After making virtually no forward progress for almost six years, and if anything going backwards given the constant turnover of writers and directors, over the last few months, The Flash has burst into life faster than the title hero himself. Leading man Ezra Miller is reportedly safe for now following his high-profile misdemeanor, while Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck are both set to make their unexpected returns as Batman.
Even though there are two Dark Knights already set to feature, rumors have nonetheless claimed that there could be even more on the way including Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Thomas Wayne, our first look at Batman Beyond‘s Terry McGinnis or even Val Kilmer reprising his role from Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever.
However, if Kilmer doesn’t return, then it could finally put an end to the debate that has dogged the Batman franchise for decades. Many fans view Batman Forever and Batman & Robin as existing in a different continuity to Tim Burton’s first two efforts, despite several recurring characters like Pat Hingle’s Commissioner Gordon and Michael Gough’s Alfred, along with fleeting references to previous events.
The argument goes that the aesthetic and tone is so vastly different, that the latter two installments can’t possibly be canonically related to Burton’s movies. If you want to go even deeper down the rabbit hole, in Batman Returns, Christopher Walken’s Max Shreck has a photo in his office of him meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger, who then went on to play Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin, and surely someone would notice that world-renowned molecular biologist Dr. Victor Fries is identical in appearance, build and accent to one of the most famous people on the planet.
With The Flash set to introduce the multiverse into the DCEU, if Keaton becomes the only Batman of days past to appear, then it would seem clear that the first four movies are all part of the same continuity. However, all bets are off if Val Kilmer becomes the next Caped Crusader to show up for a cameo.