In 1966, Batman made his debut on the silver screen with Leslie H. Martinson's Batman: The Movie featuring Adam West as the titular superhero. Over the years, four more actors have taken up the cape and cowl - Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale - in seven different Batman movies. Ben Affleck, the newest one, is set to make his debut as the Caped Crusader in next year's DC Cinematic Universe flick Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Even though, you know the names of all these six actors who have played the Dark Knight on big-screen, you might not know the names of those who were so close to playing Batman, but somehow couldn't grab the role. And believe me – some names are indeed very shocking! Here is a list of no less than 17 actors who were considered for the role of second most popular superhero of all time!
Michael Keaton took up the cape and cowl for the 1989 flick Batman. But he wasn't the first choice for the role. Among the many actors considered for the role, Pierce Brosnan was a hot favorite. Director Tim Burton had approached the Irish actor but he declined!
Why did he decline? Because he wasn't interested in playing a superhero! Here’s what the actor said (via CinemaBlend):
“Yes, I did. I went and met with Tim Burton for the role of Batman. But I just couldn’t really take it seriously, any man who wears his underpants outside his pants just cannot be taken seriously. That was my foolish take on it. It was a joke, I thought. But how wrong was I?”
On the next page - two more actors, one of them is the Green Goblet!
Mad Max and Lethal Weapon fame Mel Gibson is another actor who was considered for the role of the Caped Crusader for Tim Burton's Batman. He wasn't as uninterested as Pierce Brosnan - he was actually tied up with the second installment of Lethal Weapon film series for which he had to turn down the role.
You might have heard that the Green Goblin of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man film series, Willem Dafoe, was considered for the role of another epic comic book villain - The Joker - for Tim Burton's Batman. Many of you might think that it would have been a great casting choice, but actually, it's a false rumor! Even though he was considered for a role in the movie, it wasn't that of The Joker. Willem was in talks for the role of the titular superhero! Can you believe it? Well, I would say, thankfully he didn't play the role for whatever reason it is – I cannot imagine the Green Goblin as Batman, can you?
Among the two actors on the following page, one is none other than Han Solo!
Harrison Ford is recognized all over the world as Han Solo of the Star Wars franchise, and also as the titular cast of the Indiana Jones film series. Apart from playing these epic roles, he could have played another one - the Batman! Ford was another name in Tim Burton's shortlist for the role of the Dark Knight for his 1989 flick. Would you have loved Han Solo as Bruce Wayne? I wouldn't have minded at all!
Tim Burton's list of actors he considered for the role of Batman might not seem to be a SHORTLIST any more as we add the name of another actor to it. Veteran actor and comedian Bill Murray was also in the director's list for the role of the Caped Crusader. And surprisingly, Burton wasn't the first one who thought he could play Batman!
Ivan Reitman, who was once attached to Tom Mankiewicz's script for The Batman, wanted Murray as the titular cast and Eddie Murphy as his sidekick Robin! That would have been a comedic Batman movie for sure - and perhaps a disastrous one! But Bill Murray thinks he would have done not as bad as you expect as Batman. He told to MTV back in 2008, "I would have been a fine Batman. You know, there have been a number of Batmen. I like them. "¦ I thought did a great job as Batman. It's obviously "” it's a great role."
On the next page - two more actors and one of them is our very own Captain Jack Sparrow!
After Tim Burton's Batman & Batman Returns, the next couple of live-action movies on the Caped Crusader were directed by Joel Schumacher. Batman Forever, the first of them, ultimately introduced Val Kilmer in the titular role. But just like Michael Keaton, he wasn't the only actor to be considered. The Big actor Tom Hanks was in the shortlist of Schumacher for his 1995 flick.
Johnny Depp was considered for the role of The Riddler for Batman 3 - that's a lame rumor according to the actor himself. He revealed back in 2009 that he was actually considered to play Batman in Batman Forever! Wasn't he interested? Here's what the actor said (via ComicBookMovie):
"Not at all, I was very interested. What happened was Tim (Burton) was producing it and he was trying to talk Joel Schumacher (the Director) and the movie bosses to give me a shot at the role but it just never really worked out."
Among the two actors on the next page, one has voiced Batman for an animation movie, but couldn't grab the live-action duty!
Even though Quentin Tarantino commented in 2014 that Alec Baldwin would have made a great Batman in the 1980s, it was actually his younger brother William Baldwin who was very close to take up the cape and cowl – not just once, but for two different movies. That's what William himself claimed!
According to the actor, he was one of the four actors shortlisted by Joel Schumacher for Batman Forever, but fell behind Val Kilmer. Then, when the director needed a replacement of Kilmer for the next movie, Batman & Robin, William was even closer. The actor said (via ComicBookMovie):
"The next time, when George Clooney did it, (Schumacher) said, ‘You were on my original short list with those other three actors, but the studio went with Val and this time I’d like to go with you.’ And that Friday afternoon, I thought I was playing Batman – and then Monday morning, the headlines in the trades said that George Clooney had gotten the part. So apparently, I did actually come very close."
Even though the actor couldn't launch himself as Batman in live-action movie, he did grab the opportunity to voice the superhero in 2010 animated flick Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.
Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the finest actors in Hollywood who has bagged Academy Award for Best Actor no less than three times. According to what William Baldwin revealed, Day-Lewis was one of the four names in Joel Schumacher's shortlist of actors for the role of the Dark Knight in Batman Forever. We don't know whether he was actually interested in playing Batman as he once stated that chances of seeing him in Hollywood blockbusters is very unlikely and he also had also declined the offer of playing Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings franchise.
One of the two actors on the next page is the Scarecrow!
Fringe star Joshua Jackson had auditioned for the role of the Caped Crusader in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. He fell behind Christian Bale ultimately but didn't seem to have lost the willingness take up the cape and cowl! Back in 2012, the actor told ComingSoon:
"You never want to admit you think somebody else made the right decision when they didn't hire you, but Christian Bale was pretty amazing. The marriage of Chris Nolan and Christian Bale for those Batman movies was spectacular. I would be intimidated to step into those shoes, but if they asked me to audition, I would."
Cillian Murphy played the DC supervillain Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow, in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. But the shocking fact is that the actor originally auditioned for the role of Batman! Cillian didn't consider himself as someone who's got the right physique for the superhero, but only auditioned to get the chance to connect with Nolan. And it paid off – Nolan was so impressed with the actor that signed him for the role of Scarecrow! Thankfully, he wasn't so impressed to offer Cillian the titular superhero's role!
One of the two actors on the following page is none other than The Joker!
Before Christian Bale was auditioned for Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan had meetings with many young actors for the role of the superhero and one of them was Heath Ledger - the man who arguably presented to us the best live-action incarnation of The Joker! While you would expect a young actor to be excited to be considered for the role of Batman, Ledger told Nolan that he wasn't interested in playing the superhero! That's what the director himself revealed back in 2012. He said (via IndieWire):
"He was quite gracious about it, but he said, ‘I would never take a part in a superhero film.’"
Then, why did Ledger play The Joker in The Dark Knight? According to Nolan, "I explained to him what I wanted to do with ‘Batman Begins‘ and I think maybe he felt I achieved it."
The four times Academy Awards nominee Ethan Hawke must have been very close to play Batman because it was he who turned down the offer that came from Joel Schumacher for Batman Forever. Why did he refuse to take up the cape and cowl? Here's the answer that Ethan himself provided to Details:
"I just didn’t want to go to the Knicks game and have everybody go, “Wow, you were a great Batman!” That wasn’t my fucking goal in life. Now I wish I’d done it, because I could have used it to do other things."
So, he regrets turning down the role! Indeed, he should, shouldn't he?
One of the actors on the next page was not only close to play Batman, but Spider-Man as well!
Maggie Gyllenhaal played Bruce Wayne's love Rachel Dawes interest in The Dark Knight. But would she have played the role if her younger brother Jake Gyllenhaal was playing Batman? Jake was indeed one of the actors who were auditioned by Christopher Nolan for the role of the Caped Crusader. And that wasn't the only superhero that he was so close to playing, but yet so far to really happen! When Toby Maguire injured himself just before the second installment of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man film series, Jake was kept as a stand-by actor for the titular role. Does he have regrets? Let's see what the actor himself said to Daily Mail:
"I believe whatever happens, happens for good. I was definitely open to both the roles (of Spider- Man and Batman). However at a certain point you realize there is always someone more interesting, talented and ready to do the role. In any case, you are not going to get every role you go for. So you can say I neither rue nor am I thankful for having not worked on these superhero films."
Warner Bros had plans of making a Justice League movie back in 2007 replacing Brandon Routh and Christian Bale as Superman and Batman with new actors. The movie was titled Justice League: Mortal and Armie Hammer was confirmed as the cast for the role of the Caped Crusader. However, the movie got axed just weeks before production was about to begin. Armie doesn't seem to regret, rather he seems relieved that he didn't play Batman in the movie. Here's why the actor thinks so (via Yahoo Movies):
"I would have made a terrible Batman. Really terrible. It's too young. No-one wants to see a 19-year-old Batman. What can a 19-year-old do?"
We agree with you Armie, we don't want to see a teenager play Batman, do we?
The final two actors on our list are Thanos and Thorin Oakenshield!
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe presents to us Josh Brolin as the epic supervillain Thanos, DC Cinematic Universe wanted to present him as Batman. Yes, Brolin was considered for the role and he had met with Zack Snyder to discuss the role! But there was some kind of a contradiction between the actor and the director for which he didn't take up the cape and cowl ultimately and so it went to Ben Affleck. According to Brolin (via GamesRadar):
"Me and Zack had a conversation about it and there were several reasons why we said it wasn't the best idea on both sides. I had mine and Zack had his."
We are not sure about this. Richard Armitage - the actor who played Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit Trilogy - was considered for the role of the Caped Crusader in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. His name came up from time to time from various sources as a heavyweight candidate for the role until Ben Affleck was finally announced as the cast.
Whether or not the studio considered him is still not clear because he hasn't talked about it yet. Josh Brolin did admit his connection to the role lately and Henry Cavill did slam the rumor that he had auditioned for the titular role in Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy - so maybe someday we'll get to know something from Richard Armitage. But he was surely one of the top fan-favorites for the role.
Which among these actors would you have loved to see as Batman? Share your thoughts via comments!