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Thirty-one years ago, Michael Keaton said he was Batman. And even now, apparently, that still holds true. The internet exploded with the news Keaton will play Batman again, this time for the DC Extended Universe.

After so long, no one expected Keaton to return to the role now, especially since the DCEU had already set up a way different version of Batman. And no, we’re not even counting Robert Pattinson’s The Batman.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan at New York Comic Con
Jeffrey Dean Morgan at New York Comic Con | Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for ReedPOP

Michael Keaton returns as Batman in the upcoming ‘The Flash’ movie

According to The Wrap, Keaton will debut as the DCEU’s new Batman in the upcoming The Flash movie. Fans have long expected the Ezra Miller-led film to draw inspiration from the comics’ Flashpoint arc. In that story, Barry Allen (Miller) travels back in time to save his mother’s life and inadvertently alters the timeline.

It sounds Barry’s actions will result in Keaton’s Batman merging with the DCEU. In this new normal, both 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns will reportedly be canon. And Keaton will stick around for multiple movies, presumably to mentor other characters. The latest reports indicate a Batman Beyond movie is on the way.

Fans expected Jeffrey Dean Morgan to return as Thomas Wayne

However, some fans were disappointed by Keaton’s Batman return for a very specific reason. In Flashpoint, the Flash teams up with a very different version of Batman, one with no qualms about killing. In the new timeline, Bruce Wayne was killed that fateful night in Crime Alley. His parents, Thomas and Martha, then became Batman and the Joker as a result.

Following the source material would have led Jeffrey Dean Morgan to become the new Batman. The Walking Dead star briefly played Thomas Wayne at the beginning of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Morgan seemed interested in reprising the role. And as recently as two days before the Keaton news broke, sources claimed Morgan would star in The Flash.


DCEU: Ben Affleck Definitively Answers Whether He Would Return to Play Batman Again

Is there a way both Keaton and Morgan could play the Dark Knight?

So Keaton is back as Batman. But his casting seems like more of an Affleck replacement than the short-term role Morgan likely would have played. To that end, it might be possible for both to appear in The Flash. In the Flashpoint comic, Bruce Wayne’s Batman bookends the story. Perhaps there’s still a place for Morgan’s Flashpoint Batman to factor in as well.

Keaton then could be the new timeline Batman that results from Barry’s adventures. In this scenario, the actor would only appear in the final scenes. Given the news Keaton is committing to multiple projects, this could be a smart way to tease whatever comes next. After all, fans still have no clue how much Keaton to expect in The Flash.

The DCEU could easily pull a Mark Hamill in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. All The Flash needs to do is establish a new status quo. And such a setup would neatly lean into the rumored Batman Beyond movie that Warner Bros. will likely fast-track once Keaton officially signs on for multiple DCEU projects.