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Michael Keaton has been Beetlejuice, Batman, and Birdman. Despite his widespread filmography, the actor remains best known for a handful of fan-favorite performances. Of course, Keaton was only the first to play Batman in a film adaptation of the DC Comics hero. Many more movie Batmen have followed him, including George Clooney in Batman & Robin. Ironically, Keaton completely forgot about their connection when the two stars worked together.

George Clooney wears black and smile while posing with a model of Batman
George Clooney | Colin Davey

Where were Michael Keaton and George Clooney’s careers in the late ’90s?

In the late 1990s, Keaton was on the tail end of a string of film projects. The actor was a mainstay of the big screen throughout both the 1980s and 1990s. So by the end of the latter decade, he was ready to take a break from the industry. Interestingly, around the same time, Clooney’s movie star was well on the rise, following his breakout turn on NBC’s hit series ER.

After romantic comedy One Fine Day and horror-thriller From Dusk Till Dawn the previous year, Clooney’s path to becoming a big-screen leading man was in full swing by 1997. That year, he co-starred with Nicole Kidman in The Peacemaker and headlined Batman & Robin. In the latter case, Clooney stepped in for Val Kilmer, who had played the title role in 1995’s Batman Forever after Keaton walked away from the project.

The actors didn’t bond over their shared experience as Batman

Technically, Keaton’s and Clooney’s Batman films exist in the same universe. Despite the changes behind the scenes, the Bruce Wayne Clooney brings to life in Batman & Robin is supposed to be the same one Keaton originated back in 1989. Yet, this fact slipped Keaton’s mind when he joined Clooney in the 1998 crime comedy Out of Sight, Keaton told The Guardian.

“I didn’t [talk about Batman with George Clooney], but he used to shout at me, ‘Hey, the brotherhood!’ And I’d go, ‘Hey!’ But I had no idea what he meant. Swear to God! And he did it a bunch of times: ‘Brotherhood!’ And then someone explained it to me and I was like, ‘Ohhhhh!’ I mean, I think I’d forgotten he was in [Batman & Robin].”

Keaton’s openly acknowledges he didn’t care for the direction Warner Bros. took the Batman films after he left. And he’s easily forgiven for failing to give Clooney credit for his one and only time in the Batsuit. After all, Batman & Robin was a critical and commercial disappointment. It effectively killed the franchise for nearly a decade, until Christopher Nolan dusted it off for 2005’s Batman Begins.


Michael Keaton Had the Very Best Experience Making ‘Beetlejuice’

Michael Keaton is back as Batman for 2022’s ‘The Flash’ movie

With Out of Sight, Keaton created his own little shared universe. The actor appears briefly as Ray Nicolette, a character he previously played in 1997’s Jackie Brown. Both movies are based on novels by Elmore Leonard, and Keaton’s double casting created some fun crossover for fans.

Now though shared cinematic universes are the way of the business. And though Keaton is already Vulture in the Marvel Cinematic Universes, he makes his Batman return in 2022. The actor joins Ezra Miller as the titular hero in the DC Extended Universe movie The Flash, which will also feature Ben Affleck’s reprisal of Bruce Wayne.