Michael Keaton returned as Batman in “The Flash” because the actor saw it as a challenge to see “if he can pull that off.”
“Frankly, in the back of my head, I always thought, ‘I bet I could go back and nail that motherf—er,’” Keaton told The Hollywood Reporter in a wide ranging interview.
Keaton added: “And so I thought, ‘Well, now that they’re asking me, let me see if I can pull that off.’”
As TheWrap first exclusively reported, Keaton returned to the role of Batman after nearly 30 years, to appear alongside Ezra Miller in Warner Bros.’ “The Flash.”
The plot of “The Flash” will introduce general audiences to the idea of the multiverse, one of the of core concepts underpinning DC Comics. For the non fanboy set, the multiverse refers to a shifting number of alternate universes that coexist within the larger reality depicted in DC comics. Originally created to explain various contradictory changes the company’s characters experienced over decades, it allows several different versions of the same characters to simultaneously exist and, occasionally, interact.
However, as Keaton explains it, he had to read the script multiple times to get his head around the multiverse concept.
“I had to read it more than three times to go, ‘Wait, how does this work?’” Keaton said. “They had to explain that to me several times. By the way, I’m not being arrogant, I hope, about this. I don’t say it like, ‘I’m too groovy.’ I’m stupid. There’s a lot of things I don’t know about. And so, I don’t know, I just kind of figured it out, but this was different.”
Keaton added: “What’s really interesting is how much more I got [Batman] when I went back and did him. I get this on a whole other level now. I totally respect it. I respect what people are trying to make. I never looked at it like, ‘Oh, this is just a silly thing.’ It was not a silly thing when I did Batman. But it has become a giant thing, culturally. It’s iconic. So I have even more respect for it because what do I know? This is a big deal in the world to people. You’ve got to honor that and be respectful of that. Even I go, ‘Jesus, this is huge.’“
Keaton first played Batman in Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster of the same name, which was a critical and financial success that changed how superhero films were viewed and paved the way for the genre’s future box office domination. Keaton’s casting was initially controversial among fans, as he was primarily known for broad comedies. But his performance — particularly how he used his comedic background in his portrayal of Bruce Wayne to differentiate it from Batman — was widely praised and is now recognized as a seminal moment in comic book films.
Keaton last played Batman in 1992’s “Batman Returns” but quit the role during development of a third film after Burton was pushed out as director and replaced with Joel Schumacher, who took the series in a campier direction with 1995’s “Batman Forever” and its reviled 1997 follow-up, “Batman & Robin.”
“The Flash” will disregard the latter two entries entirely and explore what Keaton’s version of Batman has been up to since we last saw him. Loosely based on the 2011 DC Comics crossover event “Flashpoint” — previously announced as the film’s title at Comic-Con 2017 — the story sees Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen travel back in time to prevent the death of his mother. The result? Allen inadvertently creates another universe protected by Keaton’s Batman, now 30 years older.