Nearly 25 years after the release of the influential film, the development of Tim Burton’s Batman has been thoroughly documented. Most fans are familiar with the consideration of Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner and Tom Selleck, among others, for the lead role, the controversy surrounding the casting of Michael Keaton, and Robin Williams’ big push to play the Joker.
However, fewer may realize that Steve Englehart’s first treatment of the film, at the request of Warner Bros., included the Joker, the Penguin, Silver St. Cloud and Robin (the Boy Wonder, not the hirsute comedian). The comics veteran managed to convince executives that two villains and a sidekick were too much, so a second draft dropped the Penguin and Robin, with the former making his way into the 1992 sequel Batman Returns and the latter debuting in 1995’s Batman Forever.
But, if things had gone differently, who might’ve played Robin in Batman? Certainly not Chris O’Donnell, who would’ve been unknown when filming began in 1988. Think bigger. Think 1980s. Think … Kiefer Sutherland.
The 24 star, while making the rounds to promote his new Fox series Touch, revealed that early in his career he passed on an opportunity to don the green short-shorts to star opposite Keaton.
“I’d just finished Stand By Me and Young Guns about the time that Warner Bros. were making the first Batman film with Michael Keaton and I got a call which asked me if I would be interested in playing Robin,” Sutherland told On the Box. “I was like: ‘as in Robin with tights? No!’ I didn’t realize they were going to make the coolest movie ever! They didn’t have a Robin in the end, but I was only 19 so my agent could have helped me out a bit on that one.”
It almost makes me wish they’d kept Robin in the script — not only to see a young Sutherland as the Boy Wonder, but also to save the world from O’Donnell in that role … and, more importantly, from Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl.
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