Fans Celebrate “Perfect” Casting for Captain Marvel in Nolan ‘Batman’ Film

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Christian Bale as Batman

Credit: DC/Warner Bros.

Following the merger of Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) last year, the company underwent substantial changes, leading to the exit of Walter Hamada, the previous head of DC. As a result, WBD brought in James Gunn as his successor, a renowned director celebrated for his contributions to Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) owned by rival, The Walt Disney Company. In light of this transition, Gunn was entrusted with the role of the new head of DC Studios, and he currently shares leadership responsibilities with Peter Safran.

Christian Bale as Batman in Batman Begins
Credit: Warner Bros

Related: DC’s Choice of Robin for Upcoming ‘Batman’ Reboot Questioned by Fans

Currently, within the context of the DC Universe’s (DCU) exciting Chapter One – Gods and Monsters, James Gunn is preparing for a substantial overhaul of the former DC Extended Universe (DCEU). This revamp aims to essentially begin afresh, following the events of The Flash (2023), led by Ezra Miller. As of now, the most information we have concerns the inaugural film of the new DCU, titled Superman: Legacy, a project that Gunn had already penned just before the Writers Guild of America/WGA strike, which is technically still affecting Hollywood.

The Flash stands with Batman and Supergirl in a poster for 'The Flash'
Credit: DC Studios

Although specific plot details of Superman: Legacy are still quite limited, what we do know is that the film will center around a younger Clark Kent as he navigates his identity as Superman. Speculation about the casting for the lead role of Superman/Clark Kent and his partner Lois Lane was rampant for a while. However, this speculation was put to rest recently when it was revealed that David Corenswet (Hollywood) and Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) had been cast in these respective roles.

DC’s second most prominent symbol, Batman, is on the verge of a significant reimagination as the next hero in James Gunn’s reboot lineup.

(left) Batman and (right) Robin from the DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Related: Report: DC Gets Rid Of “Snyderverse”, ‘Justice League’ for Good

But none of that would have been possible without some very specific superhero genre greats before the DC Universe today, that paved the DC way. One major element that remains foundational to the wider DC Comics franchise as well as the establishment of the Batman character is and probably always will be Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, starring Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne.

michael caine in the dark knight
Credit: DC Studios

The Batman Legacy, and Nolan’s Trilogy

Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is a critically acclaimed series and brought a darker and more realistic tone to the Batman mythos. Beginning with Batman Begins (2005), which serves as an origin story for the Caped Crusader, Bruce Wayne, portrayed by Christian Bale, undergoes a transformation into Batman, driven by his desire to combat crime and corruption in Gotham City, with the help of butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine). Nolan’s gritty and grounded approach catalogs journey to becoming a vigilante and introduces iconic characters like James Gordon/Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) and the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy).

DC Comics Robin (Damian Wayne) holding sword above Batman, ready to strike, as Batman crouches on the ground looking at something. From DC Studios Chapter One - Gods and Monsters, The Brave and The Bold teaser image.
Credit: DC Comics

The second installment, The Dark Knight (2008), is often regarded as a masterpiece of the genre. Heath Ledger’s mesmerizing portrayal of the Joker earned him a posthumous Academy Award, and the film delves deep into themes of chaos, morality, and the consequences of vigilantism. The film also introduces Harvey Dent/Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart).

The trilogy concludes with The Dark Knight Rises (2012), where an older and retired Batman must rise to face the threat of Bane (Tom Hardy) and protect Gotham once more, before hanging up the Cowl for good and retiring with Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), leaving Gotham to Robin John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

Christian Bale as Batman in The Dark Knight
Credit: Warner Bros

Fans React to Crazy Casting for Captain Marvel

Before the Zachary Levi-led Shazam! (2019) came to be known by most of the general public, the superhero Shazam in the DC Comics was known by another name — Captain Marvel! This would come as a surprise to non-comic readers, as “Captain Marvel” here refers not to Marvel Studios’ character (nor the MCU variant portrayed by Brie Larson).

Due to trademark disputes involving other Marvel Comics characters also named “Captain Marvel,” DC has utilized the trademark “Shazam!” for the character’s branding and marketing since his reintroduction in 1972.

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Shazam (Zachary Levi).
Credit: Inside the Magic

Recently, @mightiestmortal made a post about the casting of Captain Marvel (AKA Shazam) in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, citing an interview with Josh Horowitz of the Happy Sad Confused podcast with Nolan Batman movie screenwriter David Goyer (David S. Goyer).

The premise of the post was that during Nolan’s reign at DC, Warner Bros. execs had initially wanted a rather surprising actor in the role of Captain Marvel AKA Shazam — none other than the iconic actor and voice actor Patrick Warburton (Joe Swanson in Family Guy). And the film he was meant to star in? Gritty finale The Dark Knight Rises, no less!

The news immediately went viral online, when user @RaceplayShawty commented on @mightiestmortal’s initial post:

@RaceplayShawty: Insanely good casting choice for one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen

@mightiestmortal: WB execs wanted Captain Marvel to be included & played by Patrick Warburton in ‘THE DARK KNIGHT RISES’.

(Source: http://youtu.be/BVW8rSveWVU)

With the internet reeling from this news, the post quickly gathered over 22K likes (at the time of writing). Clearly, members of the public think this casting is more-or-less perfect. Unfortunately, this post turned out to simply be a joke, as original poster @mightiestmortal replied to confused user @HeroesUnbound:

@HeroesUnbound: I watched the entire interview and did not catch this at all. When did Goyer say that? I heard him say they wanted The Riddler though.

@mightiestmortal: Oh man I’m sorry 😭 I was just kidding, I copied the DiscussingFilm tweet and replaced The Riddler and DiCaprio with Captain Marvel and Warburton bc I thought it would be amusing

Although the viral post turned out to be something merely made by a fan in jest, it’s definitely interesting how many people responded to this hypothetical casting! It definitely tells us that the very concept of Warburton as Shazam would actually work — so that’s an option if Gunn decides to scrap Levi’s take on Shazam, at least.

Do you think Patrick Warburton would have fit into Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and the Batman universe? Could he work in the DCU? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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