Actors who were almost cast as Batman

Batman, and everything that goes along with him, is big business. Every new Batman movie or TV series is almost a guaranteed cash bonanza, even though each successive film has to live up to previous Batman incarnations, including Christopher Nolan's acclaimed "Dark Knight" trilogy and Tim Burton's 1989 movie. This means a lot of time and effort go into selecting which actor will play Batman each time, a decision that depends on the approval of the director, producers, DC Comics, production company executives, and even the fans. A lot of actors have been considered—and a lot of actors have been rejected. Here are a few who just barely missed out on portraying the Caped Crusader.

Pierce Brosnan

The former Remington Steele and the future James Bond was on Batman director Tim Burton's short list for the role of the Dark Knight. But as the debonair Irish actor said in a Reddit AMA, he met with Burton and just couldn't see himself in the role because he thought it was all rather silly. "Any man who wears his underpants outside his pants," Brosnan said, "just cannot be taken seriously."

Alec Baldwin

The deep-voiced, intense actor is arguably the greatest one-who-got-away in the realm of Batman casting—even Quentin Tarantino thinks so. Baldwin was in consideration for Tim Burton's Batman back in 1989, having worked with Burton on his previous movie, Beetlejuice. Another Beetlejuice star, Michael Keaton, wound up with the part. Baldwin's consolation prize: getting to star in the similar-to-Batman 1994 flop The Shadow.

Ray Liotta

Ray Liotta had just starred in his first movie—Something Wild, in 1986—when his agent got a call saying Tim Burton was interested in auditioning him for the lead role in Batman. He declined even the chance to meet with Burton, something he says he still regrets. (However, he opted to make the Oscar-nominated classic Goodfellas instead, so don't feel too sorry for Liotta.)

William Baldwin

When both director Tim Burton and star Michael Keaton opted to not return for the third Batman movie, new director Joel Schumacher was hired to helm Batman Forever, and he brought along his own ideas about who should star. His choices: Ralph Fiennes, Daniel Day-Lewis, Val Kilmer, and William "Billy" Baldwin, America's second-favorite Baldwin brother. Baldwin auditioned for Schumacher, who told him that he'd been his first choice…but that Warner Bros. executives preferred Val Kilmer. (Nevertheless, Baldwin would go on to voice the Caped Crusader in a few animated products.)

Armie Hammer

Justice League is the DC Comics universe's version of Marvel's Avengers: a team made up of the publisher's most popular and powerful superheroes. Batman is necessarily a part of the Justice League, and director George Miller intended to put him on the team when he developed a big-screen Justice League feature in 2007. Armie Hammer was publicly announced to be playing the part, an odd pick because at the time he was relatively unknown—his breakout role in The Social Network wouldn't come for another three years. Ultimately, the movie fell apart, but Hammer says he was glad he didn't end up playing Batman. Just around 20 years old at the time, he feels he would've been too young.

Cillian Murphy

For his dark, gritty Batman reboot/origin story Batman Begins, director Christopher Nolan saw as many as a dozen up-and-coming actors. Among them was Irish actor and 28 Days star Cillian Murphy. He recalls having an "awkward" audition and screen test in which he read his lines while wearing a complete Batman suit. He didn't get that part, but Nolan was impressed enough with his performance that he cast him in Batman Begins as the Scarecrow.

Josh Hartnett

Josh Hartnett was one of the actors Nolan considered early on to star in Batman Begins. But Hartnett, one of the biggest young male stars of the early 2000s, pulled his own name from consideration. Why? He didn't want to be typecast as a superhero—at the time he was also sought out to play Superman and Spider-Man (roles he didn't actually end up landing). Harnett was so concerned with where his career was going that he briefly left Hollywood and moved back home to Minnesota for a couple of years.

David Duchovny

After starring in Batman Forever, it was one-and-done for Val Kilmer. Like Michael Keaton before him, he walked away from the cape and cowl, leaving Warner Bros. scrambling to find an actor to star in the fourth Batman movie, 1997's Batman & Robin. To portray the new Batman, the choice came down to two actors, both of whom were huge TV stars just beginning to delve into movies: George Clooney of ER and David Duchovny of The X-Files. Duchovny claims he was considered for the part but once joked that he wasn't cast because his nose was too big. Clooney got the role, which helped kill off the franchise for a decade, for which Clooney has frequently apologized. Oddly enough, Clooney and Duchovny attended the premiere of Batman Forever together.

Josh Brolin

The No Country for Old Men and Jonah Hex star met with Man of Steel director Zack Snyder when it was decided that the plans for the next Superman movie would include the Man of Steel fighting the Dark Knight. That concept morphed into Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Snyder and Brolin had a few meetings. They ultimately both decided it wasn't a good fit, and Brolin later praised Snyder's decision to cast Ben Affleck.

Wes Bentley

As Batman vs. Superman took shape, executives at Warner sought out the opinion of previous Batman boss Christopher Nolan for his opinion regarding who should next play Batman. He apparently recommended his Interstellar star Wes Bentley, best known for American Beauty and American Horror Story on TV. Nevertheless, Ben Affleck got the part.

Lyle Waggoner

It's apparently always been a tricky proposition to cast the right Batman. In 1966, when ABC was putting together the campy, candy-colored, silly TV series version of Batman, producers looked at potential Batmen and Robins as duos. The final two options came down to Adam West and Burt Wart (as Batman and Robin, respectively), and Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell. West and Ward got the parts, of course; Waggoner went on to co-star on The Carol Burnett Show, while Deyell compiled an eclectic list of credits as an actor, production manager, and author.

Bill Murray

In the mid-'80s, Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman was among a handful of directors considered by Warner Bros. to develop a big-screen vehicle for Batman, and although execs at the time had yet to settle on a tone for the film, it would have been a far cry from the campy Batman from 1960s TV. Reitman's choice for the lead role? Ghostbusters star Bill Murray, with Eddie Murphy reportedly in the running as Robin. While both actors have since shown they're more than capable with non-comic material, at the time those casting picks made it difficult to conceive of the movie as anything but a comedy—an idea that fell further out of favor as the decade wore on and the Batman comics grew ever darker. After a torturous development process that saw the script rewritten by nine different people, Warners saw the writing on the Batcave and went in a different direction with the project.