Meryl Streep is Batman
In an episode of Modern Family, Cam claimed that Meryl Streep could be chosen for Batman and still be the right choice.
I would like to elaborate on that possibility.
If Meryl Streep indeed somehow landed the role of Batman, two choices would be immediately clear for how to approach the script. The first would be to retain the character as it has always been, save for the director's unique flavour that would be integrated as well as the actress' own interpretation of characteristics: Batman would remain the essential Batman. The second would be to rewrite the character altogether, altering everything from the origin (an orphaned daughter faces very different obstacles than that of a son) to the driving motivations (fighting crime would likely be rooted not only in a pathological desire for justice, but also the need to address severe corruption in Gotham as a cause of gender inequality).
Interestingly, both choices make for a strong feminist script. One denies the need to change anything core to the character, instead asserting that the mythos of Batman is just as impactful and poignant when assumed by a woman, and the other seeks to radically envision Batman as an explicitly feminist icon.
The latter is more interesting to me, so I'm choosing that rabbit hole. Let's do this with a straightforward list of the highlights that would make it into the trailers.
- Wayne was born and raised by her wealthy and influential parents until their shocking deaths.
- She is taken in by the family butler, as charged in their will, to be raised to her legal age where she can then choose how to control her estate. In the meantime, she is befriended by many powerful women who see potential in her and her estate to transform the political landscape of Gotham.
- Once she enters her twenties, she begins to grow into the role imagined and moulded for her by countless people. Her butler remains a moral, if increasingly distant, guide. She is more taken with ideas about economics and politics in the 21st century and how she can influence them.
- Wayne Corporation continues to grow into a global behemoth, helmed by the most powerful woman in the world. She dines alongside the likes of Angela Merkel and Folorunsho Alakija. Yet an emptiness pursues her accomplishments. She comes close to marrying before realizing how little that will mean in her life.
- Around her 60th birthday, she bumps into a strange man during a holiday in Nepal. Ra's al Ghul recognizes the fierce strength in Wayne and courts her as the newest member of the League of Shadows - and also its first woman. She is intrigued when he suggests that "51% of the world is women, but perhaps the last 1% is a single woman."
- Wayne slowly disappears from the public view, immersing herself in training. Despite being nearly 65, she proves herself with incomparable intellect and strategic agility. Her lack of physical capacity is more than made up for when she commissions the building of a smart suit that, for lack of further imagination from this writer, combines everything good from Batman VS Superman's suit and Marvel Cinematic Universe's Iron Man.
- Upon returning to Gotham, she embarks on a crusade to rid the city of evil. Even though she comes to be known as Batman (her cape resembles bat wings, but otherwise she does not pursue that imagery as she never fell down a bat-infested well as a child), a strong rumour circulates quickly that he is actually a woman, and this only strikes even more fear in most lowlifes.
- While this part is more or less procedural crimefighting, continuous encounters with corrupt women and former mentors shatters Wayne's belief that women intrinsically had something better to offer the world.
- After making countless enemies and inadvertently initiating the rise of the supervillain era, Wayne is caught in a final showdown between the League of Shadows and the powerful criminals that have escaped her so far. Although she initially sides with the League, she realizes that they have caused just as much chaos and violence as the supervillains, and abandons them to be destroyed.
- The surviving supervillains and League members band up and attempt to expose Batman by taking countless political and economic hostages in a very public spectacle. As it happens, the hostages all are men, and Wayne recognizes the opportunity to make this HER public spectacle. She openly reveals herself as Marissa Wayne, head of the Wayne Corporation that has contributed to the lifting of countless women and their families out of poverty.
- After defeating the supervillains, the effect is as she hoped. The global event of a woman saving dozens of influential and corrupt men serves to inspire, and a slow ripple makes itself felt over the next few years as women everywhere begin winning leadership positions and promotions. The vision of women as strong protectors becomes real, and men are welcomed into the transforming political landscape (while at the same time, of course, gender itself continues to diversify beyond the old binary).
- At the time of Wayne's death, the UN surveys countries to find that women own an average of 51% of most economies and a similar proportion of democratic leadership positions.
- Then Superman arrives and ruins everything.
So yes, Cam, I do strongly agree that Meryl Streep would absolutely be the right choice for Batman.