1997’s Batman & Robin firmly occupies the spot of “most-derided Batman movie,” a just outcome given that the movie features:
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as a brilliant scientist who also makes dozens of ice-related puns
- Robin being too horny for Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman, doing 170% too much) to do his job
- Bane portrayed as “what if Dr. Frankenstein had made a right guard”
- A Coolio cameo
The plot is as stupid as it is unmemorable, and the visuals feel like a subconscious campaign for new Slurpee flavors. Just watch the trailer if you have no idea what this movie is about.
Pretty bad! But now watch the trailer for this movie’s predecessor, Batman Forever.
Why is Riddler constantly dressed for an ice skating competition? Did the mob attack Harvey Dent with grape-flavored acid? Where’d Bruce Wayne get a giant model of a bat? Is Nicole Kidman trying to sleep with Batman or Batman’s costume? These movies really aren’t that different, and, as best I can tell, the only reason why Batman Forever doesn’t receive the same disgust as Batman & Robin comes down to casting.
Val Kilmer’s more believable as Batman. If you told me the real Val Kilmer had spent a stretch in the 90s demanding to be referred to as “the Bat” and chasing down petty criminals at night in Las Cruces, I would not blink. Jim Carrey’s so skilled at blending energetic and misguided outcast with clever smart-ass psychopath that he’s fun to watch even if nothing around him makes any sense. Tommy Lee Jones really seems like he wants to kill someone and cackle while doing it (and it’s worth noting he hated working with Carrey on this film, so that rage might have been easy to tap into). Nicole Kidman has to straddle the line between “Batman softcore movie but only the plot development portions” and “conditioner commercial” and does so admirably. Chris O’Donnell is there.
But it could have gone much, much worse, and today we’re going to imagine that it did. Below, I have listed some of the other thespians who were connected to Batman Forever. Some had actual offers, some were just rumors, and some just insisted they’d love to be in the movie but never got any interest from the production; all of this information is taken from the Wikipedia page for the movie. Our job is to review these lists and come up with a casting so bonkers it hurdles far beyond Batman & Robin.
- Ethan Hawke
- Keanu Reeves
- Alec Baldwin
- Billy Baldwin
- Dean Cain
- Tom Hanks
- Kurt Russell
- Daniel Day-Lewis
- Ralph Fiennes
- Johnny Depp
- Mel Gibson
This is a very, very tough grouping. Keanu Reeves jumps out as an interesting choice, though this is before The Matrix or even The Devil’s Advocate, so we might not be getting the full Keanu experience quite yet. Daniel Day-Lewis would be an inspired choice if only for the behind-the-scenes stories. (“He spent the entire shoot insisting that he would only eat foods that could be snagged with a grappling gun.”)
But I’m too mesmerized by Tom Hanks, The Batman to go with any other choice. I cannot imagine how one would even film this movie; every fight scene would get ruined when a henchman inadvertently said, “hey, it’s Tom Hanks!” Think about Tom Hanks’s voice.
Now think about it coming out of Batman. DELIGHTFUL.
- Al Pacino
- Clint Eastwood
- Martin Sheen
- Willem Dafoe
- Nicolas Cage
- Robert De Niro
Pacino and Dafoe we can rule out as too sensible; the former had already done Dick Tracy, and the latter would eventually go on to a truly wild performance in Spider-Man.
Eastwood is tempting if we’re making Harvey Dent have a lot of uncomfortable things to say about race relations. But I’m going go with De Niro, because Relentlessly Italian Two-Face (“Doppia Faccia”) is not something I can turn down.
- Robin Williams
- Michael Jackson
- John Malkovich
- Brad Dourif
- Kelsey Grammer
- Mickey Dolenz
- Matthew Broderick
- Phil Hartman
- Steve Martin
- Adam Sandler
- Mark Hamill
- Rob Schneider
We have two issues to consider here. First, how would this actor play off of De Niro as their fellow archvillain? Second, how would this actor square up with Tom Hanks Batman?
I’m passing on Williams, Malkovich, Grammer, Hartman, Martin and Hamill because they’d do fine with De Niro. And I’m not giving the role to Dolenz, Sandler, or Schneider because they would succeed in making Tom Hanks look like an imposing physical force that terrifies criminals everywhere. Dourif’s not a big enough name for this project, so that means we’re giving the role to the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.
This movie is such a fucking mess already.
- Marlon Wayans
- Mark Wahlberg
- Ewan McGregor
- Jude Law
- Alan Cumming
- Christian Bale
It’s 100% Mark Wahlberg. He’s going to ad-lib multiple lines about how Boston needs Batman and I’m leaving them all in the final cut.
DR. CHASE MERIDIAN
You know what, I’m leaving Kidman in this role, and I’m going to demand that she really amp up just how impossibly sexual she finds Tom Hanks Batman.
I’m confident I’ve just made a movie so ineffective and noxious that Batman & Robin never gets made, but I’m happy to hear your arguments for even weirder casts in the comments.