‘Spawn’ Star Takes A Gamble On ‘Dark Knight’ Role

If you’ve got a few extra bucks lying around, you might want to consider sending a nice sympathy bouquet to burly rapper/actor David Banner. And if you’re really swimming in the dough, you should also send a “New Beginnings Hydrangea Plant” to “Spawn” star Michael Jai White. Why? Because only one of the two are hanging out in Gotham City these days.

After last month’s minor media sensation (which you may have read about here), here or perhaps here), MTV News once again has the exclusive on David Banner’s quest to “smack Batman in the face.” Long story short: He didn’t get the part. Over the weekend we visited the Chicago set of “The Dark Knight,” the currently-filming sequel to “Batman Begins”…and what we saw is looking really, really good. Keep checking back for more about that in the weeks to come, but while there we caught up with producers Emma Thomas and Chuck Roven, who confirmed that Banner’s much-heralded audition hadn’t landed him the role.

Instead, the role of “Gamble” has officially gone to Michael Jai White, the muscular martial artist/stuntman/actor best known for roles in such films as “Spawn” and “Exit Wounds.” Thomas and Roven also cleared up fan confusion over who, exactly, the baddie is, explaining that Gamble is one of several mob bosses attempting to take over Gotham’s streets now that Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson in the first ’Batman’ flick) is out of the picture. As “Dark Knight” opens, Batman and Jim Gordon must decide whether to focus their energy on aspiring thugs like Gamble, or the homicidal Joker (Heath Ledger), a costumed anarchist bank robber.

As best as we can tell (along with sites like this one), Gamble is a brand-new character to the Batman universe, and has never appeared in any DC comic books.

The casting of White seems particularly appropriate, considering that the genre favorite has provided voices for several “Justice League” cartoon shows as both Doomsday and Green Lantern. Unfortunately, the overly-excited David Banner most likely found the casting decision slightly less exciting than some Batman fans – but with two other movies on the horizon, we’re thinking he’ll be just fine.

“The Dark Knight” is currently filming in Chicago under the alias “Rory’s First Kiss.” Featuring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and newcomers Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, the flick will continue filming in the windy city until early November, with additional work to follow in London and Hong Kong. The flick is due in theaters July 18, 2008.