You might be surprised to hear this, but actor Marlon Wayans was paid $100,000 for a movie he never even starred in. And the bigger surprise is the fact that the reason he gets that money is because he was almost Robin in director Tim Burton’s Batman Returns.
If you’re a fan of famous “what if” scenarios from Hollywood history, you’re in for a treat when it comes to this particular subject. So let’s start this story with the interview that revealed this information in the first place. Shout-out to the movie fan over at Reddit for unearthing this fascinating story.
The Original Plan For Robin In Batman Returns
The history of this entire subject started during the press rounds for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra back in 2009. As Marlon Wayans and Channing Tatum were giving an interview to io9, Wayans told the following story when asked about any superhero roles that he might have been rumored to have played in the past:
I was actually supposed to play Robin, in Batman Returns, about 15 years ago. But there was too many characters. I was cast, I was paid and everything. I still get residual checks. Tim Burton didn't wind up doing three, Joel Schumacher did it and he had a different vision for who Robin was. So he hired Chris O' Donnell.
What’s even weirder than the fact that Marlon Wayans was hired, and eventually fired from the role of Robin in Batman Returns, is the reason why he was removed from the film’s cast.
Why Was Marlon Wayans Cut From Batman Returns’ Cast?
Nine years down the line, in an interview that has since been removed by NBC, Marlon Wayans spoke up again about his brush with comic book stardom. During an appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, Wayans spun his yarn yet again, only this time he provided an important detail: the reason that his Robin was cut from Batman Returns.
As it turns out, including Robin into the mix was something that, according to Batman-News’ recounting of this interview, crowded the movie’s cast. So instead of stacking the roster too deep, the former Flying Grayson was removed from the movie. However, based on Wayans’ remarks above, it sounds like there was an intent to use him in what would have been the third Tim Burton Batman movie.
Wait, There Was Going To Be A Third Tim Burton Batman Movie?
That’s right! Before Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever changed the course of franchise history, there were talks about a third film that Tim Burton would make to continue his Batman series’ plot line. And the plan for this original movie sounded pretty amazing, as the film entitled Batman Continues, was rumored to see some big moves outside of Marlon Wayans’ Robin.
Part of the plan for Batman Continues was to bring back Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, as well as bringing back Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent, which more than likely would have seen Williams going full Two Face for the threequel. But even more exciting was the prospect that Marlon Wayans would have finally played Robin, and Robin Williams was sought after to play The Riddler. With a concept that enticing, what could have possibly prevented this would-be blockbuster from happening?
What Happened Instead Of Batman Continues?
Apparently, thanks to the ire of McDonalds and the already combative air surrounding Tim Burton’s time on Batman Returns, Burton was removed from the Batman franchise. Replaced by Joel Schumacher, Batman Forever drafted a new Batman in Val Kilmer, a new Two Face and Riddler team with the infamously mismatched Tommy Lee Jones, and Jim Carrey, and a new Robin in Chris O’Donnell.
But seeing as he was already cast in the role of Robin, and more than likely the wording of Marlon Wayans’ contract included some sort of “pay or play” clause, the man saw himself $100,000 richer over time. Though from time to time, it’s still fun to imagine what could have happened if Wayans actually got to put the tights on himself, and saved the day in Gotham City alongside Michael Keaton’s Batman.
While things didn’t exactly pan out for Mr. Wayans in the DC Comics past, he’s still got his eye on the role of Plastic Man, should the company want to move forward with that project in the near future. For now, all we have is an interesting story that makes for yet another interesting footnote in comic movie history; but at least Marlon Wayans got paid for his troubles.