Tim Burton's Batman and Batman Returns are widely considered to be some of the best Batman films of all time. It seemed to be the beginning of an amazing franchise, but this winning streak started to slow down when Tim Burton was sacked in exchange for Joel Schumacher who directed Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.
Though Batman and Robin is widely considered to be the lesser of Schumacher's two films, most people can admit that Batman Forever was not great either, especially in comparison to its predecessors. This is just opinion, of course. However, a majority of critics and fans will agree that Tim Burton's Batman films were better than those of Schumacher.
When Schumacher was hired, since he was "picking up" the franchise, he would not have received a full pay check had he kept everything Tim Burton had come up with. Seeking to get more money in his wallet, Schumacher fired practically the entire cast of the previous films, except for the actors for Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and a few minor characters. This cutting of cast members included getting rid of people like Michael Keaton (Batman), Michelle Pfeiffer (Catwoman), and Billy Dee Williams, who played Harvey Dent in Batman and was in talks of reprising his role in the third installment.
One of the biggest complaints about Batman Forever and Batman and Robin is that they were too bright and goofy in comparison to previous adaptations. The movies were more fun, but also lost some of the best qualities of the first two films. The direction was different and the cast was different. But my question is: Would it have seemed as different had one particular actor been kept during the transition?
Imagine if Billy Dee Williams had been kept as Harvey Dent...
Billy Dee Williams is an actor best known for playing Lando Calrissian in the original Star Wars trilogy. Williams also appeared throughout 1989's Batman as Harvey Dent, who many will recognize as the character to later became Two-Face in Batman Forever. Williams was replaced with Tommy Lee Jones who played the role of a fully transformed Dent in to Two-Face.
Jones' Harvey Dent was very bright and chipper, which was part of the problem during Schumacher's two films. However, Billy Dee Williams' portrayal of Dent during 1989's Batman was a more realistic version in a darker context.
Bringing back Billy Dee Williams would have perhaps made his version of Two-Face more dark and gritty, being similar to the previous Batman villains that fans had grown to love. Dent's descent into madness would have been less like a comedic turn of events, and more like tragic circumstances that changed everything, like the version of Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight.
Bringing forth a darker, more realistic villain would likewise bring forth a darker, more realistic movie, establishing itself to be a fulfilling sequel to the previous two films. Billy Dee Williams would not only have brought forth a more gritty portrayal, but he also would have used his acting talents to steal the show and pose an unbelievably dangerous threat to Batman and Robin.
This darker film would have probably kept many of the Batman fans who felt let down by the film reassured in the movies, allowing Batman to remain a successful and popular film series. In fact, Batman and Robin would likely have been quite different if Batman Forever starred Billy Dee Williams as the darker version of Two-Face, as it would have likely kept that dark tone. It is possible that, had Billy Dee Williams been kept as Two Face, the Batman series would have gone on past Batman and Robin into many more amazing films, all being similar continuations of Tim Burton's classic, darker Batman.
Billy Dee Williams would not only have made a phenomenal Harvey Dent / Two-Face in Batman Forever, but he also may have completely 'fixed' the latter two films of the Batman series. His acting style and the realistic concepts surrounding his character in Batman could have kept the best parts of the previous two Batman films to make Batman Forever a terrific continuation to the rest of the series.
What do you think, though? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!