Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, Batman is undoubtedly one of the most popular superheroes of all time. A billionaire with no notable superpowers, Batman is the leading superhero of DC Comics. Relying solely on his wits, will, peak human conditioning, and occasional charm, Batman has continued to inspire people for decades.
Batman is the paragon of humanity. Evolving a traumatic past into a crime-fighting career, Batman is one of the most complex heroes on the DC roster. His dedication to making Gotham safe has blurred the lines between his real persona of Bruce Wayne and the alter ego of Batman. His immense popularity comes with a price when it comes to portraying him on the silver screen.
First portrayed by Adam West in the 1966 Batman series, the role of The Dark Knight has passed on to many actors. From Michael Keaton donning the cape to Robert Pattinson taking up the mantle, it has been a long ride.
Portraying such a complicated and widely popular hero on the silver screen is no small task. While Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy was critically acclaimed, Christian Bale has a divided fanbase for his role as the Batman. Again, in the DCEU Ben Affleck had donned the cape and became a fan favourite for his comic book accuracy. As Robert Pattinson is set to become the new Batman, it is yet to see how his portrayal will affect the legacy of The Dark Knight.
The role of Batman is a double-edged sword. If done correctly, it can push you to stardom. If failed, it will haunt you for years to come. Yes, we still remember those Bat-nipples on George Clooney.
For the coveted role of Batman, it is quite obvious that many actors must have tried to get the part. Here, we have compiled a list of 10 actors who almost became The Caped Crusader on the silver screen. Interested? Let’s hop in!
10. Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight is universally acclaimed. His unhinged persona thriving on chaos put all doubts to rest right from the very first scene. His iconic dialogues paired with a sinister laugh puts him in the top 10 movie villains.
Interestingly, when auditions for the role of Batman was started for Batman Begins, Heath Ledger badly wanted the role. Fortunately, it went to Christian Bale as we would have lost Ledger’s iconic performance as the Joker. Yet, it would have been interesting to see Ledger donning the cape instead of Bale.
9. Jake Gyllenhaal
Despite receiving applause from the fans for his role of Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ben Affleck hung up his cowl for personal reasons. In 2018, it was widely speculated that Jake Gyllenhaal might take up the role for Matt Reeves’ upcoming Batman trilogy.
One of the best actors in the biz, Gyllenhaal’s acting skills in Donnie Darko and Nightcrawler were critically acclaimed. Having an Oscar-nominated actor for the role of Batman would have been a great choice. Jake Gyllenhaal was also a top choice for the role in Nolan’s Batman Begins before the role went to Christian Bale. Alas, he decided to join the MCU for the role of Mysterio in Spiderman: Far From Home.
8. Henry Cavill
In the comics, there have been instances where Batman and Superman have exchanged roles or powers. This almost happened when Henry Cavill almost bagged the role of Batman for Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.
As fate would have it, Henry Cavill later got the role of Man of Steel and fought against Ben Affleck’s Batman in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Still, it is hard to imagine Cavill losing the role to Bale despite having an imposing figure and a perfect jawline.
7. Johnny Depp
Despite lacking an imposing build, Johnny Depp’s acting chops make him one of the most talented actors in Hollywood. From an amiable Jack Sparrow to a ruthless mobster in Black Mass, Depp’s acting range is unparalleled. A perfect range for portraying both the suave Bruce Wayne as well as the intense Batman.
Johnny Depp was recommended by his good friend Tim Burton for the role of Batman in Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever. To the disappointment of his fans, the role went to Val Kilmer. It would have been a wild ride to see Johnny Depp donning the cape and fighting crime.
6. Armie Hammer
In 2008, George Miller was attached to the project of Justice League: Mortal which would have been the foundation for the DCEU. Ridiculously high budget and the 2008 Writers Strike put the movie in development hell. As a result, the movie’s doom was sealed.
At just 19 years, Armie Hammer was chosen for the role alongside Adam Brody, D.J. Cotrona, and Megan Gale.
5. Josh Brolin
The year 2018 was when Josh Brolin became a global superstar by bagging two comic book roles. From playing the Mad Titan Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War to a time-travelling mutant in Deadpool 2, Brolin instantly became a popular name in the industry.
One of the finest actors in recent times, Brolin’s acting skills truly shone in No Country for Old Men along with Javier Bardem’s Oscar-winning performance in the movie. Josh Brolin was considered to take up the role of Batman for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice before it finally went to Ben Affleck.
4. Tom Hanks
It’s hard to imagine the smiling Tom Hanks donning the cowl to play the imposing Dark Knight. His memorable performances in Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, Forrest Gump, Bridge of Spies make him one of the most popular actors of Hollywood.
The two-time Academy-award winning actor was considered for the role in Tim Burton’s Batman. After he refused the role for Batman Forever, there were wide speculations that Tom Hanks might join the DCEU as Lex Luthor. Alas!
3. Keanu Reeves
The perfect gentleman of Hollywood, Keanu Reeves wanted the role of Batman for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. His intense and brooding performance in the John Wick series sure makes him a strong contender to play the role of the Dark Knight.
Keanu Reeves played the role of another DC character John Constantine in Constantine (2005) which has gathered a cult following after a mild box office performance. Keanu Reeves was also one of the contenders for the role of Batman in Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever.
2. Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis’ dedication to his pursuit of perfection is legendary. The three-time Academy Award winner is considered to be one of the greatest actors in cinematic history.
His status as a legendary actor made him a top choice for the role of Batman in Batman Forever. His refusal let Val Kilmer don the cowl. It’s hard to fathom the intensity Daniel Day-Lewis could have brought to the legacy of the Dark Knight.
1. Harrison Ford
If heroism can be made tangible, our bet would be that it would take the form of Harrison Ford. His portrayal of Indiana Jones, Han Solo, and Rick Deckard makes him the image of heroic characters full of charisma and bad-assery.
For an actor who makes portraying heroes look so effortless, the role of Dark Knight is not quite hard to imagine. Tim Burton considered casting Harrison Ford for his Batman movie before it went to Michael Keaton. Imagining Harrison Ford as the suave and charming Bruce Wayne and the brooding Dark Knight is what goosebumps are made of.
Which actor do you wish to see as Batman if given a choice? Let us know in the comments!