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Val Kilmer Found Out About His Batman Forever Role In The Most Bruce Wayne Way Possible

Val Kilmer as Batman

After kicking off the Batman film franchise with Tim Burton, Michael Keaton decided not to return for a third Batman movie because he didn’t care for the story. As such, the search for a new actor to don the cape and cowl began, and Val Kilmer, best known at the time for movies like Top Gun and Tombstone, was ultimately selected to play the DC Comics superhero in Batman Forever. Hilariously enough, the way in which Kilmer found out he’d scored the role sounds like it was ripped straight from a tale starring Bruce Wayne.

In Val, the documentary focused on Val Kilmer’s professional and personal life, the actor recalled how he learned he’d been selected to play Batman after leaving an unusual location in Africa. As Kilmer explained:

I was in Africa, when I got a call from my agent, who had been frantically trying to get a hold of me. He asked me how I’d feel about being the next Batman. I was in shock and disbelief, mostly because I had just been exploring a remote bat cave and that’s why I was so hard to reach. It was a sign.

I can’t be the only one who’s imagining a version of Batman Begins where, instead of the big moment happening in what becomes the Batcave underneath Wayne Manor, Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne is overcome by the swarm of bats and realizes he’s conquered his childhood fear while visiting an actual bat cave elsewhere in the world like Val Kilmer did… but I digress. Whether you see that moment as a “sign” like Val Kilmer did or mere coincidence, that officially began his journey as Batman. However, once Warner Bros cast Kilmer as the Caped Crusader for Batman Forever, the studio dropped Rene Russo from the role of Chase Meridian, reportedly because the executives felt she was too old to be paired with Kilmer, and Nicole Kidman took her place.

Directed by Joel Schumacher, Batman Forever’s cast also included Jim Carrey as Edward Nygma/The Riddler, Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent/Two-Face and Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin, along with Michael Gough and Pat Hingle reprising Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner James Gordon, respectively. While Batman Forever wasn’t as critically well received as Batman and Batman Returns, it surpassed the latter movie’s commercial performance with a $336.6 million worldwide haul. Batman Forever has also been discussed more frequently over the last year after it confirmed that the darker “Schumacher Cut” exists, though Warner Bros hasn’t announced plans to release it.

Ultimately, Batman Forever would mark Val Kilmer’s only outing as eponymous protagonist. Along with being unable to return for another Batman movie due to scheduling conflicts with The Saint, Kilmer also grew bored with the role, realizing during the filming of Forever that it didn’t matter who was wearing the Batsuit. Furthermore, the actor said in the documentary Val that he found playing Batman to be an “isolating” experience, which also factored into his decision to leave the role behind. George Clooney was hired to take over as Bruce Wayne for 1997’s Batman & Robin.

Those you interested in learning more about Val Kilmer can stream Val on Amazon Prime Video. As for Batman, along with the Robert Pattinson-led The Batman coming out on March 4, 2022, Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton will reprise their versions of the character in The Flash, which arrives November 4 of the same year.

Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.