I’ll level with you: when I saw that Michael Keaton might reprise his role as Batman, I almost fell out of my chair in surprise. I felt a wide array of emotions from shock to happiness, but eventually that shifted fear and dread. I love Michael Keaton’s Batman. I grew up on Michael Keaton’s Batman. It would be awesome to see him return to play the character. But, as a fan, I want it to be done the right way, and having him appear in The Flash movie doesn’t feel like the right way. Here are the reasons why this is a bad idea.
DC Has A Shaky Track Record
Following the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, DC has struggled to release consistent, quality movies. Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Justice League didn't get this franchise off to the most solid of starts, with these these movies earning mixed-to-negative critical reception. (Hey, at least Wonder Woman was a hit!) Let's also not forget Green Lantern, which isn't a DCEU entry and arrived a year before The Dark Knight Rises, but nonetheless was also received poorly.
With DC’s shaky track record, it’s hard to trust it can handle the Flash properly, let alone Michael Keaton’s Batman, After all, his take on the Dark Knight is arguably one of the best iterations we've seen on the big screen. As a fan, I want to know Michael Keaton and his character are in great hands, and so far, DC hasn’t proved it can handle it in my eyes.
The Flash Movie Has Been Plagued With Problems
If you’ve been following news regarding The Flash movie like I have, then you know that it hasn’t exactly had the steadiest journey. The character and his standalone movie started back with the announcement of the initial slate of DCEU movies in 2014, beginning with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Since then, the Flash has made appearances in that movie, Justice League and briefly in Suicide Squad, but he still hasn't gotten his own movie.
Many of the Fastest Man Alive’s woes come down to a sad game of hot potato between directors. To date, the production has burned through four directors. Writer and director Seth Grahame-Smith was the first director who left the project within a year. Rick Famuyiwa took the reins after Seth Grahame-Smith and he didn’t last six months. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein took a crack at it for a year, possibly moving it away from adapting Flashpoint, but ultimately, they left the project like the others. Now the movie is right now in the hands of IT director Andy Muschietti.
Though he directed Mama and the successful IT duology, Andy Muschietti is a relative up-and-comer as a director. He’s come out saying he’s pursuing the Flashpoint adaptation, and that seems to jive with these reports that Michael Keaton is in talks to play Batman.
While it’s hard to say what has been causing the delays and the frequent passing of the torch between directors, other than the cliché “creative differences” line, it doesn’t bode well for the project’s chance for success. Without a strong creative vision and a reliable director’s voice, why would anyone ever want to risk putting Michael Keaton’s beloved Batman in that project? And since several DC movies have been needlessly tampered with, there’s a real danger this could happen in The Flash.
It Adds To The DCEU Confusion
The DCEU is confusing. Much of that is due to poor execution and the lack of success many of the movies have seen. What adds to the confusion is whether or not a DC movie exists in the DCEU continuity or if it’s a standalone project, like Joker. Other peculiarities exist too, like James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad being a reinvention of Suicide Squad, but still including some of The Suicide Squad’s original characters and actors, such as Margot Robbie.
The confusion only deepens with the possibility that Michael Keaton could return as Batman in The Flash movie, especially since Robert Pattinson’s The Batman is underway. Granted, that Caped Crusader-led movie has already been confirmed to be its own thing, but nevertheless, if Michael Keaton’s Batman were to return in The Flash movie, the assumption is that The Flash will include a multiverse. On the one hand, a multiverse plot could hilariously solve some of the DCEU confusion if it’s done correctly, but multiverses can also become needlessly complicated and complex. This would only add to the deep confusion, opening a can of worms no one really wants.
There’s no reason the DC folks can’t eventually tackle this with a future movie involving The Flash, but for a first run with the speedy character, it seems too fast and too soon, with too many possibilities for failure.
The Flash Lead Actor Will Be Overshadowed
Ezra Miller is a good actor. His performances in Perks of Being a Wallflower and the lesser known We Need to Talk About Kevin reveal a surprising range for the young star. And while DC fans will recognize him well enough from Justice League, it’s still not enough to establish him as a strong lead.
If he’s getting his first solo movie, he should be the focal point, full stop. So there should be no gimmicks, no tricks and nothing to distract from him and his character. That’s unlikely to happen if Michael Keaton as Batman shows up. He’ll suck up all the air that’s left in that movie. No one will go see The Flash for Flash, they’ll see it so they can reunite with Michael Keaton’s Batman.
In an ideal world, The Flash movie would take a similar lesson from Wonder Woman’s playbook and do everything it can to establish Ezra Miller and his character, make him likable and give him a meaningful narrative arc. Once fans are familiar with him and what he can do, DC can step out into other great storylines that The Flash has to offer.
DC Is Making The Same Mistake
DC tried to fast forward its cinematic universe with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice by including the Doomsday story and setting up all the other Justice League characters. As a result, it is needlessly over-stuffed and over-complicated, and full of nudge-nudge moments that up other movies without focusing on the core story. It’s a setup movie for a larger world, and it didn’t work.
It’s obvious bringing Michael Keaton’s Batman into The Flash is another attempt to set up more movies and a superhero universe. One theory floating around is that those leading the creative charge want to set up a Batman Beyond movie. Whatever the setup is, it’s clear something big is being planned, similar to what was done in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. So, rather than calling it Flashpoint, they might as well just call it The Flash v Batman: Dawn of Timelines.
By potentially bringing in Michael Keaton as Batman (or any other actor to play Batman), DC is making the same mistake it made before. It's rushing towards a story that hasn't been earned, but still knows fans will eat up. The results could be catastrophic if not done properly, ruining the potential for The Flash movie to be great.
Michael Keaton’s Batman Deserves A Better Kind Of Movie
Michael Keaton’s Batman is iconic and set the stage for the Batman we know and love on the big screen. He’s beloved by fans of the character and considered by some to still be the best Batman. His reputation is likely why bringing him back at all is being considered.
It’s also why he deserves a better kind of movie; a movie that doesn’t shoehorn him in by some contrived time travel/multiverse plot, but that just makes him exist without any weird explanation. Instead, and hear me out, Michael Keaton’s Batman deserves to reappear in a Batman Beyond movie first.
If The Flash bombs and Michael Keaton’s Batman is involved with the intention of spinning off Batman Beyond, the chance of a Batman Beyond movie will fall faster than the Joker into a vat of chemicals. Batman fans' dream of seeing Batman Beyond on the big screen could be dashed.
Instead, if they just ditched this idea and cut to the chase and put Michael Keaton’s Batman in a Batman Beyond movie devoid of a connection to the Flash, there’s little doubt in my mind Batman fans will sign up immediately. Fans don't need a cameo or a setup movie, they’ll already be on board. Just make the Batman Beyond movie. It’s what Michael Keaton’s Batman deserves.
I think it makes more sense for DC to create two movies: The Flash and Batman Beyond. Then, if both these movies turn out to be a success, they can build to a Flashpoint movie as a crossover that effectively fits them together without feeling contrived. It’s a bad idea to do it the other way around because they tried that before with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
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