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Steven Seagal Almost Became Batman

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In the ’90s, Steven Seagal was one of the biggest action stars on the planet. His performances in Out for Justice and Under Siege have been praised by both critics and fans. Seagal’s fighting abilities nearly landed him the role of Batman.

A Tougher Batman?

Screenwriter Sam Hamm spoke to SyFy Wire about his work on the iconic 1989 Batman movie. While Michael Keaton won the role of Batman, Hamm stated Warner Bros. were looking at Seagal.

“There were a lot of people at Warner Brothers who wanted to cast it with an action star. They wanted to cast the part as Batman, as opposed to casting it as Bruce Wayne. You have to make Bruce Wayne work, because Batman is, for the most part, going to be a stunt guy, or it’s going to be somebody running around in a costume in long shot. You don’t need the martial arts expertise of, say, Steven Seagal or somebody like that because you can fake all of that kind of stuff. Seagal was one of the people that was suggested to us,” he told the publication. Hamm also worked on the 1992 sequel Batman Returns, which earned him his second Hugo Award nomination.

All Eyes On Seagal

Before being an actor, Seagal provided stunt work for The Challenge and Never Say Never Again. 1988’s Above The Law, which was produced and distributed by Warner Bros., broke the actor into the mainstream. This is the first American movie to include the Aikido fighting style. “He had just kind of appeared on the scene, people thought holy cow, this guy’s badass. He could be Batman. I don’t think it ever got to the point where he read for it. He was just one of the names that was floated,” Hamm told SyFy Wire.

Seagal would’ve been great for his fighting expertise, but Keaton was a more well-rounded actor. At the time, Keaton was getting praise for his work on Night ShiftJohnny Dangerously, and Beetlejuice. With a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live in 1982, he was already a recognizable face in Hollywood. While a then-unknown Christopher Reeve became Superman, Warner Bros. didn’t think lightning would strike twice.

Don’t Bet Against Batman

Surprisingly, Seagal assumed Batman would be a huge flop. In a 2016 Uproxx article, it was revealed that he placed a $100 bet with screenwriter Matt Allen surrounding the film. “Back then, even if tracking isn’t as sophisticated as it is now, everyone in the biz knew Tim Burton’s Batman was a surefire hit. Seagal was not necessarily someone with his finger on the pulse. So Matt, looking to make extra money, bet Steven Seagal Batman would be the fastest movie to make 100 million dollars in film history,” writer Jon Davis said.

Batman made $100 million in 11 days, which was the fastest record at the time. Overall, the movie collected over $410 million worldwide. The film earned the Oscar for Academy Award for Best Art Direction. Batman‘s aesthetic caused other directors to follow suit when dealing with comic book properties. “Ever since I did Batman, it was like the first dark comic book movie. Now everyone wants to do a dark and serious superhero movie. I guess I’m the one responsible for that trend,” director Tim Burton told the Los Angeles Times.

While Seagal lost $100, he still keeps a stable acting career today. From 2009 through 2014, he made the jump to TV with Steven Seagal: Lawman. The show follows Seagal on his side job as a reserve deputy sheriff. Back in May, Seagal’s new film General Commander was released on DVD.

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