Batman is a pretty frequent character as far as movies and television goes. In just movies alone, we’ve had five already (Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Christian Bale) with Ben Affleck going to become the sixth when Batman V. Superman releases this March.
With the amount of production that typically goes for films, you have to wonder what other choices producers and directors had to play the role of the Dark Knight. After all, almost no movie roles are chosen from the get-go, with multiple actors being considered and even asked until they finally get who they think will fit the role best.
This is very true for the character of Batman. He is a cultural icon and will be the centre of one of those franchises that will continuously be rebooted and have movies made for many years. After all, he’s been on the big screen since the 60s. Bruce Wayne isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
So keeping that in mind, who are some of the faces they had in mind for the cape and cowl? The likes of Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton certainly weren’t first choice in the director’s mind. Who turned down the role? Who didn’t make the cut? And if you don’t like Affleck, there were even worse choices than that. Keep reading to see 10 actors who almost got the role of Batman.
10. Willem Dafoe
Spider-Man’s psychotic villain, Green Goblin, and The Fault in Our Stars’ drunken jerk, Peter Van Houten, Willem Dafoe is known for playing mentally unstable, rude, insane individuals. However, when the 1989’s Batman began production, he was in talks to play the Dark Knight himself! (Despite his resemblance to the Joker). Overall, I’m not sure that we would have enjoyed the film had Dafoe taken up the role, as he wouldn’t be able to properly portray the brooding billionaire that is the Batman. For some unknown reasons, he wound up losing the part to Michael Keaton.
9. Harrison Ford
The legendary Han Solo and Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford is a legend among filmography and geeks alike. When Tim Burton began working on Batman in 1989, he comprised a list of actors he wanted to play the role. On that list were names like Robert Downey Jr., and Tom Cruise as well. Picturing Ford as Batman, all I see is the Internet going crazy over, “Who threw the batarang first?” No doubt Harrison Ford would’ve been able to bring a certain charm to Batman, however, Batman has never been a charming character, which makes sense to why he didn’t get the role.
8. Bill Murray
Holy Ghostbusters, Batman! You mean to tell me that the comedic legend, Bill Murray, was in talks to play the Dark Knight? Well, it’s not all bad. You see, Ivan Reitman had a comedic Batman film in the works and wanted Murray for the role, but the project was eventually dropped for unknown reasons. Murray was also briefly considered for the part in the Batman (1989). What is it with Tim Burton pulling up all of the strange names for this film? Still better than George Clooney‘s take though.
7. Mel Gibson
Now this actually makes a bit more sense. Personally, I could picture the suave Mel Gibson as the Caped Crusader, and apparently so did WB. He was their first choice on who should play the character in 1989, and reached out to him on multiple occasions. However, due to his working on Lethal Weapon 2, he ultimately had to turn down the role altogether. It’s a shame really. I would love to see Gibson go up against the Joker in an over-the-top fashion. That would be awesome.
6. Tom Hanks
The lovable voice actor behind the work of Woody from the Toy Story franchise, Tom Hanks was also considered for another popular role – Batman. Actually, he was considered more than once for the part. Once for the 1989 version of Batman (naturally) and for Batman Forever until the role was given to Val Kilmer in the end. Don’t get me wrong, Tom Hanks is a great actor, however I’m not sure that he’s Batman material. Although that’s probably because I’ll never seen him as anyone other than Woody. There’s a snake in my boot!
5. Johnny Depp
You’re kidding. Please tell me this is a joke. Johnny Depp was considered to play Batman? Well thank the stars that he didn’t get the part! Again, Depp is a great actor at the roles he does – seemingly insane characters that grow endearing throughout the course of their respective films (i.e., Captain Jack Sparrow). That persona would not work for the Dark Knight. Along with Tom Hanks, he was in the running to play Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever. Just imagine how much poorer the film would’ve performed if Johnny Depp was under the cape and cowl. Dancing with the devil, indeed.
4. Jake Gyllenhaal
Jake Gyllenhaal is a great actor, starring in inquisitive films like Nightcrawler. Not to mention, he looks like a playboy billionaire, which would fit the physical attributes of Bruce Wayne particularly well. He was personally asked to audition for the role of Batman in Batman Begins. However, after the auditions had taken place, we all know that they ended up liking Christian Bale above all the rest. Later though, the role of Rachel Dawes was given to his sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight. She probably had a special “in” because of her brother’s consideration for the role.
3. Henry Cavill
The current Man of Steel himself, Henry Cavill was also up for the role of Batman in Batman Begins. Along with the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal and Christian Bale, Cavill was asked to audition for the role. Obviously he lost the role. Because WB liked him enough, however, he was eventually placed in the running for the role of Superman in Man of Steel. As we all know, he won, and is portraying Supes for all of the DC Extended Universe, including projects like The Justice League. How’s that for someone who lost the part of Batman?
2. Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves is a great action star, and skillfully portrayed John Wick in the film of the same name. Before his bout as the titular character, he was considered for the role of Batman in Batman Forever. The studio liked him so much that he was also in the running for the same role in the upcoming Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. However, for a reason unbeknownst to me, he lost the part to Ben Affleck. It’s not that I don’t like Affleck, I just think Reeves might be able to play the character a bit better.
1. Richard Armitage
The leader of the company for thirteen dwarves, a wizard, and a hobbit across an adventure spanning the entirety of Middle-Earth, Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield) was heavily praised for his portrayal of the dwarf king who longed to retake the kingdom of Erebor. When names were dropped as to who would play the Caped Crusader in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Armitage was up for the role. Quickly, fans flocked to him and begged for him to be the next Batman, but ultimately didn’t get the part for unknown reasons. Even he hasn’t stated why he didn’t get the role.