For an actor in Hollywood, landing the role of a superhero is pretty cool. Not only do you get to play a larger than life role, but you're basically guaranteed to keep working for at least a few years if the films do really well. Of all the superheroes who have appeared in Hollywood films though, the most coveted role might be that of Batman. After all, only a select few people have been able to play the Caped Crusader. Some of them did a great job, and others, well, it's probably best not to mention their takes on Bruce Wayne. However, as anyone who is familiar with the industry knows, there are always a lot of actors who get considered for roles in films, even the ones with superheroes. Even if the director or the studio have someone specific in mind, they will usually audition other actors or at least throw their names into the mix.
This has led to some truly wild rumors about actors that might have played Batman. Ever since the first big studio Batman movie back in 1989, there have been a lot of names floated around Hollywood for who might don the cape and cowl. Some of these actors might have been a lot worse than who we ended up with. However, there were plenty of actors up for the part who might have actually made the films better, and elevated the material with their performances. However, history can't be changed, and most, if not all of these actors will never get the chance to play Batman. Things might have been a lot different if they had, though, and we are always free to speculate on what might have been.
20 BETTER: ALEC BALDWIN
Alec Baldwin might just be the guy that everyone knows as the leader of the free world on the SNL cold opens or "the actor who punched someone over a parking spot" these days. However, back in the '80s and early '90s, Alec Baldwin was a respectable, handsome, and most importantly bankable actor. So of course, he was considered to play Batman in Tim Burton's 1989 film.
Baldwin may have got his chance to play a superhero in the poorly-received radio play adaptation, The Shadow, but seeing the young, gravelly-voiced actor in the role of Bruce and Batman might have actually been pretty cool. Baldwin later got his opportunity to do a Batman pastiche in an episode of 30 Rock.
19 WORSE: RAY LIOTTA
Ray Liotta is a terrific actor who has the range to play anything from a baseball playing ghost to a New York gangster (although he fares a lot better in the latter role). Liotta just has an intense quality to him. It may be the voice and it may be his shark-like eyes. Whatever it was, Tim Burton thought it was good enough for him to be considered to play Batman.
Liotta is too perfect as a villain to play a hero though. Any time he plays someone on the wrong side of the law, he is just perfect at it. Besides, he actually turned down the role to take on another film: Goodfellas. It ended up being the right choice for Liotta, but he did regret not at least going and taking a meeting with Burton at the time.
18 BETTER: KURT RUSSELL
Kurt Russell has proven over the course of a career that has spanned through four decades that when it comes to action films, there's no going wrong casting him in a lead role. That was probably the wisdom behind Russell being considered as a replacement for Michael Keaton in Batman Forever, despite the fact that Val Kilmer was the studio favorite.
Russell certainly had the action movie chops for the role and could have played the Dark Knight a little bit tougher than Kilmer ever could. After all, if you cast Snake Plissken himself as Batman, he's going to deliver. Russell would get the opportunity to appear in a comic book film years later when he played Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2.
17 WORSE: MATTHEW BRODERICK
It's hard to imagine the star of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Biloxi Blues ever appearing in something as dark and action-packed as a Batman film, especially if he was playing the lead role. However, Matthew Broderick was considered for the part of Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton's Batman.
Where do we start with this one? First of all, Broderick would have been fairly young at the time. In 1989, he was only 27, and was only four years removed from playing a teenager in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Broderick is a good actor, but his good-natured energy and boyish charm would have made him all wrong for a tortured Bruce Wayne and brooding Batman.
16 BETTER: BILLY CRUDUP
There had always been a short list of choices for playing Batman in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Ultimately, the role went to Christian Bale, but one of the actors who was considered was Billy Crudup. Crudup had already appeared in Almost Famous and Big Fish, and he might have been able to add Batman to his list of roles.
Crudup proved in Watchmen, where he played Dr. Manhattan, that he has the ability to make a larger than life character seem realistic and down-to-earth, even when they have the powers of a god. If he had won the role of the Dark Knight, he might have been able to sell the bat-voice a little bit better than Bale did.
15 WORSE: KEVIN SPACEY
Kevin Spacey, like Ray Liotta, was always a lot better at playing villains than heroes. He just was able to exude a sense of evil in any role he took on and was never really suited to be the character that saved the day. So it's weird to think that Spacey was also considered for the role of Batman in 1989.
This casting would have been a disaster. Spacey may have had the talent, but he never could have fit the role of a hero. He was far too good at being off-putting. He also never had the right voice, build, or look for the part. It's really hard to imagine Spacey appearing in anything action-packed.
14 BETTER: HENRY CAVILL
That's right. Before Henry Cavill played Superman, he was up for the role of Batman in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Cavill was on the short list of actors being considered for the role, and went in to audition, but didn't end up getting it. It must have been strange for Cavill, then, to play opposite Ben Affleck in the batsuit.
Cavill was only 20 years old at the time, so he might not exactly have been the right choice. However, if he had ever been given another chance to play Batman, the more complex role probably would have been a better fit for his talents than Superman, who has often lacked the complexity of his comic book counterpart when appearing on-screen.
13 WORSE: CILLIAN MURPHY
Cillian Murphy was really great as Jonathan Crane, aka the Scarecrow, in Batman Begins, but before he landed the role of the infamous Batman villain, he was actually up for the lead role. Christopher Nolan had seen the actor in 28 Days Later and was so impressed he offered him an audition for the part of Batman, complete with a screen test in the batsuit.
If you watch the short video of that screen test, you'll see that it's probably better that Murphy wasn't given the role. He may have been at a disadvantage since he was wearing the suit from Batman Forever, but he still just didn't look right in the part. He was much better off in the role he actually got to play in the film.
12 BETTER: DANIEL DAY-LEWIS
Daniel Day-Lewis might be known as one of the most intense actors to ever work in Hollywood. He is famous for getting deep into his roles and inhabiting his parts with an almost inhuman determination. That natural talent might have been utilized to great effect if he had been cast as Batman back in 1989.
Day-Lewis was one of the actors considered for the lead role in the film. Considering he had already displayed his considerable acting chops in films such as The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Bounty, this would have been a pretty huge get for the film. However, Day-Lewis went in a different direction, appearing in My Left Foot the same year Batman was released and winning his first Oscar for Best Actor.
11 WORSE: DAVID DUCHOVNY
David Duchovny is no stranger to larger-than-life stories, having played Agent Mulder through 11 seasons of The X-Files. He might have been able to add the character of Batman to his resume if he had landed the lead role in Batman & Robin. Ultimately, the Caped Crusader would be played by George Clooney, but Duchovny had no hard feelings.
Duchovny was supposedly considered for the role because of his intensity on The X-Files, however even he thought he would be wrong for the role because of the size of his nose. Clooney basically got the part because of his chin, though, so who knows how the casting worked on that one. Duchovny dodged a bullet anyway, as Batman & Robin is probably the most-hated Batman film out there.
10 BETTER: ETHAN HAWKE
Ethan Hawke has one of the more diverse acting resumes out there, appearing in everything from dramas like Before Sunset to action movies like Assault on Precinct 13. That's not even considering his work in the horror genre in films like Sinister and The Purge. However, back in 1995, Hawke might have been able to add the role of Batman in Batman Forever to that list.
Hawke ultimately turned the role down, but stated in an interview that he regretted the decision. Hawke probably would have made a great Batman, bringing a lot of intensity and skill to the role. Then again, maybe Hawke was too good of an actor to appear in the cornball mess that was Batman Forever.
9 WORSE: TOM HANKS
There might not be a nicer guy in Hollywood than Tom Hanks. The actor is known for his genial attitude and great work ethic. By 1995, he was already a back-to-back Oscar winner, so it was only natural that as a bankable star he would be considered to play the lead role in Batman Forever.
While he probably wasn't all that close to getting the role (the studio really wanted Val Kilmer), it would have been really weird to see Hanks play the hero, anyway. While he definitely has the acting chops to carry certain roles, his personality just wouldn't have been the right fit for a troubled billionaire who also beats up criminals.
8 BETTER: JOSH BROLIN
Josh Brolin has been doing very well when it comes to appearing in comic book movies. Not only did he get to play Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, but he also portrayed Cable in Deadpool 2. However, Brolin might have had the chance to also be a part of the Worlds of DC as he was in early talks with Zack Snyder to take on the role of Batman.
However, Brolin has also stated that he is glad he didn't take the role, saying "I'm really glad it didn't happen. I haven't thought twice about it." Still, Brolin as the older, more experienced Batman would have been really terrific. The guy has definitely proven he has what it takes to play larger than life characters, and he could have brought real gravity to the Bruce Wayne half of the role as well.
7 WORSE: JOHNNY DEPP
Johnny Depp may have lost some of his cred in recent years, but during the '90s, he was about as bankable a star as you could get in your movie. It's no wonder then that Depp was also in consideration to replace Michael Keaton in Batman Forever. The actor was suggested by the studio but ultimately didn't get the part.
That might have been for the best, anyway. Sure, Kilmer wasn't exactly setting the new high standards for Batman fans, but Depp just wouldn't have been right for the role. In later years, his more eccentric acting style would have made him a good villain, but a younger Depp as Batman would have been the wrong direction.
6 BETTER: RICHARD ARMITAGE
Richard Armitage has made a name for himself by appearing in such projects as Hannibal and the Hobbit trilogy. However, he might have become even more of a household name if he had landed the part of Batman in Superman v Batman. Though he auditioned for the part, he ultimately lost out to Ben Affleck.
It's really a shame that he didn't get the part, though. Armitage has proven that he has the acting chops to take on a complex role like Bruce Wayne. In the Hobbit films, he also showed that he can handle appearing in a huge blockbuster in a main role. He also might have stuck around in the role, instead of getting sick of it and (maybe) quitting.
5 WORSE: BILLY BALDWIN
Billy Baldwin had the opportunity to play Batman when he provided the voice of the Caped Crusader in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. However, like Kurt Russell, Baldwin was also considered to replace Michael Keaton in Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever. That makes two Baldwins who have almost played Batman.
However, at the time of filming, Baldwin was only 32 years old. Since a 25-year-old Chris O'Donnell had already been cast in the role of Robin, Baldwin was considered too young to be a mentor to him. It's just as well, anyway. Baldwin may be great in certain roles, but it would have been hard to take him seriously as Batman.
4 BETTER: JON HAMM
Jon Hamm proved that he was an actor who could carry the role of an emotionally complex man who is hiding many things from the people around him when he stepped into the role of Don Draper on Mad Men. It was understandable, then, why his name is being thrown around for the upcoming The Batman.
While nothing is concrete, there has been a lot of talk about Ben Affleck leaving the role behind, meaning that someone like Jon Hamm could step in to fill the cowl. Fans are excited about the possibility, and Hamm said that he would love the opportunity to play Batman. He certainly could pull it off, but it all depends on what director Matt Reeves thinks.
3 WORSE: ARMIE HAMMER
Armie Hammer has had a weird relationship with playing Batman. The star of films such as The Social Network and The Lone Ranger was actually set to play the Dark Knight in George Miller's ill-fated Justice League project. However, the film was trashed during the writer's strike and Hammer has said that it was a relief.
At the time, Hammer was only 20-years-old, which meant that he would have looked pretty strange trying to portray Batman, who has years of crime-fighting experience and training under his belt. There were also rumors that Hammer was considered for the part of Batman in Batman v. Superman. However, Hammer dismissed them, saying he didn't want the part anyway.
2 BETTER: JOE MANGANIELLO
He may have landed the role of Deathstroke in the Worlds of DC, but Joe Manganiello might have been wearing a different mask if things had gone another way. The actor known for his parts in True Blood and Magic Mike, as well as playing the original Flash Thompson in Spider-Man, was considered for the role of the Caped Crusader himself.
Not only was Manganiello up for the role of Batman, but he was also originally considered for the role of Superman. He definitely has the build for either hero, and his facial features would have been right at home in the cowl. Just think back to how angry he looked after Peter Parker hit him with that lunch tray.
1 WORSE: ORLANDO BLOOM
Don't get us wrong: Orlando Bloom is a fine actor. His work in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as films like Elizabethtown and Black Hawk Down mark him as a serious actor who works hard to bring a lot of emotion and realism to his roles. That might be why he was considered for the part of Batman in Batman v. Superman.
As good of an actor as Bloom is, there is just something about him that doesn't quite make him fit the role of Batman. He just doesn't quite have the gravitas or even the build to make a really great Batman. However, like Cillian Murphy, he might have been great being cast in a different role, like Lex Luthor.