Everyone has their favorite Batman actor, but few can argue against the sheer iconography of Michael Keaton and his take on the role. Despite mostly being known for comedies when he stepped in as The Caped Crusader in Tim Burton's Batman, Keaton has become one of the most beloved performers to step into the black rubber boots, and evidently he still loves reminding people of his legacy as The Dark Knight. In fact, during a commencement speech at Kent State, Keaton took the stage and closed out his performance with two iconic words: "I'm Batman." Check out the awesome video of the event, below.
Imagine being a DC fanboy or fangirl and sitting in on that event. Clearly understanding that he has the crowd wrapped around his finger, Keaton slowly builds up to the moment, telling the graduating students that he has two words that he will leave them with. Then, leaning into the microphone, he turns on the brooding voice that made him so iconic and utters, "I'm Batman." Did you just get chills? I sure as hell did.
Of course, the importance of Michael Keaton and his take on Batman cannot be overstated. The actor inherited the role from the late Adam West and came into the franchise at a time when most audiences were more familiar with a goofy take on the live action Batman. Though his casting was initially met with skepticism by some fans, he eventually endeared himself to audiences all over the world, and the Tim Burton's game-changing Batman movies went on to become huge hits. Keaton would then leave the world of Batman during the development of Batman Forever and the polarizing Joel Schumacher years, but he remains a fixture in the silver screen DC world.
In the years since retiring from the role of Batman, Michael Keaton as tapped into that particular sensibility a few times. This video of the Kent State commencement is fun and lighthearted, but Keaton has also used his time as Batman to inform other roles that went on to garner similar critical acclaim. Specifically, his role as Riggan in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Birdman was heavily-inspired by the fame and notoriety he achieved during his tenure as Bruce Wayne, and it's fairly obvious that he still knows how to tap into that inherent sense of darkness that made audiences fall in love with the Gotham City hero of the late 1980s and the early 1990s.