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With a little over six months until Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters, public opinion seems to be more receptive to Ben Affleck playing Bruce Wayne/Batman. There hasn't been a complete turnaround, but many fans are now more open to the idea compared to when the casting was announced in 2013. However, keep in mind that this isn’t the first time that a Batman casting raised outcry from hardcore comic book enthusiasts. Many fans felt the same way about Michael Keaton for the 1989 Batman film. Tens of thousands, at least.
Although Keaton had just appeared in the 1987 drama Clean and Sober when he was cast as DC’s brooding hero, at the time he was most famous for comedies like Gung Ho and Beetlejuice. So when the Batman casting was announced, needless to say many were surprised, and as Uproxx reports, "upwards of 50,000 letters" were sent to Warner Bros. in protest. Even Bob Uslan, who has been a producer on every theatrical Batman film since the first Burton movie, questioned the choice, saying:
He’s a comedian. I mean, what’s the poster going to say? That Mr. Mom is Batman?
Uslan, however, later changed his mind. Of course, much like the online petitions that raise hell about casting decisions (including Affleck as Batman) and other perceived adaptation atrocities nowadays, they didn’t do a bit of good, and Keaton starred in Batman alongside Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger.
Keaton reprised the Dark Knight for 1992’s Batman Returns, but decided not to return for what would eventually become Batman Forever due to not liking the script, turning down $15 million in the process. Since then he’s diversified his career with a mixture of comedies and dramas, and his performance as washed-up former superhero star Riggan Thomson in last year’s Birdman (a role which might have mirrored Keaton’s own life had the rest of his career not gone as successfully) earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Unfortunately, for those of you who are holding out hope Keaton will eventually return to the world of Batman as an elderly Bruce Wayne in some type of Dark Knight Returns or Batman Beyond adaptation, you’re out of luck. Confident with the mark he left on the Batman film legacy, the actor hasn’t even seen any of the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight films because he has "zero interest in those kinds of movies." So while his time with the superhero is done, to certain fans he’ll always be "their Batman." So take that, fans complaining in 1988!