Sure, he originated the role on the big screen, but that doesn’t mean Michael Keaton kept up with the franchise after his second go round as Batman in 1992.
“Chris Nolan is great, but I’ve never seen any of the Batman movies all the way through,” Keaton told Entertainment Weekly about the director of the Christian Bale-starring Batman reboots. “I know they’re good. I just have zero interest in those kinds of movies.” (Keaton is the magazine’s cover boy in the issue hitting stands on Friday for his new movie Birdman.)
He’s not lying, either; Keaton has said that he didn’t even watch 1992’s Batman Returns in its completed form. And so, 22 years after he left the cape and cowl, don’t bother asking Keaton what he thought of Bale as Bruce Wayne, and definitely don’t seek out his opinion on how he expects the latest Batman, Ben Affleck, to handle the role.
Keaton in 1989’s ‘Batman’
“I mean, people are asking me, ‘Is Ben Affleck going to be any good?’ And my attitude is, First of all, why would you ask me?” he said to EW. “Second, he’s probably going to be very good, and third, frankly, it’s all set up now so that you’re weirdly kind of safe. Once you get in those suits, they really know what to do with you. It was hard then; it ain’t that hard now.”
Keaton hasn’t given many interviews over the years, but his few press appearances have generally turned at some point to his time as Gotham’s savior, and his decision to leave the role once director Tim Burton exited the series. “The third Batman didn’t happen because I said this is not good, this is just not good,” he told Grantland a few years ago, referring to his own third installment, which he exited after new franchise director Joel Schumacher expressed little interest in Keaton’s proposal for an origin story…which is exactly what Nolan did 13 years later with Batman Begins.
"You look at where [Nolan] went, which is exactly what I wanted to do when I was having meetings about the third one," Keaton said. “I said you want to see how this guy started. We’ve got a chance here to fix whatever we kind of maybe went off. This could be brilliant.”
Now, in a very wink-wink way, Keaton is sort of addressing his old days as Batman with Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman (out Oct. 17), in which he plays a former superhero actor fighting for his reputation and sense of artistic fulfillment by staging a Broadway play. The parallels are obvious, and maybe Keaton will get to meet Nolan at the Oscars next year to hash it over.
Watch Keaton in a trailer for Birdman:
Photo credits: Everett, AP Photo/Andrew Medichini