Should’ve Looked Beyond THE FLASH for Keaton’s Dark Knight Return

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There’s no doubt that Michael Keaton was a great Batman on film and his place in Batman history is firmly secured.  He was the first live-action Batman in the first “dark and serious” Batman movie that helped change the way folks thought of the character.  While I have a love/hate relationship with the Burtonverse of Batman films — I adore BATMAN ’89 and, well, let’s just say I’m not a big fan of BATMAN RETURNS — I liked Keaton very much in both movies.

So when it was first announced (which now seems like a decade-plus ago) that Michael Keaton would reprise his iconic role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in THE FLASH movie, I was beyond (pun intended, you’ll see…) thrilled and excited for his return (pun intended again, you’ll see…) Eventually, we found out that his appearance in THE FLASH was not a one-off and that he was set to become the “new” Batman/Bruce Wayne of the rebooted “DCEU” post-THE FLASH (the first of which would be an extended cameo in BATGIRL).  Furthermore, (legit) scuttlebutt said that he’d also star in his own solo Batman movie.

Keaton-mania was back!

Until it wasn’t.

Yes, the box office disaster known as THE FLASH dashed any hope that Keaton could return as Batman, but the nails in that coffin started being hammered in long before THE FLASH spit the bit.

As I have briefly stated, Keaton was set to become the Batman/Bruce Wayne in the rebooted DCEU during Walter Hamada’s cup of coffee as the head of DC Films at Warner Bros. Hamada’s plan was simply to make the best DC movies possible and don’t worry about a shared cinematic universe and how much or how little each film would connect. (The Hamada path for DC on film also included films like JOKER and later THE BATMAN which were totally standalone and 100% not connected to any other films.  They are now under the ELSEWORLDS banner at DC Studios. And frankly, DC on film was somewhat successful under Mr. Hamada.  If you live in reality, you know that.)

Enter Discovery and its purchase of Warner Bros./Warner Media from AT&T.

In short, the new Warner Bros. Discovery shitcanned the Hamada plan (which included also shitcanning the BATGIRL movie), hired James Gunn and Peter Safran to head up the newly formed DC Studios, and asked (demanded?) Gunn and Safran create WBD’s version of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.  (After they already tried and failed miserably at it.)

Thus, the “New DCU” was born.

Now, Keaton’s Batman on film future is iffy at best.  Yes, he would still be in THE FLASH (which Mr. Zaslav and WBD hyped like a MF’er as one of the greatest comic book films of all time), but that was probablyverylikely the end of it.  (A solo Keaton-led Batman movie penned by Christina Hodson was also canned at this time.)  UNLESS

THE FLASH kicked major box office ass and the audience subsequently demanded more Bat-Keaton.

DOH!

(For the record, I liked THE FLASH and enjoyed the hell out of Keaton’s return as Batman.)

Now, the chance of Keaton returning as Batman is about as slim as Christian Bale in THE MACHINIST. (Christian Bale once played Batman…see what I did there?  Remember, it’s all connected here at BOF.)

As fun and cool as it was to see him again as Batman in THE FLASH (and we’ll always have that movie to watch) — which means that Keaton was willing to revisit the role — it should’ve been in an ELSEWORLDS-esque adaptation of BATMAN BEYOND.  Better yet, Tim Burton should’ve returned with him for a pseudo-BATMAN 3 to put a cap on their Batman on film run…be it a riff off of the aforementioned BATMAN BEYOND or even THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. (Maybe the latter because it could’ve definitely served as the finale of a Burton/Keaton Bat-Trilogy.)

Perhaps, before all the drama and changes at Warner Bros., they could’ve done a better job — 220, 221, whatever it took — to properly bring Keaton’s Batman back. In hindsight, certainly not in a film that was D.O.A. due to all the bullshit that preceded it.

Is it a hopeless endeavor?  Well, with that ELSEWORLDS banner at DC Studios, I guess it’s possible. (I have been and will continue to bang the drum for ELSEWORLDS banner to not be simply some temporary thing for Todd Phillips’ JOKER: FOLIE à DEUX and Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN: PART II.)

But I ain’t holding my breath. – Bill “Jett” Ramey