Two actors from the hit AMC zombie drama The Walking Dead are in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – the lovely Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays super bad guy Negan. They will be Martha and Dr. Thomas Wayne respectively, Bruce Wayne’s mum and dad.
It got me thinking: how would the characters they play in The Walking Dead, and the other principle cast, best translate into the Batman mythology? And, as the second half of The Walking Dead beings this Sunday, why not devote the first episode of Flickering Myth’s new weekly YouTube show Jump Cut to the question? You can watch the video below, or, if you fancy text-based fantasy casting scenarios, the transcript is just beneath that.
First, the obvious one. Rick Grimes, the main man in Walking Dead, would be Bruce Wayne Batman. Apart from both being their respective universes’ central characters, the two men share an inverse mirror image. Bruce is a vigilante in a law state, and Rick is a cop in law-less state. There is a bit of a stumbling block, though, as Bruce has an admirable aversion to killing criminals, which isn’t quite compatible with Rick’s kill-anyone-who-even-slightly-poses-a-threat approach. But overall, they are both the character that all the others look up to, and the one to which the bad guys react. So Rick Grimes, Batman.
The clearest reason for this is that Damien Wayne is the only Robin to actually be Batman’s child – a clear parallel to Rick and Carl’s blood relationship. But there’s a second dynamic. Carl’s arc through The Walking Dead is very close to that of Damien’s in Batman. Initially, having been trained by the best assassins in the world on command of his insane mother Talia al Ghul, Damien’s abilities and disregard for human life takes some considerable grooming. Carl has a similar journey, being slightly too quick to kill another human – that is, not a zombie – when he first gets a gun.
Speaking of Talia al Ghul, the daughter of mega Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul, which Walking Dead character would best suit her?
Hear me out. Talia is extremely well trained in the martial arts, Michonne is a downright ninja with a samurai sword. Talia is one of Batman’s most enduring romantic interests; and personally, I’ve always felt like The Walking Dead’s endgame is Rick and Michonne becoming eventually involved with one another. Really, Batman isn’t known for its strong female characters. They’re usually either femme fatales in black latex, or femme fatales in green latex, so there isn’t much to choose from. Apart from…Barbara Gordon, Batgirl.
She’s the Bat-verse’s premiere female crimefighter, very similar to the action lady role that Maggie carves out for herself very early on. It also works very well for our use of Glenn – who is Maggie’s boyfriend in The Walking Dead – as Dick Grayson, or Nightwing, or Robin, or whatever secret agent new name he has now in the comics – as him and Batgirl kind of always have a thing going on. Also, Grayson, who was the first Robin, is very athletic – his parents were trapeeze artists – and fantastic at taking orders from Batman. Glenn, in comparison is really good at running around and taking orders from Rick.
Maggie’s father Hershel, by the way, gets to be Alfred, pretty much just because he’s an old guy.
For a while, I thought about having fan favourite Daryl as another of Batman’s Robins, Tim Drake. But Tim Drake is really good at hacking computers and technology, and I think if you told Daryl to hack a computer, he’d decapitate it with an axe. So Daryl gets to be a different one of Batman’s close friends – Jim Gordon. If Daryl is Rick’s right-hand man throughout Walking Dead, Gordon is the best non-Robin fit for him.
Carol is another awkward one to fit in, and we have to dig more tenuously into Batman lore for her, especially with the aforementioned lack of appropriate female characters in the Bat-verse. The best fit, to me at least, is Azreal – the character who filled in for Batman when he had his back broken by Bane in the infamous early 90s storyline Knightfall. Azrael began well intentioned, but progressively got more and more violent, eventually letting one of the the bad guys die – a big no, no in Batman and superhero-in-general morality. Yes, that was a swipe at you David S. Goyer. This is what has been happening to Carol. All of the terrible events that have befallen the Walking Dead gang have shaped Carol into thinking murder and violence is a reasonable first course of action, a mindset that at least once has caused her to be outcast from the group.
Carol as sometimes-good/sometimes-bad guy Azrael makes for a nice transition into Batman’s rogue’s gallery for our final two pieces of casting. First up we have Rick’s original foe, his former best friend and lover of his wife, Shane.
One of the best things about Batman villains is that most of them – beneath their ridiculous costumes and names – are actually very human and empathetic; traits that help us no end with The Walking Dead’s love of presenting viewers with a bad guy, and then giving you a bottle episode later on explaining how the bad guy got so bad. For Shane, I would go with Harvey Dent, the once shining light of Gotham – a fellow law man as the city’s District Attorney – who was driven criminally insane to become Two-Face. Shane love for Lori also drives him increasingly paranoid and rash, meeting his end going after her husband Rick at the end of Season 2.
Our second relatable villain – and final piece of casting – is The Guv’nor, a man hanging on the edge of sanity after losing both his wife and child to the zombie plague. There are many Batman villains who have loss at the centre of their evil psyche, but The Guv’nor’s kinder side being revealed in his standalone episode in the first half of season four made me settle on one in particular: Mr. Freeze. In the Batman Animated Series episode ‘Heart of Ice’, it’s revealed that Freeze commits crimes to fund his research on curing his terminally ill wife, Nora, who he has frozen in cryogenic stasis, which isn’t a million miles away from The Guv’nor commanding Milton to find a cure for his daughter’s zombie-ism.
There you have it, if you ever wanted it in the first place. What do you think? Do you agree, do you disagree, have you got any better pieces of recasting? Let us know in the comments down below.
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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is set for release on March 25th 2016 and sees Zack Snyder directing a cast that includes returning Man of Steel stars Henry Cavill (Superman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), Harry Lennix (General Swanwick) and Christina Wren (Carrie Farris) alongside Ben Affleck (Argo) as Batman, Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6) as Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) as Aquaman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as The Flash, Jesse Eisenberg (Now You See Me) as Lex Luthor, Jeremy Irons (The Borgias) as Alfred Pennyworth, Holly Hunter (The Piano) as Senator Finch, Tao Okamoto (The Wolverine) as Mercy Graves, Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead) as Martha Wayne, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen) as Thomas Wayne and Callan Mulvey (300: Rise of an Empire), Jena Malone (Sucker Punch) and Scoot McNairy (Argo) in as-yet-unrevealed roles.