Top 5: Actors Who Were Almost Batman

5) Heath Ledger

In 2005 before he was cast as The Joker, before even Christian Bale was cast as Batman, the late actor Heath Ledger was one of Warner Bros.’ top prospects to play Bruce Wayne for Christopher Nolan’s then-upcoming film Batman Begins. Ledger was amongst a group of young actors that included Cillian Murphy, Joshua Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Billy Crudup who were vying for the role, that ultimately went to Bale, who had himself already been in talks to play Bruce Wayne for Darren Aronofsky’s failed Batman: Year One film. After not getting cast as Batman, Ledger went on to star in Brokeback Mountain, which gave him widespread acclaim and set him up as a serious actor and for his later casting as the The Joker for 2008’s The Dark Knight.

4) Armie Hammer

The well-known actor behind the Winklevoss twins in 2010’s The Social Network was very close to playing the Caped Crusader in a 2007 Justice League film by director George Miller (Mad Max, Happy Feet). Hammer had even signed on the dotted line to play the role–well before he was a well-known actor I might add–but the project was ultimately shelved over disagreements between Miller and Warner Bros. and complications due to the Writers Guild strike.

3) Charlie Sheen

No, the Charlie Sheen that was almost cast as Batman isn’t the modern one spouting off about tiger blood. Back during the casting phase for Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film, the Charlie Sheen they considered was the lead actor of Platoon, Young Guns, and Wall Street. Burton was heavily pressured by Warner Bros. to cast a big star like Sheen was at the time, but Burton lobbied hard and eventually got his choice, Beetlejuice‘s Michael Keaton, to take ownership of Wayne Manor.

2) Johnny Depp

Speaking of Michael Keaton, after he abandoned the original Batman film franchise in 1993 the space was open for a host of Hollywood’s top stars to ply their trade. Burton, who had been pushed out of the director’s chair and into an advisory producer role for the third film, pushed incoming director Joel Schumacher hard to consider another frequent star of Burton’s films: the then 30-year old Johnny Depp. In this interview from back in 2009 at, Depp himself confirms the long-swirling rumors that he was in line to play Batman before Val Kilmer came aboard. Apparently, Warner Bros. didn’t think Depp was bankable enough at the time.

1) Bill Murray

Say it ain’t so, but it almost was. Back when Tim Burton was casting around for someone to fill the tights for his 1989 Batman flick, Murray was one of the options the director was mulling. You might think it odd, but considering the heavy comedy background Michael Keaton had before Batman with Mr. Mom and Night Shift it might not seem so strange. Also, I can see studio heads, possibly unsure of the dark direction Burton had planned, considering Murray given Batman’s comedic roots from the Adam West television series of the 1960s.


  1. Wow I’ve never heard that Bill Murray was considered for Batman… much as I love him I just don’t think that would have worked at all.

  2. I still laugh that Tim Burton’s Batman movie was considered “dark.” That movie was ridiculous.

  3. I would watch the hell out of a Bill Murray Batman movie.

    • I think he would have made for a totally different kind of Bruce Wayne.

      Keaton’s Bruce Wayne was like a introverted, social misfit, eccentric millionaire. Had it been Murray, I can totally see him playing the boisterous, outgoing and extroverted, ‘Playboy’ millionaire Wayne.

  4. I would liked to have seen Charlie Sheen as Bruce Wayne. Keaton made a good Batman, but not a convincing Bruce Wayne.

  5. I loved Tim Burton’s Batman.. Probably my favorite of all the Batman movies. Mostly out of nostalgia but that movie was just fun. Catwoman was also really bad ass in that movie.

    • Seconded. Burton/Keaton Batman & its first squeal are still the better Batman films for me.

    • That’s what I like about film and art. It’s influences everyone differently. I personally have a hard time watching any of the 4 Batman films for a variety of reasons and don’t enjoy them at all, and I love the Dark Knight Trilogy films. Whereas there are people who are opposite of me, such as the two of you, that have a greater fondness for the earlier films.

      It’s nice that there are places where an opinion can be had, a preference can be had, without a psycho jumping all over you for having an opinion.

  6. I once read the Henry Cavill was considered for Batman before Bale… and that’s what led him to Superman.
    But now I’m reading the Cavill himself has stated that wasn’t true.

  7. I can believe Bill Murray as an Adam West-like, campy Batman 100x more than I can believe Johnny Depp as any sort of Batman whatsoever. I dig Depp as an actor, he can range from just a lot of fun to serious very well, but Batman he ain’t.

    • Except that’s exactly what people said about Michael Keaton back in 89…. now you couldn’t even picture Burton’s Batman without thinking of Michael Keaton.

  8. This reminds me of the “Batman vs. Superman” movie that almost got made by Wolfgang Petersen in the early 2000s. I think they were looking at Jude Law as Superman and Colin Farrell as Batman. That would have been… interesting.

  9. There’s only one Batman, and his name is Mark Wahlberg.

  10. Out of the above five, Armie Hammer is my favorite, the guy is tall and can act. Bill Murray would have been very “camp” if he was cast. I think back in the late 1980’s Tim Burton wanted to go in a darker direction with Batman like Frank Miller’s version and NOT be the campy version from the 1960’s show with Adam West.

  11. There is a funny interview I saw in like the mid 90s where Bill Murray talked for a while about how good he would have been as Batman.