BATMAN The entire enchilada
“They’re different media. Yet, in a sense, comic books are frozen movies. If you look at a comic book, you are generally seeing the storyboard for a film. The great advantage of comic books over the years, has been that, if they are frozen movies, they are not limited by budget. They are only limited by imagination.” – Co-producer Michael E Uslan, of whom more, much more, later.
Tim Burton . 1988
The gestation was so protracted that when Warner Bros first decided on stars supporting an unknown Batman, they were… William Holden as Commissioner Gordon and David Niven as Alfred Pennyworth! Holden died in 1981 and Niven two years later.
“When we first brought the studios the idea of making Batman as a feature,” Michael Uslan told Deadline Hollywood, Septemebr 9, 2019, “no one could accept the idea an old television show would make a great film franchise.” When he tried to jumpstart the project with Columbia, the rejections were insane.
Suit #1 shook his head.. “Michael, you’re crazy! Batman will never succeed as a picture because our movie, Annie, 1982, hasn’t done well…” I said: ‘Are you referring to little red-headed girl who sings Tomorrow?” He said: ‘Yeah”… I had absolutely no idea what that had to do with Batman. He goes: C’mon Michael, they’re both out of the funny pages.’
Suit #2 said “Michael you’re crazy! Batman and Robin will never work as a movie because Robin and Marian, 1975, didn’t do well.” “That was a story about an aging Robin Hood. It had absolutely nothing to do with Batman… it was so far off-base that I looked at him, stared at him. I don’t know how long, but I didn’t say a word, I just picked up all of my stuff, turned around and walked out the door.”
Directors were more keen and switchbacked between the Coen brothers and Joe Dante, Ivan Reitman planned a comedy version with batty Bill Murray in the Batsuit and Michael J Fox or Eddie Murphy as Robin.
When Steven Spielberg showed interest, he had a cast fully mapped out… Dennis Quaid in the mask (his wife Meg Ryan as a later Vicki Vale idea), Geena Davis as Silver St. Cloud (who churned into Vicki), Richard Dreyfuss as Rupert Thorne, Dustin Hoffman as The Penguin, Jon Pertwee (the third Doctor Who) as Alfred – Pertwee’s son, Sean, was Alfred 25 years later on the Gothamseries – Burt Reynolds for Commissioner Gordon… and then came the shocker, Harrison Ford of all people, as, of all people… The Joker! Holy Moly!!
The first 1980 draft was, inevitably,
by a Superman and 007 scribe
He was Tom Mankiewicz and he covered the origins of nearly all the characters – including Dick Grayson going solo after The Joker shot two of The Flying Graysons. The Penguin was also featured, likewise Barbara Gordon, and Rupert Thorne.
The $20m film was due in 1985 as the original producers Michael E Usian and Benjamin Melniker were relegated to executive credits (for all six films so far) when Jon Peters and Peter Guber moved into Gotham. They wanted the dumped-upon Superman director Richard Donner… then, the Coens… before the unexpected 1985 Warner success of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, 1985, , gave the project to Tim Burton for shooting in October, 1988. Obviously, Tim gave the cowl to his Beetlejuice star, Michael Keaton and explained how the caped schizoid drove Bruce Wayne crazy. “Man, this guy is like caged energy. For this part, he’s got to keep a lid on it. Face it, the villains are the ones that get to eat up most of the sets.”
Bruce Wayne/Batman . “The chicks like him for his big charity balls…” Mel Gibson was the studio’s first choice but cuffed to Lethal Weapon 2. The producers, however, fancied TV cowpoke Ty Hardin. But he was away spagfhetti-Westerning.
There were 35 other possible caped crusaders… Alec Baldwin*(who became The Shadow), Matthew Broderick (!!), Pierce Brosnan (who couldn’t take it seriously and, anyway, was guarding his place oin the 007 queue) and Tom Selleck (who never became Indiana Jones either). Next? Jeff Bridges (almost Captain America in 1981), Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Daniel Day-Lewis, future Iron Man Robert Downey Jr, Emilio Estevez (his dad, Martin Sheen, was up for Harvey Dent),, Harrison Ford (also, lawks-a-mercy, for The Joker), Michael J Fox (after Robin was deep-sixed), Jeff Goldblum (also in The Joker loop), Tom Hanks (!!), William Hurt, Kevin Kline (he simply refused), Ray Liotta, Bill Murray (!), Al Pacino( !!), Sean Penn, Dennis Quaid, Mickey Rourke, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger (Mr Freeze in Batman & Robin, 1996), Charlie Sheen (his dad, Martin, was up for Harvey Dent-Two Face), Kevin Spacey, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, John Travolta and Bruce WIillis.
Plus Michael Biehn… “People always talk about me being an ’80s star. I was not an ’80s star. Bruce Willis was an ’80s star. Tom Cruise was an ’80s star. Schwarzenegger and Stallone. Mel Gibson. Those guys were making $20 million [a picture]. I never even got $1 million. I kind of liked it that way. I have five boys and ti was always important to me that I was going to be closer to them than I was to the movie business,”
Oh, yeah, and… wait for it… Steven Seagal. “He had just kind of appeared on the scene,“ said Sam Hamm “People thought: Holy cow, this guy’s a badass. He could be Batman.” That’s as far as it went. Seagal was the ex- aikido teacher for super-agent Mike Ovitz, who got him into movies from Above The Law to Hard to Kill – or, from $150,000 to $3m. That’s when Sergal he told him: “I think I’m as good an actor as Hoffman, De Niro, all those guys.” “Steven, I’m not sure about that, but what makes you special is that those guys can’t do aikldo.” “You don’t understand, I want to direct my next movie and win an Academy Award.” He quit CAA and directed himself in On Deadly Ground, a iotal misfire. “He had fallen prey to the dangerous, entirely human delusion that if you succeed in one area you can do anything.”
Willem Dafoe, who never had the face of a leading man – “I’m like the boy next door, if you live next door to a mausoleum” – recalled how scenarist Sam Hamm “said something about how physically I would be perfect for the part – but they never offered it to me.” They talked, instead, for him for Bat Wayne. Instead, he finally joined the comic biz as the first villain of the new Spider Man franchise, the Jekyll-Hydeish Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in 2001 and entered the DCverse as Nuidis Vulko in Justice League, 2016, and Aquaman, 2017.
Oh and the the suits fancied the poster pitch: Bruce Payne is Bruce Wayne!
That was about as stupid as Adam West being upset at not being automatically asked to continue the role he (or rather his TV series) had sent up something rotten in the mid-60s. “I cried for an hour [when] hearing Keaton had won the Batgig but then I was OK. I’m disappointed… but they have their vision and I have mine.” West, by the way, was… 61.
There are stories about him invited to cameo (alongside his TV Catwoman Julie Newman) as the Batparents (murdered by The Joker, no less!). West denied any such offers – and, added angrily, he would have refused them. He did voice several characters is various Batman toon series, including Bruce Wayne, himself, up to his death in 2017 at age 88.
“Any man who wears his underpants outside
his pants just can’t be taken seriously.”
“That was my foolish take on it,” said Brosnan. “It was a joke, I thought. But how wrong was I? Don’t get me wrong, because I love Batman, and I grew up on Batman. As a kid in Ireland, we used to get our raincoats and tie them round our neck and swing through the bicycle shed…”He stayed friendly with Tim Burton and starred in his 1995 Mars Attacks!.
Michael Keaton won due to his mania potential. “I’d been meeting with these beefy action-hero types,” said Tim Burton “Then, Michael arrives… He comes in with this whole psychology, approaching it with an almost manic-depressive quality in mind. I thought: NowI get it.”
For the success of the movie and the franchise, Michael Uslan praised Tim Burton without stint, in his Deadline interview with Geopff Boucher.. “People seem to be forgetting one crucial fact: It was Tim Burton who had come up with The Big Idea… how to be revolutionary in making effective comic book movies based on super-heroes. When he cast Michael Keaton – I didn’t understand his choice at first. He explained. that if we were going to be making the first ever dark and serious comic book super-hero movie for mainstream audiences around the world as well as for fans, we had to get them to suspend their disbelief. If we didn’t we would open the movie up to getting unintentional laughs. (Uslan loathed the way the TV Batman was played for laughs – people laughing at his hero). The way to do this, Tim said, was…
“Make sure that this movie would not be about Batman.
Rather, this movie had to be about Bruce Wayne!”
“And that, in addition to what Tim said would be the essential world-building and making of Gotham City into the third most important character in the movie, was what changed everything not only for our film, but for all the genre films to follow and, ultimately, Hollywood, itself. The same concept has filtered down to other successful Marvel movies … But we all need to give credit where credit is due and that credit goes to Tim Burton ”
Jack Napier/The Joker . Michael Uslan first suggested – insisted upon – Nicholson as the Joker, some eight years before the film began. Whozat? Yes. well, Uslan is the unknown hero of the franchise. He is, with Benjamin Melnikerl (who died in 2018), the co-producer and/or exec producer of all the entire Batbiz, live-action and Lego, video toons and other DC works: Justice League, Joker. Next? The new Doc Savage
The Fanboy of all fanboys, Uslan has DC printer’s ink in his veins. His autobiography is called, quite simply, The Boy Who Loved Batman. He was the first instructor, anywhere, to teach an accredited course (akin to history, physics, chemistry) on comic book lore – The Comic Book in Society – also anywhere. That proved to be at Indiana University School of Law.
The publicity created by Uslan, himself (anonymously calling a local paper to complain about such course!), led to a call and then a job from Stan Lee. Uslan’s first movie was The Swamp Thing, 1981. He e then wrote some of The Spirit comics and co-produced the 2007 film. He also – and this is why he had pride of place here – decided that no one other than Jack Nicholson was fit to be The Joker.
Opening an afternoon paper on the bus (!) home to New Jersey from New York, he saw a preview of The Shining, with the “Here’s Johnny” shot of Jack Nicholson peering maniacally through a doorway [sic]. Instantaneously, I said: This is the only actor who can play the Joker! I tore that picture out of the paper and as soon as I got home I raced to my desk, took White-Out and painted it on Jack’s face, a red pen and coloured in his lips, and a green magic marker and did his hair. Voilà! There was the definitive Joker looking back at me.”
He showed his handiwork to everybody associated withthern trying to get a serious Batflick up and running. “One of the best moments of my career was the day he was hired.”
Before deciding on Nicholson, Warner Bros checked if there was anyone bett6er (or ws it cheaper?). Following his turn as James in Die Hard that year, the former German wrestler, Wilhelm von Homburg, was looked at but he’d already been snappd up by Ivan Reitman for the Ghostbusters II baddy Vigo The Carpathian.
Willem Dafoe, who never had the face of a leading man – “I’m like the boy next door, if you live next door to a mausoleum” – recalled how scenarist Sam Hamm “said something about how physically I would be perfect for the part – but they never offered it to me.”Instead he became the first villain of the new Spider Manfranchise, the Jekyll-Hydeish Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in 2001.
Burton’s choice was perfect – Brad Dourif. The studio told Burton to think again. He also wanted Dourif as the Scarecrow in Batman Forever. Again, the suits refused. Burton walked.
Next up for jokering… David Bowie, Tim Curry, Robert De Niro (ya joking to me!), Brad Dourif, Robert Englund… Ray Liotta, Christopher Lloyd, John Lithgow, John Malkovich, Alan Rickman, Donald Sutherland, Christopher Walken, Robin Williams, James Woods. Plus Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Jeff Goldbum and Kurt Russell from the Batman list…
Bat-creator Bob Kane said something about The Joker needing echoes of The Shining… Oh, right! Michael Uslan, and his colouring activitiess, agreed. And a (possible) glance through old Rolling Stone covers to March 29, 1984, clinched matters. Nicholson is The Joker! With a very special throne of a chair… Greta Garbo’s, in fact, from Queen Christina, 1932!
Yet, Jack took so long in deciding (or the studio did in meeting his demands, top-billing and merchandise royalties, netting him between $60 and $100m), that Warner told him that they had signed Robin Williams… Works every time! Robin was positive he’d only been offered the role “to get Jack off the pot.”
(Jared Leto, who played Paul in the Batmovie, went on to be the 2016 Joker in Suicide Squad).
Vickie Vale . The Batgroup looked over almost everyone… Rosanna Arquette, Ellen Barkin, Kate Capshaw, Glenn Close, Jamie Lee Curtis, Joan Cusack, Geena Davis, Judy Davis (!!?), Denny Dillon (from Ice Age), Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Robin Duke (Groundhog Day), Christina Ebersole, Mia Farrow, Carrie Fisher, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Teri Garr, Melanie Griffith, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Goldie Hawn (depending on the Batman’s age), Barbara Hershey, Holly Hunter, Anjelica Huston, Amy Irving, Diane Keaton, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, Kelly LeBrock, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Lori Loughlin, Seinfeld’s terrific Julia Louis-Dreyfiuss, Madonna, Kelly McGillis, Virginia Madsen, Bette Midler (Madonna, sure, but The Divine Miss M!!?), Catherine O’Hara, Tatum O’Neal, Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon, Jane Seymour, Brooke Shields, Elisabeth Shuer, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Sharon Stone, Meryl Streep (!!!!!), Lee Thompson, Kathleen Turner, Sela Ward, Sigourney Weaver and Debra Winger…
Plus Michelle Pfeiffer, dating the annointed Bagtguy at the time. Michael Keaton thoiught such a pairing would be awkward. All the morfe so as he warmed towards Kim Basinger. Until almost literally pushed aside by co-producer Jon Peters!
Ultimately, Sean Young was VV… until breaking her left arm… or her collar-bone (take your pick). Keaton helped her to hospital. Burton then suggested Keaton’s lover, Michelle Pfieffer,should take over, but Keaton thought that “too akward.” Kim Basinger was producer Jon Peters’ idea. Said Young: “?If Jon Peters had wanted me I think they could have shot around it. I think he just had a hard-on for Kim Basinger. He had a good excuse to let me go and hire her. It hurt me, but that’s show business.”
The horse-riding scene was cut. Keaton and Basinger only rode each other (on-screen), as Young starred in tabloids with the bizarre ramifications of James Woods ending their affair. “Remember the plus side,” said Keaton. “Sean is talented. It’s not like she’s nuts and not talented.”
There were some couple ideas, as well for Bats and Vicki Vale. Real life spouses Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker… and TV co-stars Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepard, coming off five years as Addison and Maddie in Moonlighting. Plus brothers Emilo Estevez and Charlie Sheen were seen for Batman Wayne – their father, Martin Sheen was Spielberg’s two-faced notion for Harvey Dent. Charlie Sheen was favoured for being young-enough-to-last-a-franchise. Or, join it later… as one Batman Returns rumour was Charlie for… Robin. (Instead, Charlie sent up Superman in Hot Shots).
Harvey Dent . Ray Liotta, Tim Burton’s first idea for Harvey Dent. had to decline – director Martin Scorsese wanted him for Goodfellas. Burton checked on Don Johnson and Dale Midkiff – a year after being Elvis in Elvis and Me. Talks started with Martin Sheen (his son, Emilio Estevez was a Bat possible). Billy Dee Williams accepted the DA, expecting to continue playing him (as Two-Face) in later film(s). Never happened. Warner Bros had now seriously pissed off both Williamses: Robin and Billy Dee.
Carl Grissom . Albert Finney, Christopher Lee passed. So did Martin Landau – who would win a support Oscar for Burton’s Ed Wood on March 27, 1995. To paraphrase the final Hamlet line: The best was Palance.
Alicia Grissom . British blonde Patsy Kensit was aced out by Jerry Hall, Mrs Mick Jagger, as Nicholson’s main squeeze. The casting director was the redoubtable Marion Dougherty (Chinatown, Midnight Cowboy, Shampoo, etc) who had cast Patsy in The Great Gatsby at age four. “Listen, I don’t think you’re right for this one [too young fo Jack], but there’s something else you are right for, just sit tight.” And that was Lethal Weapon 2… the movie that prevented Mel Gibson from saving Gotham City.
Alexander Knox . Steve Martin and Daniel Stern were knoxed out of mix by Robert Wuhl.
Commissioner James Gordon . Burt Reynolds (suggested for Supereman in 1977) passed the GCPD chief to Pat Hingle.
Alfred Pennyworth . The Wayne mansion butler went from the third Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee , to a more experienced UK character player, Michaerl Gough.
Thomas Wayne . David Baxt (a burglar in Superman ten years before) reenacted the most repeated shooting after Jack Ruby in Dallas. Because Adam West refused to, as it were, play his own father. West was many things; stupid was not among them. He knew full well that he was being courted just for the publicity value. No thank you. I’m Batman, was the message. And the postscript: It’s the only role I would consider playing. (Even at 60?). In fact, he even played it for me once in London in the 60s – for a Central Office of Information short I wrote about Batman teaching UK kids how to cross the road safely. “Look right, look left, then look right again.” A most amenable fella.
Robin/Dick Grayson . First drafts included Robin – immediately offered to Kiefer Sutherland, then 19, and unimpressed at the thought of prancing around in yellow tights. He never realised that Tim Burton’s vision was to be darker. Then again, yellow is yellow. Marlon Wayans and Irishman Ricky Addison Reed tested in Robin’s duds (not unlike Chris O’Donnell’s 1995 costume). Also seen: Michael J Fox (from the Batman mix) and Eddie Murphy. However, in future drafts, poor Robin kept getting smaller until he completely disappeared. Like Reed – gone after just one film, A Return to Salem’s Lot, 1987. Ben Affleck (the 2015 Batman) and his pal, Matt Damon, both stated that, despite all the stories and/or rumours, they were never asked to test as Robin.
Roles deleted…included Dick Grayson, aka Robin, offered to and Kiefer Sutherland. Plus Dustin Hoffman as The Penguin and Geena Davis as a certain Silver St. Cloud.
Various of these Batcontenders rower continually chased for this new comic-cuts biz. Michael Biehn was seen for Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, 2001, and the earthling father of 2011’s Man of Steel… Nic Cage was all set but Superman Lives died. (Well, the alternate title had been Death of Superman!) Cage was next asked to be the hero – or villain – of Spider-Man, in 2001… Sean Penn, a most unlikely Batguy, was short-listed to succeed Brando as Man of Steel’s biiological father, Jor-El… Sylvester Stallone fortunately passed on both Superman, 1977, and this Batman ten years later – not to mention fleeing Mr Freeze in Batman & Robin, 1996.
For some unfathomable reason, Dennis Quaid became more of a patriarchal figure, moving from first reserve for Brando’s Jor-El in 1977 to the 22011 Jonathan Kent list – and even Bruce Wayne’s Pop in Batman Begins, 2004! There was no Batman for John Travolta, in 1977 or 2004… and no American Gigolo, Arthur, Donnie Brasco, Forrest Gump, Indiana Jones, Jim Morrison, Rambo or Scarface, either. He chose scripts as carefully as George Raft!
As for first Batman, Michael Keaton himself, he agreed to be the Spider-Man: Homecoming villain, Adrian Toomes/Vulture, in 2016, but passed on flying (and clowning) around as Shazam! in 2018.
“Wow, The Batman – or is it just Batman? Uh, your choice, of course!”
Tim Burton . 1991
Neither Tim Burton out Michael Keaton n were contracted to any reprise. Nor was Nicholson, who refused $7m for the sequel: “The Joker was dead.”(Until 1998 when Warners offered him almost the studio and he agreed to reprise Jack Napier in Batman Triumphant... and it never happened)
They were all were plainly disinterested until the screenplay suited Tim better than the 1989 script and Michael got his salary hike. Plus a zipper for the Batpants.
Then, it was 1989 all over again…
Robin Williams and Julia Roberts were just about everyone’s favourite Penguin and Catwoman. Bit they were both Hooked by Steven Spielberg. As was Dustin Hoffman and another potential Penguin, Bob Hoskins, the only human seen in Spielberg’s production of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1987.
Spielberg haunted this show… (among others!).
Selina Kyle/Catwoman . But had been all set for Cher in the first film, until cut from the top-heavy script and was now aimed at another singer, Jody Watley (a hot solo after departing the R&B group Shalamar). Next, Burton fell for Annette Bening – but she and her husband, Warren Beatty, proved pregnant. . (She also quit The Playboys). “It really kinda blew me away,” admitted Tim, “but she called me first and I appreciated that.” (The Playboys producers did not. They sued).
“We saw every major movie star,” said producer Denise Ni Novi “from 17 through late 40s” – Ellen Barkin, Kim Basinger (from Bat1), Jennifer Beals, Annette Bening, Lorraine Bracco, Cher, Geena Davis, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Nicole Kidman, Madonna, Demi Moore, Lena Olin, Susan Sarandon, Brooke Shields, Meryl Streep(!), Sigourney Weaver, Raquel Welch. And Jennifer Jason Leigh – nearly Lois Lane in 1977, and missing Spider-Man’s upside-down kiss in 2001.
Then, in one of the great Hollywood stories,
Michael Keaton witnessed
the Second Coming of Sean Young…
She had lost Vickie Vale in the first film after a riding accident. Determined to take over Catwoman from Bening, Sean crashed a meeting of Keaton and Warner executive Mark Canton. She was looking, said Michael, “not uncatlike” in tight shirt (purple) and tight shorts (black), bizarre hair and eye make-up. She also carried a walkie-talkie. “Mark thought it was a gun. Amazing!”
Her goal, Tim Burton, was out. (He was, though, in the Plucky Duck cartoon version of it all). Not that it mattered. “I didn’t want to meet Sean Young,” said Burton. “Because I knew Sean Young.”
Michelle Pfeiffer as purrfect… She got $3m ($2m more than offered to Benning) and went through 60 Catsuits during the six month shoot, at $1,000 each.
Michelle had backed off auditioning as Vickie Vale in the first film, unable to face love scenes with Michael Keaton, so soon after their affair had tanked. No such problem for the sequel. She even sacrificed two great roles – in Lorenzo’s Oil and Mr Jones – to cat around. She was right. She was the movie, more so than The Penguin, leading to a Catwoman due from Burton in 1996. And, alas, never made… He had called it: Kitten With A Whip.
The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot . “I was their Number One son, and they treated me like Number Two.” Naturally, Burton wanted Marlon Brando. He certainly had enough blubber but was all but impossible to cast in movies. And Warner would not hear of it. Not after the way he had shafted the studio almost 20 years ago in Superman – collecting $14m for a 10-minute turn as El-Jor.
After the Hoffman and Hoskins thoughts, the suits wanted Canadian comic John Candy or Christopher Lloyd, Doc Brown in Spielberg’s Back To The Future franchise. Lloyd certainly matched writer Tom Mankiewicz’s ’89 description: “a tall, proper-looking, thin man.” Burton and writer Daniel Waters then turned him into Werner Krauss in 1919’s Cabinet of Dr Caligari. Finally, Danny De Vito was convinced by pal Jack Nicholson into accepting the daily two hours of make-up by tales of the fun Jack had with Burton, critical acclaim for his Joker… and a shit-load of money.
Keaton liked the sequel. “But I didn’t love it. I thought we needed to regroup, to go back to the core.”
As they did. Eventually. Sans Keaton.
Robin/Dick Grayson . First drafts included Robin – immediately offered to Kiefer Sutherland, then 19, and unimpressed at the thought of prancing around in yellow tights. He never realised that Tim Burton’s vision was to be darker. Then again, yellow is yellow. Marlon Wayans and Irishman Ricky Addison Reed tested in Robin’s duds (not unlike Chris O’Donnell’s 1995 costume). In future drafts, poor Robin kept getting smaller until he completely disappeared. Like Reed – gone after just the one movie, A Return To Salem’s Lot, 1987.
“By the way, do you have a first name, or do I just call you Bats?”
Joel Schumacher . 1994
In the brief moment that Tim Burton considered a third Batmovie, The Riddler was his one and only villain. Everything fell apart when Robin Williams refused to talk about it unless Warner Bros apologised for the way it had used him “as bait” to get Jack Nicholson for the first film. No way, sunshine. Indeed, truth was Warner still wanted Jack back as The Joker in this film!.
However, there was a new kid in town, earning salaries higher than most of Willams’ cut-of-the-profits deals. Plus, before long,a new director, a new Batman, a new emphasis on youth. Goodbye Robin – hello, Jim Carrey. Hello, the other Robin, too!
After Tim, Burton quit and John McTiernan was busy with Die Hard With A Vengeance, the studio rejected a typically polite offer from Sam Raimi… future boss of the Spider-Man franchise. Whoops!
Batman/Bruce Wayne . Michael Keaton thought a third Batman was “the coolest idea, it’s just so rich with possibilities.” He then saw “those possibilities were not going to be explored.” Schumacher was a great guy but no Burton… and Keaton did not fancy Joel’s Bat-take, including nipples on the Batsuit and a “hip” earring for Robin.
Keaton turned in his cape – despite a possible $3m for four months’ work. Considering Schumacher’s campy take on the series, it was a good move by Keaton and he went with his head (and ego) held high… “I’ve proven I’m courageous,” he said oh so modestly… “I’m gutsier than anybody. I’ve got a better imagination than anybody. I’m essentially more creative than any other actor I know, and I’ve proven I take risks. I don’t think I need to prove anything to myself any more.” None of which explains how he could make such drek as Jack Frost, in which he played a dead musician who bonds with his son after being reincarnated as a snowman.
Warner’s first replacement ideas were Tom Hanks (!) or Alec Baldwin (again) as Joel shook the studio by suggesting Daniel Day-Lewis or Ralph Fiennes. Plus William Baldwin, Johnny Depp (in a white mask ?!), Ethan Hawke, Keanu Reeves, Kurt Russell (up for Commissioner Gordon next time), and Mark Wahlberg.
Or, indeed, Val Kilmer… Schumacher was impresed by him in Tombstone, 1992, playing Doc Holliday – played on TV’s Colt.45 in 1959 by a certain Adam West! You think that is worthy of Ripley’s Believe It Or No…? Wait…
Kilmer learned he was the new Batman
… while in a bat cave in Africa
He was researching another project. “Sean Penn told me when I asked him advice at the time: “As long as you play a superhero that has a good mask, having a cape is icing on the cake. Or the cape.” I was trying also to get his wife to play my girlfriend. [Penn was single during 1989-1996]. He spoke for her and said: ‘Nah, the only other role in a superhero film is the bad guy…“ (Kilmer was e-mailing Mike Fleming Jr for Deadline Hollywood in November 2017).
And so he accepted the role without reading the script. He shouldn’t have. It would have avoided numerous on-set clashes with Joel… one leading, reported, Schumacher, to a “shoving match.”
At least one director could have warned Joel. Apparently, when Kilmer’slast shot was done on The Island of Dr Moreau, John Frankenheimer yelled: “Cut! Now get that bastard off my set!”
The Riddler . According to his make-up artist, Cheri Minns, Robin Williams “was having a complete mental breakdown” on hearing Jim Carrey had won the role. Consumed with concerns about his future career, Robin had presumed – and boasted too soon – that The Riddler was his to play with.
Director Joel Schumacher told me a diffferent story in Deauville, France. “Robin Williams couldn’t say yes and he couldn’t say no – for a whole year! And if you ask someone to marry you for a year and have them say no – you just may start sleeping with someone else! I still love Robin, one of the great people.And he still thought he was doing the film. He just couldn’t technically say: Yes.
“He kept worrying about certain things
– I can’t tell you what they are.
They’re personal to Robin Williams”
“He hadn’t a spandex body – or legs. This happens to big stars – many times. They’re frightened to commit because they’ve been burnt a lot. You can try to make things better, more comfortable for them but in the long run, people have to squeeze their noses and jump into the water.”
Or as Robin’s wife, Marsha, told him: “There’s room for other people. You don’t have to freak out.”
Also seen for riddling: Matthew Broderick (?!), ex-Monkee Mickey Dolenz, Brad Dourif (the voice of Chucky), Mark Hamill (aka Luke Sykwalker, of course, and the voice of the tele- Riddler), John Malkovich, Damon Wayans, brother of Marlon, who had won (and lost) Robin. And… Michael Jackson!
Chase Meridan . Renee Russo as Dr Meridian when Keaton was still in the Batsuit. She was then deemed too old to be the love toy of BatKilmer and her first comic book film became Thor, 2010. Schumacher was a tad late in calling Sandra Bullock – her $600,000 Speed salary was being doubled for While You Were Sleeping. He looked at Cindy Crawford, Linda Hamilton, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Robin Wright before settling on Nicole Kidman – and keeping Elle McPherson on ice for his second Bat-flick. (Nicole has made films with four Batmen: Bale, Clooney, Keaton, Kilmer).
Robin/Dick Grayson . Marlon Wayans was signed – and went through costuming for all of the five minutes that he was due in Bat2. He was promised more screentime in Bat3. Except when Schumacher took over,he put the role out to hire…
Leonardo DiCaprio tested. So did Michael Worth, body model for Charlton Heston in the Planet of the Apes re-issue poster and a future director. Joel also saw Matt Damon, Coreey Feldman, Corey Haim (the two Coreys were among Schumacher’s Lost Boys, 1987), Jude Law, Ewan McGregor (Star Wars), Toby Stephens (the 2002 Bond villain) – and two future X-Men: Alan Cumming and Scott Speedman.
Plus Christian Bale, the Brit kid from Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, 1987. Ten years on, he proved Joel’s point about a non-US actor (like Day-Lewis or Fiennes) could play Bruce Wayne… by winning the reboot trilogy beginning with Batman Begins, 2004.
The final choice narrowed down to Chris O’Donnell and DiCaprio. The producers went to a comic book convention and asked 11-year-old boys (the film’s target audience) who would win a fight between the two actors. With his new short haircut, O’Donnell won. For much less than Jim Carrey’s $7m.
Harvey Dent/Two-Face . Using Harvey was Joel’s notion. Warner rushed back to Mel Gibson, first idea for the 1989 Batman. (Hey, he’d since been The Man Without A Face…aha!). Again, he had to pass, this time due to Braveheart, his big Oscar-winner of 1995.?
Billy Dee Williams had expected to continue Dent from the first film.There was talk of a clause reserving him the role in any sequels. Joel got his way again. Warner Bros bought the Star Wars star out of his deal and signed (an extravagant) Tommy Lee Jones.
Sugar . Jenny McCarthy v Drew Barrymore. And Drew won. There’s that Spielberg connection again!
Bank Guard was written for TV postman Newman, Wayne Knight (as opposed to Dark Knight) – far too busy Seinfelding. Joe Grifasi took his bank job.
Once Bat3 was all over and in release, Matt Damon admitted: “I’d have taken Robin.” He never needed to. Spielberg, Coppola, Minghella, Van Sant and Oscar took to him!
THE BATMOVIES THAT NEVER WERE
1. When Batman & Robin did not make tons of money – all plans for a fifth film in the franchise, a third from Joel Schumacher in the director’s chair, were shredded. Instead of doing the right, corporate thing – shopping around for another director, another writer, another take. Warner Bros simply cut its losses and ran. Until doing exactly that in 2004. (Hello Mr Nolan)The intended title, unfortunately, had been Batman Triumphant with Clooney and Nicholson reprising Batman and The Joker. Plus Jeff Goldblum (a potental Batman in 1988) or Ewan McGregpr (nearly Robin in 1994) as Scarecrow/Dr Jonahan Crane and Christopher Lloyd (up for 1991’s Penguin) as Man-Bat/Dr Kirk Langstrom.
“This is why Superman works alone”
BATMAN & ROBIN
Joel Schumacher . 1996
So far, only Michael Gough (Alfred the butler at Wayne Manor) and Pat Hingle (Gotham’s Police Commissioner Gordon) had appeared in all three Batmovies. They would not make anymore. The fourth was already… the end of an era.
Although still starring in TV’s ER medical soap, George Clooney gave in to Schumacher and Warners’ entreaties. Reluctantly. (That is spelled: $10m). He would forever apologise to one and all “for ruining the franchise.”Not really his fault, certainly the studio never held it against him.(Or not when he began his Danny Ocean franchsie).
No, it was Joel Schumacher who wentway over the top with, as Variety phrased it, “an over reliance on production design, increasingly campy costumes and mind-numbing action and noise.”
Consequently, Bat4 had trouble recouping the $125m budget, never mind any profit. Warners immediately cancelled the next production, Batman Triumphant (!) .It would it take a full decade, and going back to the start of the story – darker than Burton or Schumacher – before any Bat5 opened.
Batman/Bruce Wayne . Val Kilmer is the George Lazenby of Batmen… He was to continue being cowled but… and the subtext here is: When offered a second Batmovie, after your first grossed $180m, you don’t try to rule a real power trip stinker like The Saint instead. (“We really screwed that up, didn’t we?”he later told the TV Saint, Roger Moore. We?).
He announced he had no wish to waste his talent wearing a mask (he was also masked during some of Heat, shot at the same time as Batman Forever). Suddenly, Kilmer was batshit. Buzz magazine named him among the 12 scariest people in Hollywood. Allegations included him telling The Saint crew to avoid eye contact with him… and when playing Jim Morrison in The Doors, having everyone call him Jim,
Even Schumacher, his one-time Batsupporter (and, apparently, one time was enough), was now calling him ‘the most psychologically disturbed human being I’ve ever worked with.”
Screenwriter Kevin Jarre added:
“There’s a dark side to Val Kilmer
that I don’t feel comfortable talking about.”
Darker, certainly, than David Duchovny – or the ever-charming George Clooney. He became Joel’s choice after his newest film hit the #1 spot and Schumacher “started drawing Batmasks on George’s head in a newspaper ad for From Dusk Till Dawn.”
George always blamed himself for the collapse of the franchise – and as his star rose as an actor, producer, director, and Oscar-winner. He was lucky. He was loved. His Robin was not. The film career of Chris O’Donnell never recovered from the Gotham experience. Series, like Grey’s Anatomyand NCIS: Los Angeles, provided some respitebut movie offers became sparse and far from top billing. “When I made Batman ForeverI felt like I was making a movie. When I made Batman & Robin, I felt like I was making a toy commercial.”
Mr. Freeze/Dr. Victor Fries . Rumour mills had Anthony Hopkins (yes) and Patrick Stewart (no) up for Dr F. Or why not Ed Harris? Joel decided that Freeze must be “big and strong like he was chiseled out of a glacier.” Sly! Yes but Stallone wanted too much – $20m. OK, then Arnold! And if he declined, OK, then… Hulk Hogan???!! Fortunately (?), Schwarzenegger agreed – for $25m. (Clooney and Arnie shared scenes, but not the filming of them. “We never even saw each other,” said George). Nine years later, Tony Hopkins also turned down being Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth, in the next chapter: Batman Begins, 2004 – and was set for Superman’s father, Jor-El, In Superman Returns, but quit when director Brett Ratner left Metropolis.
Poison Ivy/Dr. Pamela Isley . Joel immediately thought of three of his favourites: Nicole Kidman (Bat3’s Dr Meridan Chase), Demi Moore and Julia Roberts, Then, Sharon Stone. Before he sent for Uma Thurman.
Batgirl/Barbara Wilson . Olivia d’Abo tried hard. Christiana Ricci tried harder. “I’d love to have played Batgirl [Alicia Silverstone] because then I could kick the shit out of people. But I’d also havehad to say ‘Fuck you!’ – and I’m not saying some of these lines.”
Commissioner James Gordon . Pat Hingle had been Gotham’s top cop since Batman. His fourth outing was in jeopardy for a moment or two. He had hit 72, well beyond the retirement age for police commissioners. And of all people, Kurt Russell – nearly the caped crusader in Batman Forever – was suggested as the new Gordon. Finally, Schumcher kept the faith and Hingle stood firm alongside the Batsignal…in his 179th (of 198) screen roles.
“I don’t regret anything,” George Clooney declared in 2008. “With hindsight it’s easy to look back at Batman & Robin and go: Woah! That was really shit, and I was really bad in it. The truth is, Batmanis still the biggest break I’ve had. It changed my career. I wouldn’t be doing this now if it hadn’t been for Batman.”
“You have to remember at that point, I was just an actor getting an acting job,” he told Howard Stern in 2020. “I wasn’t the guy who could greenlight a movie.. It’s a big, monster machine, and I just sort of jumped in and did what they said. “I was bad in it. Akiva Goldsman – who’s won the Oscar for writing since then – he wrote the screenplay. And it’s a terrible screenplay, he’ll tell you. I’m terrible in it, I’ll tell you. Joel Schumacher directed it, and he’d say, ‘Yeah, it didn’t work.’ We all whiffed on that one.”
Clooney has a photo of him in the Batsuit on his office wall. As a reminder…
“I’m a big believer that the lessons you learn are not from successes,” he told Deadline Hollywood’s Mike Fleming Jr in June, 2019. “It’s good to have Batman sitting up there. We look at that and laugh a lot – it’s good to have as a proper reminder. After Batman & Robin I really realized that you can make a bad film out of a good script, but you can’t make a good film out of a bad script. It’s that simple. And for me, the next three films were O Brother, Where Art Thou, Three Kings, and Out of Sight. Great films because they were good scripts…”
“I’ll go back to Gotham and fight… but I won’t become an executioner.”
Christopher Nolan . 2004
Can you believe that the Nolan/Bale masterpiece trilogy grew out of Warner’s plan for a live-action take of its 1999-2012 Batman Beyond toon series… the sole reason for which, admitted producer Paul Duni, was to sell Bat-toys!
Worse, the series was less DC than the 1987 Japanese anime, Akira, under a new name. And now the Warner suits wanted such an mix to be respun as the fifth Batflick!
New Yorker Boaz Yakin was to direct what would have been his third movie. And yes, rhat is Yakin, by the way, and not Cannon’s Lemon Popiscle-maker, Boaz Davidson. (He also knocked out Going Bananas and American Cyborg: Steel Warrior and produced 173 movies in 31 years: 1989-2020).
All this was going on (and off) while waiting for the financial dust to settle after Batman & Robin (a disaster except forDVD sales), Warner was impatient to re-oil the Gotham money machine. The main idea was running back to safety: Tim Burton directing Jack Nicholson as The Joker again. As if any studio could afford them.
During 1997-1999, titles came and went: Batman 5, Batman: The Frightening, Batman: Intimidation. After Se7en and Fight Club, David Fincher became top dog. George Clooney (you see, Bat4 was not his fault), Kurt Russell, John Travolta (!) were potential Batmen. Even the studio’s deity… “I told them,” said Darren Aronofsky, “that I’d cast Clint Eastwood as the Dark Knight and shoot it in Tokyo – that got their attention.” Except, he never really wanted to make a Batman at all. Just get an in at Warner Bros for his own planned biggie, The Fountain. Neither one flew.
Villain of the piece would be either The Scarecrow or The Joker. Chris O’Donnell was keen to remain Robin, just as long as Schumacher directed – hardly likely after the last mess, even if he could rope in Julia Roberts as Batgirl.
German director Wolfgang Petersen suggested Superman v Batman – with Christian Bale, Colin Farrell or James Franco in the cape and mask. , Josh Hartnett ort Jude Law as Supie. But then, Petersen quit for Troy. “I hope it will still happen one day… because they are so different. The dark Batman and the sort of goody-goody Superman.”
After the rubbish known as The Matrix, 1999, the Wachowski siblings (then Larry and Andy, now Lana and Lilly) were asked to take over. Well, yeah, they’d scripted Frank Miller’s graphic novel, Batman: Year One, but were far too occupied matrixing sequels to actually make it. Enter: Aronofsky. with Frank Miller’s own script.. “I told them,” said Aronofsky, “that I’d cast Clint Eastwood as the Dark Knight and shoot it in Tokyo – that got their attention.” Except, he never really wanted to make a Batman at all. Just get an in at Warner Bros for his own planned biggie, The Fountain. Neither one flew.
Hello: Christopher Nolan!
Of whom no higher authority than Al Pacino had declared after making Insomnia with him in 2002: “He is to the manner born. It’s wonderful to come into contact with someone doing what he’s meant to do. He’s in the game. It comes out of him with ease and naturalism… I’d say he’d eventually be in the catergory with the Michael Manns and Soderberghs of the world.”
The Warner Brothers Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov – mercurial in every which way – first met Nolan after the release of Memento in 2001, when the Londoner was none too happy at the prospect of helming Troy. The boss’ question was obvious: Whaddyer really wanna do? They all say that, the suits. Robinov alone, it seemed, actually listened to the answer and usually made their things happen. (Ask Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Baz Luhrmann, Todd Phillips
Well, said Nolan, since you mention it, I’ve always been interested in Batman.
What you say? Lights, action, fireworks…!! This was music to Robinov’s ear although the studio had not been thinking that hard of revamping ole Batty as Supie was the more economically urgent rescue package, Nolan explained his version – “pain” – and studio chief Alan Horn flicked the greenlight…and Batman Begins began.
“Chris came in,” recalled Robinov, “and said: Look, this is what I want to do in the movie. This is what I want to do with it visually. This is where I think the character needs to go. I think it’s going to be different than any superhero movie anybody’s seen before. And what I really want to do is take that genre and embrace it as a real film genre.”
Immediately, the Internet was full of tales that it was a done deal. Obviously, Chris Nolan’s Batguy would be the star of his impeccable Memento in 2000: the since much wasted Australian actor Guy Pearce. “Just a rumour,” said Pearce. “Even after the film came out, people were like: How come you turned down Batman? I didn’t. Chris and I never had one conversation about it.”
OK, if not Guy…who?
Batman/Bruce Wayne . Josh Hartnett told Playboy magazine how he regretted refusing Batman and how it had been detrimental to his career. “I’ve definitely said no to some of the wrong people. I said no because I was tired and wanted to spend more time with my friends and family. That’s frowned upon in this industry. People don’t like being told no. I don’t like it. I learned my lesson when Christopher Nolan and I talked about Batman. I decided it wasn’t for me. Then he didn’t want to put me in The Prestige. They not only hired their Batman for it, they also hired my girlfriend [Scarlett Johansson] at the time. That’s when I realised relationships were formed in the fire of that first Batman… and I should’ve been part of the relationship with this guy Nolan – incredibly cool and very talented. I was so focused on not being pigeonholed… I should have thought, ‘Well, then, work harder, man,’ Watching Christian Bale go on to do so many other things has been just awesome. I mean, he’s been able to overcome that. Why couldn’t I see that at the time?”
Once Hartnett passed, it came down to … Eion Bailey (TV’s Band of Brothers who went on to ER), Jake Gyllenhaal, Joshua Jackson, from TV’s Dawson’s Creek, another Bailey series), Demi Moore’s toy boy Ashton Kutcher and Heath Ledger… posthumously Oscared for his Joker in the next chapter, The Dark Knight.
Cillian Murphy actually – “absurdly” – tested in the Batsuit. “I think it was Val Kilmer’s. Nolan said: You’re not quite right. And I was , like, I know I’m not. Then, he offered me the other part.” The Scarecrow. Reeves was kicked out of the park. “I always wanted to play The Dark Knight,” he said in 2014. “But I didn’t get that one. They’ve had some great Batmans. So now I’m just enjoying them as an audience.”
Bat-Brit prospects included Christian Bale (up for Robin in 1994 and the future unimnpeachable Gotham crusader), Hugh Dancy (from Black Hawk Down) and the close to terminally unlucky Henry Cavill – also losing the new Superman and James Bond. “I may have been spoken about in a room at some stage,” he admitted, “but never auditioned or screen-tested.” (He became Man of Steel, in 2011).
“The testing process on this kind of character,” said Nolan, “it’s not about acting ability or chemistry or any of those things. It’s about being able to project this extraordinary iconography from the inside. Christian [Bale] somehow figured this out before the screentest – that you could not give an ordinary performance, you could not give a normal performance. You had to project massive energy through this costume in order to not question the costume.
“It’s about feeling and a voice, and I think Christian’s voice was a big part of the impression he made in the test. He had decided that Batman needed to have a different voice to Bruce Wayne – that he needed to put on a voice. That supported the visual appearance of the character and explained why people don’t recognise him from his voice. It was pretty logically thought out.”
The Brit was announced “the best person to play Batman”on September 10, 2003. “What I see in Christian is the ultimate embodiment of Bruce Wayne,” said Jeff Robinov.
“He has the balance of darkness and light
that we were looking for.”
And he was young enough to hang a series on. At 30, he was the youngest Bruce Wayne… the name affixed to his trailer’s door!
The Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane . Before Nolan took over, the studio had been looking atGene Hackman, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel J Jackson, Ewan McGregor, Skeet Ulrich… even shock-jock Howard Stern! Nolan added Jeremy Davies (obviously Nolan saw in him what we all discovered in his later Justified TV role), Christopher Eccleston (a future ninth Doctor Who) and US rocker Marilyn Manson. Finally, Nolan was so impressed by Cillian Murphy’s test as Batman, himself, that he kept the Irishman from Cork for the villlain.
Thomas Wayne . Gary Oldman (who became Jim Gordon) and Dennis Quaid passed and (another) Irishman. Linus Roache, became the gunned-down father of Bruce Wayne – the seventh richest character in fiction, according to the 2006 Forbes Fictional Fifteen: net worth, $6.8bn.
Henri Ducard . Daniel Day-Lewis, Viggo Mortsensen and Guy Pearce declined the character first created by Sam Hamm in the 1989 Batscript. Then, Nolan seemed to play the cliche game by making Liam Neeson into Bruce Wayne’s mentor after a run of such figures in Stars Wars, Gangs of New York, Kinsey, Kingdom of Heaven. Except Ducard turned out to be a villain: co-leader of the dastardly League of Shadows ninja army – “We burned London to the ground.”
Alfred Pennyworth . Anthony Hopkins (up for Mr Freeze in Bat4) was offered the butler (he’d already been one in The Remains of the Day, 1993). Michael Caine based his Alfred on a army colonel he knew from his British Army days.
Jim Gordon . Chris Cooper, Dennis Quaid and Kurt Russell (a possible Batman ten years before) were turned down in favour of Gary finally playing an Oldman
Lucius Fox . Laurence Fishburne was seen but then – obviously – Morgan Freeman was invited aboard.
Flass . Joe Pantoliano was in the mix., but Nolan knew Mark Boone Junior better – part of Nolan’s Memento team with Guy Pearce.
Ra’s al Ghul . Nolan actually wanted Gary Oldman as the Asian leader of League of Shadows. No that was one too many villains for Oldman. He much preferred the more heroic cop, James Gordon. Nolan then turned to the Japanese actor Ken Wantabe who worked again with Nolan on Inception, 2009.
Rachel Dawes . Amy Adams tested – in what was Bale’s test. . Also seen: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rachel McAdams, But Mrs Cruise (Katie Holmes) won – then fell out of the next one, The Dark Knight, being substituted by Maggio Gyllenhaal.
Before shooting, Christopher Nolan invited his crew to see Blade Runner, 1982. “This is how we’re going to make Batman.”?
“We never had a plan for any sequels,” said Nolan. “We never had a specific trajectory, I wanted to put everything into making one great film, I didn’t want to hold anything back.”
And he didn’t. “This,” applauded Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “is, at last, the Batman movie I’ve been waiting for… darker and more grown-up than the cheerful Superman. He has secrets.”
Repeating the essential credo inaugurated by Tim Burton, and adhered to, even claimed by both producer Jon Peters and the first scenarist Sam Hamm, Micharer Uslan said the films had to be all about Bruce Wayne, not Batman.
“And the actors who have portrayed him have brought something so different. Michael Keaton and Tim Burton had to convince audiences that hadn’t seen a dark super hero movie before, to believe that a guy could be so psychotic he could dress up like a bat and fight crime. Val Kilmer was a darkly, darkly romantic Bruce Wayne, akin to the portrayal of Dracula’ by Frank Langella on Broadway in the 1970’s. George Clooney was the warm and fuzzy guy next door… but Christian Bale nails Bruce Wayne no matter where you come from in the genre. He is Bruce Wayne.”
“Die a hero… or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
THE DARK KNIGHT
Christopher Nolan . 2007
The imprint continues…
Christopher Nolan once again puts emphasis on story (his story, his script) and character and less on CGI action. Likewise, Christian Bale continues to his reign – in the first Batmovie minus Batman in its title.
After the Pain of his first Batfilm, Nolan said the new theme was… Fear
“I never thought we’d do a second – how many good sequels are there? Why roll those dice? But once I knew where it would take Bruce, and when I started to see glimpses of the antagonist, it became essential.”
The Joker . Adrien Brody and Johnny Depp were among the candidates-whether they knew it or not.. Plus Paul Bettany, theAustralian Lachy Hulme (The Matrix Reloaded) and Robin Williams (up for a third Bat-time) were trying to succeed Nicholson before the role went down-under. But why Heath Ledger as The Joker…?
“Because he’s fearless,” said Nolan.
And dead, at 28, before the premiere.
Actually, Ledger agreed to the movie – or so he told pals – because his pay-or-play deal gave him freedom to do what he wanted, no matter how crazy – and, anyway, if he went too far and got sacked, he could then have a paid vacation with his daughter, Matilda – born October 28, 2005.
During his 2019 interview with the co-producer, Deadline Hollywood’s Geoff Boucher told Michael E Uslan about quizzing Nicholson dureing the Golden Globes. What did he think about the choice of Heath Ledger as the Joker. “I was surprised that his reaction was a competitive one. He wanted to return to the role himself and portray an aging Joker who lures Batman back out of retirement for one more confrontation, similar to the landmark graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.” (Miller directed Uslan’s Spirit film in 2008).
The story made Uslan smile. “I always thought… more as the fanboy than the producer… that it would be great if someday Tim Burton was to come back and complete a trilogy of Batman films by doing The Dark Knight Returns story with Michael Keaton in his 50s and Jack Nicholson in his 60s. It didn’t happen but we all get to dream, don’t we?”
Harvey Dent is the DA joining Batman and Jim Gordon’s battle to rid Gotham of The Joker and various criminal organisations. Matt Damon was Nolan’s first choice… except Clint Eastwood was calling Matt to had up Invictus with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. As Matt was also being courted for Avatar, he could have wound up in two of the highest-grossing movies of all time.
Nolan looked at Hugh Jackman (aka Marvel’s Wolverine!), Josh Lucas, Ryan Phillippe and Liev Schreiber – and chose Edward Norton. He then quit Gotham, to be Bruce Banner to try and rescue The Incredible Hulk franchise (didn’t work) and Aaron Eckhart became Dent.
Rachel Dawes . Having become Mrs Tom Cruise since the new Batman franchise, Katie Holmes was now rich enough to turn down nearly $2m to continue playing Rachel Dawes – the character that had been created for her (and no one else) in Batman Begins.
“You’d have to ask her the exact specifics of it,” said director Christopher Nolan. “I would have been happy to have her back. And indeed, I offered her the part. But she couldn’t do it.” (She preferred Mad Money with Diane Keaton and Queen Latifah – no, I’ve never heard of it, either). Not an ideal situation, said Nolan. “This character is an integral part of the story. So Maggie Gyllenhaal stepped in and she was great.” Rachel; McAdams and Emily Blunt were rumored for the part. Maggie’s brother Jake had been among the eight actors vying for the cape and cowl in Bat5.
Salvatore Moroni . Eric Roberts said he had to earn it… “That was a weird experience. James Gandolfini wanted the part. So, they were holding auditions, but they probably were going to go with him. I went in and auditioned and I didn’t hear anything for two months. And then I heard: ‘Hey, you got the part!’ I thought it was long gone. It was a shocking and wonderful experience to watch them burn $200m.”
Dwight Yoakam urned down two roles due to recording schedules. His cop went to Ron Dean and his banker to William Fitchner.
The movie set a new record for the biggest opening-day gross with $66.4m, the biggest three-day opening weekend of all time with $158, the fastest $200m after only five days, a $300m after ten and $400m in 18 days – smashing box-office records of Spider-Man 3, 2007, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, 2006, and Shrek 2, 2004 (which took 43 days to reach $400m). Made more money than the entire domestic run of Batman Begins (2005) in just six days.
THE BATMOVIES THAT NEVER WERE
2. Comicbook writer Mark Miller posted an 2003 Internet story on how, in 1946, Orson Welles, no less, planned Batman! Opening with the deaths of Thomas and Mary Wayne, the film has our hero (Welles, himself, or Gregory Peck) fighting The Joker (Basil Rathbone), The Riddler (James Cagney), Two-Face (George Raft, after Bogart refused), Catwoman (who else but Marlene Dietrich).
A batshit hoax, of course. Bruce Wayne’s mother was called Martha – and The Riddler was not born until Detective Comics #140 in October 1948… two years after the project was nearly happening, four years after Welles supposedly had initial talks with National (later DC) Comics.
“The Batman has to come back.” “What if he doesn’t exist any more?”
7. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
Christopher Nolan . 2011
After the Pain and Fear of his first two Batfilm, Nolan said the final theme was… Chaos
“People ask if we’d always planned a trilogy. This is like being asked whether you had planned on growing up, getting married, having kids. The answer is complicated… “ This is Nolan’s foreword to the book, The Art And Making Of The Dark Knight Rises.
“I never thought we’d do a third – are there any great second sequels? But I kept wondering about the end of Bruce’s journey, and once David and I discovered it, I had to see it for myself. Gotham was rotting away at its foundations. A new evil bubbling up from beneath. Bruce had thought Batman was not needed anymore, but Bruce was wrong, just as I had been wrong. The Batman had to come back. I suppose he always will.”
Where casting was concerned, Nolan didn’t need to really look any further than the cast of his science fiction hit, Inception: Michael Caine (back as Alfred), Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy (the baddest villain), Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Cillian Murphy (reprising his Scarecrow).
Plus a few outsiders…
Selina Kaye/Catwoman . Wanted: A successor to Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, not to mention Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether and Julie Newmar from the TV show… even if she is never referred to by her alias, just The Cat in one newspaper headline. Candidates testing (with Christian Bale) or talking (with Nolan) were: Gemma Arterton (who split to share the lead of lead of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters), Jessica Biel, Keira Knightley, Blake Lively (not a good idea as she was already Green Lantern’s love interest, even though that film was not headed to any franchise; or not this time), Kate Mara (sister of Rooney, who had beaten Hathaway to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Natalie Portman (already Thor’s main squeeze) and Charlotte Reilly (quite a Hathaway lookalike) – engaged to her Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights, TV, 2009, acertain Tom Hardy!
And the winner was Anne Hathaway
(channeling, so she said, Hedy Lamarr).
Anne who had been tapped by Sam Raimi for Felicia Hardy (aka Black Cat) in the fourth Spider-Man which, in the end, neither Sam, Anne or ole Spidey himself, Tobey Maguire, ever made as the franchise was rebooted.
Miranda Tate . Will you welcome, please…Eva Green (testing for everything!) and all the Ws…. Naomi Watts (away in Thailand making The Impossible tsunami disaster drama with Ewan McGregor), Rachel Weisz and Kate Winslet.Nolan knew who he wanted and delayed her scenes so that the French Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard started filming just twomonths after she giving birth to herand Guillaume Canet’s son, Marcel.
John Blake . Topping the list wasNolan’s Inception star, Leonardo Di Caprio – far busier than he was in the days when he was up for Robin in Batman Forever. Followed by… Ryan Gosling, James Holzier, Mark Ruffalo were rung up the Batpole – and Joseph Gordon-Levitt left them there!
Jen . Before the role went to Juno Temple, the mainchoices were the new generation of heroines… suddenly occupied with their own franchises: Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games and the Kick Ass Hit-Girl, Chloe Grace Moretz.
Bane . There was little doubt that the often fearsome Tom Hardy would be Bane, the quite dreadfully fearsome villain, abnormally strong after being pumped full of drugs. First created 1993, the masked Bane is known as The Man Who Broke The Bat after he busting Batman’s spinal cord and making him a paraplegic in one comicbook story. He is more modern-day terrorist than the cartoon baddy portrayed by Michael Reid MacKay and (after the transforming drugs) wrester Jeep Swanson in Batman & Robin, and the Bane voiced by Hector Elizondo and Carlos Alazraqui in two DC animation videos
“With Bane, we are looking to give Batman a physical challenge that he hasn’t had before,” explained Nolan. “What Bane represents in the comics is the ultimate physical villain – we’re testing Batman both physically as well as mentally. Also, in terms of finishing our story and increasing its scope, we were trying to craft an epic, so the physicality of the film became very important. Bane’s a great sort of movie monster, but with an incredible brain, and that was a side of him that hadn’t been tapped before.”
“He’s brutal, brutal,” Hardy told Empire magazine. “He’s expedient delivery of brutality. And you know, he’s a big dude… who’s incredibly clinical, in the fact that he has a result-based and orientated fighting style. Quicker. Quicker. He’s hit you, he’s already hit somebody else. It’s not about fighting. It’s just about carnage… A really horrible piece of work.”
All upon three-inch heels to make Hardy taller when facing up to Christian Bale. How was that? “He looks really intimidating! There’s a three-year-old in me that’s going: ‘Oh my God that’s Batman! That’s Batman and he’s going to hit me! But I love Batman!’ Then I hit him back. Twice as hard.”
The film was the best of Nolan’s trio said the Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy. Likewise, it was Bale’s best performance as the recluse, beaten by his encounter with The Joker (in The Dark Knight) and doubtful of his ability to protect Gotham after eight years of self-imposed exile. “He gives the character such an inescapable melancholy – a certain perseverance in the face of absolute resignation to his fate – that he becomes a more tragic figure than ever,” said Todd Gilchrist at Indiwewire. .
“If it never quite matches the brilliance of 2008’s The Dark Knight,” commented Justin Chang at Variety, “this hugely ambitious action-drama nonetheless retains the moral urgency and serious-minded pulp instincts that have made the Warners franchise a beacon of integrity in an increasingly comicbook-driven Hollywood universe.” The trilogy makes everything in the rival Marvel universe look “thoroughly silly and childish,”’ad McCarthy. Taking a swipe at Marvel’s The Avengers. “The final shot clearly indicates the direction a follow-up offshoot series by Warner Brothers will likely take.”
Except Nolan will not be taking that step. He’s done. .
“My time in Gotham, looking after one of the greatest and most enduring figures in pop culture, has been the most challenging and rewarding experience a filmmaker could hope for. I will miss the Batman. I like to think that he’ll miss me, but he’s never been particularly sentimental. Batman will outlive us all, and our interpretation was ours. Obviously, we consider it definitive and kind of finished. The great thing about Batman is he lives on for future generations to reinterpret, and obviously, Warners will have to decide in the future what they’re going to do with him… This is the end of our take on this character.”
“It’s time you learn what it means to be a man.”
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
Zack Synder. 2015.
For eight years, Warner Bros exercised extreme, almost terminal cowardice about superhero summits – allowing Marvel to grow up and teach ‘em how to do it. With TheAvengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.
In October 2007, Mad Max’s dad, George Miller, had formed his Justice Leaguefor a 2009 release: Adam Brody, Santiago Cabrera, rapper Common,DJ Cotrona, Megan Gale, ArmieHammer and Hugh Keays-Byrneas Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern,Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and the Martian Manhunter. Four months later, Warners caved… By 2010, Millerhad gone and who could blame him. Besides, he wanted to resurrect Max Rockatansky.(With Gale as his Valkyrie and Keays-Byrne, from the original 1978 Mad Max, as Immortan Joe).
Warner then decided, tentatively, quietly, to test the waters with a mini-supergroup movie, hiding it under the must-see pitch of Batman v Superman,withthe throwaway, give nothing away, sub-monicker of Dawn of Justice, for the first big screen unification of DC favourites Batman, Superman, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, and, naturally, Lex Luthor. Plus flashes of The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Lois Lane, Alfred Pennyworth, Perry White, etc. Then, OK guys, if it works, Justice League. Maybe.
Batman v Superman (or was Superman v Batman or, indeed, Superbatman v Spiderscarecrow?) was first suggested by the German director Woilfgang Petersen in 2001. Akiva Goldsman’s script had Superman trying to stop Batman’s revenge rampage when his fiancee was slain by The Joker. Josh Harnett would be Bat Wayne.
Now because of his Superman reboot, Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder was given the studio’s mission impossibnle. To match – hell, to beat, bury and trample upon – the Marvelverse grip on superherodom. Refusing any solo Baman movie out of respect for Christopher Nolan, Snyder said his film would klick off a storyline dealing wih the DCrew, including Suicide Squadand Justice League, Aquaman, Flash and Wonder Woman standalones all serving the League summits. “It’s one giant story!” Aha.
Obviously handsome Brit Henry Cavill would continue as Superman/Clark Kent while Batman/Brue Wayne would be… yes, who? The problem was Christian Bale. In three Christopher Nolan classics, Bale had forged an irrevocable Dark Knight. His shadow (bigger than Ben Affleck’s 6’ 6” in his Batboots) lay all over the character and the studio! Impossible to match. Or surpass.
So, obviously, the Warner suits did not want Christian to bale. Nor did he. Not really. He admitted thinking about reneging on his decision to never wear the cape again but… as he told Empire Magazine: “There was always a bit of me going: Oh go on … let’s do another.”
Batman . George Miller’s choice of Armie Hammer was still on the list. He was, however, not alone. There were three of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit heroes, Richard Armitage (a great idea), Orlando Bloom (not so much), Luke Evans (fine by me) – and a real wet-dreamwish in Ryan Gosling. And Snyder’s own stars from his second, third, fourth movies: Gerard Butler, 300, 2006;Matthew Goode, aka Ozymandias in Watchmen, 2008; and Jon Hamm, Sucker Punch, 2010, and now the current tele-sensation in Mad Men),
Plus: Jensen Ackles (who voiced Jason Todd aka Robin Hood in the animated Batman: Under the Red Hood, 2010), actor-stunter Scott Adkins, Josh Brolin (despite his Jonah Hex flop at Warner and being the ex-husband of Diane Lane, the current Martha Kent), Tyler Hoechin (he swopped long-johns to be Superman in the TV Supergirl, 2016-2018), Joe Manganiello (who lost the 2012 Man of Steel to Henry Cavill but was swiftly booked for Deathstroke in Justice League II and The Batman, 2021), Max Martini (from The Unit, 2007-2009) and Matthias Schoenaerts – first Belgian to be offered anything in Hollywood since Jean-Claude Van Damme spread his legs.
Snyder also asked Hawaiian Jason Momoa to audition. “I’m not a Batman type,” he said. He was right. Snyder agreed and had him cameo Aquaman before his 2019 standalone smash.
Oh and Jeffrey Dean Morgan… He was keen on scoring a fourth film-from-a-comic after Watchmen, The Losersand Jonah Hex (opposite another Batpossibiilty, Josh Brolin). But let’s get serious here. JDM was 49. And in the Metropolis tale, Batman was, at the least, 46. Hence, Morgan was a tad too aged. So muchn so that Snyder (who, of course, made Watchmenwith him), made him Bruce Wayne’s father. With Lauren Cophan as Martha.
And so it came to pass that Zack chose Ben Affleck, the tallest Batguy and he immediately began working out two hours a day. And, lo, that did not stop the anti-social network going ab-so-lute-ly bananas. Something called #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck suggested better choices would be MTV’s Butthead or Nicolas Cage. (Same person, no?).
Ex-Star Trek actor Will Wheaton poured forth his bile. “Really looking forward to seeing Affleck bring the depth and gravitas to Batman that he brought to Daredeviland Gigli.”
Writer Chase Mitchell: “In the Ben Affleck version,
Batman’s parents kill themselves.” Owch!
Affleck expected it all. Warner Bros had warned him. “You should know what you’re getting into… they showed me the reactions to other folks who had been cast in these roles,” he told Miichael Fleming in the March 2013 Playboy.
”If I thought the result would be another Daredevil, I’d be out there picketing myself. Why would I make the movie if I didn’t think it was going to be good and that I could be good in it? The only movie I actually regret is Daredevil. It just kills me. I love that story, that character, and the fact that it got fucked up the way it did stays with me. Maybe that’s part of the motivation to do Batman.”
He still had suporters. “Holy shit…,” wrote his pal, New Jersey auteur Kevin Smith, “BEN AFFLECK IS THE NEW BATMAN!!! Do you know what this means? It means that I’ve seen Batman naked!!!”
“Look, Ben Affleck was always going to have the part, all right?” commented one of his rivals, Scott Adkins. “He’s got Oscars!”
He had also proved his thespian talents in a number of films – State of Play, The Company Man, The Town. And being Superman, or at least George Reeves – the first TV Supie – in Allen Coulter’s investigation of Reeves’ mysterious death in Hollywoodland, 2006. Ironically, Diane Lane played his lover and went on to be Clark Kent ‘s tererestial mother, in this film and Justice League.
Therefore, Den of Geek’s Simon Brew said writing off Ben because he was the lead in a not brilliant Daredevilmovie was disingenuous, and overlooked his more recent work. “He’s a far better actor now.” And director, having just collected a Best Film Oscar for Argo(which he directed, co-produced and starred in). In fact, Warner had first asked him to helm Man of Steel… then a Justice Leagueby Will Beall in 2011, with Batman and Wonder Woman having a child, Barry Allen flashing back in time to announce Darkseid’s invasion plans and dying in his own (younger) arms. Now the suits suggested Ben for a Caped Crusader trio, helming one or two. (Never happened. He was Batman here and in Suicide Squad, Justice League, but quit The Batman, 2020, which he had scripted).
At 42, Affleck told Empire Magazine, he initially thought the role wasn’t “the right sort of fit.” Then, Snyder pitched his concept for “this older, more broken, kind of fucked up Batman… something we haven’t seen. We’ve seen that Batman is willing to cross the line to protect people. That vigilantism has been a part of his character all along, and we’re tapping into that mentality when faced by something as potentially as deadly as Superman.”
“Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman,” Snyder told Deadline Hollywood. “He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne.”
“He was the first guy we went to,” producer Charles Roven explained to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Stephen Galloway. “We knew that we wanted a very mature Batman, because we wanted to juxtapose him with this very young Superman. So we wanted a guy who was tougher, rugged, who had signs of life, who had lived a hard life… So when we went down that list, there just weren’t a tremendous number of guys who could carry that… We also wanted a guy with big stature. Ben is 6’ 4″. Henryis 6’1″. We wanted Batman to tower over Superman. Not hugely, not like a basketball player. Superman needed to look up to Batman. We wanted that dynamic, and Ben could do that, easily.”
Superman/Clark Kent . Josh Hartnett was surprised to find he was still the studio’s #1 Batchoice in 2003 for then new scenario by Se7en’swriter Andrew Kevin Walker. (He had a new rival, thoughm, a certain Christian Bale). James Franco was Bruce Wayne, before Petersen matched Colin Farrell and Jude Law (still in talks when the project imploded) as Supie. And that was the trouble. Law was another comic-book fan and refused to give up his demands for approval of all sequels. Like, hey Jude – who do you think you are? Just another loyal comic-book fan! Then, someone mentioned John Travolta… and that ended the whoie shebang. Finally, obviously handsome Brit Henry Cavill would continue…
Diana Prince/Wonder Woman . Australian Megan Gale was George Miller’s choice... By 2016, Zack Synder was looking for a new WW in Gadot (from three Fast & Furious winners), Jamie Alexander (already Sif in Marvel’s Thor movies), Alexandra Daddario, Megan Fox, Olga Kurylenko, , Lindsay Lohan (!), French Elodie Yung and two Brits: Lucy Griffiths and, despite flopping as TV’s second Bionic Woman, Michelle Ryan. The Israeli Gadot won, cameoing first here and in the ten-years-too-late Justice League, 2016, before headlining Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, 2016. WW is, declared Snyder, “arguably one of the most powerful female characters of all time and a fan favourite in the DC Universe. Not only is Gal an amazing actress, but she also has that magical quality that makes her perfect for the rôle.”
Arthur Curry/Aquaman . Matt Damon denied he was ever in the frame for Aquaman (just Batman), so Simon Baker, TV’s Mentalist, was the only other actor in the pool for the superson of Atlanna, an Atlantean princess, and lighthouse keeper Tom Curry, who raised him in Amnesty Bay, after his mother returned to her undersea kingdom, nada-nada-nada. Hawaiian Jason Momoa – who won his own solo outing, Aquaman, in 2018 – said there is a lot of Clint Eastwood’s Outlaw Josey Wales in the rebellious Curry, Aquaman to his friends. And foes. (George Miller had selectedf the Venuzuelan Santiago Cabrera).
The Flash/Barry Allen . Top choices were Bradley Cooper (also up for Lex Luthor), Matthew Fox, Australian Ryan Kwanten, Chris Pine, Nebraskan Scott Porter, Ryan Reynolds (Mr Deadpool!) – and flashed on Ezra Miller (also up for the eventually deleted Dick Grayson/Nightwing, like Peter Badgley and Adam Driver). Miller won his own solo stint, Flashpoint, in 2019. Well, he did believe he moved faster than Superman. “Just by a little bit.”
Lex Luthor . Front runners included Bradley Cooper (already up for The Flash), Matt Damon, Adam Driver (the newStar Wars’ Kylo Ren), Gary Oldman and Joaquin Phoenix. Uncredited. And probably unspoken where the French Jean Dujardin was concerned… the 2012 Best Actor Oscar winner for the totally silent comedy, The Artist. Warner suits were keen for Tom Hanks after “his performance ” in the Wachowski sisters’ Cloud Atlas, 2012. Which performance? He played six roles. The suits probably didn’t understand that. Phoenix went on to be the titular Joker in 2018.
Alfred Pennyworth . Apart from Efrem Zimbaklist Jr in varioua toon series and films during 1992-2001, The Batradition has been that Bruce Wayne’s butler (these days he was Wayne’s security chief, friend, mentor, and surrogate Pop) was British to the core. William Austin was first in 1943; Alan Napier on TV, 1966-1968; Ian Abercrombie in Birds of Prey, 2002-2003; Alistair Duncan (voice; The Batman, 2004-2008), David McCallum (voice; Batman:Gotham Knight, 2008), Sean Pertweein TV’sGotham, 2014- – and, of course, Michael Gough for Tim Burton, Michael Caine for Chris Nolan and now Irons was Snyder’s choice… rather than the ex-Bond, Timothy Dalton. All of them would have relished the line: “One misses the days when one’s biggest concerns were exploding wind-up penguins.” The (crowded) film’s Batman, Ben Affleck, said Alfred is “the one who can let the air out of Bruce Wayne’s balloon a little bit, tweak him, and sort of keep him grounded.”
Cyborg/Victor Stone . Because he had voiced him in the toon, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, 2013, there were discussions about Michael B Jordan for Victor Stone, aka Cyborg. They took too long and MJB leapt into othert franchises: Fantastic Four,Creedand Black Panther. Ray Fisher had lost Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens to John Boyega but won Stone and his own Cyborg standaloner.
Commissioner James Gordon . David Morse was coded before the newOscar-winner J K Simmons signed on.
As for Christian Bale, he confessed to Empire: “When I heard there was someone else doing it, there was a moment where I just stopped and stared into nothing for half an hour. But I’m 40. The fact that I’m jealous of someone else playing Batman … I think I should have gotten over it by now.”
Variety’s chief critic, Owen Gleiberman, said the film became the newest symbol of everything that could go wrong in a Hollywood comic-book spectacle. “It was ponderous and inflated, its logic didn’t parse, it had a Batman whose husky glower made him seem a stand-in for other (better) Batmans, it had a villain who was a jittery basket-case cliché – and more than that, it oozed the kind of solemnly overripe ‘darkness’ that was meant to signify integrity but was, in fact, laid on with a corporate trowel… I liked the film’s first half (before it went off the rails), and thought that the malevolent-Superman plot resulted in Henry Cavill giving his first wide-awake screen performance.”
And his last – as Superman. Three strikes and out and into the long-white-haired Gerault of Rivia in Netflix’s The Witcher, a medieval monster hunter. And supernatural. So same old, same old.
There was a new name in the credits of this, the eighth of the modern Batman franchise. Bill Finger. Everyone knows that Bob Kane created Batman, then The Bat-Man, in Detective Comics #27, May 1939. And he did. But not alone. Kane secured a contract as the sole creator – although Finger dreamt up the cowl and cape, the Bat Cave and Batmobile, Bruce Wayne (from Scots King Robert The Bruce and General Anthony Wayne), Robin, Catwoman, Bat-Girl/Betty Kane (!), The Joker, Catwoman, Penguin, Scarecrow, Two-Face, Riddler, Calendar Man, Ace the Bat-Hound. Bat-Mite, Clayface, Commissioner Gordon and even… Gotham City! Kane’s autobioghraphy finally acknowledged his aid as late as 1989 – 15 years after Finger’s death (1914-1974). “I must admit that Bill never received the fame and recognition he deserved.” (Whose fault was that?) “If I could go back…15 years, before he died, I would like to say: I’ll put your name on it now. You deserve it.'” (Now?!) Another book underlined the facts, Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-creator of Batman, in 2012,and yet it was another three years before DC Entertainment agreed to his granddaughter’s‘ request for a co-creator credit. Three Batcheeers for Athena Finger!
[© Warner Briosd]