Acclaimed Oscar-nominated actor and human bar fight Josh Brolin was rumored to be one of the actors in contention to play an older Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. Of course, that was back in August 2013, the long-ago era when every male actor between the ages of 25 and 67 was theoretically in the running to play the Caped Crusader. Now our culture has moved on to a brave new Affleck era. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still speculate about what might have been…especially since Brolin is at the Toronto Film Festival, which means he’s surrounded by reporters. Since journalism mainly exists nowadays as a delivery system for Batman casting rumors, Brolin has had a couple of opportunities to confirm that, yes, he was very briefly maybe possibly kinda sorta in talks to play Bruce Wayne.
The actor told the Huffington Post that Warner Bros. had been circling him for the project, although it never moved much beyond the initial conversation stage. Brolin also expressed complete shock at the whirlwind negative response that erupted after Affleck’s casting. “I’ve never seen such a global reaction in my life,” said Brolin. “I want him to kick ass and I want everyone to love it and kind of eat their words.” Brolin echoed those statements in an interview with MTV, noting that the version of Batman that was offered to him was “older” and “wiser.”
Although Brolin’s attachment to the role never got very far, it’s intriguing that he was even in the conversation. (Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment, possibly because they’re afraid that if they speak, Josh Brolin will look into their eyes and steal their souls with his penance stare.) Brolin is only four years older than Affleck, but Affleck looks much younger and grows a much prettier beard. As my learned colleague Jeff Jensen pointed out, Affleck seems like the perfect guy to play the older iteration of Bruce Wayne as a dashing romantic-idol tycoon. Brolin, conversely, is the guy you want to re-enact the Frank Miller cover of The Dark Knight Returns #2.
Like, let’s imagine the first meeting between Batman and Superman in the Affleck version:
The two heroes stand atop the highest building in Gotham City, eyeing each other with a mixture of distrust and knowing excitement.
Superman: Hi there, I’m Superman.
Batfleck: I’ve heard of you.
They shake hands.
Now let’s see that again with Brolin:
Superman: Hi there, I’m-
Batman sucker-punches Superman with brass knuckles carved out of kryptonite, and kicks Superman several times in stomach with kryptonite-toed boots. Superman’s ribs audibly crack.
Batman spits chewing tobacco on Superman’s unconscious body. Attaches the fallen superhero to back of Batmobile via kryptonite chains. Drives to Vegas.