Fantasy Casting - Batman in the 1970s

  • By Russall Beattie

Fantasy Casting - Batman in the 1970s

So welcome to fantasy casting! Yes it is nothing new. The Internet is full of stuff like this but I still enjoy doing it. I will try not to double up on any other similar pages out there. With future posts I’ll go a bit more left of field, but first up I will do the more popular characters.

Introducing Batman if it was made in the 70’s!

That’s right, set in the same weird film world of Dirty Harry and Shaft but also with the ton craziness that those films have. Included are villains straight out of the Bond films and some not too distant future sci-fi actors creeping in...


Batman/Bruce Wayne
Clint Eastwood

Now, I don’t think Batman is all that political, but I think that is because he does not have the time for politics. If he was a political person, I think he might be a Republican and when I think of Republicans actors I think of Clint Eastwood. 

Now with all that political stuff aside, this 1970’s version would be a great fit for Eastwood; tough, lean and armed with a pocket full of one liners. Just imagine that square jaw behind the mask and out bursts that voice. If I was a crook, I would be scared. Clint pretty much invented the anti-hero in 70’s cinema with roles in Dirty Harry, High Plains Drifter etc.

Catwoman / Selina Kyle
Pam Grier

Now, before everyone goes Selina Kyle is white... yeah, but not in this version. I have taken some liberties for the overall project. It’s important to me to nail the character traits first. Catwoman is a strong, sexy woman who lives outside of the law and can go toe to toe with Batman. Pam Grier ticks off the strong and sexy aspects and she can go toe to toe with any man.

Two Face/Harvey Dent
Robert Redford

Harvey Dent is meant to inspire people. He is meant to be Bruce and Batman’s buddy, someone who is incorruptible, an Elliot Ness type. 

Robert Redford has these qualities in spades, but when he awakens Two Face, the gangster comes out. Some of Robert's best roles are when he lets the anger out. This is a no brainer for me.

The Joker
Jack Nicholson

Well what can I say? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.  We all saw it in the 1989 Batman film with Jack Nicholson, but imagine if he had youth on his side and the physicality of when he was in The Shining. How great would it be to have him running all over the place with that crazy smile of his?

More importantly the Joker and Batman dynamic work because they oppose each other on every level. Could you imagine Jack Nicholson facing off against Clint Eastwood in their prime?


The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot
Burt Young

The Penguin is a gangster, he is not driven by most of the crazy world that is Gotham City. He just wants money and power. You see great performances that have all those things in Burt Young’s career. In Rocky 1 and 2, before he became the joke, he had such emotional highs and lows that would explode in violent bursts. Perfect for The Penguin!

Alfred Pennyworth
John Gielgud

In 1981 John Gielgud would play one of the greatest butlers in cinema history to the very demanding, and delusional Dudley Moore in Arthur. Therefore I think it would not be any stretch for him to play the butler to the demanding and delusional Batman.

Robin/Dick Grayson
Tatum O'Neal

Here’s another one where I have taken some liberties. I have made Robin into a girl; Oscar winner Tatum O'Neal, to be exact.

Not only did she look the part when she won an Academy Award at the age of 10. She would also be the right age to play Robin as he was in the comics. Now, before you say that it’s not believable, Shut up! It’s a movie. It’s more believable than a rich middle aged man adopting men in their 20’s (Chris O’Donnell was 25 when he played the Boy Wonder).

How good was Carrie from The Dark Knight Returns? Just think about it...

Batgirl/Barbara Gordon
Jodie Foster

Batgirl needs to be a tough, young chick who thinks she can pull this off with no one's help. Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver is exactly that… ( minus the child prostitution…).


Jim Gordon
Warren Oates

Warren Oates can play any damn character he wants as far as I am concerned, but this Gordon would be darker and grittier than any other version. Someone who has seen the worst of the world but keeps going anyway. He is not in it for accolades and takes pride in his work. That was the description of Gordon but that would be an easy way of describing Warren Oates as an actor too.


Harley Quinn
Sally Field

What can I say, Sally Field in the 70’s was just plain fun. Whether she is hanging out with the bandit or getting into bar bawls in Hooper. She would make an  amazing team with Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Come on you can just picture her in this make-up!


Oliver Reed

When I think of Bane, I think of someone who would scare me. Oliver Reed has such intensity in his roles to scare the shit out of anyone. He also has a brutish intelligence that I think would allow him to nail a vandal-savage role if one ever came around in his lifetime. The smart brute is hard to achieve without being comical, but Oliver Reed has the perfect mix to pull it off.


Poison Ivy/Pamela Isley
Bridget Bardot

Brigitte Bardot stepped away from acting in the 70’s but she did make a few films. Who else would I get to play the woman who can seduce any man? Well I would get the woman who could seduce any man. 

I’ve taken another liberty here by making  Poison Ivy French, which I always thought made sense for her character instead of the original fangirl origin story.


Mr Freeze/Victor Freeze
Christopher Lee

Now, no film version has ever captured Mr Freeze like the 90’s animated show did. They reinvented the character to make him complex and sympathetic while still keeping him a cold-hearted villain. Christopher Lee clocked up so many villain roles that he could do this in his sleep. He always brought layered performances where you want to know more about the character, even when the film is over. He would have no problems playing the tortured scientist.


The Riddler
Woody Allen

I made Catwoman African-American, I turned Robin into a girl and Poison Ivy is French, but I think this is going to be the one that divides everyone. Woody Allen as The Riddler.

Before he was the award winning problematic director and accused pedophile that we all know and hate, he was an actor who was not afraid of hamming it up.
Obviously this is not a decision that would be made now, but we had to think like a casting agent from the 70's when he was still the Hollywood golden boy before he courted controversy.

He had a unique look and style. With all the characters being so dark in this film world, I want someone who could be playful, someone who uses their mind to battle Batman and has the physical appearance to represent that. Plus we get to see Batman turn his manipulative grooming face into swiss cheese.




Lucius Fox
Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier just sounds plain smart. The way he delivers his lines in a controlled well paced manner means you can’t help but feel you’re speaking to someone of a higher education. He would be a tad younger then other interpretations but that is pretty much across the board with this cast.

I have no problem believing that he is the one behind all Batman's amazing toys.


Killer Croc
Richard Kiel

Killer Croc needs to be big. Creature suits don’t make the jump in awesomeness until the late 70s, early 80s. So we have to  take a little bit of a different approach by casting a big, scary guy and perhaps do something with his mouth that makes him earn the name Killer Croc.

We could give him metal teeth or….. wait he played that character in James Bond. He was the other famous Jaws. Well I said this already, but if it ain’t broke...


Malcolm Mcdowell

We need someone with an educated background who also has an amoral psycho glint in their eye. Boom. Mr. Clockwork Orange himself, Malcolm McDowell. 

In the process of coming up with these fantasy casting I have stumbled upon some other castings out there with Malcolm McDowell on the list, but always as The Riddler. I can see how he could work for that role, but I think he would get a kick out of torturing people with fear gas more than leaving riddles everywhere.


What else have we done in the world of the Dark Knight?


Gotham 1919-1939

Check out our hardcover almanac of the stories of Batman set between the two great wars. Pages and pages of portraits, stories, gadgets and toys.

Find out more!
This is a re-posted article from July 2015


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