By Drew Taylor | The Playlist July 22, 2013 at 3:34PM
Zack Snyder has been outspoken about how hard it was to cast Superman. He made it equally clear that it came down to two actors—Cavill and Joe Manganiello, co-star of "True Blood" and (again) "Magic Mike." Snyder, immediately after casting Cavill, was adamant that he loved Manganiello and that Cavill won out because of the "innocence" the actor possessed, something that would be wholly unnecessary for a certain black-suited avenger of the night who has been singularly obsessed by his parents' murder for decades. Manganiello certainly has the physical presence for Batman and we can easily see him going toe-to-toe with Cavill both fighting-wise and in terms of swooning-lady handsomeness. Manganiello would have to shave his trademark salt-and-peppery beard but he's got the extreme jawline necessary for wearing the cowl, so everything should be fine. His familiarity with Snyder, and Snyder's genuine conviction that he was the only other real candidate for "Man of Steel" perhaps ups his chances considerably. This could be Snyder having his (beef) cake and eating it too. Problem is while known for his good looks, his imposing figure and his build, Manganiello's not really known for his acting and while he's fine in "True Blood" as the brooding, sensitive, ass-kicking werewolf hunk, he's not exactly a thespian, and compared to say Christian Bale, this would seem like a major step backwards.
Odds They Go With This Kind Of Batman: A little doubtful, even if Snyder gives him his vote.
As revealed in the Comic-Con presentation, this Batman/Superman movie will take a bit of tonal inspiration from Frank Miller's classic "Dark Knight Returns" series, though the filmmakers' stressed it would not be a direct adaptation. However, one element they could be lifting from Miller's take is the inclusion of an older, slightly grizzled and more cynical Batman. A darker Batman, one thinks, with a more of a by-any-means-necessary vigilante approach—at least compared to Superman's method. If they decide to go with this approach, we think that a great option would be Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from HBO fantasy series "Game of Thrones" and this year's sleeper hit "Mama." Coster-Waldau is 42, which makes him 12 years older than Cavill, and as we've seen on "Game of Thrones," he can certainly glint with handsome deliciousness with the best of them. More importantly, Coster-Waldau has the physical look and world-weariness that this interpretation of the character would require, and he can still kick ass with the best of them. If they are going with a slightly older version of Batman (or at least a wiser one with a much more pessimistic worldview which makes him the perfect rival for Superman), we can't think of anyone better suited. The only snag, of course, would be fitting the shooting around Coster-Waldau's difficult, time-intensive "Game of Thrones" schedule, but considering that both HBO and Warner Bros/DC are owned by the same parent company (Time Warner), we're sure they'd make it work if they wanted to. And hey, it's "Game of Thrones" so who knows if he even survives the next season?
Odds They Go With This Kind Of Batman: We're not sure this is their approach, but we'd go with this choice in a heartbeat, simply because it's potentially the most exciting.
Among the many questions posed by this new Batman is what direction the filmmakers and the studio will take the character, specifically after Nolan's incarnation—is he going to be a somewhat lighter model, which should more easily allow for a team-up like this to happen (and pave the way for the more outwardly comic book-y "Justice League") or will they stick with the more brooding version as established by Christopher Nolan's films with Christian Bale's performance? If the choice is the latter, we think Richard Armitage would be a pretty great option. Armitage would also be an "older" Batman option, since he's 41, but the studio is already familiar with him, as he portrays Thorin Oakenshield in the three 'Hobbit' films, and he's got a bit of a comic book background, as well (he played a small role as a Nazi in "Captain America: The First Avenger"). Armitage has a similar, Bale-like intensity and the ability to convey a number of emotions through a glassy stare or purse-lipped facial expression. When it comes to the mood of the Dark Knight, especially when he's at his darkest, Armitage could easily bring that to life. If they choose to go in the Christian Bale mold, he should be at the top of their potential list and with the 'Hobbit' movies done shooting, he's very much available.
Odds They Go With This Kind Of Batman: A back-up choice, we could see this happening.