12/02/2012 02:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Hero Gotham Deserves, But Not The One 'Justice League' Needs

I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

In fact, I Joseph Gordon-Love him -- have since Rian Johnson's Brick.

I find myself torn, then, between better instincts and the recent rumor that originated on HitFix reporting that Gordon-Levitt would "absolutely" be Batman according to their "sources" (a claim they have since stood by in confidence, in spite of the actor's reps denying the story), thus continuing the thread of Christopher Nolan's definitely finished trilogy and thrusting the John Blake/Robin/Nightwing/Nu-Batman/insert-subjective-reading-here character into the cape and cowl for what would be Warner Bros.' answer to The Avengers in DC Comics' Justice League.

If the story sounds familiar, it should. From 2007-2010, Mad Max director George Miller attempted to push the adaptation out of development hell with Armie Hammer in mind as Batman -- he of chiseled face so nice they used it twice, playing the Winklevii twins in The Social Network. For better or worse, that iteration has been laid to rest (sorta), yet with the blockbuster success of The Avengers, renewed interest in a Justice League franchise is upon us and with that, a flurry of incessant casting rumors of which now has Gordon-Levitt's name on every industry blog.

Never mind that this news is very likely hogwash; let's talk, as most on the Internet do, about why this is stupid.

Let's state the obvious: As IGN's Joey Esposito echoed, dropping a grounded character from Nolan's hyperrealist universe into the Silver Age fantasy so intrinsic to the Justice League simply doesn't fit logically. We're talking about a story that calls for God-like aliens, superpowers, and, if slavish enough to the source material, an invisible jet that I cannot wait to see the special effects team attempt to tackle on screen.

Sure, he may have been the only one in TDKR to deduce Batman's secret identity through his power of, you know, basic vision, but sense -- for John Blake to exist in a superpower-centric movie -- does not make.


What we're all thinking.

Tonality aside, isn't it also about time we ditch these rookie heroes? Between the completely moot retelling of how Spider-Man became Spider-Man again and the impending Terrence Malick-looking Superman reboot not actually directed by Terrence Malick and not actually called Superman -- it's not as if the mythologies of these pop culture demigods aren't already widely established as gospel. This generation knows who the Man of Steel is and how he came to be. We have Richard Donner, Bryan Singer, and Quentin Tarantino to thank for that.

A young Batman, furthermore, is an inexperienced Batman and one who will no doubt come with (another) learning curve -- one who has yet to earn his "wings," so to speak. That angle may have been fresh and original for Frank Miller's seminal 1987 meditation on the makings of a hero, Year One, and over half the running time of Batman Begins, but there are more than enough celebrated story arcs and villains to draw from. After all, a hero is only as good as his or her rogues gallery.

With a city beat cop-turned-amateur vigilante taking up the mantle, we also run into an identity crisis of sorts: He's just not Bruce Wayne. He's a fan-service nod in name and a character amalgamated by different iterations of Robins from the comic continuum to stand in as an audience surrogate to reinforce the thesis that "anyone could be Batman." Try telling that to Dr. Hugo Strange, Ra's al Ghul, Hush, or yes, even the Joker -- any of the Bat's most personal foes. To replace the man behind the bat is to dissolve any weight these best villains carry.

Enemy relationships notwithstanding, it's also Bruce Wayne's Greek tragedy of a life story coupled with his ever-resistant "I-work-alone" ethos that give the Justice League its dysfunctional dynamic -- not to mention serve to remind that this is the same outcast who prefers brooding in a cave to partaking in the league's "family" gatherings.


Michael Keaton, for all his shortcomings as a billionaire playboy, knew how to brood in a Batcave.

If Warner Bros. wants to take its audience -- particularly the rabid fanboy lot -- seriously, it needs to make a clean break from the Nolanverse. Murmurs of Gordon-Levitt's casting may suggest otherwise, but with reports of the studio wanting to establish the character through Justice League before parlaying him into the 2016-planned reboot of the new Batman franchise (which is said to focus on a seasoned detective in his sophomore year à la The Long Halloween), there remains hope for a fresh new direction (a return to gothic, comic book-friendly roots?) and more importantly, a new man behind the mask.

While Gordon-Levitt would no doubt act the hell out of any given cape and cowl, the powers-that-be calling the shots would be wise to let Nolan's inspired character stay just that: a love letter to fans.


Age arguments be damned, I want to see Jon Hamm take up the cowl.

Who would you cast as Batman? Let us know all your Caped Crusader pipedreams in the comments below.

Adam Clement is a Social Marketing Manager at The Huffington Post. He, too, is definitely not Batman, so he will write about him. Because he can take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a fanboy. A Dork Knight.