Will ‘Birdman’ Mark Michael Keaton’s Big Comeback?

Michael Keaton is back on the big screen, playing a washed-up actor that was once famous for playing a superhero in the upcoming movie Birdman. A new trailer for the film, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, has just been released, providing a much better look at Keaton as Riggan Thomson, a struggling star in the midst of plotting a career comeback.

This is actually the international trailer for the film and the second look audiences have gotten at the flick (a much shorter teaser was released in the United States in June). In the clip, Keaton’s character, who reached the height of his fame playing the superhero Birdman over two decades, attempts to revive his career by writing, directing and starring in a Broadway play. But he doesn’t exactly have a big support system to help him pull it off. Instead, he faces skepticism from his professional team, his daughter (played by Emma Stone), and even a pompous rival actor (Edward Norton).

The story might sound innocent enough, but— as evidenced by the trailer – it involves plenty of bizarre scenes, including an almost-naked walk through Times Square, several explosions, and a huge leap off a tall building.

Giving the dark comedy an even more surreal tone? As several reports have pointed out,the film’s plot line isn’t all that different from Keaton’s own story. The actor once played a comic book superhero in his real life career (in Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989 and Batman Returns in 1992), just as his character did in the movie.

While Keaton’s career hasn’t been quite as in flux as his character’s, his work since his turn as Batman have arguably been significantly less memorable, with his most recent projects including supporting roles in his year’s RoboCop reboot and race car film Need for Speed. Now, he—like his character—could be on the verge of a big career comeback.

His presence gives the film an interesting self-referential quality that fans are sure to get a kick out of. But the movie also touches upon real life aspects in other ways. As can be seen in the trailer, the flick does a good job poking fun at the growing domination of the superhero genre, with Keaton’s character making a snide but telling comment about turning down the opportunity to film a Birdman 4.

The movie, co-written by Iñárritu, Armando Bo, Nicolás Giacobone, and Alexander Dinelaris, premieres at the Venice International Film Festival later in August and won’t be released in theaters across the United States until October 17. But while its official debut is still a ways off, some are already predicting that Birdman will gain plenty of attention during award show season. It’s a fair assumption, given its strong supporting cast (which also includes Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough, and Amy Ryan) and what already looks like to be a standout performance on Keaton’s part. But in addition to being an award season contender, the movie could also be the perfect vehicle to catapult Keaton back into the spotlight.

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