Forget the white knight, the rogue’s gallery and the Harvey Dent’s of this world. The Dark Knight wasn’t always as grim and dreary as he is in the comics. Believe it or not, Disney’s take on the classic character wasn’t always this brooding and bitter. In fact, originally, the producers of the Batman series were going to make the legendary actor Leonardo DiCaprio the lead. The idea was to have a more flamboyant Batman, and we couldn’t agree more.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Christian Bale (Batman/Bruce Wayne) discussed why he thought Leonardo DiCaprio would’ve been a great Batman and which aspects of his personality would’ve translated perfectly to the character:
He Had The Perfect Combination Of Witty And Heroic
Bale said that he always tries to keep a sense of humor about himself even when he’s playing serious characters, which is something that helps him maintain eye contact with the audience. And it seems like he was right because despite Batman’s brooding nature, Leonardo DiCaprio always makes you chuckle. In an early scene from The Dark Knight, which you can watch above, DiCaprio’s Joker threatens to blow up a building and turn the city into an amusement park. Batman takes the Joker down with one punch and then sarcastically compliments him on his choice of outfit.
While it’s true that Batman is often portrayed as a serious character, the truth is that he’s always had a sense of humor about himself. Besides, the Dark Knight is a character that’s constantly finding the lighter side of things, particularly in his interactions with Alfred. Alfred constantly cracks jokes and tries to keep spirits up while Batman investigates the strange goings-on of Gotham City.
He Could’ve Played The Role In A Versatile Way
Bale also spoke about how he would’ve adapted the role of Batman for the big screen and how he feels that Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t quite fit the bill: “I think that it was a really versatile performance that he turned in,” Bale said. “He had a great range, and he was very emotional and vulnerable at times, and at other times, he was very funny and confident. So, I think that he embodied the struggle of a man who’s trying to stand up for what’s right while also trying to save his own skin, and I think that he played that in a very interesting and nuanced way.”
In the same interview, DiCaprio discussed his audition for the role, which you can also watch above:
How He Used His Actor’s Voice
“I just kind of let it go, and I immediately started doing my normal voice,” he said of his audition. “And then once I got into it, it was just, like, ‘boom.’ It was very cool.”
One of the things that makes Leonardo DiCaprio so great is not only his range as an actor but also his ability to switch between characters with different accents and dialects. In the same interview with The Daily Beast, he discussed how he managed to play two completely different roles with two different accents:
“I Was Trying To Find A Middle Ground”
“It was very fun to play both of those characters because they’re so different,” DiCaprio told The Daily Beast. “I was trying to find a middle ground, you know? There’s the British accent that [Sean] Connery [Sherlock Holmes] had, and he was very crisp and clean with it, and there’s also the New York accent that I do sometimes, and it’s very, very different. And the way that I found my way into both of those characters was by thinking about each one of them in a very different way.”
As a former New Yorker, I can attest to the fact that DiCaprio’s portrayal of the character was spot on. When asked if there was anything specific that he would do differently if he played the role again, he answered: “I would spend more time thinking about my phrasing, because I always feel like I could’ve used more. And I would’ve made sure that I worked more on the physicality of it, just so that I feel like I could better convey the sense of bravado that both characters have.”
Why He Was The Most Perfect Batman Ever
There’s been a lot of talk about why Christian Bale’s Batman was so great and if he’d ever consider doing another installment in the Batman franchise. Some people feel that Christian Bale brought an intensity and emotional connection to the role that no other actor could’ve matched – not even Leonardo DiCaprio. In some ways, it’s true, but I think that it goes deeper than that.
If you look at the Dark Knight in a vacuum, with no other movies or TV shows to compare it to, you’d think that it was an amazing performance and that Christian Bale was an astonishing choice to play Batman. And he was. However, there was also something else at play here. Something that makes Christian Bale’s Batman stand out among all other portrayals of the character: Michael Bay’s Batman TV series.
Before we get into it, let’s discuss why Michael Bay’s Batman TV series didn’t make the cut:
It Was Too Violent
While Christian Bale brought a certain level of brutality to the role of Batman, Bay’s series is more of a cartoonish violence kind of show. This is most evident in the fact that the Joker doesn’t kill anyone, which, given his disposition, is pretty much par for the course. The entire first season of the TV series is basically one big car chase scene and a couple of fights, but there’s no real plot other than Batman dealing with the Joker and a few other villains.
And while I appreciate the fact that it’s about as exciting and dynamic as a real-life car chase scene, it’s certainly not what you’d call “gripping” drama. Besides, what are the chances that Christian Bale would’ve played the role in a car chase scene anyway? He pretty much avoided such situations in his life and would’ve definitely pulled his punches as Batman. So it was probably a good thing that Bay’s series didn’t make it to the big screen.
It Was Too Much About The Dark Knight
One of the reasons why Christian Bale’s Batman was such a big hit was because it focused so much on the character, which is something that hadn’t been explored in other media. While the movie is a spin-off of the graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, which itself is a prequel to the legendary Arkham Saga, it never felt like a flashback. It was always just part of the present, whether it was because of the unique viewpoint that Nolan (The Dark Knight) puts you in or because the events were taking place in real time.
As a result, it’s not really a “prequel” in the traditional sense of the word. It also doesn’t really feel like it takes place in the ‘80s, which was the decade that the original comics and movie were set in. This was also evident in the fact that certain scenes are missing car and motorcycle parts associated with that era, which is something that could’ve been updated, but wasn’t.
Arkham Asylum was a game changer for the Batman franchise and for comics in general, paving the way for characters like Bane and a darker, more gritty take on the character. What it lacked in subtlety, however, it more than made up for in intensity and brutality, and this is something that Bay’s series didn’t quite have. Despite being critically acclaimed and considered one of the best TV shows of all time, it is often compared unfavorably to Nolan’s Dark Knight, both in terms of acting and writing. If you’ve never read The Dark Knight Returns, it would be wise not to judge Bay’s take on the character just yet, as it’s still considered one of the greatest comic book series of all time. If you’re looking for a more modern take on the Batman, then consider checking out some of Bay’s other films – at least, until he tackles the character again.
It Had An Important Message
One of the reasons why Christian Bale’s Batman was so effective was because it was a statement about the dangers of gun violence in America and how easy it is to acquire weapons in the country. In fact, the main villain of the series, Carmine Falcone (played by Rick Springfield), is a mob boss who wants to bring guns into Gotham and start a gang war.