EXCLUSIVE: Willem Dafoe As Batman? It Almost Happened!

Willem DafoeBefore "The Dark Knight," many fans wondered how Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Joker in Tim Burton's "Batman" could ever be topped, least of all by the seemingly unnatural choice of Heath Ledger. But if you believe one certain rumor, Nicholson almost lost the part to another actor—none other than Willem Dafoe.

Dafoe's IMDB page harbors a curious bit of "trivia," which states that the actor was considered for the Clown Prince of Crime in the Burton-directed "Batman." MTV News went straight to Dafoe for official word on the rumor, and while the actor said he was never considered for the Joker role, he did have an early attachment to the 1989 film.

"Very early, they talked to me about playing Batman," Dafoe told MTV News.

In Burton's "Batman," Bruce Wayne was played by actor Michael Keaton, who was viewed as an unconventional pick for the role—but just like Ledger as Joker, Keaton's performance was ultimately embraced by many fans. It's hard to imagine how differently the movie could have turned out with Dafoe under the Caped Crusader's cowl, but the actor insisted that it almost happened.

"I hate to spread these things because unless you remember it well, you're stoking the fires of bulls---," said the actor. "But I remember [it]. I've had my brush with these things."

In the end, Dafoe never connected with the Gotham City crowd, but some might say it worked out for the best—not only did Nicholson and Keaton provide fans with their memorable performances, but who knows if Dafoe would have wound up in the "Spider-Man" franchise otherwise.

It's times like these that I wish DC's multiverse actually existed, as I'd be very interested in seeing Dafoe's take on Batman. Maybe he'll be up for it if Zack Snyder ever takes a shot at "The Dark Knight Returns" in a decade or so.

How differently would the "Batman" movies have turned out with Willem Dafoe as the Dark Knight? Let us know what you think in the comments section or on Twitter!