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The Batman Just Lost Jonah Hill

Oh, what might have been. 

Less than a month after it was reported that Academy Award-nominated actor Jonah Hill was lined up to star alongside Robert Pattinson in The BatmanDeadline has dropped a bombshell: Hill is no longer in talks for the movie. 

It was originally reported that Hill, who took his career to new heights with his astounding performances in films like The Wolf of Wall Street and on the Netflix series Maniac, was set to portray a villain in the Matt Reeves-directed film. Though Warner Bros. gave no explicit confirmation of this, outlets widely ran the word that Hill would play either the Riddler (real name: Edward Nygma) or Penguin (real name: Oswald Cobblepot) opposite Pattinson's Bruce Wayne

Why did Jonah Hill pass on The Batman?

Sources close to Deadline with knowledge of the situation have indicated that "talks broke down" between Hill and the powers that be at Warner Bros., which isn't uncommon for tentpole films such as The Batman. But why exactly did those conversations stop? 

Hill may have been the one to take the first step away from the project, or Warner Bros. brass might have been readying themselves for days to break up with Hill over The Batman, but it's looking like the split was a mutual decision. And we suspect it may have been partially over money. 

Per The Hollywood Reporter, Hill and Warner Bros. simply couldn't "come to terms on a deal" for the flick — language that hints that contractual negotiations may have been the meat of the talks between the actor and the studio. 

Hill passing on The Batman, or Warner Bros. executives telling him things just weren't going to work out, may actually have been weeks in the making. Variety reporter Justin Kroll indicated in a now-deleted tweet posted on September 25, 2019 — exactly three weeks before Deadline's new report — that Hill was sitting on the offer for The Batman "for over a month" and that money was a "bargaining point" in conversations with Warner Bros. According to Kroll's sources, Hill reportedly wanted $10 million to star in The Batman — more than double what Pattison is making for actually leading the film. These claims haven't been corroborated, but it's worth noting that Kroll himself and Variety as a whole have proven reputable in the past. 

At the time, Kroll also alleged that Hill and Warner Bros. may have been torn between the two roles, unable to decide whether he'd star as the Riddler or Penguin in The Batman. From our vantage point, it seems more likely that money was the biggest motivating factor behind cutting connections between Hill and The Batman, as Warner Bros. probably would have given him whichever role he wanted most. What the studio may not have been as eager to do, however, is shell out the reported $10 million Hill is said to have wanted for the job. 

Who will replace Jonah Hill in The Batman?

It goes without saying that The Batman has serious star power attached to it — with Reeves (known for directing the original Cloverfield, the horror remake Let Me In, and the sequel flicks Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes) at the helm, Pattinson (who has become something of an indie movie king and has long since shed the weight of his breakout role in the Twilight film franchise) leading the way, Jeffrey Wright playing Commissioner Gordon, and newly added actress Zoë Kravitz bringing to life the sultry Selina Kyle (better known as Catwoman) in the film. Even without Hill on board, The Batman is packing major heat — and Warner Bros. is already looking to find someone just as talented as Hill to keep the flick's preeminence quotient as high as possible. 

The studio is said to be "eyeing new candidates" to portray either the Riddler or Penguin in The Batman — roles Hill wasn't officially cast in but ones he was obviously in serious talks for.

As for who those lucky actors might be, there have been some rumblings about Seth Rogen — another funny guy of Hill's ilk who has been breaking into fresher territory more and more — potentially stepping up into the spot Hill once stood. However, Deadline notes that there was only ever interest in Rogen for one of the two roles, with "no offers or talks" ever occurring (at least not prior to October 16, 2019).

There's no true way to tell which actors Warner Bros. is now looking for to portray the Riddler or Penguin in The Batman — short of, you know, breaking into the studio and demanding answers, which we don't at all condone. Still, if Warner Bros. executives had their sights set on Hill for either of the two iconic DC Comics villains, then it stands to reason that the studio will probably go with someone like Hill: a comedic actor by nature who has proven capable of bringing nuanced, always-delightful performances to more dramatic fare. It seems that's a trend with the Batman casting, going with an unexpected choice for major roles. Pattinson wasn't an obvious pick for Batman, and neither was Hill for the Riddler or Penguin, Wright for Commissioner Gordon, or Kravitz for Catwoman, despite her having voiced the antiheroine in The Lego Batman Movie

At the end of the day, whomever Warner Bros. chooses to take the roles Hill was up for, they're bound to be a bold pick. 

The Batman will fly into theaters — sadly sans Jonah Hill — on June 25, 2021.