7) The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan had proven he could restore dignity while also introducing a grim reality to the Batman license with Batman Begins, but that didn't stop fans and the media from thinking it knew better than the perpetually secretive director about what and who should be in the gritty sequel. Some of the most persistent and somewhat plausible rumors were Justin Timberlake to star as Harvey Dent, Freddie Prinze Jr. as The Riddler, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin. People were split on whether the Joker would be in it at all, and if he was, the scuttlebutt was that Adrien Brody ("he's a good facial candidate"), Crispin Glover, and Australian Achy Hulme were all being considered. Heath Ledger himself told the press, "I wouldn't have thought of me, either." Fans were in an uproar over that decision, which caused them to make absurd guesses on villains like Tom Cruise as Cluemaster and Tim Booth as Victor Zsasz. Some fans estimated that this sequel would be the second of "5 or 6 films" and that they shouldn't "sell out this time." Most entertaining of all, though, were a pair of rumors centering on Christian Bale himself. The first? That Bale was "campaigning hard" for The Dark Knight to be released both as an R film and also recut to be PG-13. My favorite rumor is that on first day of shooting, Nolan showed Bale the new batsuit, which had nipples on it -- an "homage" to 1997's Batman & Robin. It was intended as a prank. Bale balked for a moment, saw Nolan begin to snicker, and then ripped the nipples off and asked him "if he was a professional."
6) Batman Begins
Codenamed Batman: Intimidation Game, people were rabid to eke out any details they could about the Batman reboot -- even if they didn't make much sense. One person excitedly reported "good news" that the crew was using his building's heliport to film, and that they're going to "reload a mini-helicopter to fly over the river and around lower wacker.... And [film] some shots of different buildings." Wow, Christopher Nolan will show us Batman with buildings in the background! Otherwise, casting rumors were passed around like currency, with Clint Eastwood as the mayor of Gotham City, John Malkovich as Ra's Al Ghul, Dennis Quaid or Morgan Freeman or Robert DeNiro as Commissioner Gordon, Liam Neeson would not play Ra's Al Ghul (he did, spoiler alert), and of course, Robin Williams to play the Joker. Then it was rumored that the Reaper would be the main villain, with no foundation in fact whatsoever. Man, they should've picked Randy Quaid as Commissioner Gordon. That would've been great.
5) Batman & Robin
Maybe this movie's abhorrent awfulness prevented anyone from concocting any rumors, because all that's out there, really, are wishful thinking reports on casting. They are pretty crazy, though: Hulk Hogan as Mr. Freeze? David Duchovny as Batman? Kurt Russell as Commissioner Gordon? Julia Roberts as Poison Ivy? They could've saved everyone a ton of time and money by just acting out the whole movie with action figures and a couple magnifying glasses in the sun.
4) Batman Forever
First off, time to quash a rumor and nudge it over into the fact column. Yes, Marlon Wayans was actually slated to play Robin in this and Batman Returns ("They decided they wanted somebody white to play Robin," Wayans said in an interview). He was supposed to play either a teenager who's also a garage mechanic, with an old-fashioned uniform with an "R" on it. Otherwise, there's nothing but the garden-variety bonkers casting rumors: Billy Baldwin as Bruce Wayne, Johnny Depp as Riddler, and Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman in the '60s TV show, wanted Angelina Jolie to reprise her role. Interestingly, Christian Bale reportedly auditioned to play Robin. More dumbfounding, however, is that Joel Schumacher supposedly asked U2's Bono if he'd bring back Macphisto from the band's Zoo TV tour for an undisclosed role (if you aren't familiar, Macphisto is basically Lady Gaga circa 1992 - he would enter the stage from a giant lemon that ascended from the sky and then crank call George Bush).There's also a rumor that Jim Carrey wanted to shave a question mark into his scalp for his role as the Riddler, but he couldn't because had to finalize his divorce with Comedy Store waitress Melissa Worner. Too bad all around: We coulda had official Batman Bono action figures!
3) Batman Returns
If only Robin Williams knew he would be plagued the rest of his life with being rumored to play the role he once actually landed as a mere bargaining chip (Williams was also rumored to have been offered the role of the Riddler in what would've been Tum Burton's third, eventually canceled, Batman movie). Another nagging rumor also stemmed from the 1992 Tim Burton-helmed sequel, though: Cher as Catwoman. Otherwise, actress Sean Young was reportedly so distraught over not being case as Vicki Vale in Batman -- she was injured in a horse-riding accident -- that she made her own homemade Catwoman costume and stormed the studio in it to prove she was indeed the superior choice. Best of all, People incorrectly reported that Robert DeNiro would be The Penguin, Madonna might play Catwoman, and that the movie's main villain, the Riddler, would be played by Danny DeVito. Well, they were only one-sixth right, which ain't bad considering this was before the Internet was a mainstay in every home. (Fun fact: An original draft of the movie had Catwoman and the Penguin searching for underground treasure - could you imagine Madonna and DeNiro crawling through sewers? Wait, I think that was already in Sex...)
It had been decades since Batman was on screens in any capacity, and since this was long before the Internet's ubiquity, much of the hype and anticipation for Tim Burton's stab at the beloved series remains in people's memories of the time. It was a big-deal movie, though, and lots of big-name actors came out to audition for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman (spoiler alert: Batman is Bruce Wayne). Some of the weirdest I could unearth is Bill Murray was being considered for that role (according to Cinefantastique), and that Kiefer Sutherland was apparently attached to play Robin (according to a latter-day interview with Sutherland). All these years later, who the heck really knows. Speaking of Robin, though, this is where all the rumors about Robin Williams playing the Joker came from. Burton wanted Jack Nicholson, but he wouldn't do it. So, the studio hired Robin Williams as a bargaining chip with Nicholson to say, "See? Robin Williams is interested, why aren't you?" Williams got the last laugh when he... oh wait. Eventually he'll do something great. You just see.
1) Batman and Robin (The 1940s Serialized Films)
!--EndFragment-->!--StartFragment--> Speakeasies, ether romps, and nickelodeons were all aflutter
with outrage over director Spencer Gordon Bennet's bold 1943 reimagining of the
famed comic-book character. Known as the "king of serial directors,"
Bennet turned people's perceptions of Batman on its ear when he decided to
allow audiences to hear Batman's voice and produce a "talkie" take on
the Bat. Audiences were hoping for Al Jolson to don the cowl, but instead
Robert Lowery stepped in for the role. Oh, also? Audiences were hoping this
would be good, and it wasn't. After production wrapped, everyone died either of
embarrassment or polio immediately. The coroner wasn't a fan of the serial, so,
we'll never know for sure.
Speakeasies, ether romps, and nickelodeons were all aflutter with outrage over director Spencer Gordon Bennet's bold 1943 reimagining of the famed comic-book character. Known as the "king of serial directors," Bennet turned people's perceptions of Batman on its ear when he decided to allow audiences to hear Batman's voice and produce a "talkie" take on the Bat. Audiences were hoping for Al Jolson to don the cowl, but instead Robert Lowery stepped in for the role. Oh, also? Audiences were hoping this would be good, and it wasn't. After production wrapped, everyone died either of embarrassment or polio immediately. The coroner wasn't a fan of the serial, so, we'll never know for sure.