Fans went positively apesh*t, or should that be batsh*t, when it was announced last year that Michael Keaton would be suiting up as Batman for the first time in 30 years to lend support in The Flash, the hotly-anticipated DCEU blockbuster that introduces the multiverse into Hollywood’s other premiere shared superhero mythology.
That’s a far cry from when the actor was initially confirmed to be headlining Tim Burton’s 1989 original, with thousands of angry letters being sent to Warner Bros. headquarters, protesting at the casting of someone best known for their work in the comedy genre as one of the most iconic, instantly recognizable and beloved figures in pop culture.
Suffice to say, Keaton’s detractors were forced to eat their words from the very second he showed up onscreen, and he’s still often lauded as the best live-action version of the Dark Knight we’ve ever had. In a new piece detailing the 69 year-old’s lenghty career and impending comeback as the Caped Crusader, Tim Burton explained why he knew he’d chosen the right man for the job three decades and change ago.
“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.”
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Almost every major leading man of a certain age range was touted for the title role in Burton’s Batman including Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Charlie Sheen, Tom Selleck, Harrison Ford and Dennis Quaid, with Bill Murray even under consideration when the movie was being developed as a comedy similar to Adam West’s 1960s TV show, while Pierce Brosnan was offered the part and had to turn it down.
In the end, Keaton knocked his performance out of the park and nailed the duality between Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, and we can’t wait to see him back in the saddle next year.