After months -- OK, years -- of speculation, the question of who will star in writer/director Matt Reeves' The Batman was seemingly answered last week with a report that Robert Pattinson is deep in negotiations to play the Dark Knight. However, no sooner had that news broken on Variety, Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter cast doubts on the certainty of the deal, and suggested there were still other actors in the mix.
So, who will succeed Ben Affleck in the Warner Bros. franchise? It's difficult to say. Until the studio makes an official announcement, anything is possible, so we wouldn't suggest getting too excited, or infuriated, just yet.
Regardless of who's finally selected to portray Batman, the purported four main contenders are all worthy of donning the cape and cowl for various reasons. So, let's delve into why each individual deserves the gig.
Although reports don't yet agree that Pattinson is in negotiations to star in The Batman, the consensus is that he's certainly the frontrunner. Rumors have swirled since at least February, so it isn't like this news came out of nowhere.
However, his possible casting has already proved divisive. Many fans can't move past the British actor's rise to stardom in the Twilight franchise. But others appreciate that he's shaken off the teen heartthrob label to take on some serious roles and build indie credibility.
Make no mistake, Pattinson isn't defined by his performance as mopey vampire Edward Cullen. He's spent much of the past decade proving there's more to him than glitter and Bella Swan. Much like Christian Bale before him, he's the kind of actor who can lose himself in an intense role like the Dark Knight and surprise many of his doubters.
Having starred as Hank McCoy, aka Beast, in the X-Men franchise, Nicholas Hoult is no stranger to the superheroes. In addition, he has major blockbuster chops, as his performance in Mad Max: Fury Road demonstrated that he can hold his own against megastars like Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
Like Pattinson, Hoult isn't afraid to dip his toes into indie film. Since the tender age of 7, he's starred in a wide range of productions -- both big and small -- establishing himself as a legitimate and reliable actor. Now, at the age of 29, he fits the reported age range Reeves wants for his Batman. Considering his time with X-Men is officially up with Dark Phoenix and his undeniable talent, there's nothing stopping him from settling into the Batcave.
Whenever there's speculation about a DC film role, Armie Hammer name is almost inevitably mentioned. For a long time, everyone was convinced he was set to portray Hal Jordan/Green Lantern in Justice League, but it turned out to be nothing more than wishful fan casting.
Hammer has unfinished business in Gotham City, though. In 2007, he was cast as the Caped Crusader in George Miller's Justice League: Mortal, which was shelved by Warner Bros. on the eve of production. Hammer has spoken at length about the unrealized project, and there was even a rumor earlier this year that he was offered the role again in Reeves' The Batman.
Hammer disputed the report, but said he'd jump at the opportunity if it was offered to him. This could be his last chance at portraying the iconic vigilante.
At age 28, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the youngest of the four reported contenders. He also has more superhero experience than any of the others, having portrayed Kick-Ass in the eponymous film and its sequel, as well as Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
His career has been on the rise since he won a Golden Globe for his performance in Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals, and he's quickly become an in-demand actor. The question is, does he want to jump back into comic book movies? Of course, this would be for the role of Batman. Johnson certainly looks the part, and possesses the natural talent for the dual role of Bruce Wayne and the Dark Knight, but will he be Reeves' top pick?
The casting confirmation might not arrive as fast as we'd like, but it's imminent. Soon, we'll know who's playing the Dark Knight in Reeves' The Batman and put to rest all the uncertainty. Don't bet against any of these four actors emerging as Gotham's savior.