7 Wildly Incorrect and Irresponsible Rumors about Batman Movies

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Well, folks, a very sad day indeed is upon us. Come July 20th, The Dark Knight Rises will slip from something we can all speculate wildly about on the Internet into something firmly in our rear-view mirror, with its skirt lifted and us seeing all it has to show. It also means it’s likely to be a very long time until we can irresponsibly spread rumors, guesses, and lies about what “we heard” will be in the next Batman movie. 

Rather than throw more guesses onto the tire-fire of its impending release, I thought it’d be more fun to take a look back at some of the craziest and most incorrect guesses about what previous Batman flicks would have in store for their audiences. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

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
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
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
would be the main villain, with no foundation in fact whatsoever. Man,
they should’ve picked Randy
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…)  


2) Batman

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)

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.