1989’s Batman Almost Starred Eddie Murphy As Robin

Eddie Murphy

Tim Burton’s Batman is an iconic film and one of the most important blockbusters ever made, but it was far from plain sailing to get the project to the big screen. Michael Keaton is regarded by many as the best Caped Crusader of all-time, but furious fans bombarded Warner Bros. with angry letters protesting his casting because he was best known as a comedic actor.

Prior to that, the likes of Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford, Dennis Quaid and Pierce Brosnan were all considered for the role at various points, and there was even a take on Batman in development years before Burton’s involvement that sounded positively insane. Before the concept was refitted as a serious and mature spin on the comic book source material, Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman was attached to helm a version inspired by Adam West’s camp classic 1960s TV series.

Reitman wanted to cast Bill Murray as Bruce Wayne and Eddie Murphy as Robin, with the latter still in his early 20s and ascending rapidly up the Hollywood ladder thanks to a massively successful string of hits including 48 Hrs., Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop. The idea of Murray and Murphy teaming up in prime 1980s form to tackle a Batman comedy influenced by Adam West sounds utterly fascinating, and it easily had the potential to either be a hilarious instant classic or an infamous disaster.

Robin was actually in several earlier versions of the script, with a 19 year-old Kiefer Sutherland turning down the chance to audition, before Burton ultimately came on board and tailored Batman to suit his specific vision, which worked out pretty well for all parties in the end.