Murphy’s Law – Where did the Joseph Gordon-Levitt Batman rumor come from?

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

November 27, 2012 will long be remembered as the day everyone briefly thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt was going to play Batman in The Justice League.

The rumor, which originated on the site HitFix, claimed that Gordon-Levitt would not only play Batman in the superhero team up movie in 2015, but that a deal was in the works to give him a Nick Fury-style cameo in The Man of Steel.

Of course, this was news to Gordon-Levitt’s representatives, who categorically denied the story when contacted by Entertainment Weekly.

So, the question is: where did this rumor come from?

Drew McWeeny, the HitFix writer who first reported it, says in his article: “According to sources, Joseph Gordon-Levitt absolutely will be appearing in Justice League as the new Batman.” Who are these sources? And why would they tell McWeeny something that turned out to be false?

The most cynical position to take would be to assume that there are no sources. McWeeny, being a … well … a McWeenie, could have concocted a believable lie in order to drum up attention for himself and for HitFix. It’s a plausible enough rumor considering the ending of The Dark Knight Rises and while you’d like to believe that Warner Bros. would let Nolan’s trilogy stand alone, it’s certainly not like the studio that gave us Batman and Robin is incapable of making bad Batman-related decisions.

But if this was all just a nefarious, opportunistic plan, I fail to see the long-term benefit. Sure, it got him and his site some attention for one day, but now that the story is debunked, people will presumably go back to forgetting he exists. Why would you continue to read posts from a guy who gets his information from unreliable sources and/or is a liar? (This doesn’t absolve McWeeny, of course – it just means that if he was outright lying, he was stupid to do so.)

So assuming McWeeny isn’t just pulling this rumor out of his ass, the misinformation had to come from, as I just mentioned, an unreliable source (or sources, as he claims) – one that is willing to say Gordon-Levitt will “absolutely” be in a movie he won’t be in.

Why would this “source” do this? I can think of a few reasons.

Again, the most cynical reason would be that the source is simply screwing with him. Perhaps deciding that McWeeny is a … well … McWeenie (or perhaps as karmic retribution for the fact that McWeeny reportedly named his kid Toshiro Lucas McWeeny, after Japanese actor Toshirô Mifune and director George Lucas), this source simply decided to have some fun with the writer by outright lying to him (presumably right after the source’s kid took Toshiro Lucas’ lunch money).

A more reasoned explanation is that this source is floating the idea out there to see what the reaction is. Perhaps Warner Bros. really does want JGL to be the next Batman. They could be hoping that this will create buzz and that the fan reaction will help them to convince Gordon-Levitt to take the part. Or, maybe the source wants to kill this idea, which has been floating around Warner Bros., by getting the Internet to vocally disapprove of it. Or maybe the source is actually JGL’s management team, hoping to get their client cast in the role.

Or maybe the source just wants to get people talking about The Dark Knight Rises as we lead up to the DVD release of the film next Tuesday. Not that the film needs any extra buzz, but it couldn’t hurt, right?

Or perhaps, and I’ll admit this one is a bit out there, Joseph Gordon-Levitt really is playing Batman … in an alternate dimension.

As Owlman (an evil alternate-dimension version of Batman) explains in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths:

“With every choice we make, we literally create a world. History branches in two – creating one earth where we made the choice and a second where we didn’t. That’s the secret of the universe, you know? Billions of people making billions of choices, creating infinite earths. Some so similar to each other you could spend a lifetime searching for any distinction. Others so radically different, they defy comprehension.”

So somewhere out there is an alternate earth where Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing Batman on-screen. (Hell, according to Owlman’s theory, there could be a world where JGL doesn’t just play Batman – he actually is Batman.) And one can only hope that in this alternate dimension, Gordon-Levitt is fighting all of the falsely-rumored Batman villains from the past, like Eddie Murphy’s Riddler, Cher’s Catwoman and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Penguin.

I like that explanation. I like it so much that I wish I could go on record saying that that was what McWeeny’s source intended us to think when he floated this false rumor. But, if I definitively took that stance, that would make me … well …

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at

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