Before Cillian Murphy came along, we almost got a very different take on Dr Jonathan Crane.
Coolio has told the Burleson Star that he was up for the role of the Scarecrow in Batman Unchained, Joel Schumacher’s aborted follow-up to Batman & Robin.
The rapper actually made an appearance in the ill-fated Batman & Robin. When that film failed to scale the box office heights expected of a Batman film (and earned toxic reviews from critics and audiences), Batman Unchained — sometimes referred to as Batman Triumphant — was cancelled.
“I’m still sore about that a little bit, ’cause the only reason I did that part [in Batman & Robin] is because they promised me the villain part in the following Batman, which they didn’t do, because Joel Schumacher — they fired him,” Coolio explained.
“He was supposed to do the two next ones. He and I didn’t get along that good anyway — I mean, he made a terrible Batman movie. But the next villain was supposed to be the Scarecrow. They didn’t do it, though. Maybe one day. I’m sure they won’t come calling, though.”
Assuming the story is true and Coolio’s recollection is accurate, the implication seems to be that ‘The Banker’, the small-time street race organiser he played in Batman & Robin, would have returned in Batman Unchained in a much larger role.
It’s certainly an unusual take on the character, but I guess there’s nothing to say that The Banker couldn’t have been fixing motorcycle races by night and concocting fear toxins by day, right?
Sure, it doesn’t sound great, but keep in mind we’re talking about a Batman & Robin sequel here.
This would essentially make Coolio the Billy Dee Williams of Batman & Robin — Williams famously appeared in a small role in 1989’s Batman on the proviso that he would return for a sequel as Two-Face, but that role was, of course, ultimately given to Tommy Lee Jones, an injustice finally righted by Williams’ appearance as Two-Face in The Lego Batman Movie.
Adding to the strangeness of Coolio’s story is that Schumacher has previously talked about his desire for Nicolas Cage to play the role of the Scarecrow in Batman Unchained. But that was because Schumacher worked with Cage on 8MM, his follow-up to Batman & Robin, so it’s entirely possible that the director had discussed the role with Coolio before then.
Even if the film had been given the green light and Coolio (or Cage) had been cast as the Scarecrow, it’s unlikely Batman Unchained would ever have made it to the screen as intended.
Screenwriter Mark Protosevich’s ambitious script supposedly culminated in an epic dream sequence featuring Danny DeVito’s Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face, Jim Carrey’s Riddler and even Jack Nicholson’s Joker that would have been virtually unfilmable.
All in all, everything seemed to work out for the best — Coolio moved on to another superhero film with a small but pivotal role in the Daredevil Director’s Cut, Cillian Murphy did an excellent job as the Scarecrow in all three of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, and the world was spared another Joel Schumacher Batman movie.
I guess some days, you can get rid of a bomb.