In every generation, there is a Batman. As Robert Pattinson’s younger, emo Bruce Wayne glides onto screens, he joins an already esteemed group of actors who donned the suit and cape. There’s Adam West, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck to name a few. However, in another universe, there is an Ivan Reitman-directed Batman movie with Bill Murray as the Dark Knight and Eddie Murphy as his Boy Wonder, Robin.
With a revolving door of directors being considered for the 1980s production, the late comedy director Ivan Reitman was next in line for the Batman film due to the success of 1981's Stripes. However, in a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Murray explains why his version of Batman never got to stalk the dark streets of Gotham City alongside Eddie Murphy’s Robin.
“I talked to Eddie Murphy about it, and Eddie wanted to play Batman,” says Murphy when asked if him and Reitman every discussed the role. “That’s as far as that conversation went.”
The seed of a Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy Batman and Robin didn’t go much past the talking stages, and even Michael Uslan, who has produced every Batman feature film since attaining the films rights to the character in 1979, was left in the dark about it. “That was purposefully kept away from me,” he says with a chuckle in the same interview.
With both Murray and Murphy wanting to wear the Batman cape, there was a question of whether the roles could be switched but Murray wasn’t too into the idea. “I don’t wanna be the Boy Wonder to anybody,” Murray says. “Maybe much earlier when I was a boy. But it was too late for that by the ’80s. Also, I couldn’t do the outfit. Eddie looks good in purple, and I look good in purple. In red and green, I look like one of Santa’s elves. There was just a lot of vanity involved in the production. It wasn’t gonna happen.”
After moving on from the script, Reitman and Murray suffered no losses as their next endeavor was the blockbuster hit Ghostbusters. The offer to direct the Batman film was still on the table for Reitman, but he wasn’t ready for another expansive film. “He said, ‘I’m exhausted. I can’t do another big picture back-to-back. And the search started all over again,” explains Uslan.
Though a Bill Murray Batman seems very...inspired in retrospect, the film didn’t need to worry about that as Tim Burton took on the project and gave the cinematic world a legendary performance from Michael Keaton in the purplish suit. Gotham City has never been the same since.