Superhero Movie Versions You Never Saw: Part 1
By Chuck Brutz
The Bat signal shines in the Gotham City Night Sky. Batman and Robin are needed as villainy is afoot…and the actors playing the pair are…Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy?
Yes, that is true and almost happened. Back before Tim Burton got involved in what became the 1989 mega hit Batman film with Michael Keaton as Batman, and Jack Nicolson as The Joker, movie audiences almost had a Murray/Murphy pairing as The Dynamic Duo.
In the early 1980’s, Warner Brothers was considering doing a Batman film in the style of the 1960’s TV Series, a comedy to be Directed either by Ivan Reitman (“Ghostbusters”) or Joe Dante (“Gremlins”) and starring Bill Murray as Batman and Eddie Murphy as Robin.
Superhero movies right now continue to be lucrative money makers, but often many of them often go through different stages of development before the final version hits theaters. Batman and Spiderman. Two superheroes very much prominently featured in films, with Ben Affleck as Batman in the “Justice League” movie and Tom Holland as Spiderman in “Spiderman: Homecoming”.
However, here’s part one of a two-part article that takes a look at how both characters were almost portrayed on the big screen in a different time and place, and how in in an odd way, Arnold Schwarzenegger was connected to both films:
Batman Triumphant (1999):
In 1997’s “Batman and Robin” George Clooney had taken over as Batman from Val Kilmer, who had taken over the role from Michael Keaton. Previously, 1995’s “Batman Forever” directed by Joel Schumacher had been a big hit, and was successful from Warner Brothers view as making the Batman Film Franchise more “Family Friendly” then the backlash received from 1992’s “Batman Returns”.
So as “Batman and Robin” where Batman (George Clooney), Robin (Chris O’Donnell) and Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) do battle against Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), was set to be released, it was thought, it’ll be a huge hit, so plans were already underway for the next sequel, “Batman Triumphant” with Schumacher to Direct again, set for a Summer 1999 release.
Using two villains seemed to be working out pretty well, (Actually in “Batman and Robin” ‘s case, there were three villain’s, counting Bane (Jeep Swenson) although portrayed drastically different then he had been portrayed in the comic books), and the villain’s were already set for the next film.
Long before Cillian Murphy became the first actor to later portray the first live action version of The Scarecrow in the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale “Batman” film series, the actor in mind for this film was…Jeff Goldblum (Notice how in the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher “Batman” series there’s a Pittsburgh connection with Michael Keaton as Batman, and if this film had happened, Jeff Goldblum as The Scarecrow? Just an observation… Pittsburgh Pride my friends, Pittsburgh Pride.)
The storyline for “Batman Triumphant” would have the characters of Dick Grayson and Barbra Wilson, Secret Identities of Robin and Batgirl (Played by O’Donnell and Silverstone) going to Gotham City University and one of their Professors Being Dr. Jonathan Crane, who first appeared in Batman comics back in 1941, and made numerous appearances in the television hit “Batman: The Animated Series” during the 1990’s, and by 1997, Goldblum was hot of two successful films, “Jurassic Park” (1993) and “Independence Day” (1996), and in 1997, he starred in a sequel to one “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”.
Another of the film’s villain’s was to be Harley Quinn, who in the late 1990’s was still a fairly new character (She first appeared in a 1992 episode of “Batman: The Animated Series), was already very popular, and had developed a loyal fan following. However, her character portrayal in his film might not have made fans happy, as instead of being The Joker’s girlfriend, she was set here to be Joker’s long lost daughter, who came to Gotham City seeking revenge on Batman for the death of her father…which happened back in first film in 1989.
Had Goldblum played The Scarecrow (aka Dr. Jonathan Crane) His portrayal in this movie would’ve been an evil college psychology professor who uses a fear toxin, to help Harley Quinn (Possibly set to be played by Madonna) by using the fear toxin to bring back the traumatizing memory of Batman’s secret identity Bruce Wayne’s parents death.
Now if you remember, in the 1989 Batman film, The Joker was responsible for the murder, Reportedly, Schumacher and Warner Brothers were in talks to bring Jack Nicholson back as The Joker, via a fear gas hallucination.
However, after its summer 1997 release, “Batman and Robin” was not a success, and plans for “Batman Triumphant” were scrapped. As mentioned before, Cillian Murphy later went onto play The Scarecrow in 2005’s “Batman Begins” and Harley Quinn finally was featured in her first live action appearance in 2016’s “Suicide Squad” played by Margot Robbie.
And so ends part one. Coming up in part two, we’ll discuss the Spiderman film you never saw that came close to being made. And just what is that previously mentioned Arnold Schwarzenegger connection to both films? Well his role in the first part of this article was his playing Mr. Freeze, his Spiderman connection? To find out, read Part 2…
To Be Continued…