Batman Was Almost An Ivan Reitman Action-Comedy Starring Bill Murray And Eddie Murphy
It would take a lot to convince most Batman fans that a screwball comedy adaptation of their favorite crimefighting pointy-eared detective would be a good idea. You'd need a freaking dream team of funny people to pull that off -- like, for instance, a Ghostbusters-era Ivan Reitman directing a young Bill Murray as Bruce Wayne and Eddie Murphy as Robin, sticking bananas into the tailpipes of Gotham's criminal underworld.
And they fight Gotham's most diabolical villain yet: Gopher.
Well, that almost happened.
In the early '80s, before Tim Burton got his Hogwarts professor hair tangled in the spokes of the franchise, Warner Bros. hired screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz to write a Batman film that would have been much lighter, close in tone to Superman: The Movie or the Roger Moore 007 films (two of which Mankiewicz had also written). Bruce Wayne would have been a smooth-talking, womanizing playboy who drove an Aston Martin and had a giant Batcave like in the comics, complete with a giant penny and mechanical dinosaur (metaphors for his wealth and sexual prowess, respectively, and also for his ability to get drunk and buy things on eBay).
"I have a whole other cave full of even dumber shit."
Since Reitman had just proven he could make a smug asshole likable in Ghostbusters, which was a film that also included gadgets and high-concept, effects-driven action sequences, they offered the director's chair to him. Warner Bros. plan was to pair Bill Murray, the aforementioned likable asshole from Ghostbusters and Stripes, with Eddie Murphy as a wisecracking Robin, which isn't that outrageous when you consider that Murphy basically dressed like Robin back then.
If anything, the Chris O'Donnell version looks more reserved.