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Michael Keaton Recalls Feelings Ahead Of Tim Burton’s Batman Release And Why He Decided To Get Into The Batsuit Again

Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne in Batman Returns
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

After the crossover success of Spider-Man: No Way Home, comic book fans are more stoked than ever to see multiple versions of Batman in The Flash. In a delightedly unexpected turn of events, Michael Keaton will be reprising his role as Bruce Wayne from Tim Burton’s Batman movies for the new installment in the DCEU. But what convinced him to come back after three decades? Fans might have Marvel to thank. 

In an interview on The Jess Cagle Podcast with Julia Cunningham on Sirius XM, Micheal Keaton revealed the reason he agreed to don the Batsuit for the DC Extended Universe films The Flash and Batgirl. He said: 

You know I’ve embraced [getting back into the Batsuit]. Why would you not? You know, it’s the right time after all this. I’m playing catch up. I have played catch up. You know, it was a job and it was with Tim Burton and we didn’t know, I knew this: If this is a miss, this is a really big miss. This could set us way back, all of us. And I thought, ‘Well, hell,’ you know, the thing I admire most in actors is guts and hopefully I would live by that. And so I thought, ‘Let’s go,’ plus I love Tim and he’s such an artist.

It sounds like Michael Keaton has given his role as the Caped Crusader its due. While he was initially unsure of the part, Tim Burton’s first two Batman films were critical and financial successes. The movies were even nominated for a few Oscars, with the first installment winning the golden statue for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration. So why did Michael Keaton turn down a third Batman movie? He explained: 

And so, it [Batman] was a job and then the next one was a job and I enjoyed it. It was what it was. It was huge and it is huge. The third one I just couldn’t do, I thought, ‘Oh, this is not good. I just can’t do it. I’ll blow my brains out. I just can’t live with myself.’ So, I walked away and then as time went on, it’s like I caught up with culture, I guess. It certainly didn’t catch up with me, but everything that’s happened in that world, in that superhero world. In Marvel and in DC and fanboys and Comic-Con and the zeitgeist. All that stuff, I was really out of this, but at some point you’re really a jerk if you don’t go, ‘Well this is a legitimate world.’ You aren’t better or worse than this.

Michael Keaton’s extended break from the world of superheroes would last until 2017, when he played Adrian Toomes in Spider-Man: Homecoming alongside Tom Holland. It seems that his comic book hiatus allowed him to ‘catch up’ with the increasing popularity of all things heroic (partially due to Marvel’s wide catalogue of films and TV shows). With this fresh perspective on superheroes, Keaton began to wonder what would happen if he returned to the role of Batman - and when the call from DC came, he was ready to jump back in. He said: 

So when it came around again, first of all, I was getting curious about it. I thought, ‘Boy, what would that be like? Wonder what that would be like?’ Coincidentally there were murmurs. I got a call from Warner Bros. –they wanted to talk to me about something and there were hints of Batman, but I think it was about some other thing regarding Batman. We went to dinner… I got a call later saying, ‘Hey I want you to read something.’ I just thought, ’Of course you have to do this, I mean, but it has to be good. There’s no reason to do it if it’s not good. It’s not gonna really change anything I don’t think. So, it’s really good. We jumped in and had fun and why would you not?

If Micheal Keaton is back on board, DC is sure to have another hit movie on its hands. The Flash is set to hit theaters on November 4, 2022, and will feature Ben Affleck’s version of Batman alongside Michael Keaton. Batgirl is scheduled for a release on HBO Max sometime this year. 

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.