#2 - MEL GIBSON
If Warner Bros. had gotten their wish, Mel Gibson would have been Batman. He was their #1 choice since the Fall of 1985 when Tim Burton signed on and gave new life to the project. Gibson was such a popular choice that even in 2002, 17 years later, he was offered the role when Wolfgang Peterson was set to helm Batman vs. Superman
. That project, which featured a script penned by Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven, Sleepy Hollow) was cancelled when their was an administrative change at Warner Bros. In fact, if it wasn't for that change in bosses, we never would have gotten Batman Begins
and Superman Returns
. Batman vs. Superman
was the studio's way to reboot two franchises at the same time. They also wanted Daniel Day-Lewis to play Superman. I have to admit, Gibson as Batman and Day-Lewis as Superman is quite intriguing. But anyway, let's get back to Batman `89
. Gibson was the go-to actor for the role. Even reports and interviews from that time period indicate that Tim Burton wanted Gibson as well. So, it was a mutual agreement. Gibson, at that point, was mostly famous for the role of Mad Max, a lone-quiet hero that fought crime in the wastelands of Australia. To everyone involved, he was PERFECT. Then... Richard Donner, the director of Superman
, cast Gibson as Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon
. That film was a success for Warner Bros. and spawned a franchise. So, now, the studio had a dilemma. Could they possibly cast Gibson in their two biggest franchises? S--t, Harrison Ford was both Han Solo and Indiana Jones. But, ultimately, it came down to timing. In the summer of 1988, there was a Writer's Strike in Hollywood, similar to the one in 2007. So, naturally, every studio rushed projects into production. For Warner Bros., that included Lethal Weapon 2
. Two films that were scheduled for release in the summer of `89 and only 2 or 3 weeks apart. So, Gibson sticked with Martin Riggs and Michael Keaton became Batman.
#1 - ALEC BALDWIN
With Mel Gibson gone, Warner Bros and producers Jon Peters & Peter Guber had a strong #2 choice: Alec Baldwin. Upon further consideration, Baldwin seemed like a better choice than Gibson. He had the charm and good-looks for Bruce Wayne and the deep voice for Batman. And as an added bonus, Baldwin was still a rising star. So, he didn't command a big paycheck like Gibson. But there was one BIG problem. Baldwin was a total jackass to Burton throughout the production of Beetlejuice
. To make matters worse, he publicly badmouthed the film after it was released and became a surprise hit at the box office. Even to this day, 24 years later, Baldwin RARELY acknowledges Beetlejuice
. Even though it's one of the few classics on his resume. So, there was just no way that Burton and Baldwin were gonna collaborate again. Plus, Warner Bros, which distributed Beetlejuice
, couldn't just ignore that he was badmouthing one of their films. Could he be trusted to behave during Batman's promotion... or even agree to sequels?
Baldwin just seemed like too much of a troublemaker and the studio ultimately agreed to cast Michael Keaton. Two years later, Baldwin starred as Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October
. Paramount had a franchise on their hands and Baldwin had a bright future ahead him. Then... well ... he dropped out of the sequel. It was a decision that, more or less, destroyed his Hollywood career. Baldwin may be great on 30 Rock
, but 25 years ago, no one expected him to end up as the star of a TV sitcom that airs on a 4th place network.
The closest that Baldwin ever came to playing Batman was in 1994's The Shadow
. He was brilliant in the film and gave us a glimpse of what might have been. Take a look:
Baldwin also gave a nod to his Batman/Shadow past in last week's episode of 30 Rock where he played "the Tuxedo" and had a rooftop standoff with Tina Fey's Joke-inspired get-up. Take a look:
And here is Tina Fey in her get-up: