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5 best and 5 worst actors to replace Ben Affleck as Batman

Whether or not you were a fan of Ben Affleck's performance as the Caped Crusader in the critically panned Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League — or his brief appearance in Suicide Squad — it looks as though we'll never see Affleck in a standalone Batman film. Probably. Originally announced as co-writer, director, and star of the pending Bat-franchise reboot The Batman, Affleck ceded directing duties to Matt Reeves, but initially said he'd stay on to don the cowl. 

In more recent months, reports have surfaced that Warner Bros. is looking to take the DCEU in a completely new direction. The Hollywood Reporter ran a story saying that Reeves had turned in a draft of a new screenplay said to focus on a younger version of Batman, indicating that a soft, or full-on, reboot of the property is already underway. While the studio didn't comment on the story, and Affleck himself is rumored to want one more crack at Bruce Wayne, there are (bat) signals everywhere that Ben is out. So based on the information we've got — and all those Bat-rumors — let's take a look at the five best, and five worst, actors that could replace Ben Affleck as Batman.

Best: Jack O'Connell

When Ben Affleck stepped down as writer/director of The Batman, Warner Bros. handed off those duties to Matt Reeves, whose credits include installments of the acclaimed Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy. Reeves was initially speculated to be creating an adaptation of the comics arc Batman: Year One, and although he's denied that his script focuses on this story, there are indications that a younger, rawer version of Batman is on deck.

English actor Jack O'Connell got his big break in American film when he starred in the Angelina Jolie-directed Unbroken, and since then, his name has been on many a shortlist for notable starring roles. O'Connell would be an unconventional choice for this project, given his lack of tentpole experience and name recognition, but that's just the point. If talk of the Matt Reeves "younger Batman" vision is true, and if this version does eventually get greenlit by the studio, it would stand to reason that DC would want to take a nontraditional approach when casting for the character's reboot.

Worst: Armie Hammer

Armie Hammer checks a lot of boxes. He has experience in action films like The Lone Ranger and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He's put up incredible performances in films like The Social Network, J. Edgar, and Call Me by Your Name, the latter of which earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. At 32, he's relatively young. He's also got the stature: 6'5", athletic build, and square jaw. On paper, the guy can be Batman — in fact, on paper, he was Batman, albeit briefly, in George Miller's scuttled Justice League picture. But he shouldn't be on anyone's shortlist for the reboot.

Affleck's possible departure from the role gives Warners the opportunity to get out from under the poorly reviewed and underperforming films of the current iteration of the DC Extended Universe, and affords them the ability to boldly take the DCEU in a new and exciting creative direction. Casting Armie Hammer as their new Batman would feel like more of the same — a little too traditional, a little too on the nose, a little too boring.

Best: Dacre Montgomery

Dacre Montgomery did a pretty great job in a pretty forgettable movie, starring as the Red Ranger in Power Rangers. He really started gaining industry heat, however, following his turn as Billy Hargrove, the new kid in Hawkins during season 2 of Stranger Things. Montgomery somehow managed to bring pathos and even charm to the role of a violent sociopath... which is a pretty translatable skillset for becoming the guy who beats up criminals dressed like a flying mammal.

Despite his role as an antagonist, fans were blown away by Montgomery's smoldering intensity — a trait that was fully on display in his Billy Hargrove audition tape, which went viral. Rumors started circulating in 2017 that Montgomery was being considered for a role in a Nightwing movie when the actor posted, then quickly deleted, an image from a Nightwing comic. While he'd certainly make an interesting choice as a grown-up Dick Grayson, it isn't hard to imagine Montgomery channeling his cool, crazed ferocity into the role of a young Batman. Ya wanna get nuts, Dacre? C'mon! Let's get nuts!

Worst: Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal is a gifted actor who has brushed up against superhero roles in the past. He was rumored to be in consideration for the lead role in Spider-Man 2 when, for a time, it looked as though Tobey Maguire's "back problems" would preclude him from donning the red-and-blues in the sequel. He was also reportedly in the running for Batman Begins.

More than anyone else on this list, Gyllenhaal has been the the subject of "replacing Affleck" rumors, with some industry insiders assuming it was all but a done deal. However, to the chagrin of Gyllen-heads everywhere, the actor has denied the rumors. In an interview with China News Asia, when asked if he was taking on the Batman role, the actor said point blank, "The answer to that question is no." Gyllenhaal isn't opposed to superhero franchises, however — he took a role in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the sequel to 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming, as the villainous Mysterio.

Best: Riz Ahmed

Mainstream viewers became aware of Riz Ahmed when he landed a breakout role on the HBO eight-part series The Night Of, a story of a New York City murder case that brilliantly blends elements of a police procedural with more complex ideas about race, identity, and justice. As the series unfolded, Ahmed displayed a startling ability to reveal new, profound layers of his character in each episode. He won a well-deserved Emmy for his work on the show, and has since gone on to be recognized as one of the most unique young talents working in Hollywood today.

He's also totally nailed roles in Nightcrawler, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Venom. He's got leading man looks and he's proven that he has the acting chops to play the Caped Crusader. Casting this rising talent would be a great move in forging a new onscreen identity for the Bruce Wayne of Reeves' reboot.

Worst: Jon Hamm & Michael C. Hall

Jon Hamm and Michael C. Hall are each accomplished actors with individually distinguished careers. It makes sense that both men have been the subject of many Batman casting rumors. Here, though, they're sharing a slide, because neither would work as the new Batman for similar reasons. Jon Hamm has won a Golden Globe and an Emmy. He's had great turns in films like The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Town, and Bridesmaids. Michael C. Hall's got a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award. He had a great run on HBO's Six Feet Under, and more recently starred in the eight-part Netflix original crime drama Safe.

But what we're really talking about when we talk about either actor becoming Batman is, "Hey wouldn't it be cool if Dexter/Don Draper was Batman?" Hall and Hamm each played roles in critically acclaimed psychodramas about seemingly normal men with dark secrets. Yes, it is intriguing to think about what a capable actor like either of these guys could do with a great Batman story, given their memorable portrayals of iconic characters. The problem is that they've already played these characters. Mad Men ran for seven seasons, and Dexter for eight. We've seen these guys do this style of role, and do it well, but we don't need to see them keep doing it.

Best: Michael B. Jordan

Black Panther made over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, and is considered one of the greatest storytelling achievements in the superhero genre. The key to this story's success, as is so often the case with comic book movies, is the quality of the villain. 

If the key to a great superhero story is a great villain, then the key to a great villain has got to be relatability. Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger was hellbent on vengeance on a global scale, but also on a deeply personal level. As an audience, we don't condone his methods, but we can see that on some level, through his character's point of view, his goals are nearly noble. Jordan's portrayal of Wakanda's castaway, banished from this perfect and secretive society through no fault of his own, made us feel something for him... and almost root for him.

One of the most important pieces of the Batman mythos is the character's relatability, in spite of his more, um, extreme personality traits. He's one of the only heroes without any powers or special abilities, and despite his tremendous wealth, he had a rough childhood. This worldview is the baseline that resonates on a core level with fans. Michael B. Jordan has the charisma and gravitas to immediately grab an audience, and get them on his side. That's a characteristic Batman needs.

Worst: Idris Elba

The reigning Sexiest Man Alive, Idris Elba, is the same age as Ben Affleck. If Warners truly wants to take their DC properties in a new creative direction, they're going to need somebody who can make a long-term commitment, and unfortunately, that probably means casting somebody younger than Ben Affleck is right now. Sadly, age is pretty much the only reason casting Idris Elba doesn't make sense for the DCEU.

Elba has appeared in many high-profile films. He's been in several Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbusters as Heimdall, and starred in the long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower, a promising leading role in a movie that ultimately failed to meet audience expectations. In every appearance, TV or film, Elba brings charisma and intensity that can't be ignored. For the role of Batman, however — with the DCEU where it is at this particular moment — Elba simply isn't a fit.

Best: Oscar Isaac

With critically acclaimed roles in character studies like Inside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year, and a little space opera called Star Wars, Oscar Isaac has proven himself to be a bankable talent. It's been reported that Isaac has already met with Warners to discuss a "mystery" role in The Batman. It's unlikely that this mystery role is the lead. If this Batman is, in fact, a reboot focusing on a younger crimefighter, Isaac wouldn't fit the bill. That said, the storyline probably hasn't been set in stone by the studio just yet. 

Again, there's been a lot of talk that director Matt Reeves' script is in some way an adaptation of Batman: Year One, a comic arc that chronicled Bruce Wayne's initial foray into Dark Knighthood. However, Matt Reeves has publicly stated that his film won't focus on any one story. "I've talked about making it a very point of view noir-driven definitive Batman story in which he is investigating a particular case and that takes us into the world of Gotham," Reeves said at a Television Critics Association panel. "I went on a deep dive again revisiting all my favorite comics. Those all inform by osmosis." Could this "noir-driven, definitive" Batman story be inspired by stories other than those that retread Batman's beginnings? If so, it could leave the door open for an actor older than the "Year One" Batman — and Isaac would be a casting home run.