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How Michael Keaton's Batman Inspired Mark Hamill To Audition For The Joker

The "Batman" franchise is no stranger to casting controversy. After all, fans will no doubt remember the backlash that emerged after Heath Ledger was cast as The Joker in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight." More recently, fans will also recall how much blowback Robert Pattinson got for being cast as the titular hero in Matt Reeves' "The Batman."

While today most viewers would agree that Ledger and Pattinson both did great work in their respective roles, there's arguably an even more iconic actor who got flack for being cast as The Caped Crusader. Michael Keaton took on the central part of Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, in the 1989 Tim Burton adaptation of the same name. Though he got his fair share of guff for it, Keaton's casting did inspire another actor to try out for the franchise.

Mark Hamill might be famous for playing Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars," but many know him from his giddily deranged take on The Joker in "Batman: The Animated Series." Still, he told Wired that he tried out for the role because of how absurd he thought the backlash against Keaton's casting was. "There was this big outcry that Michael Keaton was gonna play Batman," Hamill said. "Oh, he's 'Mr. Mom', he's a comedy actor. I mean, they hadn't even seen him, and they didn't realize how great he would become."

Hamill he didn't think he would be cast as the Joker

Obviously, the argument for how iconic Michael Keaton's take on The Dark Knight was is more obvious today than it's ever been. After all, Keaton is reprising the role over three decades later for "The Flash," and the trailer even contains many of his signature lines from the Tim Burton film.

Still, back when he was auditioning, Mark Hamill was so sure he wouldn't get the role that he went in with no preconceived notions about the part whatsoever. "So when I went in, I thought, you think they're gonna hire Luke Skywalker to play the Joker?" Hamill recalled. "The fans will lose their minds. I was so sure that I couldn't be cast. I was completely relaxed."

Ironically, this lack of nervousness or fear regarding his take on The Joker may have been precisely what led to Hamill's casting as the villain. Any Batman fan knows that The Joker is an agent of chaos, a darkly comedic maniac who follows his whims and listens to his gut rather than planning out elaborate crimes down to the letter. Perhaps it was Hamill's freewheeling nature and confidence that made the producers behind "Batman: The Animated Series" think he would be the perfect fit for the part.

Either way, the role is one he's reprised several times since. Most recently, Hamill played The Joker in the 2019 mash-up series, "Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?" Furthermore, outside of Luke Skywalker, The Joker has since become easily Hamill's most iconic role to date.