While Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is a wonder to behold, the problem has always been Nolan’s insistence that there would be no crossover comic characters in his films. With Warner Bros.’ hiring of Ben Affleck as Batman, the character is now free to go where he wants.
But before the endless debate over whether Affleck is the right actor to don the cape, it’s as good a time as ever to discuss the various Batman projects that have almost come into existence over the course of nearly two decades. For the first time in over fifteen years, the uncertainty over the direction of Batman — and Superman — seem to be set for the foreseeable future. But it definitely wasn’t always like that.
Here is a look at seven Batman projects that almost came to be, from the earliest to most recent.
1. Tim Burton’s Batman Forever (1995)
Tim Burton had originally been slated to take on Batman Forever, but the performance and reception of Batman Returns caused Warner Bros. to boot him from the project and later bring in Joel Schumacher — a decision the studio would love to forget. Batman Returns only made $266 million compared to Batman’s $411 million, while parents were uncomfortable with both the film’s violence an sexuality. Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer would have returned, but both ended up leaving when Burton was released.
In Burton’s version of Batman Forever, which apparently never reached the script stage, the riddler would have still been the main villain and Robin Williams was reportedly on track to play the role — shaved and with question mark on his head no less.
Two-Face was rumored to play a secondary villain, as Billy Dee Williams had played Harvey Dent in Batman, and early versions of the Batman Returns script show Dent being electrocuted towards the end of the film, which would have seemingly fed into his role in the third film.
The strangest hypothetical in this version of Batman Forever? Apparently Marlon Wayans had actually screen-tested for the role of Robin and was later replaced by Chris O’Donnell. Chances are, with Burton’s help, it would have ended up better.