Long before Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale, the cinematic fates of the Caped Crusader rested in the hands of Tim Burton and Michael Keaton – and all was OK with the world. But as Batman fans know, Joel Schumacher took over the reigns to the Bat-franchise after Burton’s Batman Returns and added more than a touch of glam to what should have stayed a brooding series. But that wasn’t supposed to be the plan.

In an interview with podcaster and stand-up comic Marc Maron for the popular WTF podcast, Keaton opened up about the third Batman movie, which he says was supposed to be a lot closer to Batman Begins than Batman Forever turned out to be. The Playlist nabbed Keaton’s comments, where he reveals:
"You look at where [Nolan] went, which is exactly what I wanted to do when I was having meetings about the third one. I said you want to see how this guy started. We've got a chance here to fix whatever we kind of maybe went off. This could be brilliant. …[Schumacher] didn't want to do it, so I didn't want to do it. I could see that was going south.”

“South” would be a polite way of saying that, yes: the Batman franchise went off the rails. We got Val Kilmer and George Clooney in the Bat suit, with villains like Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman chewing scenery as the Riddler, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy, respectively. It was corny and cheesy in ways that Nolan’s vision was solemn and reverent.

Keaton’s comments are intriguing. Would they have tried to explore Batman’s origin with Keaton in the part? Would they have cast a younger actor to play Bruce Wayne in flashbacks? Would Keaton have helped shepherd this younger version, with ties to the Batman that he was playing? And could Schumacher even have done that, given his visual panache? We’re left to wonder, but it opens the door to an interesting conversation, at the very least.

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