Those looking forward to seeing what director Zack Snyder has in store for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice got another heaping dose of good news today, as it was revealed that Scoot McNairy (Halt and Catch Fire, 12 Years a Slave) has joined the cast in an unspecified role. An actor with his track record and pedigree isn’t likely to be relegated to a minor role, so while details are being closely guarded, is it possible that Ben Affleck’s Batman may have found his sidekick at last?
Before speculation begins, the facts: the report comes courtesy of Deadline, with TheWrap claiming their source has been “sworn to secrecy” about the role McNairy will play in the planned showdown between Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), or Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Whether WB confirms the news or not, if it turns out to be accurate, then the cast of the film set to launch DC’s Justice League movie universe just landed another talented member.
Those hoping for more details on exactly how McNairy will be fitting into the film – whether a primary role, or supporting – will likely have to wait until Warner Bros.’s Comic-Con panel at the very earliest, where the studio is rumored to finally withdraw the veil of secrecy surrounding the project (not to mention finally confirming whether or not Jason Momoa actually is playing Aquaman).
Besides using the recent years to become easily the most successful man named ‘Scoot’ in the world, McNairy has delivered strong turns in a range of dramatic roles, ranging from Gareth Edwards’ Monsters to AMC’s recently-launched Halt and Catch Fire. Putting his skills as a character actor to work alongside Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly and Matt Damon in Promised Land means that if you don’t yet know McNairy by name, you will soon enough.
With only speculation to offer any insight into the role McNairy may be playing (a new Green Lantern, or friendly billionaire Ted Kord?), his connections to Ben Affleck may prove telling. Having appeared alongside Affleck in Argo – a film the actor both starred in and directed – the pair are set to share the screen in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, and now, presumably, Batman V Superman. If we let our imaginations run wild, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to think that McNairy’s role may be tied more to Affleck’s Batman than any other cast member.
When discussing characters close to Batman, one immediately rises above the rest: Dick Grayson a.k.a. Robin, a.k.a. Nightwing. Seeing the Boy Wonder in live action has always seemed a stretch for Snyder’s ‘serious’ style, but it isn’t the first time that rumors of the sidekick appearing in Batman V Superman have surfaced. Past reports named Adam Driver (Girls, Star Wars: Episode VII) as in line for a role, with the studio looking for a ‘character actor’ (like McNairy) as opposed to a ‘leading man.’
This wouldn’t be the first time that McNairy has been rumored to appear on WB’s radar, with his work in Monsters landing him on the shortlist for Godzilla‘s leading man once Gareth Edwards was handed the reins. It is also telling that after the previous rumors of Grayson and Wayne sharing the screen went fruitless, all discussion surrounding the character ceased completely.
Is it possible that Snyder and executive producer Christopher Nolan were waiting until they had their Batman cast to seek advice from the caped crusader himself? That decision-making is rarely left to an actor, but we now know that Affleck was long courted for the role, and his experience as a director and actor (alongside McNairy, among others) would offer valuable insight.
Some will immediately point to the duo’s age – Affleck, 41, and McNairy, 36 – as an ironclad reason that the casting would never work. But at this point, it’s unclear exactly how old and world-weary Affleck’s Dark Knight will really be. And in the world of superhero films, few things matter as little as an actor’s actual age.
We have made our argument for why Robin would be one way to make Affleck’s Batman distinct from Christian Bale’s, but would warn that much like the confirmation of Cyborg (Ray Fisher), it’s likely that such a character or relationship would only be hinted at in BVS: DoJ. With rumors placing a standalone Batman film no earlier than 2019, that would leave plenty of time for both in-demand actors to cement a deal. And if Affleck’s Batman will be as gruff and tough as assumed, an actor like McNairy will be needed to keep it fresh.
That’s pure speculation on our part, but the absence of any further news on Nightwing’s appearance has been curious. Whether McNairy has landed the role, or Snyder and WB have made the decision to shrug off Ryan Reynolds and cast a brand new Hal Jordan, Snyder now has another skilled tool with which to start building his shared movie universe.
What do you make of McNairy’s involvement? Is he the kind of unexpected casting that you’ve come to expect from Snyder, or do you have concerns that this may be too much of a stretch? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters on May 6th, 2016.