It’s looking more and more unlikely that Ben Affleck will reprise his role as the Dark Knight and rumours are already circulating about his potential replacements - is Jon Hamm the most compelling Batman casting suggestion so far?
Lots of people have played Batman. There have been lots of Batman films, and Batman TV shows, and Batman everything, and there’ll always be loads of Batman everything, because the thing with Batman is, he’s Batman, isn’t he? He’s great. He’s the best character ever created. Name a better character than Batman, go on. Now give it some thought - you were wrong, weren’t you? Batman is better.
Batman’s current big-screen incarnation is as part of the DC Extended Universe, but the future of that is slightly in question at the moment, and current Batman, Ben Affleck, won’t be wearing the cape forever - in fact, at present he isn’t scheduled to ever put it on again, having pulled out of starring in The Batman and with no Justice League sequel on the cards.
One name that keeps coming up when people talk about who could play Batman is Jon Hamm of Mad Men fame. Whenever he’s interviewed he’s asked about it, there are fan campaigns lobbying for the role to be offered to him, and he seems to be very much up for it.
How likely is it to happen, though? Will Jon Hamm play the Dark Knight? Let’s look at how this could go…
FOR: He’d be good, wouldn’t he?
At the very least, he looks like he could be Batman, doesn’t he? He’d probably need to pack on a few pounds of muscle, but he’s got a really good jawline (in fact, according to CBS, his big, chiselled Jon Ham jawline is the one that men going in for plastic surgery most want to be made to resemble), and that’s incredibly important for any incarnation of Batman.
He’s enough of a smoothie to pull off the Bruce Wayne part, while his villainous turn in last year’s Baby Driver, in which he was rendered almost Terminator-like by the end, showed he could easily play the kind of character that strikes fear into the hearts of evildoers.
AGAINST: He’s never actually fronted a project
We think of Jon Hamm as a movie star because, well, he looks like a movie star. He’s an incredibly talented, enormously charismatic actor with a face chiselled from pure handsomeness, but if you look through his body of work, he’s kind of done less than you’d think. He’s only really been the lead in TV stuff and very low-budget films, with most of his film career consisting of pretty meaty supporting roles in movies fronted by bona-fide movie stars.
Whether it’s Keanu Reeves in The Day The Earth Stood Still, Natalie Portman in the upcoming Pale Blue Dot or Jeff Bridges in Bad Times at the El Royale, there’s always been a marquee name there. One of the few exceptions, Beirut, got positive reviews but only made a few million dollars. He’s a proven star on the small screen thanks to his lead role as Don Draper in Mad Men, but has a surprisingly unsuccessful film career.
FOR: There are Bruce Wayne parallels in his earlier work
As this Forbes piece impressively points out, there are a lot of parallels between Mad Men’s Don Draper and Bruce Wayne, primarily the idea of one’s whole life being a lie. In Bruce Wayne’s case, he’s a heroic vigilante who presents himself to the world as a spoiled rich brat, and in Don Draper’s case, he’s stolen his dead friend’s identity and created a totally fabricated life.
Both suffered childhood trauma, both have various coping mechanisms (whisky vs beating criminals up)… there’s something there. But, as much as that could serve as proof he could do a fine job, it’s also conceivable that Hamm’s most iconic role could work against him getting the part - a two-hour punch-fest is by necessity going to be less nuanced and complex than a 92-episode series, so maybe the fewer direct comparisons the better.
AGAINST: He just did a superhero film and got edited out of it
Hamm filmed a small part for the upcoming The New Mutants, in which a post-credits scene would reveal him as supervillain Mister Sinister, but during the editing process he was removed and a new post-credits scene filmed, featuring Antonio Banderas. It seems like this is the result of behind-the-scenes rethinking and the studio re-positioning the film rather than a reaction to his part being, like, rubbish or anything, but still…
FOR: The whole thing might be kind of starting again
Henry Cavill might be out as Superman, Affleck’s probably out, and the whole Justice League strand might not be happening anymore. If Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s solo films do better than Justice League (which they probably will do, as both Wonder Woman 1984 and Aquaman look a lot better than Justice League), they don’t strictly need to cross paths. This is good news for Jon Hamm, because however much he worked out, you couldn’t ever stand him next to Jason Momoa and not have it look silly. Ben Affleck has an extra few inches of height to can stand toe-to-toe with him, and Henry Cavill is extremely hench, so those two were fine in JL, but even if Jon Hamm spent eighteen hours a day in the gym for two years straight, put him next to a godlike man-mountain like Momoa and he’d end up looking a bit, er, Fathers 4 Justice.
AGAINST: There might be a pushback on “funny guys with strong jawlines who like the drink”
The last/current Batman, Ben Affleck, has a reasonable amount in common with Jon Hamm. They were born within 18 months of one another. They’re both over six feet tall and very good-looking. They’re both funny. They’re both divorced. They’ve both entered rehabilitation programmes for alcoholism. According to Vanity Fair, the two of them possess the most giant heads in Hollywood. The pair of them have even worked together, on Affleck’s second directorial effort The Town. The same Warner Bros executives who dealt with Affleck would be the people dealing with Hamm - would they want to get someone so similar?
FOR: Stick with us on this one, but if they go in a very silly direction he’d be perfect
DC did a great run of comics a few years ago called Batman ‘66, set in the world of the Adam West TV series, all bright colours, amusingly-named henchmen and wacky angles. It was really funny. Also really funny is Jon Hamm, as anyone who’s seen him in 30 Rock or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt can attest. And, also a few years ago, Hamm made an appearance on Saturday Night Live as one of the Ambiguously Gay Duo, a sketch massively influenced by the same 1960s TV show. He was very good in it. The likelihood that DC and Warner Bros would deliberately decide to make a camp, corny, silly, old-fashioned live-action Batman ‘66 film is fairly slender, but if they do, not only would Hamm be perfect for the role, he wouldn’t even have to work out for it - Adam West always had a bit of middle-aged spread to him.
AGAINST: He’s not a young man, is he?
Jon Hamm is 47. It’s not old, but it’s not young, and the studio will presumably want to be kicking off a long-running deal when they next cast Batman. Hamm is four years older than Robert Downey Jr. was when he first played Iron Man, and Downey Jr might be coming towards the end of his time in the shiny suit. There are some great things you can do with an ageing Batman (as Hamm is very aware of), but you can also see why a 25-year-old hunk might appeal to the studio.
FOR: He knows a reasonable amount about Batman
If you were 47 and up for the part of Batman, and were asked about Batman, which storylines would you say were your favourites? The two that Hamm recently told IGN he was a fan of both happen to feature an older Batman - he cited Frank Miller’s Dark Knight books, featuring an older, grizzled Batman, and the Flashpoint storyline in which the young Bruce Wayne is killed and his father becomes Batman instead. Both would call for an ageing Batman who’d look at ease slugging a whisky or two back. Hmmm…
IN CONCLUSION: Honestly, no idea, but we’d lean towards saying it probably won’t happen, even though it would be great - at this point might just feel a little predictable, which is why our money is instead going on the lesser known but equally as impressive Jon Hamm lookalike Jeffrey Dean Morgan and his own Batman rumours. What might happen for Hamm instead is something more like lifelong Superman fan Nicolas Cage’s recent casting as an animated Superman in Teen Titans Go! - a kind of nod towards what could have happened, but in a lower-risk format.
Outright prediction: By 2021, Jon Hamm will be Batman, but in app form or something. Mad.