If the rumours are true and negotiations go well, one of the all-time great Batmans (Batmen?) will be returning to the role as part of the much-delayed Flash movie.
Michael Keaton played Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego in the two landmark films by Tim Burton – Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). Though his casting was controversial at the time – with Keaton being best known for his more comedic roles at that point – the two films are generally considered to be the best of the pre-Christopher Nolan and modern DCU reinventions (with the likes of Val Kilmer, George Clooney in the subsequent Schumacher films never achieving the right balance).
Busy, though in far-less notable roles through most of the Noughties, Keaton began a resurgence with the likes of sinister roles in the RoboCop reboot and Need for Speed (both in 2014) and then, later the same year, major critical notice for his title role in Birdman, an arty metatextual tale of an actor trying to move beyond an on-screen hero persona. It ultimately won the Academy Award, the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice Awards for Best Original Screenplay). In 2017 he took the role of Adrian Toomes aka The Vulture in the film Spider-man: Homecoming and it looks from the trailer from the forthcoming Morbius movie that he may be reprising the Toomes character.
Though the extent of his possible involvement and the size of his role is unclear at the present time, if Keaton does sign-up, it looks like it may be part of the ‘Flashpoint’ story which would see the Flash (played by Ezra Miller) interacting with alternate versions of characters – including Batman – from across the multiverse. This is a concept used plenty of times in comics (often to incorporate the contradictions of changing continuities) and was recently a staple of a crossover between all The CW superhero shows – which also included brief nods to the likes of Burt Ward, Tom Welling, Brandon Routh etc and actually had a newspaper headline referencing Keaton’s classic outing.
With The Flash‘s troublesome journey to the screen now aiming to start production some time later this year and looking for a 3rd June 2022 release, any appearance by Keaton – brief or otherwise – would not impact the story being told in The Batman, yet another reboot of the character starring Robert Pattinson (with Matt Reeves directing) which is currently set for 1st October 2021. However industry-site the Hollywood Reporter is saying that Keaton’s return as Bruce Wayne could involve several projects where he would act as a supporting, possible mentor-like character.