If there's one word flying around forums and conversations around comic books right now, it's "variants."
Specifically, which variants do we want to see in forthcoming iterations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) or DC Extended Universe (DCEU)? Both franchisese are moving toward characters from different universes existing together within their developing multiverses.
The good news for studios is this: whereas recasting a character used to be heavily frowned upon by fans, there's now a new kind of excitement when a character is represented by a new actor.
For example, fans have been excitedly talking about the possibility of seeing Tom Cruise's Tony Stark or Daniel Radcliffe's Wolverine. We want to peer through the multiverse and see who comes out the other side.
Here are some of our picks for DCEU variants we want to see in upcoming DCEU movies that explore the DCEU multiverse.
8. Brandon Routh's Superman
When Brandon Routh replaced Christopher Reeve as cinematic Superman, it turned heads in the same way that your dog might do when he doesn't understand a command.
Routh was an odd choice to portray Superman, not least because of his unknown name at the time. And when Superman Returns flopped at the box office, fans thought they'd seen the last of him.
However, as the years passed, a cult of DC enthusiasts saw that he'd done a good job of portraying Kal-El in difficult circumstances, essentially being asked to "play Christopher Reeve playing Superman."
He returned in the Arrowverse to give his Superman life again on the screen, and now many are calling for him to return as a variant in the DCEU. That's something that'd be welcomed by fans!
7. Carrie Kelley's Robin
This version of Robin has yet to appear in motion pictures. Carrie Kelley's character, who debuted in Frank Miller's acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns, is a favorite amongst fans.
The DCEU has already seen the aftermath of Jason Todd's Robin, but after years of seeing men in the role, isn't it about time we saw a woman take the mantle? Carrie Kelley would be perfect for that.
As far as who could portray Carrie Kelley, we believe that IT actress Sophia Lillis is a strong Carrie Kelley look-alike, making her ideal in bringing Carrie to the big screen as a Robin variant.
6. Christian Bale's Batman
Michael Keaton already returned to the role of Batman to fans' rejoicing. But what about the other Batmen? Christian Bale's version of Batman is the 21st century version of the iconic billionaire, and fans want to see him return now that Keaton has.
The likelihood of Bale agreeing to return without Christopher Nolan's involvement is slim. But for a brief appearance in the DCEU? It's possible that Bale could pop in for the final act of a battle somewhere.
The difficulty with Christian Bale's Batman is that the character has already had a beginning, middle, and end, so bringing him back makes little sense. But Keaton returned at the age of 70, so anything's possible!
5. Grant Gustin's The Flash
The CW's version of The Flash has already met his DCEU counterpart during the "Crisis On Infinite Earths" crossover event. But as Ezra Miller's personal problems continue to land the DCEU star in trouble, people are calling for Grant Gustin to replace him.
Whether he replaces Ezra Miller or not, the involvement of Grant Gustin in the DCEU multiverse would be fun to watch. He's already proven a popular casting choice with fans, after all.
Giving Grant Gustin an upgrade in appearance and the effects used to make him appear that he's moving at incredible speed would work well in the cinematic universe. It makes even more sense when you consider that multiple Flashes are expected to appear in the 2023 film, The Flash.
4. Joaquin Phoenix's Joker
The Academy Award-winning performance by Joaquin Phoenix in 2019's Joker is one that deserves further exploration, but not without a careful think before diving further into it.
Phoenix's role in the standalone film saw him become the Clown Prince who had no version of Batman to fight against, as though he existed in an alternate universe that only had The Joker.
That makes it difficult to incorporate Arthur Fleck's brutally realistic violence with the DCEU, and it would require some serious thought. However, if done well, fans would certainly adore the opportunity to see Phoenix's Joker square off against any version of Batman.
Would the notoriously picky Joaquin Phoenix agree to his character being used in a more comic book setting? Possibly not, and that would be another stumbling block for Warner Brothers to face.
3. Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman
Since Michael Keaton's returned to the role of Batman, Michelle Pfeiffer has been repeatedly asked whether she'd be up for coming back as Catwoman. The actress has answered with a resounding YES!
If the DCEU could find a way to incorporate Pfeiffer's Selina Kyle, it'd provide an opportunity for her to resume her story with Keaton's Batman—a story that fans were deprived of by Warner Brothers back in the 1990s due to incessant studio interference.
Pfeiffer's performance remains the definitive version of Catwoman, and to see Selina Kyle now older and wiser would provide a fascinating insight into the character that fans deserve.
2. Thomas Wayne's Batman
Batman fans have clamored for Jeffrey Dean Morgan to take the role as Flashpoint's Thomas Wayne/Batman. And, to the actor's credit, Morgan appears to be more than willing to take it on.
With The Flash now finished with principal photography, it feels unlikely to happen. But if it did? If Thomas Wayne's version of the character could be seen as a variant in the DCEU? Oh, fans would be super excited.
Many actors could take the role but Jeffrey Dean Morgan is the favored pick. He already portrayed Thomas Wayne in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the fight scene between the two Batmen would undoubtedly be warmly received by the fanbase.
1. Willem Dafoe's Joker
The casting of Willem Dafoe as The Joker has become a long-standing dream of DC fans for decades now.
Time is running out for Dafoe to portray the character because there have already been three Jokers introduced in the past six years alone: Jared Leto, Joaquin Phoenix, and now Barry Keoghan. The space for Jokers in cinema has become oversaturated.
Not to mention that Willem Dafoe already exists in the DCEU as Valka (Aquaman's mentor). But if Dafoe appeared as a Joker variant in the DC multiverse, that would be huge for fans!