Bill Murray Explains Why His ’80s ‘Batman’ Movie Fell Apart
Some of the greatest actors in history have played the Batman, from Christian Bale to Michael Keaton. But there are a lot of other people who almost played the role, and a lot of Batman movies that were almost made.
For example, before Tim Burton came on board, the producers of his Batman spent most of the 1980s cycling through different directors and casts as they tried to make the first big-screen Dark Knight adventure since the 1960s. One of those directors was the late Ivan Reitman, who at that point was interested in using Batman as his follow-up to his first big Hollywood hit, Stripes. And he even wanted to have his Stripes star, Bill Murray, play Batman, with Eddie Murphy as his Robin.
Can you imagine?
The project never came together, but in a new interview with Yahoo!, Murray talks about his memories of the project, which eventually fell apart when he and Reitman decided to make Ghostbusters instead. (We can all agree that was a good call.) Murray said that he did talk to Eddie Murphy about Batman, but there was an issue: “Eddie wanted to play Batman.”
That wasn’t going to work, Murray explained, because “I don't wanna be the Boy Wonder to anybody.” He added...
Maybe much earlier when I was a boy. But it was too late for that by the ’80s. Also, I couldn’t do the outfit. Eddie looks good in purple, and I look good in purple. In red and green, I look like one of Santa’s elves. There was just a lot of vanity involved in the production. It wasn't gonna happen.
And sure enough, it didn’t. A few years later, Burton became involved, and he brought in Michael Keaton — who at the time was, like Murray, best known as a comedian. He even drew the same sort of criticisms that Murray likely would have if he had made a Batman movie with Reitman. But in the end, Keaton obviously delivered a great performance.
A Bill Murray Batman from Ivan Reitman is hard to imagine, but it’s not the only time Hollywood has flirted with turning a huge DC Comics franchise into a big-budget comedy. At one point in its development, Green Lantern was going to star Jack Black, working from a script written by Triumph the Insult Comic Dog creator Robert Smigel. (You can learn more about that and other DC movies that were almost made in the video below.)
Instead, Ryan Reynolds played a more traditional superhero in 2011’s Green Lantern. And that worked out great for everyone, right? Right?
Well, it was still probably better than a Bill Murray Batman. Meanwhile the latest extremely not-a-comedy Batman movie, The Batman, is in theaters now.