Michael Keaton just might be the most popular Batman of all time, but there weren't many who saw the potential in the actor prior to his debut in Tim Burton's Batman. In the late 1980s, Keaton was primarily known for his work in comedy movies and not the person most filmmakers would have thought of when casting Bruce Wayne. Needless to say, the news of his casting came as a shock to many at the time.
Behind the scenes, Tim Burton was also met with apprehension from Warner Bros. producers and executives when he wanted to cast Keaton. Even so, he stuck to his guns as he saw the potential in the actor, and we all know now how that worked out. Recently, Keaton was featured in a new interview with THR, and the piece includes a story from Burton explaining why he chose to cast Keaton. As he says in the article:
"I had met lots of the square-jaw type of actors, but it's like, well, why does somebody need to dress up like a bat? They don't look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, they're not a big action hero. They're somebody who's intelligent and kind of screwed up. And Michael has such an intensity that it's like, 'Yeah, I could see that guy wanting to dress up as a bat.' It's all rooted in psychology, Jekyll and Hyde and two sides of a personality, light and dark, and he understood that."
After casting Michael Keaton in Batman, Burton brought the actor back for the sequel Batman Returns in 1992. The love between the actor and filmmaker is mutual, as Keaton also credits Burton for the way his work on the Batman movies changed the industry forever. He said it was then when Hollywood realized just how lucrative superhero movies can be, eventually evolving into the genre taking over pop culture.
"What Tim did changed everything," Keaton said. "Everything you see now started with him. If you really think about what happened between 1989 and now, on a cultural, corporate, economic level, it's unbelievable."
Meanwhile, Keaton revisited the role of Bruce Wayne for The Flash, the first time he's been in the role since Batman Returns. Because the storyline involves the introduction of a multiverse with different incarnations of Batman, Keaton admits he didn't quite understand the scenario at first, asking to be told several times. Once he was brought up to speed, Keaton was happy to sign onto the project, as he confesses that he's been holding onto the idea of reprising the role one more time for many years.
"Frankly, in the back of my head, I always thought, 'I bet I could go back and nail that motherf--ker.' And so I thought, 'Well, now that they're asking me, let me see if I can pull that off,'" Keaton said.
The Flash, which is directed by Andy Muscheitti and written by Christina Hodson, is set to be released on Nov. 4, 2022. Along with Keaton, the movie will feature Ben Affleck's Batman, although it's not clear if the two Bat-men will meet on screen. Ezra Miller, Sasha Calle, Kiersey Clemons, Maribel Verdu, and Ron Livingston also star. The interview with Keaton can be read at The Hollywood Reporter.