Yes, it’s true. Martial artist actor Steven Seagal was once in consideration to star in Tim Burton’s Batman as the Dark Knight.
In the early ’90s, Seagal was as the height of his career. Films like Under Siege, Above the Law, Hard to Kill and Out for Justice rocketed his career and Steven Seagal became a household name. As someone who was considered charming, handsome and able to pull off action sequences quite well, it’s not surprising that Warner Bros. once considered him for one of the most iconic roles in superhero history.
Before agreeing to Michael Keaton, who was mostly known for comedies at the time, as 1989’s Batman, the studio was focused on getting the action-oriented aspects of the film correct rather than the Bruce Wayne side. “There were a lot of people at Warner Brother who wanted to cast it with an action star,” says screenwriter Sam Hamm in a new interview with Syfy.
However, it seems Burton was looking for a more experienced actor who could pull off both sides of the character instead.
“You have to make Bruce Wayne work, because Batman is, for the most part, going to be a stunt guy, or it’s going to be somebody running around in a costume in long shot. You don’t need the martial arts expertise of, say, Steven Seagal or somebody like that because you can fake all of that kind of stuff. Seagal was one of the people that was suggested to us,” Hamm continued. “Believe it or not. He had just kind of appeared on the scene, people thought holy cow, this guy’s badass. He could be Batman. I don’t think it ever got to the point where he read for it. He was just one of the names that was floated.”
Of course, we know how the story unfolded. Keaton was cast as Batman instead. Although, that wasn’t with controversy either.