When Tim Burton first directed Batman in 1989, he didn’t think Michael Keaton was the right fit for the role of Batman. Keaton in the 80s was known as a comedy actor. He played the role of Beetlejuice in Burton’s previous film in 1988. Burton originally considered Mel Gibson and Pierce Brosnan for the role of the caped crusader. Burton later agreed to cast Keaton as the role of Batman despite Batman fans writing 50,000 letters in complaints about Keaton being cast as Batman.
The director wrote in his book Burton on Burton: “In my mind I kept reading reviews that said, “Jack’s terrific, but the unknown as Batman is nothing special.” So I saw a zillion people and the thing that kept going through my mind when I saw these action-adventure hero types come into the office was, “I just can’t see them putting on a bat-suit. I can’t see it.” I was seeing these big macho guys and then thinking of them with pointy ears, and it was, “Why would this big macho, Arnold Schwarzenegger-type person dress as a bat for God’s sake?”
Fans didn’t believe Keaton, who starred in comical films like Mr. Mom, Night Shift, and Beetlejuice, could play the role of their favorite superhero. Burton wrote in Burton on Burton, “Having those two sides, a light side and a dark one, and not being able to resolve them – that’s a feeling that’s not uncommon. So while I can it’s got a lot of Michael Keaton in it because he’s actually doing it, I also see certain aspects of myself in the character… I mean, this whole split personality thing is so much a part of every person that it’s just amazing to me that more people don’t consciously understand it. Everybody has several sides to their personality, no one is one thing. Especially in America, people often present themselves as one thing, but are really something else. Which symbolic of the Batman character.”
Keaton ultimately proved himself in the 1989’s Batman. The actor returned as Tim Burton’s Batman in Batman Returns. It’s been over 30 years since Keaton wore the Batsuit. “Just because I was curious didn’t mean I wanted to do it,” he said on Variety’s Award Circuit podcast. “So it took a long time, frankly… I’m not just gonna say I’ll do it. It has to be good. And there has to be a reason.”
Batgirl, HBO Max’s upcoming superhero film, is being filmed in London with no release date. Keaton is expected to reprise his role as the character he originated in Tim Burton’s 1989 film and will star alongside Leslie Grace, who’s playing the lead role.
Keaton is also to appear in the upcoming Flash in early November of this year.
The actor tells Collider his thoughts on playing the caped crusader again for the third time since 1992: “[It was] weirdly and ironically easy. A little bit emotional. Just a rush of memories. Without giving anything away, which I can’t basically the first shot, not of the entire movie but let’s say the introduction [of Batman], is so good that when we walked on and started talking about a couple of shots and angles, I went ‘whoa, this big. This is great.’ I don’t even mean for me. Just the imagery, it’s great. And reminiscent, to some degree, of Tim Burton.”