Michael Keaton surprised and amazed when Batman came out in 1989. Although he had made his bones as a comedic actor, he was able to fill the role of the Dark Knight with the right amount of darkness and intensity while also bring something more, like the feeling that Batman was just a little bit disturbed and had a hint of malevolence. After two Batman movies, Keaton called it a day and avoided the latter, zanier entries in the series. But as his Batman days are recalled in the semi-true life inspired Birdman, Keaton recalls the reasons why he didn’t continue on in the cape and cowl, and who could convince him to come back.
While talking to CBS Sunday Morning (via Comic Book.com) Keaton re-visited his Bat-days. Amongst the questions he was asked was the overwhelming negative reaction (Keaton’s words: “villagers with torches”) to the casting of Ben Affleck in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, a tidal wave of anger and vitriol that was not unlike when Keaton was cast as Batman in 1988. For his part, Keaton says there’s no hard feelings.
“It never occurred to me that there would be an issue one way or another,” said Keaton. “To this day, I think it’s funny. Now, I dig it. Now, I love it. I think it’s awesome.”
On another sensitive subject, Keaton discussed quite candidly why he didn’t end up appearing as the Caped Crusader in Batman Forever. “It sucked,” he said, “Yeah, it just was awful.”
Keaton expanded on that in an interview with Entertainment Weekly (via Comic Book Movie). “I hadn’t been stupid about it,” he explained, talking why he walked away from a $15 million pay check for the film that would become Batman Forever. “I always knew it was a big machine with a big studio and corporation behind it. But the simple answer was, it wasn’t any good. I was nice. I said to them, ‘This is a really interesting character with a dual personality.’ I tried to make them understand. But when somebody says to you, ‘Does it have to be so dark?’… I thought, are we talking about the same character? So finally I just said no.”
Val Kilmer went on to play Batman in the film directed by Joel Schumacher. He lasted one outing before George Clooney stepped into the cowl for Batman & Robin which promptly killed the franchise. Schumacher took over for Tim Burton when Warner Bros. thought that Burton’s dark tones cost them extra cash with Batman Returns, but 25 years after Keaton and Burton came together on Batman, the actor says that his Batman director is the only one he’d suit up for.
“If it was Tim Burton directing? In a heartbeat,” Keaton said in response to the question as to whether or not he’d suit up as the Caped Crusader again. “Tim, in the movies, really invented the whole dark-superhero thing. He started everything, and some of the guys who have done these movies since then don’t say that, and they’re wrong.”
That would be interesting, to do a Burton variation on The Dark Knight Returns with Keaton as the old Batman. I won’t hold my breath though since Warner is obsessed with tying all their properties together in a shared universe, and Burton’s probably leery of doing anything Batman-related after his two franchise films. And given his recent track record, I’m not sure I’d want him to revisit Gotham City.
What do you Bastards think? Would you want to see a Burton/Keaton team-up on Batman again? Sound off below.