With this past weekend marking the 30th anniversary of the release of Tim Burton’s “Batman” in 1989, various people involved talked about their memories of the film – the first serious, comic book-accurate take on the Caped Crusader and a Hollywood game changer.
In a new interview with Syfy Wire, one of the film’s original screenwriters Sam Hamm discussed his work on the film and revealed that before Michael Keaton took on the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, the higher ups at Warner Bros. Pictures considered several options – one of which was then rising martial arts star Steven Seagal who had just broken out in “Above the Law” and would later have success in the “Under Siege” films:
“There were a lot of people at Warner Brothers who wanted to cast it with an action star. They wanted to cast the part as Batman, as opposed to casting it as Bruce Wayne.
You have to make Bruce Wayne work, because Batman is, for the most part, going to be a stunt guy, or it’s going to be somebody running around in a costume in long shot. You don’t need the martial arts expertise of, say, Steven Seagal or somebody like that, because you can fake all of that kind of stuff.
Seagal was one of the people that was suggested to us. He had just kind of appeared on the scene, people thought holy cow, this guy’s badass. He could be Batman. I don’t think it ever got to the point where he read for it. He was just one of the names that was floated.”
In the past attempts to hire people for comic book roles based entirely on their physicality as opposed to their acting talent/fit for the role have mostly not worked out such as Dolph Lundgren in the first “The Punisher” and Arnold Schwarzenegger for Mr. Freeze. Keaton remains one of the most inspired choices for the role.