The Flash Director Teases Why Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne Quit Being Batman In His Universe

 Michael Keaton's Batman piloting Batplane in The Flash movie
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In the DC Extended Universe, Ben Affleck’s Batman is still active and fighting crime both solo and with his fellow Justice Leaguers, including Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen, a.k.a. The Flash. However, when Barry makes his way into another reality in The Flash movie, he’ll meet Michael Keaton’s Batman, who’s not only a few decades older than Affleck’s version, but has also long been retired from vigilantism. Now director Andy Muschietti has teased the reason for why this Bruce Wayne quit being Batman.

Back in March, we got our first confirmation from merchandise that Keaton’s Batman has “long been retired as Gotham City’s protector,” and The Flash trailer released in April teased this through the Batcave looking like it hadn’t been used in a long time. While appearing on CinemaBlend’s Reelblend podcast alongside his sister/producer Barbara Muschietti, Muschietti told hosts Jake Hamilton, Kevin McCarthy and our own Sean O’Connell that it was important for Keaton’s version of Bruce Wayne to be in a significantly different place compared to where audiences left off with him in 1992’s Batman Returns, saying:

Well, there were a lot of conversations. Because he was excited as much as I was about bringing Batman to life. But there was a lot to talk about, ‘Where do we find Bruce Wayne 30 years after we saw him for the last time?’ I wanted to find Bruce in a place where people do not expect to find him – a moment of his life where people… so basically like a Batman that quit some years ago, for a reason that you won't see in the movie. But you're gonna see it in the deleted scenes. When you see that scene, [it will] explain why Batman quit.

Although Val Kilmer and George Clooney succeeded Michael Keaton in the original Batman film series, The Flash is ignoring the events of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. As such, the last time we saw this version of Batman was when he was dealing with Danny DeVito’s Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, but rather than having continuously fought crime over the last 30 years, at some point during that period, he hung up the cape and cowl. As Andy Muschietti noted, the movie itself won’t delve into the specific reasoning for doing so, but he did provide some vague commentary regarding the superhero’s decision. In his words:

Let's say he did something that he's not proud of. He made a mistake, right? And very reason that he knows so much… I mean, when you were watching the movie, you didn't wonder how [Wayne] knows so much about time traveling? So he must he must have made a similar mistake then. Maybe he tried to fix things? … This all comes from discussing the Batman, the state that we found Batmen in. And this is one of the ongoing conversations I had with Keaton. And we finally agreed that we would find Bruce in that stage, at that time, having quit being Batman, and [being] a reluctant hero, I needed that transformation to happen in this movie. I definitely didn't want a Bruce Wayne that was, you know, basically in front of his fireplace, just like staring at a glass of whiskey, just like nothing happened.

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Given that Michael Keaton’s Batman lives in a world that isn’t populated with metahumans and other more fantastical technology like the DCEU is, I’m hesitant to think that he went so far as to develop/obtain a way to time travel, but failed to change the past. However, I can envision this Batman going too far with his crimefighting, akin to when Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man said in Spider-Man: No Way Home that he stopped pulling his punches after Gwen Stacy’s death in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Then again, this Batman had no problem killing certain individuals in his two prior film appearances, so we’ll simply have to speculate about what prompted his retirement until those deleted scenes on The Flash’s home media release can be viewed.

In any case, once Barry Allen and his doppelgänger arrive at Wayne Manor, Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne will be coaxed back into being Batman. These three, along with Sasha Calle’s Supergirl, will team up to prevent this universe’s General Zod, reprised by Michael Shannon, from accomplish the same mission his DCEU counterpart attempted in Man of Steel, i.e. terraforming Earth into a new Krypton. The Flash’s cast also includes Kiersey Clemons, Maribel Verdú, Ron Livingston and Antje Trade, and behind the scenes, Christina Hodson wrote the screenplay.

The Flash opens in theaters on June 16, so Max subscribers will want to make sure they’re caught up on the Scarlet Speedster’s DCEU appearances beforehand. And as always, keep visiting CinemaBlend for continuing coverage on upcoming DC movies and upcoming DC TV shows.