While Warner Bros. has yet to reveal who will get top title billing (Batman vs. Superman? Superman vs. Batman?) for its 2015 blockbuster, the bigger question is: Who’s going to replace Christian Bale? Our suggested list starts and ends with Ryan Gosling.
Studios generally like to build their own superhero-film star (see: Christopher Reeve and Andrew Garfield), but Warner Bros. needs to think bigger with its new Batman, understanding that his real rival isn’t Superman — it’s Marvel’s Iron Man. DC Comics needs a new hero who can fill Bale’s Batboots and go toe-to-toe with Robert Downey Jr. in the cool department. Though he’s never starred in a movie that cost $100 million or grossed $100 million, no one would argue that Gosling isn’t a star in both the old-fashioned Hollywood mold and the 21st-century Internet sense. For the most part, Gosling has brushed aside summer blockbuster offers, opting for one eclectic role after another. He’s like Johnny Depp in the mid-1990s. ”If I had a Dark Knight, if I were working with a Chris Nolan type and I had a big marquee franchise character, I would go to him,” a studio exec told EW last year. Of course, Gosling is an original artist, and you could understand his reluctance to follow up Bale, a revered actor so identified with an iconic role. Does he really want to be Roger Moore to Bale’s Sean Connery? But that shouldn’t prevent Warner Bros. from backing up the Brink’s truck to Gosling’s front door (and then sending over the Tumbler and the Batpod to sweeten the deal).