The Big Picture
- Competition for the role of Batman in Christopher Nolan’s films was fierce, with big names like Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck, and George Clooney in the running.
- Jake Gyllenhaal was a strong contender for the role in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, but ultimately lost out to Christian Bale.
- Gyllenhaal did screen test for the role of Batman and there is footage of him in the costume, making him a potential candidate for future Batman movies.
When the role of Batman becomes available, competition is always fierce and there’s generally a whole host of big names linked with the role, bigger than the likes of Superman for sure. You only need to look at the list of names to have played the Dark Knight. Heck, even in the most recent DC outing to feature the character, The Flash, and three huge names — Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck and George Clooney — had played him in the same film.
For Christopher Nolan‘s Batman Begins, the director was keen to reboot the character fresh and start again. For that, he needed a younger Bruce Wayne, and a long-rumoured candidate was Jake Gyllenhaal. But just how close was Gyllenhaal to actually taking on the role? Closer than you might think.
The movie’s screenwriter, David S. Goyer, has been speaking to Josh Horowitz on the Happy, Sad, Confused podcast about the casting process for Nolan’s Batman, revealing that it came down to Christian Bale and Gyllenhaal, with the screenwriter casting his vote for the latter but ultimately losing out to Nolan’s choice of Bale.
“I was involved in the casting process. In the early days it was me, Chris, Emma Thomas and Nathan Crowley, the production designer in the garage next to us while Chris and I were writing, he was building early models of the Tumbler. We would chat about all sorts. There were a number of people who had screen tested for Batman, and I had advocated for Jake Gyllenhaal. He’s amazing, Christian Bale is amazing, so who knows?”
Close, But No Cigar for Gyllenhaal
Goyer then discussed that he and Nolan debated over casting Liam Neeson as the film’s villain, Ra’s Al-Ghul, against a younger actor before Goyer advocated for Neeson, citing the father/son connection that the older Neeson would bring as opposed to a contemporary of Christian Bale’s at the time, before Horowitz jumped back to ask if Gyllenhaal had actually tested for the role of Bruce Wayne. Goyer confirmed he had donned the cowl and cape and got in front of the camera.
“I believe there is footage. [He would have been a solid Batman], yeah. It’s hard to know,” he added.
Gyllenhaal would go on to enter the world of comic book movies with Marvel, not DC, when he took on the role of Mysterio in 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. With James Gunn once more looking to cast a new Dark Knight, and an older one at that, however, maybe Gyllenhaal’s time could yet come to sit behind the wheel of the Batmobile.