Michael Keaton explains why he quit (and returned 30 years later) as Batman

michael keaton batman
Image via Guber-Peters Company

Michael Keaton has been riding the crest of a wave for close to a decade now, with the veteran star enjoying an incredible resurgence that’s catapulted him back towards the upper echelons of the Hollywood A-list.

Not that he was ever in danger of fading into obscurity, but a string of acclaimed turns in movies as disparate as Birdman, The Founder, Spotlight, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Worth, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and The Protégé have seen him enjoy levels of success that he hasn’t seen for decades.

To cap it all off, the veteran actor will be suiting up as Batman for the first time in 30 years when The Flash finally comes to theaters in November, and he doubled down on his unexpected return to the cape and cowl after recently being announced for the cast of Batgirl.

Speaking to SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Podcast with Julia Cunningham via The Hollywood Reporter, Keaton explained what convinced him to walk away from the Dark Knight in the first place, as well as the way his curiosity was initially piqued to entice him back.

“It was a job,. And then the next one was a job, and I enjoyed it. But then over time… and then the third one, I just couldn’t do. I just thought, ‘Well, this is not good. This is not good. I just can’t do it. I’ll blow my brains out. Just can’t live with myself.’ And so I walked away. At some point, you’re a jerk, if you don’t go [to conventions]. This is a legitimate world. You’re no better or worse than this, but I’m naïve.

I thought, ‘Boy, what would [a return] be like?’ And then, coincidentally, there were murmurs, and I got a call from Warner Bros. They wanted to talk to me about something and there were hints of Batman. It has to be good. There’s no reason to do it if it’s not good. It’s not gonna really change anything. And I just jumped in and had fun. And why would you not? You know, I mean, director Andy Muschietti is fantastic, and it’s really creative. I don’t know. It’s fun.”

You’d have gotten some funny looks a couple of years ago if you’d told anybody that 70 year-old Keaton would be appearing as Batman in two comic book blockbusters released within very close proximity, but we’re glad to have him back.