I recently watched The Omen again and it's amazing what someone of Peck's stature can do for a film like that. Many contemporary actors surely could've played the part just fine, like Nicholson or Newman, but the newer greats didn't embody that inherent Western goodness like GODDAMN Atticus Finch. And the way he looked with the grey hair and bushy eyebrows he was almost like a remnant of a time gone by - like he's been around since the early 1800s, fought in the civil war and both world wars, only to be cruelly punished for grasping onto a desperate lifeline upon his baby boy's death with the devil for an adopted son. It just feels unfair. You don't want to see any bad happen to him.
(I'm clearly developing story that isn't there but hey, that's part of consuming fiction)
I agree with your analysis. Perhaps it's that actors like Peck come from a more Manichean world and that makes them embody more emphatic stereotypes. More simplistic, but better moral references. They come from an era of absolute truths (at least in appearance) and they are opposed to our weak thinking. I always think about this when I compare DC and Marvel: Olympian deities in wrestling suits vs. human persons with powers. Those monolithic characters fascinate us because they are not like us, nobody is like them. No wonder Alex Ross used Peck to embody his twilight Batman in Kingdom Come.
If only I could like a comment twice... These are just about the exact thoughts that've been brewing in my mind unexpressed for eons - now with an articulate form and oomph I wasn't capable of.
Kinda odd though that Ross didn't make Peck Superman considering he looked - as Atticus Finch - more Clark Kent than any official interpretation of Clark Kent. But I guess that's why he's Alex Ross - he saw the perfect fit, deemed it too obvious, flipped things around and made him Batman! (Or I could be reaching, maybe.)
I can't know what Ross thought, there are so many variables ... I do know that Boyscout is much more difficult to resemble anyone real, compared to Batman is a very flat character. Of course, Batman has nothing to do with the rest of the DC pantheon. He is not a deity.
On the other hand, Peck's physiognomy does not fit the man of steel.