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Who Is Jonah Hill Playing In The Batman?

It looks like Jonah Hill will be the first to be officially cast opposite Robert Pattinson in The Batman — but who will he be playing?

Those wily Hollywood insiders are telling Variety that Hill is close to being cast, but — unlike Jeffrey Wright, who is in talks for the role of Jim Gordon — the part for which he is being eyed is being kept under wraps. We submit that it must be a very interesting part indeed, and almost certainly a villainous one — which is something we would love to see out of Hill, a talented actor who is still more known for his comedic roles than anything else.

We already know enough about The Batman that we feel safe in putting forth a few possibilities as to who Hill might portray. Reeves has said that the flick will focus on the early part of the Caped Crusader's career, and will have a neo-noir feel, playing up Batman's status as the "World's Greatest Detective" (a central aspect of the character which has yet to be satisfactorily explored on film). 

We also know, thanks to the rumor mill, that The Batman is likely to feature a lot of villains... like, a whole lot. Back in June, we reported that sources close to the production had leaked the fact that a whopping six, count 'em, six villains would show up to vex Bruce Wayne in the flick; at that time, these villains were reported to be the Penguin, Catwoman, the Riddler, Two-Face, Firefly, and the Mad Hatter, although this could change as Reeves continues to work on the script.

Taking these things into account, we'd like you to indulge us as we engage in wanton speculation, because any day that we're able to do that while reporting on a super-awesome sounding upcoming tentpole film is a good day. Let's consider a few of the possibilities as to what role Hill might take on in The Batman (and if you have your heart set on Catwoman, you should probably just stop reading now).

Jonah Hill might play the Penguin

Ah, yes... Oswald Cobblepot, the nefarious criminal mastermind known as the Penguin. Here is a villain who sets himself apart from the rest of the Caped Crusader's rogues' gallery by way of not being completely insane; he's simply a "gentleman" who enjoys lording his wealth over Gotham's citizens, and he's perfectly willing to go to whatever extra-legal lengths necessary to maintain and expand on that wealth. His lack of psychosis actually serves to make him slightly less predictable than your average Batman nemesis, and while he's not exactly what you would call physically formidable, he's highly intelligent, very driven, and really, really rich.

The Penguin has been portrayed in live action by the great Burgess Meredith in the '60s Batman TV series, and in a much darker, more disgusting incarnation by Danny DeVito in Tim Burton's 1992 sequel Batman Returns. The character is typically depicted as being short, portly, and unattractive, and while Hill is a perfectly good-looking man, it's easy to see him looking the part with a little help from the makeup department. Cobblepot was most recently portrayed in live-action by Robin Lord Taylor on the recently-ended Fox TV series Gotham, and his was an interesting and complex interpretation which could easily serve as something of a blueprint for the character's depiction in The Batman; it's easy to see an actor of Hill's caliber expanding on Taylor's take on Cobblepot, and injecting a bit of his signature wit. 

We're thinking this is the most likely role for Hill, but there are yet more possibilities — and it could even be that the role he's being considered for isn't a villainous one at all.

Jonah Hill might play the Riddler

This seems like a pretty decent guess, and there's certainly cinematic precedent for it: Jim Carrey famously played Edward Nygma, AKA the Riddler, in 1995's Batman Forever. It's a role that can obviously benefit from a comedic touch, and even if Nygma doesn't go full-on Riddler in The Batman, Hill is a sympathetic actor who could bring an element of tragedy to the character. In the comics, Nygma was a strategist and trusted employee of Wayne Enterprises at a time when the corporation was under the stewardship of Bruce Wayne's uncle, Philip Kane. 

Although Nygma has a genius level intellect and his perhaps the only true match for Batman in terms of his sheer wits and intelligence, his mental illness and thirst for power has often been his undoing. It would be a potentially meaty role for Hill to sink his teeth into, but we submit that going back to the well of using an actor known primarily for his comedic work to portray the Riddler wouldn't exactly be the most original casting choice. (It's also been rumored that Doctor Strange's Chiwetel Ejiofor is being considered for the role.) Of the six villains reported to be involved, the Riddler wouldn't be a bad choice for Hill — but there's another role that really jumps out at us when we think about who we'd like to see him play.

Is there a different Batman character Jonah Hill could end up playing in The Batman?

If Hill really wants to show off his actorly chops, he could lobby for the part of Harvey Dent/Two-Face, who has received a pair of cinematic depictions that can be categorized as "over-the-top weird" (Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever) and "pretty good, but poorly developed" (Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight). Dent is both virtuous and villainous, a protector and a deadly threat, and his completely hands-off approach to moral and ethical decisions has always made him one of the most interesting of Batman's antagonists.

As far as that rumored rogues' gallery goes, Firefly and the Mad Hatter are also possibilities — but, in our humble opinion, studio Warner Brothers wouldn't be so keen to keep a lid on the role Hill is up for if he were being considered for either of those. Sure, they haven't been seen onscreen before — but they're not particularly well-known Batman villains, and something tells us that Hill is in talks for a part which is quite a bit juicier. 

Like we briefly alluded to, it's just possible that Hill will be playing an ally rather than an enemy of the Dark Knight, and a couple of possibilities spring to mind. Remember, this is a much younger Bruce Wayne we'll be seeing in The Batman, so some of the Dark Knight' supporting characters that have traditionally been depicted as being a little older can't necessarily be ruled out. 

Hill could be up for the part of Lucius Fox, the Wayne Enterprises manager who is privy to Wayne's secret and assists him in his activities — or even Fox's son Luke, who has taken on the mantle of Batwing in the comics. He could be taking on the role of a younger Alfred Pennyworth, Wayne's loyal butler and confidante; somehow, we can actually see Hill in this role, but perhaps it's only because we really, really want to see him doing a British accent.

Assuming that Hill will be playing a villain, though, there's one further possibility that could come completely out of left field, one which would merit the level of secrecy surrounding Hill's potential casting. Stay with us here.

Those of us who don't live under rocks are well aware that Joker, directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix, is about to drop in theaters early next month. The gritty, character-driven film will take place in the early '80s, and will feature Bruce Wayne only as a child (judging by the trailers, though, it looks like his father Thomas Wayne is a primary antagonist).

Phillips has made it pretty plain that Joker will exist in a bubble; while he hasn't completely ruled out the idea of a sequel, he pitched the project as one film and one film only, making Joker the rare comic book movie not to be explicitly conceived as a potential franchise. The director has also been clear on the fact that his iteration of the Joker will not be meeting up with Pattinson's Batman; not in The Batman, not ever, because Joker will take place in a completely different continuity from Reeves' film or any other film in the "Worlds of DC."

What if Hill is being eyed to play the man who will eventually become the Joker? Sure, every bit of information we have on The Batman so far has indicated that the Joker won't be involved, but it's worth considering that a) we obviously don't have a complete picture of The Batman yet, and b) the flick could introduce the character without pushing him over the edge into full-on Jokerdom.

"Why, Looper," we can hear you saying from where we sit, somehow, "you just might be onto something there!" Yes, you're right, we may be. Hopefully, we'll get an official announcement as to who Hill will be playing in The Batman sooner rather than later; we find it to be likely, because these things have a way of leaking, and Warner Brothers would do well to just get ahead of that. Of course, you can count on us to keep our ears to the ground for all of the Batman casting news that's fit to report, and we'll keep you informed.