Marvel pulled off the finale to their impressive superhero balancing act this year with The Avengers, a trick they look to duplicate with a sequel in 2015. In between now and then, though, the studio– now positioned as one of the film world’s most important blockbusting authorities, at least as far as I’m concerned– looks to unveil a variation on that delicate but bombastic act with Guardians of the Galaxy, which at present boasts a release date of August 1st, 2014. Naturally, that means we know one thing for sure: that there’s very little information for us to go on beyond its title and its projected opening day.
True, we know that the intention here is to have the Guardians– consisting of Adam Warlock, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Quasar– square off against Thanos, who by now even non-comic fans should recognize as the central figure of The Avengers‘ mid-credits bit. We also know that Marvel has allegedly made some test deals with various up-and-coming young bucks– from Jim Sturgess, Eddie Redmayne, and Jack Huston to Joel Edgerton and Lee Pace. Well, good news for fans of Brick, (500) Days of Summer, and Premium Rush: you can now count Joseph Gordon-Levitt in that number, as Marvel has put the man who could be Batman in their sights.
I’ll make this prediction right now as someone with no studio contacts or sources: this isn’t going to happen. Yes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is hot as hell right now; The Dark Knight Rises alone has afforded him new levels of visibility to a mainstream audience he’s just reintroducing himself to (as most of his efforts since his resurgence in 2005 have been relatively low-key), and Looper shows his continued evolution as a real and very talented actor. (To say nothing of 2010’s Inception, which managed to do both.) He’s also, as of the ending of The Dark Knight Rises, poised to become the new Caped Crusader, though Christopher Nolan’s coy response to inquiries on the matter have left that potentiality somewhat ambiguous.
But in all of this, we can say two things for sure:
1) Joseph Gordon-Levitt is already associated to another widely-recognized and beloved comic book movie brand, whether he likes it or not.
2) Joseph Gordon-Levitt can’t star in two big-time comic book movie franchises at the same time.
There’s good reason for JGL to jump ship here– and good reason for Marvel to want him to do so. Putting the guy’s name on the marquee would certainly help Marvel’s big, brash, hopelessly weird movie about a super team of space aliens open, and I think Gordon-Levitt would be a fool on a personal level to turn down an opportunity to work with James Gunn. But all of this raises an answer to the question of “why not?”: Batman is a known quantity. Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t. Youths like Gordon-Levitt tend to benefit from having a big franchise meal ticket under their belts, and between the two, the DC property looks like more of a sure thing* even in the face of The Avengers‘ massive runaway success.
At this point I’ve written over 500 words on a casting rumor that could well have been engineered by Marvel to help foster a deal with a totally different actor. I once told myself I would never do that, and yet here we are. Basically, Gordon-Levitt is being romanced by the two biggest studios in the comic book movie game; take that as you will, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up just yet.
*And frankly, the grim and gritty world of Batman and Gotham feels like Gordon-Levitt’s kind of world.