You could sum up the pop culture of the past decade with the phrase “everything old is new again”. Not only that, but anything new is actually old. The new and the old coexist on large and small screens, and this is something we’re all a little used to. Seasoned actors keep returning to their old roles, old versions of characters keep popping up in new movies, dead franchises are resurrected like TV shows—none of that feels surprising. It’s fun, sure, if you like that sort of thing (I like that sort of thing and I just can’t help it).
The only one of these returns that felt even the slightest bit surprising? Michael Keaton’s imminent return as Batman. And now, thanks to the big brains in charge of Warner Bros. Discovery, Keaton’s old man Bruce has been shelved, along with the rest of HBO Max’s nearly completed batgirl feature film. Then there’s the other movie featuring the return of Keaton’s Batman – this one is slated to actually hit theaters. That movie is from 2023 The flash, a film whose future hangs more in the air than Hawkman thanks to the erratic and violent behavior of star Ezra Miller. And because of the comedy’s rule of threes, we should mention the rumor that Keaton filmed an after-credits scene for Aquaman 2…which has since (this is a rumor) re-recorded (this is a rumor) with Ben Affleck (this is a rumor) just in case The flash gets into the Speed Force or something. I don’t know how the Speed Force works, even if it was part of the most memorable movie moment of all time or whatever.
This is an absolutely heartbreaking turn of events, a catastrophic move towards a return that seemed all too good to be true. All the other big returns – Harrison Ford to Indiana Jones, Patrick Stewart as Picard or Professor X – always seemed plausible. Like, from Class Ralph Macchio will play the lead role Cobra Kai. Of course Jamie Lee Curtis is coming back to stab Michael Myers even more. Did Sylvester Stallone ever For real stop being Rocky or Rambo? And that’s the one thing all of these rather disparate returns have in common: It never felt like any of these actors cut off communication with any of these roles. The door always felt ajar, if not completely open.
With Michael Keaton, however, it felt different. That may be because Keaton famously stepped out of the role 30 years ago and resist any temptation to come back. Many of his contemporaries from the 1989 and 1992 hits have returned for more, such as the surviving Ghostbusters in Ghostbusters: AfterlifeKeanu Reeves and Alex Winter in Bill & Ted stand for the musicthe casts of karate kid and The mighty ducks. The Bride’s Father cast even did a Zoom reunion. The longer Michael Keaton lasted, the less likely he seemed to even put the hood and cape back on. Damn, he was playing two bird themed super characters (Birdman, Spider-Man: Homecoming) and the still felt like Batman was a long shot.
that is why his return felt huge! And on top of that comes the 30 years of work Keaton has done since flirting/fighting with Catwoman in Batman returns has only made him an even more captivating and unpredictable performer. What the hell would a Michael Keaton Batman look like today after he got in? spotlight and Dopessick? The comics and cartoons have given us a gray old Batman before, so famous, but we’ve never seen him in live action. 70-year-old Michael Keaton is Frank Miller’s Batman Dark Knight returns. And it’s a damn shame we don’t get to see this performance in batgirland we may not get to see it at all.
So, what’s the deal, Warner Bros. Discovery? Why are you denying us the return of – let’s face it – the a real Batman? Okay, okay, okay, I was born in 1984. Of course I’m loyal to Keaton. Keaton’s Batman was the hero of my childhood. He’s Bruce Wayne to me and to a whole generation (or two) of fans who would happily subscribe to HBO Max and pay a premium price to see him come back for more. Why are you afraid of success, Warner Bros. Discovery? Are you afraid of taking a risk on what seems certain? Be brave. be dangerous. Come on! In the words of Keaton’s Bruce, “Let’s go crazy.”