Riddle me this…
In the mid-90s, Jim Carrey was in the midst of an epic run of box office hits. From 1994 – 1998, he starred (or co-starred) in eight films, all of which grossed at least $100 million dollars globally, with three of them doubling that figure and three more tripling it.
Halfway through that streak he brought his talent and star power to the film that had the highest domestic gross of 1995 – and sixth-highest worldwide – playing the Riddler in Batman Forever.
It’s far from the best Batman film, but he was fun and, in certain moments, particularly with the cane, truly brilliant in the role, as he “lights up an otherwise over-scripted, over-frenetic potboiler.” His character’s destruction of the Batcave was one of the film’s highlights. Unfortunately, he was ultimately betrayed by the script and was buried within the bright, garish, cartoony world Joel Schumacher created (or was forced to create).
Yet I can no longer watch that film and not think that he could’ve been even better in the title role, an idea posited a few years ago by writer Marc Bernardin:
“Ironically, I think Jim Carrey might’ve made – in an alternate universe – a great Batman. I think that you would buy Bruce Wayne – his Bruce Wayne – as a completely different person than Batman. Like, sort of the rubbery goofball who inherits a billionaire fortune and has no idea what to do with it. And then can do the grim Dark Knight bullshit at night…he can do drama, he can get you there. And you would never think that those two are the same guy in a million years.”Marc Bernardin, Fatman on Batman podcast episode 58
It may seem ludicrous at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. The closest we came was in Batman Forever, when he dressed as a wannabe Bruce Wayne with the tuxedo and a beautiful girl on his arm, but what if he had played it differently?
As Bernardin says, Carrey’s Bruce Wayne could’ve been unlike anything we have witnessed on screen. While Michael Keaton played the billionaire orphan as distracted and aloof, Christian Bale portrayed him as a clueless playboy, and Ben Affleck was like a mix of the two, Carrey could’ve done something none of them could do.
He could’ve played daytime Bruce Wayne in the same vein as his wacky characters in Ace Ventura or Dumb & Dumber, and then nighttime Batman like The Number 23 or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It would’ve been an amazing transformation to watch.
Perhaps the biggest suspension of reality regarding live-action Batman films is that no one in Gotham City knows that world-famous Bruce Wayne is also Batman. Some films and shows have done a better job of separating the two than others, but there’s no question that Jim Carrey’s crazy antics would keep the two personas on completely different levels.
No one would imagine Lloyd Christmas as a driven vigilante crime fighter.
Perhaps, if things had been different in a different timeline, Jim Carrey would’ve provided us with a one-of-a-kind performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman.
As it is, we can only imagine what if…
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Christopher Pierznik is a nine-time worst-selling author. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Please feel free to get in touch at CPierznik99@gmail.com.