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When Michael Keaton was promoting Birdman, Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance, he swore up and down that his role wasn't based on his own experiences making comic book movies. As if to further back that claim up, it's been announced that not only has Keaton signed up for a new comic film over at 20th Century Fox, he'll be producing it as well. The comic in question is Imagine Agents, and judging by the sound of the synopsis to the comic, this could be an interesting project for the former Batman star to be involved with.
The Hollywood Reporter has the scoop, saying that the Fox is looking to find a writer to adapt its story to the big screen. The story of Imagine Agents centers on an organization called I.M.A.G.I.N.E., which is a body in charge of keeping the imaginary friends of children in check (these figments are actually real in this universe). Keaton will be playing a veteran in the group who runs into a bit of trouble while mentoring a young archivist.
In the mentor role, one can see Michael Keaton playing something akin to parts played by legendary actors such as Tommy Lee Jones and Jeff Bridges in very similar projects. Considering Imagine Agents already has Men In Black referenced in its summary, it's easy to hope that it would be the film that Keaton's latest venture most closely resembles. If Imagine Agents turns out more like Men In Black, it could be a funny, irreverent ride through a world that exists parallel to our own. Of course, if you remove the funny and irreverent parts from the equation, you get more of an R.I.P.D scenario – and as Bridges can attest, not even The Dude could save that under-baked farce.
Going back to the synopsis to Imagine Agents, it sounds like this is more of a family tentpole than a PG-13 sci-fi / adventure film. Handling the subject of imaginary friends is territory both familiar and foreign, as Inside Out is currently exploring that subject in theaters, with Jason Reitman looking to also bring it to the forefront in his adaptation of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. With an imaginary friend arms race brewing in Hollywood, but having Michael Keaton on the roster helps put this project in a good position to compete with the rest of the field. If the supporting cast is up to the task, this could put an unknown property on the map, while diversifying Fox's comic book portfolio.
Imagine Agents doesn't currently have a production schedule or release date in mind, but you can see Michael Keaton featured next in a voice role in Universal Pictures' Minions, which set for release on July 10th, as well as Thomas McCarthy's Spotlight, which bows on November 6th.