The history of Batman in cinema is filled with chapters detailing incredible almosts and awesome what-ifs. Josh Brolin narrowly missed out on donning the cowl, the role eventually going to Ben Affleck. Cillian Murphy was a leading candidate before Christian Bale proved himself to be the best choice by a country mile. And would you believe that once upon a time, Pierce Brosnan was also in contention to portray Batman?
Yes. Long before Pierce Brosnan joined the DC Universe as Kent Nelson / Doctor Fate, starring opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the forthcoming Black Adam, he auditioned for the iconic mantle. This was around the time he was initially offered yet another iconic mantle in James Bond before NBC did the man dirty.
For background, the network had decided to cash in on the renewed interest surrounding Brosnan by franchise association alone, reversing the cancellation of his series Remington Steele, and contractually compelling the future 007 to surrender the coveted acting opportunity for a lacklustre final season of television. Hence why Timothy Dalton was tapped as Roger Moore’s successor for The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill.
“I went up for Batman way back in the day when [director] Tim Burton was doing it. Obviously, I didn’t get the job,” Pierce Brosnan said during his recent appearance on The Tonight Show.
“You had to settle for James Bond… I’m so sorry, yeah,” joked host Jimmy Fallon. Cue laughter, both forced and organic.
Brosnan continued: “I remember saying something stupid to Tim Burton, I said, ‘You know… I can’t understand any man who would wear his underpants outside his trousers.’”
“But there you go, the best man got the job, and you know, Doctor Fate and I were meant to meet on the same page, I think.”
Despite the 50,000 protest letters which landed at the doorsteps of Warner Bros’ offices, Michael Keaton won the gig, beating a positively stacked line-up of Batman hopefuls: Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Charlie Sheen, Tom Selleck, Bill Murray, Harrison Ford, and Dennis Quaid in addition to Pierce Brosnan.
In tandem with Richard Donner’s Superman movies starring Christopher Reeves, Burton and Keaton would be instrumental in proving the commercial viability of Hollywood superhero flicks, grossing over $411 million against a $48 million production budget right off the bat. Man.