The big news coming out of the past couple of weeks is that some guy called Scoot McNairy has landed a role in the upcoming DC Comics film, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Nothing official has been announced as of yet about what part he will have but word from the rumour mill is that Scoot has been hired to play Batman’s most famous arch-nemesis, The Joker. Rumours being what they are you can’t take them too seriously until they are confirmed and hopefully this turns out to be false. McNairy playing the Joker seems ludicrous to me and probably not for the reasons that everyone might be thinking.
Let me be clear, this is not Heath Ledger nostalgia. There are a lot of fans out there who will say that Heath Ledger played the Joker better than any one ever will and casting anyone else in the role is asking for a disaster. While I do believe that the late Heath Ledger did a fantastic job as manic foil to Batman in The Dark Knight I also think that it is unreasonable to expect the Joker to never appear in a Batman film ever again. Batman has an enormous rogues gallery to choose from so there are plenty of villains the movies could explore without ever touching on the Joker again, such as Killer Croc, Black Mask or perhaps a version of Bane that doesn’t wind up being someone’s errand boy. But at the end of the day, the Joker is so ingrained in the Batman mythology that as soon as Batman’s name crops up the Joker’s is sure to follow.
So if McNairy is cast as the Joker I could easily understand why they would want to. It’s not the choice of actor that makes me believe it is a bad idea, despite calling him ‘some guy’ in the opening paragraph to this article. I do think he is unproven though. McNairy has been around since the early 2000’s and hasn’t done anything of note. He’s been a few big movies but the actor himself has rarely stood out. His biggest role is probably that of Monsters, Gareth Edwards’ previous foray into science fiction monster movies prior to this summer’sGodzilla blockbuster. Ledger at least had an award winning performance in Brokeback Mountain under his belt before taking on the Joker role. No matter who they cast though, not everyone will be pleased because every person has their own opinion on who should play the Joker role. Some might go more famout, like Leonardo DiCaprio, but I’d actually go the opposite route and just suggest someone even more unknown. The best actor to play the Joker is sitting out there, waiting for the part.
At this point, I expect you’re all wondering what the problem could actually be. The actor isn’t an major miscast and a Joker return is acceptable, so where’s the issue? The issue lies in what has been the problem with Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice ever since they announced the inclusion of Batman into a Superman film; there are just too many people in this movie. The cast list already touts the likes of Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa and pretty much the entire cast of Man of Steel reprising their roles. With each actor added roster the existing cast members lose precious character development.
Perhaps what is most concerning is that the film already has a main villain in Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Eisenberg wouldn’t have been my first pick to play Luthor but he will do well in role so long as they stick to highlighting his mental fortitude. So could we see a Luthor/Joker team up to take on Superman and Batman? Not likely. Luthor’s plan would probably involving killing the Bat and the Joker wouldn’t take too kindly to that. Furthermore, the Joker is notoriously unpredictable which I really doubt Luthor would that kind of loose cannon to mess up his scheme. Outside of the story, filming already began before McNairy was cast, which makes a team up even more doubtful. McNairy’s role may be significant but due to the late casting, it won’t take up a large portion of the film.
Of course, he may not be the Joker at all. Given how illogical it is to involve another big villain in the movie at this late stage, it would be preferable for McNairy to have a different role. The biggest possibilities are The Green Lantern and The Flash. I feel that The Flash is more probable, mostly due to the previous Green Lantern film bombing so bad that they won’t want to remind people of that travesty. The Flash will also feature in an upcoming TV series in October, so casting McNairy as The Flash could easily play off the publicity of that.
Given how many other superheroes are in this movie, McNairy’s presence in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice needs to be a Thanos type nod to the scene. Otherwise, this will be a cluster of superheroes, none of which are really getting any kind of development. Aside from Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill as the title heroes, Gal Gadot will appear as Wonder Woman, Victor Stone will play Cyborg, Jason Momoa might be Aquaman and then we have McNairy in his role. I get that the ‘Dawn of Justice’ subtitle means this is certainly going to be a prelude to the Justice League but there are just far too many characters being thrown into this pot without thought or preparation.
While I’d like to say that this will all come together on screen, the fact that they are adding major characters such as the Joker or The Flash this late into production makes me dubious. The film felt like a cash grab when Batman was added. It seemed bloated when Wonder Woman was announced. Now, with each additional cast member, the movie is looking more and more like overkill. Rather than developing their characters, Warner Bros are shoving all they have into one movie. I will genuinely be surprised if this isn’t the most underwhelming film of 2016.