As Published in F*** Magazine Issue 30
BATMAN: 70 YEARS ONSCREEN
As Christopher Nolan brings the curtain down on his Batman trilogy in
grand fashion, F*** Magazine takes a look at the Caped Crusader’s illustrious
seven decades of pointy ears and capes. Over this time, Batman has staked his
claim as one of pop culture’s most enduring icons, and there was no way the
Dark Knight, along with his colourful gallery of rogues and allies, could stay
trapped within comic book panels for long. Gotham’s protector has somehow
managed to stay relevant for each generation, and his various onscreen
incarnations seem to perfectly capture the essence of the times. Here is but a
glimpse at Batman’s cinematic journey across the years and into the hearts of
The very first big-screen incarnation of Batman came in 1943, and was a
15-chapter serial from Columbia Pictures, starring Lewis Wilson as Batman with
Douglas Croft as Robin. Released at the height of the Second World War, the
serial had Batman as a US government operative taking on the evil Dr Daka, a
Japanese agent of Hirohito. If this photograph is anything to go by, those
complaining about Batsuits with nipples should probably be grateful they didn’t
get this version instead.
Besides being the Dark Knight’s maiden movie outing, the serial brought
audiences the “Bat’s Cave”, which was renamed the “Batcave” after it found its
way into the comics. Also, William Austin’s version of Batman’s butler Alfred
Pennyworth was svelte and moustachioed, versus the overweight and facial
hair-less Alfred in the comics at the time. The serial solidified the look of
Alfred we are all familiar with today.
BATMAN GOES CAMP-ING - 1966
After another film serial in 1949, Batman made the jump to TV in 1966,
with Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. This campy, colourful take on
the character that bordered on parody came to represent the era and reflected
the so-called “Silver Age of Comics”, comprising Batman stories that featured
aliens, magical imps, multiple dimensions, silly costumes and talking animals.
The TV show was adapted into a
film that same year with much of the same cast, apart from Julie Newmar as
Catwoman, who had hurt her back and was replaced with Lee Meriwether. Cesar
Romero (and his moustache) was the Joker, Burgess Meredith was the Penguin and
Frank Gorshin was the Riddler. The film memorably includes Batman dangling from
the Batcopter and being attacked by a shark, which he fends off with “bat
shark-repellent”. There’s also the scene where Batman runs frantically about
the waterfront trying to dispose of an explosive device. “Some days you just
can’t get rid of a bomb,” he enthused – a sentiment that was no doubt shared by
the makers of the later film Batman and
Robin. The Lincoln Futura-based Batmobile is the definition of retro cool
It would be a bit of an understatement to say it took a while to get a
new Batman film off the ground, following the waning of public interest in the
wake of the cancellation of the Adam West TV show. Producers Michael E Uslan
and Benjamin Melniker acquired the Batman film rights in 1979, but it wasn’t
until ten years later that a new Batman movie saw the light of day. Having
proven himself with Beetlejuice, Tim
Burton was selected to direct the film and was intent on steering away from
the campy style of its predecessor, keeping a dark and stylish feel Burton
would become famous for. Tim Burton had also cast Beetlejuice leading man Michael Keaton as Batman. Keaton was
well-known primarily for his comedy work at the time and, suffice to say, not a
credible action star, and the casting caused so much commotion that it got a
mention on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Jack Nicholson accepted
the role of the Joker under strict conditions, including that he be let off to
watch his beloved Los Angeles Lakers basketball team play their home games. We
suppose he did not attend in costume.
The film’s dramatically dark
and operatic style is best reflected in the production design by the late Anton
Furst, for which he won an Academy Award for best art direction. Furst’s
mission was to “make Gotham City the bleakest, ugliest metropolis possible…an
essay in ugliness. As if hell erupted through the pavement and kept going”. It
was a strangely beautiful kind of ugly, complemented by the straight-up
beautiful Batmobile, one of the sexiest versions of Batman’s ride and the one
most people automatically envision when they hear the word. Bob Ringwood
designed the Batsuit, which introduced the idea of rigid full-body armour and
served to conceal Michael Keaton’s slight frame. As such, the film was mostly
regarded a triumph of style over substance, but also began a movement of comic
book films that would be regarded as adult and serious, rather than Saturday
morning children’s entertainment.
BURTON-MAN RETURNS - 1992
Following the financial success of the first Burton-man film, Warner
Bros. was eager for the director and star to return. Burton was initially
reluctant to return, saying he would only reprise his role as Batman director
“if the sequel offers something new and exciting”. “New and exciting” somehow
got misconstrued as “horror movie”, bearing all the disturbing-yet-stylish
Burton hallmarks more befitting other properties than Batman. In terms of supporting cast, the sequel
offers up Danny DeVito as a decidedly grotesque version of the Penguin,
Michelle Pfeiffer as sultry femme fatale Catwoman (it remains to be seen if
Anne Hathaway can live up to the legacy, we can name one actress who didn’t
*cough*HalleBerry*cough*) and the scene-stealing Christopher Walken as crooked
business mogul Max Shreck. Burton was supposedly hesitant to cast Walken
because the actor scared him – which,
considering how dark most of Burton’s movies are, must have been quite a feat.
Then again, Christopher Walken is
There are some who consider Batman Returns to be an improvement over
the first film, and there are just as many who decry the movie’s decidedly
un-Batman tone. Parents weren’t big fans of the mix of sex (Catwoman) and
violence (everything else), and McDonalds infamously called off their Happy
Meal tie-in. However, Returns did
deliver visually, as did its predecessor, and setting it during Christmas
didn’t hurt either, turning Gotham into a twisted winter wonderland. Catwoman’s
haphazardly stitched-together black latex
effectively reflects her broken psyche, and Stan Winston, Ve Neill and
Ronnie Specter’s Penguin makeup design somehow made Danny DeVito actually
uglier than he already is – for this alone they deserved their Best Makeup
Academy Award nomination.
THE PHANTASM UNMASKED - 1993
Many disagree about the Burton
movies, but when it comes to the Animated Series they inspired, the verdict
that it’s one of the best versions of Batman ever is universal. Batman: The Animated Series, created by
Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, was surprisingly mature for a cartoon, and toned down
the stylistic flourishes of their movie inspirations, borrowing more from the
comic books. Following the success of the show, a full-length animated film was
put into production. Batman: Mask of the
Phantasm is thus far the only Batman animated film to be released
theatrically, although the film was considered a box office flop due to the
decision to rush it into theatres.
However, many die-hard Bat-fanatics consider this to
be the best Batman film ever. Yes, even better than The Dark Knight. The film is a very sophisticated take on the Batman
mythos, and its creators demonstrate a profound understanding of the character,
his motivations and what make him so appealing to the audience at large. The
film employs a film noir-esque style, telling the parallel stories of a masked
vigilante called “The Phantasm” (though never referred to by name) picking off
Gotham’s criminal bosses – whom the police believe to be Batman, and Batman’s
early days fighting crime and his romance with beautiful high-society dame
Andrea Beaumont. Anyone who doesn’t like Christian Bale’s growly strep throat
Batman voice is likely to point you to Kevin Conroy’s performance as the
definitive Batman voice. Mark Hamill (known in other circles as Luke Skywalker)
is, similarly, the best the Joker has ever sounded. And over the credits, Tia
Carrere sings the 90s, Disney-style award-baiting torch song “I Never Even Told
You”, which may or may not be better than “Kiss from a Rose”. Speaking of which…
IT’S SIMPLE –
WE KIL-MER THE BATMAN – 1995
Apparently, all the face-licking, toxic ooze dripping from the mouth and
taser-kissing in Batman Returns–
along with a box office take that could have been a little higher – weren’t
doing it for Warner Bros., who decided to take the series in a more accessible
(read: kid-friendly) direction. Apparently, Michael Keaton was not a big fan of
this direction, and neither was Tim Burton, who nevertheless retained a
producer credit (that served as a “don’t panic” to fans). They were replaced by
Val Kilmer and Joel Schumacher respectively. Kilmer got the call that he had
gotten the part while he was sleeping in a cave in Africa, researching The Ghost and the Darkness – and
surrounded by bats. Had the bats seen this film, they would have bowed their
heads in shame.
Batman Forever was the beginning
of a slippery slope that pointed the Batmobile in the general direction of Adam
West and Burt Ward’s Batcave. Schumacher, then famous for The Lost Boys and the
Client, had never done an out-and-out action film, and thus relished the chance
to go as “out” as he could. Chris O’Donnell joined the cast as Dick Grayson/Robin,
who acted like a 13-year-old despite looking 25. Tommy Lee Jones was cast as
Two-Face, even though Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent pre-accident in the
first movie and was keen on playing the villain. Tommy Lee Jones thought he was
playing the Joker, as did Jim Carrey as the Riddler. Nicole Kidman as Dr Chase
Meridian probably thought she was playing the Joker as well. Thankfully, the
late Michael Gough had stayed as Alfred from the first two films, had a nice
moment with Dick and didn’t think he was playing the Joker. Unfortunately, so
had the late Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon, woefully incompetent as ever.
Stylistically, it was quite a step down. First off, there were the
nipples on the Batsuit, which were meant to evoke classical Greek statues, but
probably did not achieve that effect. Two-Face looked more like his face was
splashed with paint than with acid and when Batman said “chicks love the car”;
he probably wasn’t referring to this version of the Batmobile, which could have
done without the giant middle fin. The film also sprinkled a little neon on
Gotham, and added several gratuitous visual effects sequences that were not
altogether convincing. But the general consensus is that this is Citizen Kane compared to…
There is absolutely no better
way to get a Batman fan’s blood boiling than mentioning Batman and Robin –
you’ll almost be guaranteed a venomous response. The film is so reviled, it
often gets mentioned as one of the worst movies ever made – the mockery it made
of the Batman property was enough for it to eclipse other worse films. Joel
Schumacher decided to ramp everything up – more neon, more giant statues of
naked men, more inane villains and more prominent Batsuit-nipples. He claims he
was under pressure from Warner Bros executives to make the film “more toyetic”,
a word he had never heard before, to sell more merchandise. “More homoerotic”
probably wasn’t on the memo, but Schumacher went ahead with that anyway. Cue rainbow-coloured
lights on the open-canopy Batmobile.
George Clooney, then in the middle of transitioning from the small to
the big screen, stepped into Val Kilmer’s boots for the “film”, with Chris
O’Donnell returning as Robin. Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast as Mr Freeze,
because Schumacher decided the character would have to look “big and strong
like he was chiselled out of a glacier”, the fact that the character was a
scientist non-withstanding. Uma Thurman was the botanist-seductress Poison Ivy,
with the late wrestler Robert Swenson as her henchman Bane, and Alicia
Silverstone was Batgirl, not the Commissioner’s daughter as in the comics but
For all the neon-drenched,
rubber-clad bombast, many will say the worst part of Batman and Robin was the
characterisation of comic book fan-favourites, which were staggeringly off the
mark. It was nice that the filmmakers decided to go with the
recently-reimagined Mr Freeze origin story put forth in Batman: The Animated Series, but Schwarzenegger’s Freeze was less
icy cold, melancholic and heartless than loud and prone to awful, awful
ice-related puns. Not cool. Thurman, then one of the sexiest actresses around,
took the idea of an over-the-top Mae West-style femme fatale and ran off the
cliff with it, and Alicia Silverstone’s chirpy, blonde haired-Batgirl was
clearly shoehorned in to appeal to the younger female demographic. Not to
mention Bane, reduced from a menacing, super-strong criminal mastermind to a
muscled simpleton doing his master’s bidding. Tom Hardy appears to want to
rectify this in The Dark Knight Rises – phew.
This time around, it was not Bane who broke Batman’s back, but
Schumacher’s franchise-killing mess that did. Do check out the
straight-to-video animated film Batman
and Mr Freeze: SubZero, which is a more than adequate remedy.
STUCK IN THE BATCAVE – 1998
While filming on Batman and Robin was ongoing, Warner Bros. liked what
they saw – it wouldn’t be the first time they were wrong. They immediately set
about commissioning a sequel, titled Batman
Triumphant, which was to reunite Clooney, O’Donnell and Silverstone and
feature the Scarecrow as the main villain. Jack Nicholson’s Joker was to appear
in a dream sequence, and Harley Quinn, the Joker’s moll and girlfriend from the
animated series, would be his daughter instead (a live-action Harley played by
Mia Sara found her way into the short-lived TV series Birds of Prey). However, when critics and audiences balked at Dr
Doug Ross and the Terminator’s one-liner battle royale, the studio was forced
to reconsider, haunted by the immortal words of Adam West’s Batman regarding
bombs. Schumacher, supposedly overcome with remorse, was keen on making an
adaptation of the seminal Batman comic book tale Batman: Year One, which was recently made into an animated movie
and from which Batman Begins drew
A competing project was Batman: DarKnight, a spec script by Lee
Shapiro and Stephen Wise, which was to see Batman forced out of retirement by
the Scarecrow and Man-Bat, the latter’s atrocities blamed on the DarKnight.
Man-Bat, who harkens back to classic movie monsters such as Frankenstein’s
monster and Jekyll and Hyde, would have been interesting to see on the big
screen, and several elements of the Scarecrow’s characterisation, particularly
being the head psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, would resurface in Batman Begins.
Warner Bros. passed on this one as well.
At the time, Batman Beyond – a
cartoon by the same team behind Batman: The Animated Series – was gaining in
popularity. The series was set roughly 50 years in the future, and saw an aged
and grizzled Bruce Wayne take street-smart teen Terry McGinnis under his
Bat-wing, the latter becoming the Batman of the future. It was to be adapted into a live-action
feature film, which was tossed overboard in favour of Batman: Year One – just without Joel Schumacher at the helm.
Darren Aronofsky was set to direct Batman:
Year One, which would have been drastically different from both the comic book
on which it would have been based and every previous movie version of the Caped
Crusader. Suffice to say we’re generally relieved this didn’t come to fruition.
Alfred would have become “Big Al”, a burly mechanic, Bruce Wayne would have
worn a Bat-insignia ring to leave a painful mark on thugs and Batman’s ride of
choice would have been a Lincoln town car. The screenplay suggested a dark,
R-rated crime drama that would have been too far
left of field for the average moviegoer, and wouldn’t have sold much toys.
Well, at least the concept art was pretty.
Yet again, the studio swept a
Batman reboot off the table, and switched gears to make a Batman-Superman film,
which would have had the heroes go against each other, and then team up against
Lex Luthor. Christian Bale was approached to play Batman, and Josh Hartnett to
play the Man of Steel – both turned the roles down. Warner Bros. then decided
to focus on individual Superman and Batman reboots – Superman: Flyby (which would eventually be shelved in favour of Superman Returns) and finally, at long
sweet last, Batman Begins. Once again
there’s an animated alternative – a three-part crossover between the Superman
and Batman animated series, which has been released on video as an animated
film. Featuring Lex Luthor and the Joker as villains and having Lois Lane
develop a romantic interest in Bruce Wayne, it was good fun. We did also get a
giant billboard in I Am Legend,
suggesting that even if the film got made, its released would have been
thwarted by a zombie uprising.
A NEW BEGINNING - 2005
British director Christopher Nolan, now widely regarded as something of
a geek god for bringing Batman back from the neon-lit ashes, came to Warner
Bros. in 2003 with an idea for a Batman reboot. Nolan’s previous two films, Momento and Insomnia, were made at the studio. Nolan was hired, and brought
David S Goyer of the Blade films onboard as screenwriter. The two, along with
production designer Nathan Crowley, set about creating an origin story for the
man behind the mask that they were determined to keep rooted in reality. The
film borrows from the Batman comic book story The Man Who Falls, and incorporates elements of Batman Year One and The Long Halloween.
Nolan assembled an all-star
cast, led by Christian Bale who, just off The
Machinist, had to gain 45 kg in about two months in order to play the
muscular and athletic crime-fighter. Liam Neeson, having previously trained
Anakin Skywalker, was now mentor to young Bruce Wayne as Henri Ducard, of the
ninja sect the League of Shadows. The League was led by Ken Watanabe as Ra’s Al
Ghul, who in the comics was a Bond-villain inspired master criminal, whose
baths in the Lazarus Pits granted him eternal youth. Gary Oldman was cast as
Sergeant Gordon, the one honest guy in the Gotham City Police Department, who
forms a bond with Batman and facilitates his crime-fighting endeavours. Oldman
has always been known for playing villains, and does “honest” extremely well.
Conversely, it was perennial good-guy Liam Neeson who took on the more sinister
part. Cillian Murphy was effectively creepy as the Scarecrow, who provided a
break from the traditional brawny supervillain. Michael Caine played Alfred,
which was an interesting change from the typical gentleman butler – Caine’s
cockney accent belied a tougher, more human Alfred, and his chemistry with Bale
sold him as Bruce Wayne’s father figure and only true friend. Well, apart from
Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox that is, the wisened gadget guy who supplies Batman
with his Batsuit and Batmobile. The only weak link was Katie Holmes as Rachel
Dawes, a character nowhere to be found in the comics and one of the least
convincing leading ladies to grace a Batman film.
Keeping in line with the
realistic tone, Begins updated Batman’s look with a more utilitarian,
military-style Batsuit, and with the tank-like Tumbler Batmobile that looked
like the love child of a Hummer and a Lamborghini. Gotham City became a
lived-in, slightly more depressed Chicago, and the Narrows drew inspiration
from the Walled City of Kowloon. There are also bits and pieces of Blade Runner – the Tumbler’s front
wheels kind of look like the police spinners’. It’s definitely not the most
interesting-looking Batman film, but it works incredibly well with the story
The film was a resounding critical success, and the fans lapped it up
too, rejoicing at Batman’s true cinematic return. When Gordon presents Batman
with a Joker card at the end of the film, setting the stage for a sequel, the
anticipation went through the roof. Three years later, fans would be rewarded
Forget The Godfather or Casablanca,
for some, no, many Batman fans, The Dark
Knight is the best film of all time, bar none. Christopher Nolan’s magnum
opus is the perfect example of a thinking man’s blockbuster movie, and
disproves the widely-held notion that all big-budget comic book movie
extravaganzas have to be really loud and really dumb. Nolan, this time
co-writing with brother Jonathan, managed to fold in complex ponderings of
morality, anarchy and justice into Batman mythos. Everything was ramped up, and
they even replaced Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal to sweeten the deal.
The film makes good on its promise of the Joker as the central villain.
There was much uproar when the late Aussie heartthrob Heath Ledger, best
remembered for serenading Julia Stiles in Ten
Things I Hate About You, was cast as the ultimate Batman bad guy. It’s safe
to say that any misgivings were quickly eroded by Ledger’s electrifying
performance, earning him a spot in the hallowed halls of movie villains
alongside Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates, and a well-deserved Best Supporting
Actor Oscar – making him the only person thus far to win an acting award for a
Batman movie. While Jack Nicholson’s Joker was the slightly malicious funny old
uncle, this version was full-tilt sadistic psychopath. Ledger’s untimely
passing only increased the hype surrounding the film, fuelling speculation that
the role somehow got under his skin, and suddenly this was the Joker’s movie,
and his alone.
That’s not to diss the supporting players, though. Michael Caine, Morgan
Freeman and Gary Oldman return and are in fine form as usual. There are more
great moments between Batman and each of these allies, who provide a refuge for
the only humanity Bruce Wayne has left. Enter Aaron Eckhart as the ill-fated
District Attorney Harvey Dent, idealistic, handsome and a romantic rival to
Wayne, having his sights set on Rachel Dawes. Of course, like everyone else in
the film, horrible things happen to him – specifically, to the left side of his
face. Michael Jai White as gangster Gambol relishes the
chance to appear in a significantly better comic book film than Spawn, and Richie Costa as the Chechen
fully inhabits the Russian-ish mafiaso. Singapore’s very own Chin Han plays mob
accountant Lau, who is “very good at calculations”, and at being yanked out of
office windows by Batman.
The Tumbler Batmobile returns,
in a chase scene that looks suspiciously similar to the one in the first movie.
Batman also has the Batpod, a peculiar-looking motorcycle-approximate which
nonetheless is pretty cool. The Batsuit is upgraded and is now composed of
individual plates of armour. Unfortunately, Gotham City is a little more
boring-looking than before, since we don’t get to see Arkham Island or the
Narrows. The movie isn’t all rosy perfection though – the Harvey Dent/Two-Face
storyline seems a little shoehorned-in, and there are lots of false endings –
just when you think the film will conclude, another important plot point is
Still, it’s impossible to deny just how gosh-darn excellent this film
is, and moviegoers agreed – the movie made as much money in six days as Batman
Begins did in its entire domestic run. As such, hopes for the sequel are
understandably really high.
RISE ABOVE – 2012
At press time, we haven’t seen
this yet, but it goes without saying we really want to. About half the earth’s
population really wants to as well. Set eight years after the events of the
previous film, Batman’s a little worse for wear and this time is menaced by Tom
Hardy’s Bane and Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman. Ironically, according to the Chinese
Zodiac, Hathaway was born in the year of the dog. The casting of Anne Hathaway
was something of a curveball, as she really is best known as the nice, likable
slightly kooky sweetheart, like Julia Roberts but hotter. She just doesn’t
spring to mind when one thinks “femme fatale”. Still, maybe – just maybe –
Hathaway will surprise us, as has been done before in this series. In the
comics, Bane is of Hispanic descent, and Tom Hardy isn’t. Cue rage. But at
least he really bulked up for the role, and the aspect of Bane targeting the
stock exchange seems like an interesting spin on the “occupy” theme – very
timely. And there’s also Batman’s new ride, The Bat, a cross between the
Tumbler and a flying lobster and reminiscent of the flying Batmobile in Batman Beyond. Now that The
Avengers from the-rival-company-that-must-not-be-named has crossed the one
billion mark, this flick faces some serious competition, but can certainly
count on Nolan’s loyal loyal fanbase.
In The Dark Knight, Alfred
offers this pithy bit of advice to Bruce Wayne: “endure”. And that’s exactly what
Batman has done over almost 70 years on the screen. He’s had his highs in the
form of Christopher Nolan’s realistic touch and the animated series, and
weathered his lows in the form of Bat shark-repellent
and nippled-Batsuits. There’s
something at the core of Batman that audiences can relate to; that humanness
that other superheroes distinctly seem to lack. Batman is not a superhero; he’s
a normal guy who has forged his mind and body into weapons. That, and a large
pile of money. Batman appeals to the nerdy comic book fan in all of us, that
little kid who takes action figures into the movie theatre. We know we’re
ALMOST GOT ‘IM
Batman’s cinematic history is littered with
tales of what could have been, not only in the direction the movies could have
taken stylistically and story-wise, but in who could have played the characters
audiences have come to know and love. Can you picture David Bowie as the Joker?
Patrick Stewart as Mr Freeze? Jude Law as Robin? Alec Baldwin, Pierce Brosnan,
Jake Gyllenhaal or Ashton freaking Kutcher as Batman? Here’s a look at what we
could’ve gotten, equal amounts of awesome missed opportunities and
sigh-of-relief averted disasters on both sides.
Mel Gibson – the first choice to play Batman, but had already
committed to Lethal Weapon 2.
Charlie Sheen – well, he was a credible star at the time...
Tom Selleck – can’t say we wouldn’t want a Magnum PI/ Gotham City
Police Department crossover.
Alec Baldwin – he
got to play The Shadow a while later, with less than stellar results.
Kevin Kline – Since he’s been in The Big Chill and The Ice
Storm, you’d have thought he would be considered for Mr Freeze instead…
Pierce Brosnan – “The name’s Wayne, Bruce Wayne.”
Jeff Bridges – He
eventually got to star as a supervillain instead, in Iron Man.
Dean Cain – The producers concluded he was too well-known as
TV’s Superman, and rightly so.
Tom Hanks – Gotham
wouldn’t have gotten him the Oscar that Philadelphia
(BATMAN AND ROBIN)
David Duchovny –
Batman vs aliens would have honestly been an improvement over what we got.
David Boreanaz – This
Angel opted for whiter wings.
Jake Gyllenhaal – Had
he gotten the part, Batman and Joker’s dynamic in the second film would have
been plenty awkward. Not to mention his dynamic with Rachel Dawes.
Ashton Kutcher –
Let’s just leave this one be.
John Cusack – By
the time of Sixteen Candles, Bruce Wayne’s parents would have been dead for
eight years. Grim.
Henry Cavill –
Cavill was dubbed “the unluckiest actor of the year” after he was passed over
for the parts of Batman, Superman and James Bond in 2005. Come next year, he
finally gets to don the S cape.
THE JOKER (BATMAN 1989)
Tim Curry – The Sweet Transvestite from Transylvania also tried
out for the voice of the Joker on the animated series, and was turned down for
being too creepy. Too creepy for the Joker? Wow.
Willem Dafoe – He would later go on to menace Spider-Man
as the Green Goblin.
David Bowie –
Ziggy Stardust would get his chance to star with a different Batman in
Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, as
inventor Nikolai Tesla.
James Woods – Woods would later provide the voice of Batman’s
alternate universe opposite number Owlman in the animated film Justice League:
Crisis on Two Earths.
Robin Williams – Mork
was also later considered for the part of the Riddler.
John Glover –
While he didn’t get to play the clown prince of crime, Glover made a brief
appearance in Batman and Robin as mad
scientist Dr Jason Woodrue, and played Lex Luthor’s father Lionel in TV’s Smallville.
THE JOKER (THE DARK KNIGHT)
Paul Bettany – He
previously essayed creepy as the albino assassin monk Silas in The Da Vinci Code.
Adrien Brody – Brody was very interested and willing to
abandon his concert pianist ambitions to take up stand-up comedy.
Sam Rockwell – Rockwell would later play villain Justin
Hammer in Iron Man 2.
Steve Carell – It’s safe to see it would be completely
impossible to be afraid of that face.
Leonardo DiCaprio – “You
jump, I jump” would have been fitting seeing as Dick Grayson/Robin started out
as a circus aerialist.
Christian Bale – Is that irony I smell?
Matt Damon – Apparently,
he was later considered for the role of Harvey Dent/Two-Face in The Dark Knight.
Ewan McGregor – Before he was Qui-Gon’s sidekick, he could
have been Batman’s. Liam Neeson would later wind up as...you’re probably tired
of this by now.
Marlon Wayans – The
scary thing is, he was actually cast and fitted for a costume for Batman
Returns, but Robin was written out of the movie at the last minute.
CATWOMAN (BATMAN RETURNS)
Annette Bening – She
was replaced by Pfeiffer after getting pregnant. If only the same thing
happened to Halle Berry.
Geena Davis – She
opted to do A League of Their Own
instead. She definitely would have looked nice in a skin-tight catsuit, though.
Susan Sarandon – Isn’t it a little cool that both Thelma and
Louise were considered for Catwoman?
Cher – It’s highly possible that Michael Keaton would have
refused to get his face licked had she gotten the part.
Meryl Streep –
We’re completely serious about this one. Apparently, she was considered too old
for the part. The devil should wear Prada, and not latex.
MR FREEZE (BATMAN AND ROBIN)
Patrick Stewart – One
can surmise that Professor Charles Xavier would probably not subject himself to
such lines as “what killed the dinosaurs? THE ICE AGE!!”
Anthony Hopkins – Hannibal
Lecter himself would later get the chance to ham it up in a comic book movie in
Sylvester Stallone – Famous for his rivalry with the Austrian
Oak, the Italian Stallion reportedly fired his agent after failing to beat
Schwarzenegger to the role.
Hulk Hogan – And you thought you had a hard time buying Ahnold
as a scientist...