Earlier this week we passed the 30th anniversary of Batman, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton. While they were stars already on their own, the film gave us brilliant performances by both Jack Nicholson and Keaton, but what if Keaton wasn’t the caped crusader? What if the role went to Steven Seagal?
What’s In a Cowl?
Reports are that as Warner Brothers readied to launch their first big screen effort into Batman, the role of Bruce Wayne almost went to Steven Seagal. Screenwriter Sam Hamm had this to say:
“There were a lot of people at Warner Brother who wanted to cast it with an action star. They wanted to cast the part as Batman, as opposed to casting it as Bruce Wayne. 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.”Sam Hamm, ,Screenwriter for Batman
What difference would there have been between what Seagal could have brought versus what Keaton did bring? As Hamm stated, the character of Batman will generally be a stuntman save for close ups. Bruce Wayne would challenge the actor far more than Batman.
Keaton V. Seagal
For Bruce Wayne, Keaton brought an intelligent, charismatic, older style to Wayne. He lacked the womanizing talents of the comic character and was far more assertive than comic Bruce, but the charm remained. Seagal walked softly, but with presence. His Wayne might have carried a more physical presence that intimidated. I doubt Seagal’s Wayne would have felt right.
Also if you look at Seagal’s face back then, it nearly carried the same scowl as the Batman cowl. The eyes and brow would allow Seagal to give a wonderfully fierce look to the Batman.
As Batman, however, the tables may have turned. Keaton did a wonderful job as Batman. Given the rubbery suit and its lack of flexibility, Keaton managed to give convincing enough fights. Keaton also gave us one of the better Bat-voices as well, but there is no replacing a master. Seagal mastered Aikido and taught both in the US and Japan. His fight moves would strike clean, crisp, and sharp. Seagal did not become a star because of his acting. His Martial arts spoke for him.