We cannot imagine DC without Bruce Wayne, aka Batman. The Caped Crusader has been a vital part of the DCEU and will remain so. But when it comes to the big screen, the character has seen too many ups and downs. So let’s trace his timeline. Batman saw two serial films in the 1940s. Later, it saw an adaptation of the 1960s TV show starring Adam West and Burt Ward. However, the Masked Hero took over the big screen in 1989 with Tim Burton’s Batman, and then in 1992 with Batman Returns. Val Kilmer was one of the three actors who played the role during the Burton-Schumacher era. So why is it that George Clooney replaced Val Kilmer? Did Val Kilmer get fired? Let’s find out.
Why George Clooney Replaced Val Kilmer
After Keaton’s portrayal, DC decided to go in a different direction with the character. The plans for the third movie fell through and the entire team was revamped. The story, director, and cast, everything was changed. The Studio brought in Joel Schumacher and Val Kilmer became the new face for the Caped Crusader in Batman Forever. The story followed him against Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and The Riddler (Jim Carrey). The evil duo was planning to extract confidential information from everyone in Gotham and uncover Batman’s true identity.
In its entirety, the movie was a box office success. But it didn’t seem to please the critics as it was subject to some mixed reviews. People couldn’t wrap their heads around the CGI, costumes, the tone of the movie, and Kilmer’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne. As a result, for the sequel, the director remained the same but the Val Kilmer was sacked. So Kilmer was out and George Clooney was in.
Was Kilmer Fired Or Did He Quit?
As Kilmer was removed, Clooney took his place in the sequel titled Batman & Robin. The decision did spark some controversy as to why Kilmer was removed. Soon enough, speculations started revolving around claiming that Kilmer was in fact fired. But now it seems like it was a mutual decision and an overall bad relationship between Schumacher and Kilmer.
At a point in time, Schumacher revealed that Kilmer was a difficult person to work with. The director described him as “childish and impossible” and even “psychotic.” He even went as far as to say that Kilmer would fight with the crew whilst shooting. So when Batman & Robin was in the works, he refused to work with Kilmer which resulted in the casting process beginning. He later concluded it by saying that Kilmer Kilmer “sort of quit” and they “sort of fired him”.
On the other hand, Kilmer blamed it all on the conflict of schedule and his general disinterest in playing Batman. He was already on board to film The Saint which clashed with his general schedule. In 2017, Schumacher told THR 2017 that Kilmer wanted to do Island of Doctor Moreau because Marlon Brando was in it. In the director’s words, he “dropped them at the eleventh hour.” But Kilmer had a different explanation. He told The New York Times, that it doesn’t matter who plays Batman because the character is always bigger than the actors. He said, “that’s why it’s so easy to have five or six Batmans”.
Batman After Keaton & Kilmer
After Keaton and Kilmer, Batman didn’t die. Rather it only gets better when Christian Bale took on the mantle and Nolan gave us the Dark Knight trilogy. The trilogy went on to become the best and most successful iterations of the character. However, Bale, later on, revealed that he wasn’t totally satisfied with his performance with performance in the trilogy. He will now be seen playing Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder.
After Bale, the character was well handled by Ben Affleck who’s reprised the role many times. Affleck has played the character in many movies, such as BvS, Justice League, and is now ready to reprise the role in 2022’s The Flash. Moreover, Keaton is also returning to reprise the role as we’ll have two Batmans in the movie. But this is the last time that we’ll see Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader. Affleck has passed on the torch to Robert Pattinson who will reprise the role in his solo 2022 film.