vulture bets on berry

What the World Needs Now Is Matt Berry to Play Batman

Hello, dealer? Yes, please, put it all on Berry. Illustration: by Carolyn Figel

These are hard times, and when things get really dark, we at Vulture like to double down on the things that are still capable of bringing us happiness. That’s why we’re debuting this recurring column, which will be half-celebration and half-brainstorm for someone we’re consistently delighted to see show up on our screens: beloved British performer of stage and screen, Matt Berry. He’s best known for shows like Toast of London, The IT Crowd, and What We Do in the Shadows, but we’re confident that a performance by Matt Berry would spruce up all sorts of film and TV stories, big and small. 

So a few times a month, we’ll be using this space to propose new, occasionally out-of-the-box opportunities or roles for Mr. Berry. We are confident that should he ever find this column, he will find it both confusing and mortifying.

Matt Berry should play Batman. It’s what the character needs, and it’s what the world needs.

It may seem like an odd casting choice at first. Batman, after all, is a famously self-serious character, a hulking, somber figure who seems like the opposite of Berry’s jovial, sometimes impish energy. There are perhaps some logical obstacles, too. Berry is afraid of heights, a tough situation if you’re playing a character fond of gazing down upon the glittering expanse of the city from the roof of a skyscraper. Berry’s acting history also suggests he doesn’t have tons of experience with elaborate, comic-franchise-level fight choreography, so he might need some time to really lock that in.

But those are all minor issues, easily resolved for the sake of the bigger picture: Batman could do with some ego puncturing, and Matt Berry is exactly the man for the job. Berry has a distinctive, magnetic ability to portray extremely confident men in a way that demonstrates that they’re total doofuses. It’s not that he always plays them for big, pratfall-comedy laughs — it’s that Berry is able to hold that confidence with unshakable certainty while also undermining it from within. He’s not laughing at the character, but someone in a room somewhere very far away is laughing, and he knows it, and he’s delighted but also outraged by it.

The clip below, from Berry’s work in the British horror parody Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, is not exactly how a Batman fight scene would go down. But you can definitely get a flavor for what a big Berry-as-Batman showdown would be like. (It would be awesome.)

This is what Batman needs: someone who can play the character with unshakable seriousness that’s so committed it curls back around and becomes a joke. There are touches of this in the animated DC series Harley Quinn, but in my ideal world, it’s transformed into a mesmerizing live-action film where Matt Berry stands looking out over the city, dons the sharp-eared mask, and gruffly declares “I am the Bat Man.”

The character has always been more than a touch ridiculous (a bat? really?), and it’s time someone plays Batman with the capacity to really play up the absurdity. Berry could improvise unimaginably obscene comebacks to Joker’s silly riddles. He could sneer at Penguin with the animosity that character deserves. I’m sure Berry could do an American accent, but I think a British Batman would also be a fun new twist for a character with an overly sad backstory. (Maybe he picks up the accent from Alfred? And while I’m here, Matt Berry would also be a great Alfred.) Also important, his jawline would look great with the Batman mask.

Matt Berry should be Batman! It would be truly compelling, joyous, and maybe even illuminating entertainment. More importantly, it’d be really, really fun.

What the World Needs Now Is Matt Berry to Play Batman