Michael Keaton is set to reprise his role as the dark knight in the upcoming film, The Flash (2022). It has been 28 years since Michael Keaton has portrayed the caped crusader on the silver-screen – twice with director Tim Burton on the thematically whimsical Batman (1989) and the darker Batman Returns (1992). Many critics and cinephiles alike have claimed in times past that Michael Keaton was an enticing, but almost contradictory casting choice by Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands). As opposed to being a muscular playboy, Michael Keaton portrayed a gaunt and gutsy hero as the world’s greatest detective. His menacing eyes were on a face filled with unnerved naughtiness, far-fetched from the epitome of the classical Batman depicted in comic books. Whether comparing him to the stout and jaw-lined 1950s personification of the comics or the nighthawk of the 1970s caricatures, Keaton and Burton’s version of Master Bruce Wayne was a man tormented by his haunted past who struggled with an unconsciously competent effort to manage and/or mismanage the deepest levels of his greatest anxieties masked as the caped crusader, fighting crime in the dark of night in Gotham City.
Tim Burton’s method of filmmaking in Batman and Batman Returns was wholly unique and mind-bendingly quirky, creating a buzz in Los Angeles in the late ’80s with the help of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns graphic novel being released just prior to the film. Tim Burton had to have possessed a depth of vision when casting Michael Keaton in the role of Batman, understanding the concept behind the process of focusing more on casting the character of Bruce Wayne – as opposed to the alter ego of Batman. Michael Keaton’s wild eyes have the capability of categorizing him as a heroic character with villainous traits, which is partly the reason why he’s portrayed the bad guy more than once in his filmography – like in Pacific Heights (1990) where he played a shady house tenant in San Francisco, or Spider-man: Homecoming (2017) where he played the villain, Vulture.
After portraying the role of an unsuccessful superhero-actor named Riggan, in Alejandro G. Inarritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) – a well-played ode to Keaton’s own career at the time – it appears as though he has come full-circle, preparing to reprise his role in the bat-suit in not just one, but a wide variety of DC Extended Universe movies slated for release in the near and/or distant future. In The Flash, directed by Andy Muschietti (It), the character of Barry Allen will apparently be crossing paths with the same Michael Keaton version of Batman created by Tim Burton, who still maintains a ruling over Gotham City. In the same way that Jared Leto’s Joker from David Ayer’s Suicide Squad (2016) exists in a separate cinematic universe as Joaquin Phoenix’s clown prince of crime from Todd Phillips’ Joker (2019), Michael Keaton’s Batman in The Flash will supposedly exist in a separate universe than Robert Pattinson’s dark knight character in Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman (2022).
As much as it appears to be puzzled and perplexed – contrary to the consistency of the Marvel cinematic universe – a lot of separate worlds are being created within the DC Extended Universe. The most enthralling concept weighs heavily on Michael Keaton’s reprisal as the dark knight in The Flash. It would make perfect sense if Keaton’s costume is somewhat of a throwback to his original from Tim Burton’s films. The September 5th born Virgo Keaton looks younger, hipper, and stronger than ever at age 68. The fact that a wise, seasoned and experienced caped crusader still rules over Gotham City is a fascinating concept to fathom, and perhaps, two Batman’s will cross paths with one another; imagine witnessing Keaton’s Batman crossing paths with Pattinson’s Batman in a similar fashion to the father/son concept in Batman: Beyond (1999) – the animated series that revolved around the storyline of a young Terry McGinnis who was secretly the son of Bruce Wayne.
According to IMDB, both Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton are credited as Bruce Wayne in The Flash, which may or may not imply this Batman dynamic duo. Nonetheless, Keaton stands apart from the rest, in a category of his own, elevated to a different standard than the great Val Kilmer (Batman Forever), the suave George Clooney (Batman & Robin), the intense Christian Bale (The Dark Knight) and the bold Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman), partly because of his status as the revolutionary reinvention of the character upon the silver-screen in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Regardless of the aforementioned variations or concepts, the incredibly exceptional and authentic Michael Keaton will be reprising his role as Batman, and I think it’s unanimous that the world of cinema is stoked.