As of today, the fictional superhero created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger has appeared in 13 live-action films. The role has been played by several Hollywood big wigs like; Adam West, Val Kilmer, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, and Michael Keaton. But did you know fans weren’t too happy after Keaton was announced to play the role?
When Michael Keaton was announced to play Batman in Tim Burton’s film, around 50,000 fans sent letters to Warner Bros in protest. They even went as far as ripping up publicity materials at comic conventions.
Why Did Tim Burton Choose Michael Keaton?
Around three decades ago, Tim Burton experimented on a concept of reinventing the Batman movies we are familiar with. He banished all references to the camp and 1960s TV show with cheesy one-liners, horrible costumes, and rubber sharks. But even if his ideas were interesting, Burton’s choice for Batman did not sit well with several Batman fans and critics then.
At the time, Michael Keaton was known to be a comedy actor. This image he had did not fit in the character role of the Dark Knight, but Burton believed in Keaton’s talent and potential. However, he only considered Keaton for the part after the producers Jon Peters pointed them out to him.
This was not their first project together. Keaton played the lead role in Burton’s film Beetlejuice. But even so, Burton had other actors in mind, and Keaton was not his first choice. He initially wanted Mel Gibson, Billy Murray, or Pierce Brosnan to play the role, but both actors declined.
I went and met with Tim Burton for the role of Batman. But I just couldn’t really take it seriously. Any man who wears his underpants outside his pants just cannot be taken seriously. That was my foolish take on it. It was a joke, I thought. But how wrong was I?Pierce Brosnan
(Source: Bold Entrance)
How Did The Fans React?
Keaton accepted the offer, and the press release was done. Keaton was officially the next Dark Knight. This drove fans everywhere nuts! Over 50,000 letters flooded the Warner Bros mailroom with fans decrying Keaton’s casting. This even affected the studio’s share price. Fans got so crazy that they ripped up publicity material for the new movie at comic conventions.
The studio was not too thrilled with what was happening. They released a teaser of the official trailer to give them a glimpse of Keaton’s potential and how he managed the role of Bruce Wayne and Batman.
In my mind I kept reading reviews that said, ‘Jack’s terrific, but the unknown as Batman is nothing special.’ So I saw a zillion people and the thing that kept going through my mind when I saw these action-adventure hero types come into the office was, ‘I just can’t see them putting on a bat-suit. I can’t see it.’ I was seeing these big macho guys, and then thinking of them with pointy ears, and it was, ‘Why would this big macho, Arnold Schwarzenegger-type person dress up as a bat for God’s sake?Tim Burton
(Source: Bold Entrance)