Pierce Brosnan Turned Down The Biggest Superhero Movie Of A Generation

Pierce Brosnan says he passed on the chance to play the titular hero of Tim Burton's Batman.

By Kevin C. Neece | Published

pierce brosnan batman

Pierce Brosnan turned down the role of Batman in Tim Burton’s legendary 1989 film. For the movie’s 34th anniversary, Only Film Media dedicated its Twitter feed to the comic book classic without which there might have been no Spider-Man, X-Men, or MCU. The first bit of trivia they shared about the film was Brosnan’s rejection of the part.

Pierce Brosnan’s response to the idea of playing Batman speaks to how comic book characters and movies were still largely seen at the time. He thought he wouldn’t be able to take the role seriously, an understandable point of view if your only frame of reference is Adam West in the intentionally campy 1960s Batman TV series.

Certainly, Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie had broken ground in 1978 as the first serious treatment of a superhero onscreen as a dramatic subject, but three increasingly silly and cheap sequels (four, counting Supergirl) had al but killed the genre ten years later.

It’s understandable that Pierce Brosnan in the late 1980s might have seen the role of Batman as something he couldn’t approach seriously. Even Keaton later described occasionally looking around on the set of Burton’s films and wondering what they were all doing in all their fantastical costumes.

The costume indeed seems to have been a sticking point for the Remington Steele star—particularly below the utility belt.

As it turned out, though, Pierce Brosnan wouldn’t have had much to worry about, as the Batman he declined to play was less into spandex and undies and more into rubber and body armor. Still, it would have been a far cry from the tuxedos he was then wearing onscreen and would eventually wear for some his biggest films, as James Bond.

He’s also not the only person to object to the classic outer-undergarment look from the comics, as Henry Cavill‘s Superman famously and controversially flew without the iconic red shorts over his blue suit.

We might now think Burton dodged a bullet here as it’s difficult to imagine Pierce Brosnan as Batman. Of course, at the time, it was unthinkable that a short, primarily comic actor like Michael Keaton could inhabit the role either.

But, more than three decades later, he still stands as one of the greats—many would say the greatest—and certainly the one who laid the groundwork for every Dark Knight who has come on the scene since.

So, it’s possible Pierce Brosnan could have been just as surprising as DC‘s Batman, though we think the biggest surprise would have been the Caped Crusader with a British accent.

Something about Brosnan’s posh enunciation doesn’t exactly scream “masked vigilante” and “I am the night.” But Christian Bale’s isn’t exactly always intelligible, so perhaps it could have been worse.

We’d rather see Pierce Brosnan as Bond than Batman any day, though, and we agree with Brosnan’s assessment that the right person got the part. Still, just like Nicholas Cage as Superman, it’s interesting to think of what could have been.

“What are you??”
“Man. Batman.”

Nope. It doesn’t work.