When a new director takes over a movie series, the results can sometimes be jarring for fans. Such was certainly the case with Warner Bros.’ original run of Batman movies. Now the DC Extended Universe aims to revive Michael Keaton’s Batman. Unfortunately for some fans, half of the 1990s series is about to be swept out of the canon.
Michael Keaton will return as Batman in ‘The Flash’ movie
The internet exploded recently when news broke that Michael Keaton is in talks to play Bruce Wayne in The Flash. Fans have long expected the DCEU movie — which has been perpetually delayed — to cover the Flashpoint storyline from the comics. But most assumed Jeffrey Dean Morgan would reprise his Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice role as Thomas Wayne.
In the comics, Barry Allen creates an alternate timeline wherein Bruce Wayne was instead shot and killed. In their grief, Thomas and Martha Wayne developed into that world’s Batman and the Joker. From his comic book roles in Watchmen and The Walking Dead, Morgan felt perfect for a more violent Batman. Yet, Warner Bros. has something else in mind.
Because the DCEU has been so divisive, the studio is instead taking this opportunity to reboot the series’ more troublesome aspects. One key issue is the absence of a DCEU Batman, following Ben Affleck’s departure. So fan service or not, bringing Keaton’s Batman back allows the DCEU to have an older Batman who could mentor a generation of younger heroes.
His casting means the DCEU must decide which movies are canon
Audiences still love Tim Burton’s version of the Batman mythos. The director delivered two gothic, twisted tales in 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns. But after facing criticism for how dark the latter was, Burton — and subsequently Keaton — opted to leave the franchise. That left Bat-fans with Joel Schumacher’s wholly different take.
1995’s Batman Forever and 1997’s Batman & Robin feel like they take place in an entirely different, much wackier Gotham City. But Warner Bros. connected them to the Burton films mostly with the continued casting of Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth and Pat Hingle as Jim Gordon. Still, Keaton never appeared in a Schumacher Batman movie.
So it’s not entirely a shock that the DCEU will ignore the Schumacher films when Keaton’s Batman returns. According to The Wrap, The Flash and subsequent movies will retcon what took place after Burton’s movies. This gives the studio a much cleaner slate to work with and eliminates two movies many fans prefer to ignore anyway. Plus, it sets up the future nicely.
Will a ‘Batman Beyond’ movie be next for Keaton’s Batman?
For years, fans dreamed of a film adaptation of Batman Beyond. The animated series follows an elderly Bruce Wayne as he trains a new Batman to fight crime in a futuristic setting. A movie version was in development in the early 2000s before Christopher Nolan took over with Batman Begins. And Keaton’s Batman is the perfect choice to lead the project.
According to rumors, this could be exactly where the DCEU is heading. If so, it’s the first time in a long while that the series knows what to do with Batman. Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder originally had a five-movie vision for the character. But since that isn’t happening, the DCEU’s decision to pivot to Burton’s version feels like a solid way to move forward.