Against all odds, Michael Keaton’s turn as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie has become a generational icon. If you’re old enough to remember, his casting wasn’t exactly met with universal acclaim…even in the pre-internet age. Nevertheless, Keaton delivered a haunted, intense performance, but he wasn’t Tim Burton’s first choice for the role. One of those was future James Bond, Pierce Brosnan.
Keep in mind, Brosnan had yet to play Bond in 1989 despite long being eyed for the role, as his Remington Steele commitments prevented him from replacing Roger Moore. In a Reddit AMA, Brosnan revealed that Tim Burton came to him about stepping into the cowl. He turned it down.
“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? Don’t get me wrong, because I love Batman, and I grew up on Batman. As a kid in Ireland, we used to get our raincoats and tie them round our neck and swing through the bicycle shed…”
For a bit of perspective, this meeting probably took place in 1987 or 1988. We were only about a year out from The Dark Knight Returns, and the prevailing vision of Batman in the non comic book reading segment of popular culture was still Adam West’s brightly-colored comedy do-gooder. Hard to believe, considering that now the general impression of Batman is now that of an armored, utterly humorless semi-fascist who misses his parents. I kid because I love.
Now, how’s this for symmetry? Adam West also claims that he was offered the role of James Bond in his post-Batman days. Dude, that’s some spooky stuff. It’s like if you put on Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of the Moon at the same time. Actually, it’s nothing like that. In fact, never do that. Please don’t be that person.
In all seriousness, though, Mr. Brosnan certainly would have looked like he stepped right out of a Neal Adams Batman panel, wouldn’t he?
I tip my pointy-eared cowl to ComicBook.com for the tip on this one.