Finally, We Have an Old, Funny Batman Again

Michael Keaton is officially reprising his role as the Caped Crusader in "The Flash"

April 20, 2021 3:55 pm
Michael Keaton attends the premiere of Disney's "Dumbo" at El Capitan Theatre on March 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Keaton attends the premiere of Disney's "Dumbo" at El Capitan Theatre on March 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

Nearly 30 years after he last donned the Batsuit, Michael Keaton is officially reprising his role as Gotham’s favorite vigilante in Warner Bros.’s The Flash. Keaton, who famously played the Caped Crusader in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), was in talks earlier this year to join the film but initially expressed hesitancy due to his concerns over COVID-19 safety protocols.

“To be honest with you, you know what worries me more than anything about all this stuff? It’s COVID,” Keaton told Deadline at the time. “I’m more concerned. I keep my eye more on the COVID situation in the UK than anything. That will determine everything, and so that’s why I’m living outside the city here on 17 acres, staying away from everybody, because the COVID thing has got me really concerned. So, that’s my first thing about all projects. I look at it and go, is this thing going to kill me, literally? And you know, if it doesn’t, then we talk.”

But now, thankfully, Keaton is officially onboard, according to his agent, and director Andrés Muschietti announced on Instagram that production officially kicked off on the film in London on Monday. Keaton will star alongside Ezra Miller in the movie, which will reportedly ignore the events of non-Keaton Batman flicks Batman Forever and Batman & Robin and feature Miller’s Barry Allen traveling back in time to try and prevent the death of his mother, only to inadvertently create an alternate universe that’s protected by Keaton’s Batman, now 30 years older. We can expect it to hit theaters on Nov. 4, 2022.

This is, of course, excellent news for those of us who prefer Keaton’s funny, lighthearted Batman to the dark, brooding interpretations of the character we’ve seen in recent years. To be honest, it couldn’t be better timing. These are unbearably dark times we’re living in — just about as bleak as anything going down in Gotham — and we could all use a little levity in our superhero movies these days. And the concept of an aging Batman still running around the city in his fancy leotard trying to stop bad guys who are, presumably, a third of his age (Keaton is currently 69) feels like a great opportunity for comedy. We already know that Keaton can effectively toe that darkly funny line as an aging superhero (or at least, an aging actor who thinks he’s a superhero) thanks to his Oscar-nominated performance in Birdman.

His return as Batman will no doubt be less heavy than Birdman, and it’ll be a nice break from the recent run of charmless bummers we’ve had to endure in the role. Batman is, of course, canonically more depressing than other superheroes due to his origin story — parents murdered in front of him, you know the deal — but we’ve seen interpretations of the character from Keaton and Adam West that added a little more charisma. A grittier Batman may be the hero Gotham deserves, but over a year into a pandemic and in the midst of ongoing political and racial division, to quote The Dark Knight, he’s not the one it needs right now.

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