With Gotham’s cape and cowl entering its 9th pair of hands with Robert Pattinson, it’s difficult to imagine anyone else playing the Batman roles from the past. In fact, one particular incarnation of the character that’s never really been questioned is that of Michael Keaton from Tim Burton’s classic films.
But according to Batman (1989) screenwriter Sam Hamm, Warner Bros. was doing just that. And in a recent interview with SYFY WIRE, Hamm explained that the studio wanted to take a different approach with the character early on.
“There were a lot of people at Warner Brother who wanted to cast it with an action star. They wanted to cast the part as Batman, as opposed to casting it as Bruce Wayne.”
The role eventually went to Keaton, who’d worked with the director just the year before on Beetlejuice. Hamm went on to explain the logistics of how to cast the Caped Crusader correctly, and in doing so, mentioned another actor whose name was being tossed around the conversation: action star Steven Seagal.
“You have to make Bruce Wayne work, because Batman is, for the most part, going to be a stunt guy, or it’s going to be somebody running around in a costume in long shot. You don’t need the martial arts expertise of, say, Steven Seagal or somebody like that because you can fake all of that kind of stuff. Seagal was one of the people that was suggested to us.”
“Believe it or not. He had just kind of appeared on the scene, people thought holy cow, this guy’s badass. He could be Batman,” Hamm said. “I don’t think it ever got to the point where he read for it. He was just one of the names that was floated.”
MORE FROM THE WEB
Though it appears the martial artist and Above the Law star never actually auditioned, Keaton’s casting was famously controversial. Known mostly for comedic roles, critics argued that his past works made him a miscast for the first serious Batman. But the Mr. Mom actor was right in line with the fresh look Hamm and Burton’d envisioned for the character.
“Bruce Wayne is a guy who has made a sort of crazy career decision, is the way that we put it. A bad thing happened to him a long time ago,” Hamm said.
“He was rich. He came into possession of great wealth. He had no apparent authority figure in his life, except his employee. As far as everybody knows, the guy that raised Bruce Wayne was his butler. So if the butler says, “Master Bruce, this is crazy. You can’t put on a suit and go out and fight crime,’ then Bruce could just say, ‘Alfred, you’re fired. I’ll find another butler.’
“So he didn’t have any kind of steadying influence telling him, ‘You got to get over this. You got to put it all behind you and figure out something productive to do with your life.’ He was just able to sort of nurse his wound over all these years.”
In the end, things obviously worked out for Keaton’s Bruce Wayne. Batman went on to gross over $400 million on a $35 million budget, and then he returned for Batman Returns three years later, though the experience wasn’t as fruitful.
Source: SYFY WIRE