Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard about the Batman/Superman movie, which was announced at Comic-Con by reading aloud from The Dark Knight Returns. Rumor has it that Warner Bros. is indeed looking for a "grizzled veteran" to play Batman. They're already getting advice from Frank Miller himself, who's probably been waiting for this to happen for about 30 years. I don't pretend to be able to help these pros cast the movie, but please indulge me in sharing a fan's perspective.
The old man is the critical actor in the movie and the one on which the whole show will either rise or fall. It's important that he be BIG. Not just large, but larger than life. He should be a little ugly - a little scary. A bit of an asshole. He's arrogant, he's a loner, and he's almost always right. His voice is gritty, but not monotonic. This Batman is a snarling wolf, a caged demon waiting to break free. He delivers his lines with authority, but also with sneering disdain and self-reflection. John Hamm? Too smooth and too pretty. We're looking for someone more like Clint Eastwood. That's a tall order, but there are at least three men in Hollywood who I believe might fit the bill.
The first is Bruce Willis. His role in Sin City felt like an audition for the part of the old man, and he pretty much nailed it. He has the bona fide action hero chops, the looks, and the gritty voice. My only reservation about Bruce playing Bruce is that Willis' personality may be slightly too humble - too everyman - to play a man who comes out of retirement seeking a death of Olympian proportions.
Another excellent choice is Robert De Niro. The caped crusader might seem a strange denouement for a guy who won an Oscar for Raging Bull. But this is the 2010's, and The Dark Knight series could be the The Godfather of this generation. De Niro has veered towards comedic roles lately, but he's still capable of turning out a nuanced dramatic performance, as in the fantastic Silver Linings Playbook. He's big, and he's got the class thing, just like Miller's Batman.
Last, but certainly not least, is Edward James Olmos. On Battlestar Galactica, Olmos played an aging warrior with a razor-sharp mind, a passionate heart, and a voice like steel. The natural cadence and intensity of this man's voice seems almost computer-engineered to match Frank Miller's script. I can hear him saying, through clenched teeth, I want you to remember, with his hands around Clark Kent's throat. He would make a controlled, compelling, and believable Bruce Wayne.
So Mr. Olmos, Mr. Willis, and Mr. De Niro, please take it respectfully when I say, this is not your average comic book movie. This is your chance at a grand death. Get out of your corners. Get your agents on the phone.
Gotham needs you.