As one of the most popular and beloved comic book characters, Batman has been adapted to the big screen various times, with some projects more successful than others, so it’s not surprising that various artists show interest in being part of one of the Dark Knight’s movies, and among them was Michael Jackson, who wanted to play a specific character. Batman’s history on the big screen began in the 1940s with two serial films, followed by an adaptation of the 1960s Batman TV show in 1966, with Adam West and Burt Ward reprising their roles as Batman and Robin, respectively.
The Caped Crusader returned to the big screen in 1989 in Tim Burton’s Batman, which was followed by a sequel, Batman Returns, three years later. The Dark Knight went through a major tone shift in Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin before Christopher Nolan focused on a darker and more realistic adaptation in his Dark Knight trilogy, released between 2005 and 2012, followed by Ben Affleck’s version in the DCEU and Robert Pattinson’s in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. All these adaptations have seen some big names joining their cast, and Batman Forever could have had Michael Jackson in its cast… but it would have been bad.
Michael Jackson Wanted To Play The Riddler In Batman Forever
Although Batman Returns is now regarded as one of the best superhero movies ever made, its reception during its initial release was very different, and the audience wasn’t totally on board with its darker tone. This led Warner Bros. to change its plans for subsequent Batman movies, and so Joel Schumacher took over and Batman Forever was released in 1995. Batman Forever saw the title character (now played by Val Kilmer) confronting Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and The Riddler (Jim Carrey) as they joined forces to extract information from all the minds in Gotham City, while Bruce Wayne adopted an orphaned and rebel acrobat named Dick Grayson (Chris O’Donnell), who becomes his famous sidekick, Robin. One of the most memorable elements from Batman Forever is Jim Carrey’s performance, but this could have never happened as Michael Jackson wanted to play The Riddler.
In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times back in 2003, Joel Schumacher revealed that Michael Jackson had lobbied hard for the role, but he was turned down before Jim Carrey was cast. This is not the only story about Michael Jackson pursuing a role and being very passionate about it, as he also wanted to play Edward Scissorhands in Tim Burton’s movie of the same name, but he was also turned down. Jackson had a short career in film with roles like Scarecrow in The Wiz and cameo appearances in Men in Black II and Miss Cast Away and the Island Girls, and while his performance in The Wiz was praised, he didn’t have the acting skills to play a character like The Riddler, who required a mix of darkness and comedy. Surely, Carrey’s performance was over-the-top but fitting with Batman Forever’s tone, and he also channeled the darkness of the character at certain points.
Other Actors Who Almost Played The Riddler In Batman Forever
Of course, Michael Jackson wasn’t the only one who was turned down during the casting process for Batman Forever’s Riddler. Names like Brad Dourif, Kelsey Grammer, Phil Hartman, and Matthew Broderick have been said to have been considered to play The Riddler, but there’s no confirmation on these. A confirmed actor who was in talks to play The Riddler at one point was Robin Williams, with John Malkovich also competing for the role. Seeing Robin Williams as The Riddler alongside Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face would have made Batman Forever a completely different experience, but in the end, it’s hard to imagine Batman Forever without Jim Carrey as the eccentric but genius Edward Nygma.