Over the years, there have been numerous incarnations of Batman, with every movie or TV show that features him almost a guaranteed success. And it certainly doesn't get any easier with time, as they'll always have to outperform the previous installment. Of course, this also means a lot of time and effort goes into casting the perfect actor to portray the Caped Crusader.
It's not as simple as the director calling up his favorite actor to ask if he wants the part– although, that has happened in the past. Deciding who gets to be Batman depends on the approval of not only the director, but producers, DC comics execs, & sometimes even the fans. There's no shortage of actors who've wanted to be Batman, but most of them were rejected...
20 Pierce Brosnan
Tim Burton met with several actors before Keaton took on the role of Batman. One of the guys he talked to was future James Bond star, Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan was apparently a big Batman fan when he was young, but turned down Burton's offer, saying; "Any guy who wears his underpants outside his trousers cannot be taken seriously."
19 David Boreanaz
Boreanaz is mostly known for his role as Angel in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, its spin-off, Angel, and as agent Booth in Bones. Apparently, Boreanaz’s name was near the top of the list when Warner Bros. was looking for someone to portray the Caped Crusader in Batman Begins. Some say Boreanaz turned the part down to avoid being typecast, but who knows what really happened?
18 Alec Baldwin
After working together with Tim Burton in Beetlejuice, Baldwin was in consideration of the lead role in the original Batman movie back in 1989. Even Quentin Tarantino thought Alec would've made a great Batman, with his deep voice and intense acting. The part was eventually given to another Beetlejuice star, Michael Keaton.
17 Johnny Depp
After making several movies together, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have a close relationship, but that wasn't the case back in 1989. That probably explains why Depp wasn't considered for the two Batman movies directed by Burton. When Keaton wanted to retire from the role, Burton and Depp had done Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, so Burton suggested to the studio that Depp should be the next Batman. It didn't happen.
16 Ray Liotta
After starring in Something Wild in 1986, Ray Liotta's agent got a call saying Tim Burton was interested in auditioning Liotta for the role of Batman. Liotta didn't even want to meet with Burton - which he says he's regretting to this day - but he did get to make the Oscar-nominated Goodfellas instead.
15 Tom Hanks
It seems that a sure-fire way to make a successful movie is to get Tom Hanks to star in it. Perhaps that's why he was on the short-list of actors to take on the role of Batman when Keaton decided to hang up his cape. Hanks reportedly turned down the role - perhaps he knew he couldn't save the movie? Or maybe it would've been better had he starred in it?
14 William Baldwin
Joel Schumacher was hired to direct the third Batman movie when both Tim Burton and Michael Keaton chose not to return. Among Schumacher's favorites for the lead role was the second-best Baldwin brother, William. Baldwin auditioned, and Schumacher told him that he wanted him for the part, but it turned out that Warner Bros. executives preferred Val Kilmer. Baldwin later got to voice Batman in Crisis on Two Earths.
13 Clint Eastwood
According to Hollywood legend, Joel Schumacher tried to save the Batman franchise by doing something different and completely unexpected. His plan was to adapt the graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, with an old Batman who comes out of retirement. Apparently, Schumacher felt Clint Eastwood would be the perfect fit, but Warner Bros. turned down the project before he could even ask him.
12 Armie Hammer
After Batman Begins became a raving success, George Miller was asked by Warner Bros. to do a Justice League movie. Armie Hammer was publicly announced as Batman in the movie, but when The Dark Knight also became a mega success, the Justice League project was canceled. Warner Bros. felt solo superhero films were the way to go. Four years later, The Avengers became a box office hit.
11 Heath Ledger
Christopher Nolan met with lots of actors before Christian Bale was cast for Batman Begins, one of them Heath Ledger. Ledger, however, had no interest in playing the superhero and turned it down. After seeing the first movie, Ledger reportedly contacted Nolan for a part in the next installment - which led to his breathtaking performance as the Joker.
10 Jake Gyllenhaal
Maggie Gyllenhaal played Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight. It would probably be awkward if her younger brother Jake were playing Batman, seeing as she was Bruce Wayne's love interest. Jake auditioned for the role of Batman when Nolan took the helm, but he didn't get the part. In his own words: "at a certain point, you realize there is always someone more interesting, talented and ready to do the role."
9 Cillian Murphy
Irish actor and star of 28 Days, Cillian Murphy, had an "awkward" audition and screen test. He actually read all his lines while wearing a complete Batman suit. While he didn't get the part, Nolan must have been somewhat impressed with his performance, seeing as he did cast Murphy in Batman Begins as the Scarecrow.
8 Ethan Hawke
Four time Academy Awards nominee Ethan Hawke was offered the role by Joel Schumacher for Batman Begins. But Hawke decided to turn down the offer. In his own words: "I didn’t want to go to the Knicks game and have everybody go, “Wow, you were a great Batman!” That wasn’t my goal in life. Now I wish I’d done it, because I could have used it to do other things."
7 Josh Hartnett
Early on, Nolan seriously considered Josh Hartnett to star in Batman Begins. Hartnett, however, didn't want to be typecast as a superhero. Hartnett, one of the biggest young stars of the early 2000s, was so concerned with the direction his career was taking, that he ended up leaving Hollywood and moved back to Minnesota for a few years.
6 Willem Dafoe
Some might've heard the rumors that Willem Dafoe was considered to portray for the Joker when Tim Burton was in charge of Batman. Turns out that's actually wrong. Dafoe was actually in consideration for the role of the Caped Crusader himself. We honestly can't imagine what the end result would've been like.
5 David Duchovny
Val Kilmer starred in Batman Forever and decided once was enough. Warner Bros were left to find a star for the fourth movie - 1997's Batman & Robin, and it came down to two of the biggest TV stars of the 90s, David Duchovny and George Clooney. Seeing as the movie was so bad that it killed the entire Batman franchise for years, Duchovny is probably relieved he didn't get the part.
4 Josh Brolin
Josh Brolin, star of Jonah Hex and No Country for Old Men, met with director Zack Snyder when it was decided that the next Superman movie would include the Dark Knight. Both Brolin and Snyder decided it wasn't a good fit, and Ben Affleck was later cast in the movie that would ultimately be Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
3 Wes Bentley
Before Ben Affleck got the part in Batman v. Superman, Warner Bros. executives asked previous Batman director Christopher Nolan who he felt would be the right choice to play Batman. Nolan recommended Wes Bentley, who's best known for his roles in Interstellar, American Beauty, and American Horror Story. Warner Bros. decided to not listen to Nolan and went with Affleck instead.
2 Lyle Waggoner
Back in 1966, ABC decided to make a sillier, more cheerful version of Batman than we're used to today. The producers were down to two final options when casting the Batman & Robin duo, Adam West and Burt Ward, and Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell. West ended up getting the Batman role, while Waggoner went on to co-star on The Carol Burnett Show.
1 Bill Murray
Warner Bros. talked with Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman about doing a Batman movie in the mid-80s. Reitman wanted Ghostbusters star Bill Murray in the lead role, with Eddie Murphy co-starring as Robin. While the movie wouldn't be as ridiculous as the '60s TV show, the Batman comics kept getting darker, leading to the script being rewritten by nine different people, and Warner ended up taking the project in a different direction.
Sources: Looper, IGN, Clipd, Daily Superheroes, Cinemablend