Though fans can hardly believe it’s really happening, Michael Keaton is returning to the DC universe as his Batman in next year’s The Flash movie. It will have been 30 years since he originally starred as Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and its sequel Batman Returns (1992), so Keaton’s comeback has been a long time coming. And it seems his role in the Scarlet Speedster’s solo film has helped the actor gain a deeper understanding of the Dark Knight.
While speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about The Flash, Keaton opened up about how he came to realize just how much of a cultural institution Batman is these days, describing the power of the character as being “on a whole other level now” to what it was back in the late 80s/90s. Keaton admitted that the scale of The Flash wowed even him, a veteran of the superhero genre.
“What’s really interesting is how much more I got [Batman] when I went back and did him,” Keaton revealed. “I get this on a whole other level now. I totally respect it. I respect what people are trying to make. I never looked at it like, ‘Oh, this is just a silly thing.’ It was not a silly thing when I did Batman. But it has become a giant thing, culturally. It’s iconic. So I have even more respect for it because what do I know? This is a big deal in the world to people. You’ve got to honor that and be respectful of that. Even I go, ‘Jesus, this is huge.’”
Keaton’s comments make a lot of sense as the popularity of Batman has grown exponentially since he first donned the cape and cowl. Outside of the 60s TV show’s spinoff movie, Batman ’89 was the very first proper cinematic adaptation of the hero. Fast forward to now and 2022 will deliver three separate big-screen Batmen. Keaton and Ben Affleck will both appear in The Flash while Robert Pattinson takes on the role in The Batman.
Its likely the multiversal angle of The Flash is what Keaton is mostly referring to here, but it’s also possible that the film will find time to dig into his character and examine what makes Bruce tick. At the very least, we know to expect more than a mere cameo from the Burtonverse Batman in the flick, with his appearance potentially paving the way for further projects down the line. Fans are keeping their fingers crossed for a Batman Beyond movie.
The Flash races into theaters on November 4th, 2022.