The Demon lives again!
UPDATED 5/29/19: The late Christopher Lee’s birthday was this week — he was born May 27, 1922 — so that got me thinking of this piece, which first ran shortly after he died in 2015. I think you’ll dig it. — Dan
Before I knew how the world works (not that I necessarily do today), I used to write to DC Comics with my suggestions about casting a Batman movie.
This was about 1979, well after the end of the Adam West series and well before the Tim Burton movie.
The idea of a “serious” Batman movie was anathema to Hollywood and pop culture in general, such was the campy hangover left by Batmania.
But for fans like me who wanted to see the Batman of the comics portrayed on screen, 1978’s Superman: The Movie gave a glimmer of hope, hence some wishful casting thinking.
The Batman story that seemed best suited for a screen translation was this:
Limited Collector’s Edition #C-51 reprinted Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Batman #232 and #242-244 in large-scale, cinematic glory.
It was the heart of the first Ra’s al Ghul saga — taking Batman from his first meeting with the Demon’s Head in Gotham, all the way to India, the Himalayas and the Arabian desert — scene of their epic, climactic battle.
In my youthful mind, there was only one person who should play Ra’s al Ghul and so I wrote DC and told them:
His Scaramanga (which I wrote about here) burned so brightly in my head that he was the only choice — the only choice.
And if he were joined by another Bond veteran — Caroline Munro — you had an unbeatable Ra’s-Talia team.
Hell, they even worked together in Dracula A.D. 1972:
So just imagine:
Alas, it was never meant to be. It would be 2005 before the rest of the zeitgeist caught up with Ra’s al Ghul, with Liam Neeson’s turn in Batman Begins — and another seven years before it met Marion Cotillard’s Talia.
I still think my casting was better.
The funny thing is, I have no recollection of who I thought would make a good Batman and I never could decide on a good Robin.
But I did have other ideas when I was 12 about what would make a good “real Batman” movie: I just knew that Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers’ Detective Comics run would make a great film.
And like Christopher Lee and Ra’s al Ghul, there was only one actor in 1979 who I thought should play the Joker.
So I wrote DC and told them:
— NEAL ADAMS Discusses LEE as Ra’s and MUNRO as Talia. Click here.
— Finally! CHRISTOPHER LEE Cast as Ra’s al Ghul — From Beyond the Grave. Click here.
— CAROLINE MUNRO: The Greatest Talia That Never Was. Click here.