Imagine if Hollywood had released tent-pole comic-book movies starring their iconic characters around the time of the source material’s release date. For the purposes of this experiment, we will say that a movie would be released 5 years after the introduction of the character, and only movies that have been made would be made.
Teased by the Suicide Squad film, when DC announced they would release this Alan Moore tale the following year, many were excited, and Alan Moore was grumpy. Mitchum’s Batman and subsequent Justice League films were successful, but tastes had changed, many years had passed, and what was needed was a reboot of the franchise.
But, producers also did not want to retell the origin story, they were going to jump right into the deep end.
Robin Williams and Alicia Silverstone had already been cast, but who would don the mantle of The Dark Knight? In the most clever of marketing campaigns, the identity of the actor portraying Bruce Wayne/ Batman was not leaked at all. It was not until opening night that the world discovered…
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves: Plenty of clips of the movies had been released, in addition to Silverstone and Williams:
Alfred-Sir Anthony Hopkins
The newly-knighted Oscar winner took on this most important and underrated of roles in the Bat-canon.
Jim Gordon-Tom Hanks
Proving that there is no role he cannot excel in, Hanks was perfect for the role of the commissioner of Gotham’s police department and father of Batgirl.
Although not featured in the original story, producers wanted this film to drop viewers in-media-res into the Bat-universe with the obvious expectation of more films to follow.
Thus, they cast Johnny Depp as Dick Grayson/ Robin I/ Nightwing. Primarily known for 21 Jump Street, he was coming into his own with performances in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (released the same year) and Edward Scissorhands.
Adding even more to richness of the canon, flashback scenes showed the Joker committing a horrible murder, of the second Robin, Jason Todd. Tragically, River Phoenix was cast, and although producers hoped for a Death In The Family film, Phoenix’s death before the release of The Killing Joke quashed that. The film was dedicated to him, and producers acknowledged they wouldn’t recast the role.
In all the trailers, we saw the Batman, we heard his voice, but we never saw the man behind the cowl. The movie did a great job of keeping this a secret until after the credits when it was revealed the iconic role would be portrayed by…
Cage took his name from Luke Cage, and loved comic books. Rumors have it that he spent a year going through rigorous training similar to what Bruce Wayne endured to prepare for the role.