ByBrian Finamore, writer at
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Brian Finamore
"I would work with Chris again in a second, playing anyone in anything. I’d play The Riddler in the next Batman, although it’d be hard to top Heath as the villain, and I’m a little hairy for tights. Plus, the Batman films have screwed me twice before: years ago they offered me The Joker and then gave it to Jack Nicholson, then they offered me The Riddler and gave it to Jim Carrey. I’d be like, “Okay, is this a real offer? If it is, then the answer’s yes. Don’t pump me again, motherfuckers.” - Robin Williams, 2010

Robin Williams and Batman films have had an interesting history. Of course, we know that Robin Williams was never in a Batman film. However, in both the Burton/Schumacher and Nolan Batman films, Williams was considered on multiple occasions as potentially being cast in a Batman film. This has left many fans of the comic books and movies wondering what a Batman film with Robin Williams may have been like.

Batman (1989)

Jack Nicholson was always the first choice to play the Joker, but he initially declined the role. The part was then offered to Robin Williams, who accepted the role while the film was still in pre-production. But Nicholson then had a change of heart and Williams was released. Nicholson was then cast in the part, where he earned a $6 million dollar wage packet, as well as a percentage of the final box-office take and a huge chunk of change from the sequel Batman Returns (1992).

Batman Forever (1995)

After the controversial reception surrounding Burton's dark sequel Batman Returns, Warner Bros. decided to go in a different direction and a "lighter", more commercial tone. There are conflicting accounts regarding if Williams was offered the role and turned it down after consideration, or if again he accepted the role, and Warner went with the hotter name at the time, Jim Carrey. Williams again missed out on another hit.

  Robin Williams and Christopher Nolan - Insomnia
Robin Williams and Christopher Nolan - Insomnia

The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005, 2008, 2012)

Robin Williams experienced another career renaissance in 2002, proving he could play an effective, serious villain. Williams portrayed a writer/killer on the run from a sleep-deprived Los Angeles policeman (played by Al Pacino) in rural Alaska in Christopher Nolan's Insomnia. Also in 2002, in the psychological thriller One Hour Photo, Williams played an emotionally disturbed photo development technician who becomes obsessed with a family for whom he has developed pictures for a long time.

Christopher Nolan took the reigns of the Batman reboot franchise, and after the success of Batman Begins (2005), there was great anticipation as to who Nolan would cast as the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008). Williams, who had a positive working experience with Nolan, lobbied for the part of the Joker.

In 2006, Williams commented on the possibility of being cast as the Joker:

"Oh God, I'd love to do that one."
"Well, you want to do a different Joker. You know, if they do Arkham Asylum, it would be amazing. Arkham Asylum is one of the greatest, nastiest comic books ever. It's truly, it's like the Marquee de Sade on that level, and wonderfully damaged and quite tragic, in terms of when you realize [what happened to] create these characters..."
"It's interesting now that they're doing, they all kind of realize, with all the adult comic books or graphic novels for those who are trying to upscale themselves... Is that a comic book? No! It's a graphic novel! Is that porn? No! It's adult entertainment!"

Not only did Williams appear to get the Joker, he also was well versed on the comics and what Nolan was going for in his Batman films. Of course, Nolan ended up casting Heath Ledger, a controversial choice at the time that ultimately proved to be a stroke of genius.

  Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight ended up being a massive success, leading to even more speculation and excitement as to what villain(s) Nolan would go with for [The Dark Knight Rises](movie:39011) (2012). Again, Williams name was brought up for the Riddler, but Nolan decided not to go in that direction.

The even bigger rumor surrounding Williams, was the possibility of him being cast as Hugo Strange. Many articles came out speculating this as a major possibility, however, it turned out the rumors didn't have any real weight to them, as Nolan has always been secretive.

  Hugo Strange and Robin Williams
Hugo Strange and Robin Williams

Nolan went with Tom Hardy as Bane and his Batman trilogy is now at an end. It would have been really interesting to see what Williams would have done with these roles had they been given to him. I have a feeling with the Burton/Schumacher films they might have encouraged him to bring his comedy style to the role. However, with Nolan, I'm sure he would of played whatever villain role completely serious, as he did with Insomnia. Indeed, it would have been interesting to see Robin Williams in ANY comic book adaptation.


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