After playing the Caped Crusader twice in 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns, Michael Keaton sat out on the third installment when Warner Bros. opted for a more family friendly tone. Tim Burton, who directed the Keaton movies, was also replaced on Batman Forever. Of course, while that movie was a box office success, it wasn’t a big hit with critics and fans. Its sequel, Batman & Robin, is widely considered to be the worst comic book movie ever. But why exactly did Keaton drop out of a third Batman movie?
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly (via ComicBook.com), the Birdman star reiterated his lack of interest in what Warner Bros. planned to do with the third Batman installment, saying that the studio’s approach was not true to the character. “I hadn’t been stupid about it. 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.”
Keaton is then asked if he would be interested in reprising the role of Batman. With the actor now in his 60s and a number of other actors filling the role – including Ben Affleck’s upcoming turn in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – it’s easy to assume that he would never play the character again. However, Keaton would still be very interested – on one condition. “If it was Tim Burton directing? In a heartbeat. 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.”
Again, due to Keaton’s age, it’s likely that Warner Bros. would continue going with younger actors to play Batman. However, two situations that could accommodate Keaton are full-fledged adaptations of The Dark Knight Returns and Batman Beyond. But that’s still unlikely, with a Beyond movie likely not happening anytime soon and Returns being a key influence on Affleck’s Batman. Kingdom Come is another option, but again, not likely. Would you like to see Michael Keaton as Batman again?