The Flash movie shot up every comic book fan's must-see list recently when it was announced that Warner Bros. is looking to bring Michael Keaton back as Batman for the forthcoming DC venture. Well, it seems that this is far from the first time in recent years that live-action DC projects have considered casting Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader once again, with the release of Crisis on Infinite Earths: Paragons Rising revealing concept art of Keaton as the Bruce Wayne of Earth-99.
While the actor's face is blurred out in the image, it is quite clearly the face of Michael Keaton. Sat atop the battle-damaged body of this alternate version of Bruce Wayne, the artwork shows the aged Dark Knight wearing the same suit-and-exoskeleton look that is sported by the Dark Knight in the Kingdom Come comic book. The character looks more or less exactly like it did in Crisis on Infinite Earths, where the role was played by Kevin Conroy, the longtime voice of Batman, who has played the character across numerous animated and video game projects.
Showrunner Marc Guggenheim confirmed that this image is of Earth-99 Batman. Concept artist Andy Poon was just playing around with the concept of having Michael Keaton in the role, before Kevin Conroy was cast. Keaton was never approached for the role. But his version of Batman was referenced in the show as Earth-89 Batman, which coincides with the year Tom Burton's Batman was released. Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne was spotted on the front page of a newspaper spotted on set during the filming of Crisis on Infinite Earths. When the newspaper actually appeared on the show, the image of Keaton had been removed and replaced with art of Batman in a Batsuit similiar to what Keaton wore in the 1989 movie and its 1991 sequel.
The Michael Keaton concept art is featured in Crisis on Infinite Earths: Paragons Rising, a deluxe edition hardcover that collects together all of the stories from the Crisis on Infinite Earths 100-Page Giant issues that were released during the show's run on The CW. The book also includes a lot of behind the scenes and projection bits and pieces, including concept art and script pages.
While Keaton did not appear in the Crisis on Infinite Earths event, it has been heavily rumored that the Batman actor has been approached to appear in the cape and cowl in The Flash. For now, we have no idea how Michael Keaton's Dark Knight will be brought into the fray, though it has been reported that this will be more than a one-off cameo.
The idea, in fact, is to have Keaton's Bruce Wayne act as the DC cinematic universe's version of Nick Fury, showing up in different, individual superhero movies and offering his assistance. News of his casting came as a great surprise for fans since it was long assumed Keaton's days as the Dark Knight were behind him, but from the response the news has had it is clearly the right way to go, with many speculating as to whether this will even lead to a Batman Beyond movie somewhere down the line.
The Flash, which is due for release sometime in 2022, is said to be based on the comic arc The Flashpoint Paradox, which saw the fastest man alive travel back in time in order to save his mother. However, things go wrong, as time travel shenanigans so often do, with The Flash emerging in a bleaker universe in which the Amazons and Atlanteans are at war. Flash's time-meddling will undoubtedly lead to Keaton's involvement, with the potential for multiverses, as well as alternate versions of other famous characters, no doubt in the DC cinematic universe's future. This comes to us courtesy of DC comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths: Paragons Rising.