Nearly 30 years have passed since Michael Keaton last played Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. Fans of his iteration of the character rejoiced upon the news that he will once again don the cape in the upcoming Flash movie. He will also reprise the role in the Leslie Grace Batgirl film, which could open up more possibilities moving forward.
Keaton walked away from the role during the development of Batman Forever – the film which saw Joel Schumacher taking over directorial duties from Tim Burton.
The actor has recently spoken more about his time as the Caped Crusader and has given more details on why he left the role. Speaking in-depth with “In the Envelope” podcast, he explained that creative differences between himself and Schumacher over the direction of the character caused his exit.
According to Keaton, he told Schumacher that he could not continue to play Batman if the tone was moving away from the dark nature of Burton’s movies.
“At one point, after more than a couple of meetings where I kept trying to rationalize doing it and hopefully kind of talking him into saying ‘I think we don’t want to go in this direction, really I think we want to go in this direction,’ and he wasn’t going to budge. I remember one of the things that I walked away going, ‘Oh boy, I can’t do this.’ (Joel Schumacher) asked me, ‘I don’t understand why everything has to be so dark and everything so sad,’ and I went, ‘Wait a minute, do you know how this guy got to be Batman? Have you read… I mean, it’s pretty simple.'”
Keaton also offered a little more insight into his take on the character.
“To me, I know the name of the movie is Batman, and it’s hugely iconic and very cool and culturally iconic and because of Tim Burton, artistically iconic. I always knew from the get-go it was Bruce Wayne. That was the secret. I never talked about it. ‘Batman, you have to be Batman, Batman does this,’ and I kept thinking to myself, ‘Y’all are thinking wrong here.’ It’s about Bruce Wayne. Who’s that guy? What kind of person does that? Who becomes that?'”
Both The Flash movie and HBO Max’s Batgirl feature are expected to release sometime in 2022.