Poor Ben Affleck.
Just when the 41-year-old actor thought he had won back moviegoers' respect acting and directing last year's Best Picture winner Argo (among a string of critically acclaimed films in recent years), along comes Batman to remind us of his Bennifer days.
Judging by the uproar over Warner Bros.' decision to cast him as Bruce Wayne/the Caped Crusader opposite Superman's Henry Cavill in the highly anticipated Man of Steel sequel, it's pretty clear fanboys aren't thrilled to see him don the mask.
So much that the controversy has spawned the Twitter hashtag, #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck, and a petition at Change.org demanding the studio drop him, citing his mediocre portrayal as Daredevil and the disastrous bomb that was 2003's Gigli.
While Ben may be 10 years older, and, dare we say, wiser, traits which could lend Batman the kind of brooding maturity director Zack Snyder has said he's looking for in this big-screen superhero pairing, it's also evident Affleck was something of a safe choice for Warner as well—all jokes about best pal Matt Damon playing Robin aside.
In light of the negative reaction the announcement's garnered, we've rounded up five actors who could have done him one better and brought some real edge to the seminal role previously played by Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.
Take a look!
1. Joe Manganiello: He may have played Flash Thompson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, but where the 36-year-old hunk really made a name for himself was playing werewolf Alcide Herveaux on HBO's True Blood. And after getting a taste of major box office success as a stripper in Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike, Manganiello's really ready to let his inner beast go wild—and what beter way than to kick butt as the Bat?!
2. Eric Bana: Aside from making him The Dark Knight From Down Under, the 45-year-old Aussie actor could have infused Bruce Wayne with the intensity he's known for in such critically praised roles as his breakthrough in Chopper, a Mossad agent in 2005's Munich, and more recently in 2011's thriller Hanna. Alas, perhaps the dud that was 2003's The Hulk prompted Snyder and company to look elsewhere, but we've every confidence Bana could have brought it as Batman.
3. Ryan Gosling: The 32-year-old was rumored for the part, and though he might have been on the younger side, Ryan's versatility as an actor (The Place Beyond the Pines; Crazy, Stupid, Love; Drive) could have given Wayne and his alter-ego an unpredictability that would have fit perfectly with fans' expectations for whomever followed in Bale's footsteps. And of course, Warner Bros. could have capitalized on Gosling's avid female fan base.
4. Idris Elba: There may not yet be a black James Bond, but there are plenty of talented actors of African heritage ready and able to play Batman, starting with the 40-year-old Elba. He's already rocked movie geeks' world with his role in this summer's blockbuster Pacific Rim and as anyone who ever watched him play Russell "Stringer" Bell in The Wire and Detective John Luther in the BBC's Luther can tell you, he'd have brought serious acting chops to the Man of Steel follow-up.
5. Richard Armitage: Elba's fellow Brit is probably best known stateside for playing dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. And while that may make him sound like a risky choice for the Caped Crusader, the handsome Armitage does, after all, stand at a solid six-foot-two and is known for being one of his generation's best Method actors. And he's already done a stint in the Marvel universe, appearing as Nazi spy Heinz Kruger in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, so stepping into the DC universe would probably be a cinch!