Pierce Brosnan: I Lost Out on Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ Thanks to ‘Stupid’ Superhero Joke

The former Bond star recalled his comment to Tim Burton during an appearance on "The Late Show" with Jimmy Kimmel."
Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan was better suited to tuxedos than tights when it came to an ill-timed superhero quip.

The “Black Adam” actor, who makes his DC debut in the upcoming “Shazam!” spin-off, revealed during “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” that he auditioned to play Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton’s 1989 film “Batman,” pre-Bond fame.

“I went up for Batman way back in the day when Tim Burton was doing it. Obviously, I didn’t get the job,” Brosnan said during the October 12 episode. “I remember saying something stupid to Tim Burton. I said, ‘You know I can’t understand any man who would wear his underpants outside his trousers.’ But there you go.”

The role ultimately went to Michael Keaton, who starred as Batman in both Burton installments and is reprising the role for “The Flash.”

“The best man got the job,” Brosnan added. The actor went on to star in 1995’s “Goldeneye” and played James Bond for four films, concluding with 2002’s “Die Another Day.”

Almost 30 years later, Keaton opened up about walking away from the Batman franchise with 1995’s “Batman Forever” due to director Joel Schumacher’s vision for the character. Burton was boosted from the director’s chair following “Batman Returns,” which the studio deemed “too dark,” according to the auteur.

“To me, I know the name of the movie is Batman, and it’s hugely iconic and very cool … and because of Tim Burton, artistically iconic, [but] I knew from the get-go it was Bruce Wayne,” Keaton said on the Backstage podcast (via The Playlist) earlier this year. “That was the secret. I never talked about it. [Everyone would say] Batman, Batman, Batman does this, and I kept thinking to myself, ‘Y’all are thinking wrong here.’ [It’s all about] Bruce Wayne. What kind of person does that?…Who becomes that?”

Keaton added about Schumacher, “I walked away going, ‘Oh boy, I can’t do this.’ He asked me, ‘I don’t understand why everything has to be so dark and everything so sad,’ and I went, ‘Wait a minute, do you know how this guy got to be Batman? Have you read… I mean, it’s pretty simple.'”

The Batman character went on to have a darker turn in Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson, plus inspired  Darren Aronofsky to pitch an adaptation of the “Batman: Year One” comic book, which Reeves decades later incorporated into his “The Batman” script.

“It was after ‘Batman & Robin,’ the Joel Schumacher one,” Aronofsky said. “That had been a big hiccup back then at Warner Bros., so I pitched them a rated-R, boiled-down origin story of Batman. A rated-R superhero movie was probably 10 to 15 years out of whack with the reality of the business then.”

Aronofsky continued about his scrapped script, “It had promise, but it was just a first draft. The studio weren’t really interested. It was a very different take.”

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