Social media erupted recently when there appeared to be a confirmation of sorts that Michael Keaton is the DCEU's new Batman, replacing Ben Affleck in one of two splintering franchises. New York Times writer Brooks Barnes, who recently did a profile of DC Films president Walter Hamada, mentioned in the article that "Warner Bros. will have two different film sagas involving Batman - played by two different actors - running at the same time."
Later, when Barnes was asked to clarify on Twitter whether he meant that Warner will have two Batman franchises and that one of them will be headlined by Keaton, the journalist's reply was the single word, "Keaton". Fans immediately jumped to the conclusion that Warner was planning a new Batman franchise featuring Keaton as an older Batman. But now Barnes has clarified in a follow-up Tweet that he was only referring to a single movie.
"Been offline (moving apartments) and return to see this Michael Keaton craziness. I was referring to the *one film* that Keaton has been announced as being in, not a set of his own Batman films. If I had info on him beyond The Flash, I would have obviously put it in my article."
Many fans are sure to be disappointed by Barnes' clarification. Their imaginations had already kicked into overdrive, imagining a live-action Batman Beyond franchise starring Keaton as an older, embittered Bruce Wayne who takes in a young protege to be the new Batman. Fan art for the imagined project had already begun doing the rounds on the internet.
Of course, Barnes' latest statement does not completely put the nail in the coffin for a Batman Beyond series. After all, comic book movies have recently seen a push towards diversity. The main protagonist of the Batman Beyond cartoons and the comics they spawned was Terry McGinnis, a mixed-race Asian-American, who could become the DCEU's first major superhero with Asian roots.
For now, it seems the only confirmed appearance of Keaton in the DCEU will be his much-hyped supporting role in The Flash movie. If that appearance is a hit with fans, Keaton may very well be asked to appear in future films, and might even bring the Batman Beyond films into production.
Of course, the actor's prior commitments might get in the way. Keaton essayed the role of the Vulture in MCU's Spider-Man movies, and he is reprising the role for the upcoming Sony movie Morbius, which means Keaton has a future in the Spider-Man franchise as well.
It is a testament to the special place that Keaton holds in the hearts of comic book fans that he is in demand for both the DCEU and the MCU, decades after he first put on the Batman cowl, in what was at the time considered a hugely controversial casting choice. Hopefully, the actor will stick around the DCEU for a while yet, and the Flash movie will not be the last fans see of his Bruce Wayne.