Who didn’t grow up wishing that they had superpowers like our comic book heroes? Haven’t we all dreamed of getting our revenge on our arch enemy or saving the world with a few well-timed kicks and punches? While Batman is notorious for his lack of superpowers other than extreme wealth and incredible intellect, his martial arts fighting skills give him the edge over most villains. If we had all those skills, we could take on anything and anyone couldn’t we?

After all millions of people act out their superhero moves every day. Batman-themed video games were amongst the earliest titles released. Way back in 1986 Atari released its isometric action-adventure game for Amstrad PC and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum – the cutting-edge technology of the day. Since then, there have been another forty titles developed across all the gaming platforms. Developers at Microgaming created a Dark Knight slot extending the Batman franchise even further using the video game technology for a new online casino game. The number of comic books, TV series and animated films created is almost impossible to catalog.  The live-action theatrical releases have been a continued box office success across the decades

You would have thought that most actors would jump at the chance to supercharge their acting careers by taking a role in a Batman movie. So why have a large number of A-lister actors decided that playing roles in a Batman movie was not for them? Maybe they did not want to get typecast and then struggle to play other roles. Who knows but here is a list of stars who turned down the opportunity.

Pierce Brosnan – Batman

Back before he took on the role of James Bond, Brosnan was approached to appear in Tim Burton’s film. His reason for turning down the role was that he couldn’t take seriously a character who wore his underpants on the outside of his trousers. Years later he admitted that his take on the superhero thing was ‘foolish”

Madonna – Catwoman

Madonna also turned down Tim Burton when she was asked to play Catwoman in his Batman Returns movie. Michelle Pfeiffer ultimately played the role, and, in retrospect, Madonna is reported to regret not taking up the part.

Leonardo DiCaprio – Robin

Joel Schumacher was keen to cast Leonard DiCaprio in his Batman Forever film. Taking the part may have led this A-lister down a very different career path but he decided it was not a role he wanted to play. It’s hard to imagine Robin in The Wolf of Wallstreet, so it was probably a good choice.

Josh Hartnett – Batman

Approached to play the young Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, Hartnett cited wanting to spend time with family and friends as the reason for saying no. He also has the distinction of turning down a $100 million three-movie contract to take on the role of Superman.

Heath Ledger – Batman

While Heath Ledger made his portrayal of The Joker legendary, he was actually originally offered the role of Batman as the young Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. At that time, he is reported as telling Nolan that he would never take part in a superhero film. Ironically, once he had seen the film and realized how far it was from the earlier, more camp, DC versions he took on the part of the villain in The Dark Knight.

Matt Damon – Harvey Dent

Matt Damon says that his reason for not playing Two-Face was not that he did not want to but that scheduling issues prevented him from even managing to meet with Christopher Nolan to discuss the role in The Dark Knight.

We can only imagine how different the films might have been with these alternative casts, but it is hard to envisage that the franchise could be even more successful than it is. The series has grossed over $4.99 billion at the global box office, and it is the highest-grossing film franchise of all time.