It’s no secret that Batman actor Michael Keaton has had an unfavorable opinion over Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever script. But the Beetlejuice star wasn’t always negative towards the third Batman film. There was even a point where Keaton was more enthusiastic for the third Batman movie than he was for his own films.
Michael Keaton clashed with Joel Schumacher over ‘Batman Forever’s campy tone
As most fans know, Batman Forever couldn’t have been any more tonally different than Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. Schumacher aimed to take the Batman franchise in a much lighter, friendlier direction than his predecessor. But it was a direction Keaton immediately noticed, and called the director out on for.
“When the director who directed the third came on, I said, ‘I just can’t do it.’ One of the reasons I couldn’t do it was – and you know, he’s a nice enough man, he’s passed away, so I wouldn’t speak ill of him even if he was alive,” Keaton said in an interview with the In the Envelope podcast. “At one point, after more than a couple of meetings where I kept trying to rationalize doing it and hopefully kind of talking him into saying, ‘I think we don’t want to go in this direction, really, I think we should go in this direction.’ And he wasn’t going to budge.”
Keaton also described the interaction between Schumacher and himself that convinced him to walk away from Forever.
“He [Joel Schumacher] said, ‘I don’t understand why everything has to be so dark and everything so sad.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute, do you know how this guy got to be Batman? Have you read… I mean, it’s pretty simple,’” he recalled.
Michael Keaton was once looking forward to Joel Schumacher’s third Batman movie
Before Keaton got to read the script, the Birdman actor had a different opinion of the switch from Burton to Schumacher.
“If Tim can’t do it, then I think he [Schumacher] is a great idea … But, you know, Batman is my side business. It’s a little franchise on the side. This is my job and that’s another job. It’s a fun job that I don’t take too seriously. It’s not my main job,” Keaton once told The Morning Call.
He also shared why he might have been more enthusiastic for the third Batman movie than the two he starred in.
“I never really got excited about the first two like most people because I wasn’t that familiar with Batman lore. I was never a comic book fan or anything,” he continued. “But now, there’s a part of me that actually thinks it’s a cooler idea than ever. It’s like I’m just getting it. What a great idea — this guy is a bat at night and he does this and that and he has superhuman powers. Wow!”
Michael Keaton wanted to prove he could still play Batman well
Although it’d been years since Keaton was associated with Batman, he’ll be reprising the role in the upcoming Flash film. For Keaton, this is an opportunity to show himself and the world that he can still turn in a worthy Batman performance.
“Frankly, in the back of my head, I always thought, ‘I bet I could go back and nail that mother f*****,’” Keaton told The Hollywood Reporter. “And so I thought, ‘Well, now that they’re asking me, let me see if I can pull that off.’”
However, he also admitted adjusting to this new take of his character took some getting used to.
“I had to read it more than three times to go, ‘Wait, how does this work?’ ” Keaton continued. “They had to explain that to me several times. By the way, I’m not being arrogant, I hope, about this. I don’t say it like, ‘I’m too groovy.’ I’m stupid. There’s a lot of things I don’t know about. And so, I don’t know, I just kind of figured it out, but this was different.”