representations of her though are horrible, and need to be refined. Sure – there’s a lot of discussion as to whether or not she’d work in a live-action format – because different genres show her different ways. Some she’s just a vixen who uses poisons on a regular occurrence by growing them in her gardens, or on the flipside she’s this half-human half-plant diva goddess that can grow and control plants to her whim.
I don’t much care, which one is represented, just as long as it’s done properly. Now who do I feel has enough tenacity and intellect to play poor, potent, plant-loving Pamela Isley? Well I’ve got a few names in this hat, but my first choice would have to be Deborah Ann Woll. She’s played a naïve vampire girl on True Blood for at least 2 seasons now and all I can say is for one – she’s beautiful, and secondly, she’s got this sort of nerd-chic look to her that just screams – tall, beautiful, plant scientist to me.
She’s got the ruthlessness from the True Blood vampire experience, and I’m sure given the right direction she could pull off something amazing here.
This one is pretty easy, as I’ve had this in my mind for some time, and he was the first character I thought of when designing this blog topic. Zsasz is a character we don’t normally see in the live-action mythos of Batman, but one who could easily fit. I personally only considered one man to fit this role, but perhaps there’s others that you guys would consider: Ben Foster.
If you’ve seen him in Alpha Dogs, The Mechanic, or 3:10 to Yuma – Foster knows how to play a brute and a psycho. He can pull off a highly violent, no-mercy type role like Zsasz and it would be cool to see Ben Foster make his way to the small screen for once in something that had lasting potential.
The Riddler has been a point of debate with my friends and me for quite some time now. We all agreed that a wonderful player for Edward Nigma would be Joseph Gordon Levitt. Levitt is a major heavy hitter and he’s been in some spectacular films, and I think that he could definitely portray a psychologically demented, intellectually sound, and vile unscrupulous individual like the Riddler.
Riddler differs from Joker in the fact that whomever takes over the role of Riddler has to have this sense of order and timing in his works – there has to be a reasoning and logic behind his choices, where as Joker, well Joker’s just a hand grenade in a water balloon fight.
This character has been more overplayed that I can even begin to imagine. Every girl wants an opportunity to play this vixen’s role, and some have done it well and other’s have killed all of her nine lives. My point here is that whomever played the good ol’ Selina Kyle has to be willing to put their own unique spin on the character. Selina is a cat burglar, torn between the brink of good and bad behavior and so I ask you who could play this role? Any woman in Hollywood would certainly be the go-to answer, but I’m looking at this with a few women in mind, but my first choice would be: Mila Kunis
Why Mila Kunis you ask? Well it’s simply because she’s had experience in the television market with That 70’s Show. She’s got a witty sense of humor, which is important for Selina’s character, and she’s as seductive looking as all get out. She can also play a dynamite sociopath – if you haven’t seen Black Swan you really should – she’s ridiculously talented in it. Definitely gave me more appreciation for her acting skills. I personally say that she could pull off the seductive cat-burglar love interest of the famed Bruce Wayne. Thoughts?
This character I feel has been horribly made into this comical-sideshow character in almost every rendition he’s been in. Even in the Batman: Arkham series I felt they could have done him better justice than they did. I mean he’s not really a threatening character now is he? A small, stocky man who prefers to let his thugs fight for him rather than fight Batman alone. It’s hard to pinpoint a man good enough to play this odd role, but if I had to choose I’d pick Stephen Root.
You probably know who he is. He’s played in everything from True Blood, Dodgeball, and he’s even done the voice of none other than the Penguin in Batman: Brave and the Bold. If that’s not an endorsement of his Penguin prowess I don’t know what is.
Mr. Freeze is a refreshing change, and he needs a refreshing change – I’m tired of hearing the haunting sounds of Arnold’s voice in my head when I think about Freeze. Mr. Freeze is actually one of the very few Batman villains that I sympathize with, because he really only does his horrible behaviors because he feels that the world has betrayed him and that the only person who understands him he must keep in cryogenic stasis – and that gets expensive. My choice for Freeze though, would have to be: Jeff Goldblum, or Kiefer Sutherland.
They’re older, which is fantastic for Mr. Freeze, because I feel like Mr. Freeze should always have some intellectual seniority over Batman. They’re also this very brooding actors and I feel like they would translate that very hard dichotomy of personal loss and feelings and sheer psychotic hatred to the screen very well for a Mr. Freeze role. Freeze is pretty much fair game though, I’m open for interpretation here.
The Boy Wonder – who could possibly fill this role? Well, if I’ve choosen John Hamm, and or, Matt Bomer to play Batman I realized that I had to go out and find a young new-comer to the market to play the young teenage Jason Todd. You’re probably asking why start with the Jason Todd saga? Well, it could be either Jason or Dick, but I just find that the relationship between Jason Todd and Bruce to be a fascinating story.
So, if it’s going to be Jason Todd Robin then I’m going to have to go with newcomer Kevin McHale, or Darren Criss. Yes, they’re both members from Glee. Yes I’ll probably get marked for including them in this list, but let’s face it here – Kevin’s had a very extensive resume since he first started, and I think providing newcomers like this who have the build and potential for a great Robin character would be a nice touch. It’d be nice to see new faces in new genres of television that they’ve never attempted before – just saying.