Dodged Bullets: 14 Actors Who Were Almost Superheroes

Published 5 years ago by , Updated May 3rd, 2014 at 7:40 am,

bill murray batman 21 Dodged Bullets: 14 Actors Who Were Almost Superheroes

Bill Murray as Batman

It is considered folklore, but back when it was a big deal: Michael Keaton being cast as Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton’s Batman caused such outrage among comic book fans, that 50,000 protest letters were sent to Warner Bros. The studio may have gotten 100,000 if Bill Murray had filled the role, as was a strong possibility for some time. It was all a symptom of the mixed-up mid-’80s, about the time when someone thought it would be a good idea to have Richard Pryor play a super-villain (in Superman III).

The Murray Batman was going to be similar in style to the campy Adam West TV show of the ’60s, but the project was eventually met with a big “Kapow!” and Warner Bros. made the right choice in hiring Tim Burton, fresh from the surprise success of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice, who took the film in a completely different direction – towards box-office gold.

Every man and his dog was said to be in the running for the role of Burton’s Billionaire with the bat fetish – most notably Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin – but Keaton won out, and won over the fans with his dark and disturbed portrayal of the victimized vigilante. Murray himself was glowing in his praise of Keaton.

“I would have been a fine Batman. You know, there have been a number of Batmen. I like them … I thought Mike Keaton did a great job as Batman. It’s obviously… it’s a great role.”

Jake Gyllenhaal as Batman

jake gyllenhaal batman Dodged Bullets: 14 Actors Who Were Almost Superheroes

Speaking of dark and disturbed, Jake Gyllenhaal had played just that as the title character in cult-hit Donnie Darko. He was looking for an upgrade when he tried for the prize part of Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot, Batman Begins. He was said to be writer David S. Goyer’s first choice before screen-testing.

Gyllenhaal was one of the final eight actors to audition for the part, the others being Canadian Joshua Jackson, fellow Americans Eion Bailey and Billy Crudup, along with European actors Cillian Murphy, Henry Cavill, Hugh Dancy and Christian Bale, who Nolan pushed for and got, despite the actor being a real-life stick figure after appearing in The Machinist.

While Bale got the spoils, Murphy impressed Nolan so much he cast him as Dr Jonathan Crane, aka The Scarecrow. The closest  that runner-up Gyllenhaal got to being involved in a Batman movie was having his sister Maggie star in The Dark Knight. Jake Gyllenhaal was apparently in talks to play DA Harvey ‘Two-Face’ Dent in that sequel, but was again overlooked, this time for Aaron Eckhart – thankfully.

dark knight poster2 top Dodged Bullets: 14 Actors Who Were Almost Superheroes

While he has matured in the years since trying out for Batman Begins, and has packed on considerable muscle for the upcoming The Prince of Persia, back then Jake Gyllenhaal was certainly more suited to a Peter Parker/Spider-Man-type superhero. Of course, he just missed out there too after Tobey Maguire was able to recover from a back injury just before filming Spider-Man 2.

Speaking of Spider-Man…

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  1. Kansas;Wichita

  2. Ah man,,,,,that was a good laugh!!! Epic!!!

    Nothing, I’m sorry to bother you, Nandrolone-Decanate.
    Ah. ;-O

  3. wtf K?

  4. the manips are gold, man. gold.

    • Jane is me more fitting to the role of steve rogers cap americas look.

  5. Mihovil, I think Jackman was perfect for Wolverine!

    Jane is a good actor, but doesn’t have the wild look Hugh can pull off.


    I think the X-Men films would have sucked without him.

  6. I liked Jackman as Wolverine too, I just found it interesting that Jane was basically a hair away from being cast. While, I do think Jane could have pulled off playing Wolverine, I thought he was much better suited as the Punisher.

  7. Ah I agree Mihovil, Jane was great as Punisher!

    I liked the recent directors cut Dvd release.

  8. You know, I’m really glad Tim Burton (crappy excuse for an artsy director) didn’t get to make Superman. Otherwise, Superman would have had hands for scissors, his girl would be goth and Johnny Depp would play the villain or Superman, which of course, would be dressed in black. Very original if you ask me /sarcasm. Why Tim Burton makes movies even today is beyond me.

  9. I loved this article!

    But there are several, well-documented cases that I think are worth mentioning that were left out:

    Charlie Sheen lobbied for the role of Spider-Man when the film was being developed in the early ’90s, Tom Cruise was also interested. Stan Lee wanted to play J. Jonah, and said in a raido interview that John Cusack was up for Peter Parker. John Malkovich, Nicolas Cage, and Robert De Niro were all offered the roll of the Green Goblin during Raimi’s run. Heath Ledger was the first choice to play Spider-Man at one point, he rejected the studio’s offers fearing typecasting.

    Glenn Danzig (of The Misfits) was set to play Wolverine in a low-budget one-shot X-Men film in the early ’90s because of his height (5’4″) and toned build. Russell Crowe was offered the role in a later production but declined. Angela Bassett had been offered the role of Storm.

    Tim Burton considered Pierce Brosnan, Keven Costner, Kevin Kline, Alec Baldwin, and Tom Selleck for Batman, among others. Willem Dafoe has gone on record stating he was in talks to play Batman early in production, despite rumors he was in the running to play the Joker. David Bowie, Tim Curry, John Lithgow, James Woods, John Glover, Ray Liotta, and Robin Williams were all considered for the Joker.

    Marlon Wayans was actually cast as Robin in Batman Returns & Burtons proposed third film. While promoting GI Joe, he said he still gets residual checks, even though he part was cut.

    Guy Pearce was offered the role of Daredevil (which would have been awesome – fingers crossed for the reboot…), Matt Damon and Edward Norton were also considered.

  10. Last year, I remember reading a story about how a reporter who had an appointment to interview Jason Statham (The Transporter) at Cannes had to interview him at table where he was meeting with Frank Miller (Sin City). Apprently, dispite Stathams obvious Cockney accent, Miller want him to play Daredevil in much darker, more violent reboot. I think, that if Statham could nail the accent he’d be brilliant in the role.

    • Not just the accent, PHOENIX80…he’d HAVE to get a toupee, as Matt Murdock is not bald, but Statham IS a bit sparse on the rooftop…

      • That’s very true. If they set it near the end of his crime fighting career they could work around it, (make out like he’s getting on a bit) but they’d still have to work around that accent. “Oeem t man witout Feeeeaar!”

  11. Rem pretty much got all the ones I can think of. Lets not forget Will Smith Being considered for Captain America. Back in The 90’s Captain movie they offered the part to Arnold Swartzenager but then changed there minds do to hi accent. They also asked Val Kilmer who later on played Batman. Christian Bale auditioned for the role of Robin in Batman Forever and was turned down. Just to add to Matt Damon playing Daredevil(that would be awesome) It was a script written by Kevin Smith who was the Current Writer of the comic and Robert Rodriguez Directing. They all eventually dropped because of the unnecessarily high budget.

  12. Another near-miss was Lyle Waggoner as Batman instead of Adam West.

  13. “Cruise, on the other hand, may have made Stark just an asshole. Sorry Tom.”

    That was LOL funny…

  14. … and, from what I undestand, Prince lobbied pretty hard for the original Joker

  15. Wow! Christopher Reeve, Tom Welling, and Brandon Routh all the way!!!

  16. Always knew Will Smith was a racist

    • I hope you’re joking.

      • …because he is 100% correct with what he said.

        I mean my goodness the comments section of this site is evidence of that!?!

  17. I’d be just FINE in a world without Christian Bale Batman—as well as one without Christian Bale—PERIOD. Just a huge bloated ego, overrated waste of space. Total diva. But no one but Downey could be Tony Stark. Tom Cruise is okay, but not in that role.

  18. I feel neither one way nor another about Tom Cruise, and I think RDJ is definitely the superior actor of the two, but I need to point out that RDJ could also be considered a “midget” in the same vein as Cruise. They are both about 5’6″…just sayin…

  19. And I may be alone in my thinking, but I think John Krazinski would have made a perfect Steve Rogers. *swoon*

    As for Halle Berry, I agree that see is a zero talent moron skating by on her looks. Just listen to any interview that she’s ever done if you don’t believe me. Catwoman is by far my favorite comic book character, abduction I refuse to recognize that abomination of a movie she made by that name. She was NEVER Catwoman as far as I’m concerned. *HISSSSS!!* lol

    End of rant. 😉

  20. AND* not abduction lol

  21. The weird one is Jake Gyllenhaal as Batman. With that voice? No. Now, Daredevil on the other hand, I could totally see him as.

  22. They shouldve used Angela Basset as Storm

  23. I would have liked to see Tom Cruise as Stark.
    RDJ is just…lack of charima at times.

    But I’m lucky he didnt. Cruise+Palthrow : erk. Worst match ever.

  24. How did they get the arm to look so real with the picture. I gotta watch more movies I havent really experienced many. Outside of Toronto movies I saw at the EX.