He has played a homicidal yuppie, a morally questionable vice president, and even led the Jews out of Egypt, but no role will define Christian Bale’s career like Batman. After leading Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, it is hard to imagine the Oscar-winning actor taking on any other comic book characters, despite recent news.
According to Collider, Christian Bale is in talks to join the cast of director Taika Waititi’s sequel Thor: Love and Thunder. There is no word on what role he is rumored to portray opposite MCU veterans Chris Hemsworth, Natalie, Portman, and Tessa Thompson (despite some input from fans to see him portray Thor’s Korbinite ally Beta Ray Bill and Love and Thunder writer Jason Aaron's hope for him to play villainous minotaur Dario Agger), but the idea of Christian Bale returning to the superhero genre definitely fascinates me.
In fact, even if the Thor: Love and Thunder casting does not pan out, it is fun to imagine Christian Bale playing something, anything in a new comic book movie and despite claiming that the superhero movie genre does not interest him anymore in 2017, there are plenty of notable characters that could benefit from the former Batman actor’s talent on the big screen. Just for kicks, I have thought of ten.
While it would be fun to see the former Batman actor pull a Michael Keaton and transition into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Christian Bale would be right at home in another DC movie, and more so playing a World War II-era pilot. That is why he would be a great choice to play the lead in Blackhawk, which is actually reportedly in development with Steven Spielberg slated to direct, but still uncast.
Originally created by Chuck Cuidera, Bob Powell, and Will Eisner as the premiere issue of Quality Comics’ war-focused anthology Military Comics, Blackhawk was a huge hit in the 1940s. The DC property chronicled the adventures of a widowed Polish-American officer and his independent squadron of vengeful fighter pilots. In one of his many roles in war movies, Christian Bale did play a military pilot in Werner Herzog’s biopic Rescue Dawn, but spent much of the movie trapped in a Vietnam POW camp, so playing Blackhawk would allow him to sit comfortably in the pilot’s seat again.
Of course, Christian Bale is clearly the kind of actor who likes to be challenged, so perhaps a fighter pilot of the DC comics universe would feel a little too familiar for him. However, you have to wonder if the Welsh actor has ever desired the rare chance to use his natural accent for a role. Playing Marvel's Captain Britain would not only allow him to use a British accent, the role would understandably require it.
Essentially the United Kingdom’s answer to Captain America (a la the Russian Red Guardian) but even more powerful, Captain Britain, the alter ego of Brian Braddock, has gone on countless adventures since the mid 1970s with the likes of the Avengers and X-Men and even reigned as ruler of the magical alternate dimension of Otherworld, from which his powers originated. The character has yet to be properly introduced to the MCU, but has attracted the attention of U.K. actors like Simon Pegg and Orlando Bloom, so if Christian Bale wants to claim the throne, he better start campaigning hard.
He has already played Batman, so why not a Batman villain? Maybe it sounds a little too meta, but the titular antagonist of the Hush storyline is a role with a lot of weight to it that only an actor of Christian Bale’s magnitude could properly pull off.
The arc sees Batman facing off the worst offenders in his rogues gallery as part of the elaborate schemes of a mysterious, heavily bandaged criminal known only as Hush who, for reasons I will not spoil for those interested, has a personal vendetta against the Dark Knight. Other than a feature-length animated adaptation of Batman: Hush and seeing The CW’s Batwoman go toe-to-toe with the character, I would still vote that the story deserves the big screen treatment and Christian Bale’s involvement would make it an especially exciting affair.
Confederate Civil War veteran Jonah Hex is a badly scarred 19th-Century bounty hunter branded with a demonic symbol that allows him to talk to the dead. He was given the cinematic treatment in 2010, portrayed by future Thanos actor Josh Brolin, which proved to be a critical and commercial failure (even garnering hate from its stars), but the character has potential to be served justice on the big screen with a new reboot led by, say, Christian Bale?
In yet another example of a role that would utilize the actor’s past onscreen experiences, Jonah Hex is a DC character that combines elements of traditional westerns with themes of the supernatural. Christian Bale once played a DC icon and is no stranger to westerns from starring in James Mangold’s 2007 remake of 3:10 to Yuma and as a U.S. Cavalry captain in 2017’s Hostiles so… I don’t know. Why not?
For years, my top pick for the DCEU’s iteration of the Martian Manhunter was rapper/actor Common, but since he already screwed the pooch on that chance with his disappointing cameo in Suicide Squad, I’m now turning to Christian Bale and, yes, I have good reason. A founding member of the Justice League, the Martian Manhunter (née J'onn J'onzz) is an extraterrestrial cop capable of anything Superman can do and much more (such as shapeshifting) who became a superhero after becoming stranded on Earth.
Despite being one of the kindest and noblest crime fighters of the DC universe, J'onn is often described as having a cold and stoic demeanor: a common character trait among those who come from Mars and something Christian Bale is skilled in portraying after starring as an emotionally repressed government agent from a future in which feelings are outlawed in the dystopian thriller Equilibrium. All it would take is a quick head shave and some green body paint, something the famously transformative actor should have no problem with, and you have yourself the perfect Martian Manhunter.
Fans have been eagerly waiting for the MCU to finally give the recently acquired property of the Fantastic Four a proper life on the big screen after three movies (and one unreleased 1994 attempt) that just don’t do Marvel’s first superhero family justice. Their leader, Mister Fantastic, should be played by someone who can be eccentric, intelligent, bears a strong commitment to serving the greater good, and is at least 10 years older than Miles Teller. That is Christian Bale to a T.
Mister Fantastic, the alias of physicist Reed Richards, has the ability to elongate his skin to extreme lengths as well as shape his body into various forms, due to an accident aboard a spacecraft involving cosmic radiation that gave him, his wife Susan Richards, brother-in-law Johnny Storm, and childhood friend Ben Grimm extraordinary abilities. Fans have expressed interest in John Krasinski to play Reed, but if the A Quiet Place II helmer ends up developing a preference for staying behind the camera, Marvel should really look into seeing if Christian Bale would be interested in stretching his legs on a new Fantastic Four movie.
With the exception of making Harry Osborn the Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the Spider-Man films have been very careful not to recycle the villains he faces from previous movies. However, I cannot be the only one who wants to see Tom Holland take on the Green Goblin, am I? And I can’t be alone in thinking Christian Bale would own that role, right?
The Green Goblin was the result of a chemical accident that made wealthy industrialist (and father of Peter Parker’s childhood friend, Harry) Norman Osborn go mad, don a monstrous costume, and pilot a high-tech glider, on which he wreaks havoc on Manhattan. Christian Bale knows a thing or two about playing psychologically disturbed businessmen after playing Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, but if he ever needed any extra advice on portraying the webslinger’s arch enemy, he could ask his American Psycho co-star Willem Dafoe, who played Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in 2002.
One genre we have never seen Christian Bale try, unless you count his rather antagonistic role as FBI Agent Melvin Puris in Michael Mann’s John Dillinger biopic Public Enemies, is noir. I would love to see him in a classic detective role that sets him against the backdrop of crime-ridden alley and bringing DC’s bizarre vigilante The Question to the big screen would be a great opportunity to assume that persona.
The Question is an alias that has been passed down between a few different people in DC comics’ canon, including Birds of Prey’s Renee Montoya, but the first to assume the identity of the mysterious crimefighter is former investigative journalist Vic Sage, a skilled detective and martial artist sworn to protect his home of Hub City, which outranks even Gotham in crime rate. Probably the most challenging part of taking on this role for Christian Bale would covering his face, as the Question’s signature design sees him bearing a fedora, trench coat, and mask made of an experimental skin-imitating substance called Pseudoderm, but that should be nothing for a guy who wore the clearly uncomfortable Batsuit in three movies.
Yet another fan favorite comic book character whose big screen debut was hindered by a film’s weak execution, the Silver Surfer’s rise was cut criminally short by the underwhelming sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. As one of the most inventive and visually striking characters in Marvel’s history, the Silver Surfer deserves a second chance to be brought to life on the big screen, this time by the deserving choice of Christian Bale.
The silver-colored native of the planet Zenn-La -- where he was born Norrin Radd -- explores the deep stretches of outer space on a cosmic surfboard composed of the same material that makes up his own body. He was portrayed in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer through performance capture by Doug Jones but voiced by Laurence Fishburne. For the Silver Surfer’s MCU debut, I think his body and voice should be portrayed by the same person and it would finally give Christian Bale an opportunity to try out performance capture, a method he could have benefitted from when a role demanded he lose weight or change his hair.
Okay, I’m going to be honest with you here: I just really want to see this comic, famous for being the brainchild of then 5-year-old Malachai Nicolle and his 29-year-old brother, Ethan, be given the live action treatment. And why do I think Christian Bale should play the title role? Because this is a list that imagines him portraying various comic book characters and I wanted to include Axe Cop.
What started purely as an independent webcomic before landing a limited run with Dark Horse Comics, Axe Cop follows a divorced police officer who, in lieu of a pistol, prefers an axe as his weapon of choice in his daily battle against bad guys. He has some help from his allies, which include a T-Rex, a cybernetic lion, and a half-man, half-avocado hybrid. Does a cop uniform-clad, mustachioed Christian Bale wielding an axe against unicorns and nonsense like that under the direction of, say, Edgar Wright, not sound like the most incredible idea you have ever seen?
One can only hope, of course, and that may be all can do, because Christian Bale’s career in comic book movies may have begun and ended with Batman. Unless rumors of his Thor: Love and Thunder casting turn out to ring true, it is at least a treat to imagine his return to the superhero genre with these bizarre choices for the Oscar-winner's next big role.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.