Speaking with In the Envelope: The Actor’s Podcast about his upcoming return to the part of the Caped Crusader for The Flash movie, Michael Keaton took a look at the past and revealed why he decided to quit the 90s Batman movie franchise. Keaton played the Dark Knight in Tim Burton‘s 1989 Batman and 1992 Batman Returns but stepped down from the part and refused to keep playing the titular hero in the franchise’s third installment.
According to Keaton, while fans are always eager to cheer for Batman, Bruce Wayne is more interesting. As the star explains it, there’s certain darkness around Bruce, a man who chooses to put on a bat suit and beat down thugs in the middle of the night. For Keaton, it was more relevant to think about Bruce as the heart of the story, not Batman. In Keaton’s words:
“It was always Bruce Wayne. It was never Batman. To me, I know the name of the movie is Batman, and it’s hugely iconic and very cool and [a] cultural iconic and because of Tim Burton, artistically iconic. I knew from the get-go it was Bruce Wayne. That was the secret. I never talked about it. Batman, Batman, Batman does this, and I kept thinking to myself, ‘Y’all are thinking wrong here.’ Bruce Wayne. What kind of person does that?… Who becomes that? What kind of person?”
After directing two movies, Burton was replaced by the late director Joel Schumacher for the third movie in the franchise. When that happened, Keaton decided it was time for him to move away from Batman. As Keaton puts it, Burton brought a dark sensibility that Schumacher didn’t want to embrace, which led the star and the director to disagree on the third movie’s direction. As Keaton says it:
“I remember one of the things that I walked away going, ‘Oh boy, I can’t do this’. He [Schumacher] asked me, ‘I don’t understand why everything has to be so dark and everything so sad,’ and I went, ‘Wait a minute, do you know how this guy got to be Batman? Have you read… I mean, it’s pretty simple.'”
Directed by It‘s Andy Muschietti from a screenplay by Bumblebee‘s Christina Hodson, The Flash will also involve other superheroes from DC’s multiverse, with Sasha Calle cast as Supergirl. The Flash cast also includes Kiersey Clemons as Iris West, Maribel Verdú as Nora Allen, and Ron Livingston as Henry Allen, replacing Billy Crudup as Barry’s father after his appearance in Justice League. Social media star Rudy Mancuso and Saoirse-Monica Jackson are also involved in the project on undisclosed roles.
Besides showing up in The Flash, Keaton is reportedly part of the cast of Batgirl, which stars Leslie Grace as the titular hero. Batgirl is directed by Adil-El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, from a script by Christina Hodson, who has previously written Birds of Prey and the upcoming The Flash. So, considering how the same creative team is behind both movies, The Flash and Batgirl could be somehow connected, which would explain Keaton showing up as Batman in both productions.
The Flash is set to hit theaters on November 4, 2022. Batgirl is set to be released exclusively on HBO Max sometime in late 2022.