While the Dark Knight will be swinging into the Javits center at New York Comic Con in celebration of his 75th Anniversary, most fans doubt director Zack Snyder will be showing off anything new from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. To make up for it, Michael Keaton held down a panel for Birdman, which brings him back to his own superhero roots in strange and unexpected ways. In discussing the movie, he also touched on his time underneath the cowl for director Tim Burton's 1989 Batman, revealing his true feelings for the 25 year old comic book movie.
Birdman follows a struggle actor attempting to make a comeback. He is haunted by the super hero that made him famous, and Michael Keaton can relate. Two Batman movies put him on the action map, and helped audiences see him as more than just a comedic performer. And in the past few years, after lingering in obscurity for a while, he too has made a comeback of sorts. Though, he's never been haunted by Bruce Wayne's alter ego quite the way his Riggan Thomson is haunted by his Birdman alter ego. No, in fact, Michael Keaton quite loves his time spent under that tight, sweaty cowl, and will forever remain proud of his work.
"Having played Batman and being very proud of playing Batman. I never back off that. The idea was bold, interesting, and cool when Tim made it. I didn't really put it together, Edward did [a superhero movie] too. I just go to work."
Some still sight Tim Burton's Batman as the definitive version of the character, even over Christopher Nolan's take on this DC Comics universe. Its a point that will long be argued by different generations of moviegoers. But one thing is for certain, Tim Burton's vision was unique at the time, and if it weren't for his movie, we might not be experiencing the same type of super hero dominance at the box office we see now.
Michael Keaton completely agrees with that:
"When I took the original, I was unfamiliar with comic books. I wasn't a comic book reader. [Reading the script he thought], this isn't the way that I see the character but am glad to read it. Then I met Tim the next day, I'm saying [Batman] is this and this, and he was nodding in agreement. So I asked, are they going to make this? Tim said, "I don't know. Let's find out."
Michael Keaton later told Entertainment Weekly that if Tim Burton returned to direct, he wouldn't hesitate to crawl back into the suit.
"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."
He also admits that he has no interest in seeing another Batman movie, and please don't ask him about Ben Affleck.
"Chris Nolan is great, but I've never seen any of the Batman movies all the way through. I know they're good. I just have zero interest in those kinds of movies. I mean, people are asking me, 'Is Ben Affleck going to be any good? And my attitude is, First of all, why would you ask me? Second, he's probably going to be very good, and third, frankly, it's all set up now so that you're weirdly kind of safe. Once you get in those suits, they really know what to do with you. It was hard then; it ain't that hard now."
Some forget how good the first two Batman movies were, as the franchise began to sink into the same camp as the 1960s TV show, with Joel Schumacher bringing a neon glow and over the top villains to Batman Forever and Batman & Robin (and least we not forget the introduction of the Batnipple). But even then, there are still fans who enjoys those two movies.
It will be interesting to see how Zack Snyder pushes all of this forward with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Maybe someday we'll get a documentary where all of the former Batmen come together under one roof to discuss their experiences?