It’s Heroes & Villains time! I hope everyone out there that’s either reading or creating comics out there is having a good week (unless you’re a recently outed serial creep…then you’re getting what you deserve currently).
In a kinda-sorta, too early to tell, non-announcement RUMOR… Michael Keaton is allegedly in talks to return as Batman/Bruce Wayne in the totally still happening Flash movie. There were so many caveats in that last sentence that this very website threatened to collapse into a singularity of speculation.
We’re solidly in “don’t get your hopes up” territory but the unilaterally positive response to the news has to count for something. Fan reaction greased the wheels for Sony to share Spider-Man with the MCU and incessant whining got WB and HBO Maxxx to hashtag release the Snyder Cut (it’s not like they needed to give people a reason to subscribe to yet another streaming service or anything).
With all that said, I’m INCREDIBLY on board for the idea. The Burton Batman films have held up amazingly over the last three decades and for many, including myself, helped shape our vision of what a definitive Batman movie should look like. Keaton was reportedly game to come back for another Bat-film after Batman Returns but when Tim Burton walked from the franchise, so did he.
A third Burton movie and the direction it would have taken has long been the subject of fan speculation. This was still early days for comic book movies so concepts of cohesive trilogies with thematic arcs and cinematic universes were still decades away. How long could Keaton have conceivably played the role? It was probably a good thing for him to leave the role when he did since he’s gone on to do even more amazing things in his filmography in recent years.
There’s already rampant speculation as to what all this could mean for the future of DC movies and it’s becoming clear there’s a multi-tiered approach that will ensure EVERYBODY gets some DC they can be happy with. HBO Maxxxx is going to be cranking out big-budget superhero fare with that level of polish and prestige that’s synonymous with the HBO brand. Warner Bros. will produce the big, tent pole event movies for theatres (assuming theatres are still a thing, that is). Warner Animation will continue to offer direct-to-video animated movies as well as occasional theatrical releases. The CW will keep CW-ing because without the Arrowverse shows they don’t have much more than Riverdale.
In a perfect world, this all leads to Michael Keaton re-teaming with Burton to do a proper The Dark Knight Returns adaptation. This wouldn’t be something that apes a couple of key sequences from the book but rather a less Frank Miller-y take on the material. Before you ask, I wouldn’t want to see Nicholson lured out of retirement as the Joker. They could cast Willem Dafoe or Mark Hamill as the Joker finally…either would be amazing and people would finally shut up about those choices.
I would ALSO accept Michael Keaton doing a Batman Beyond movie and taking on the role of a mentor for a new Batman. Some signs point to his return as Bruce Wayne as more a Nick Fury in the MCU type of role and I’m not sure how I feel about that. “My name is Bruce Wayne and I’m here to warn you about a forthcoming Crisis…” Could work.
If any of this ends up happening it could be amazing if they take some proper big swings at the concept. I desperately want a Flash movie to happen and I need it to be good. It has the potential to compete with the MCU for big, bold comic book storytelling on the big screen and it could be fun…and that’s the whole point of comics.