Michael Keaton Wanted A Third BATMAN Movie To Be An Origin Story

Keaton, who played the Dark Knight in Tim Burton's Batman movies, looks back on how he became interested in the character, shares his thoughts on what he's seen of Christopher Nolan's films, and reveals where he wanted a third flick to go.

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By Paul Romano - 1/6/2013


After making 1989's Batman and 1992's Batman Returns, director Tim Burton and actor Michael Keaton were attached to a third Batman movie for Warner Bros., the studio decided to move forward with a totally different direction. Instead of a dark and gritty atmosphere, WB figured that a more family-friendly tone would be more successful. Of course, this resulted in Keaton dropping out of the project and Burton being reduced to a producer role for 1995's Batman Forever. Appearing on the WTF With Marc Maron podcast (thanks to ComicBook.com for the transcript), Keaton looks back on how he became interested in playing the Caped Crusader. After doing Beetlejuice with Burton, Keaton was informed of the director's plans for a Batman movie and his interest in the actor reading the script. "I was familiar with the TV show, but I didn’t know the whole comic, the pulpy part of it." After reading Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, he became much more interested in the iconic character. And after sharing his take on Batman with Burton ("He’s ridiculously depressed. He’s a vigilante. He’s got this issue…"), the director totally agreed with the vision.

A while back, Keaton said that he has yet to see Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, which stars Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader, in its entirety. It's still the case, but he loves what he has seen so far. "The guy who’s doing them now, Chris Nolan, he’s so talented, it’s crazy. But I say that like I’ve seen them, and I actually haven’t. I didn’t even see much of the second one that I did."

Back to Keaton's plans for a third film in which he would play Batman, the actor reveals that he wanted the movie to be an origin story, a la Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. "You look at where he [Nolan] went, which is exactly what I wanted to do when I was having meetings about the third one. 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. Didn’t want to do it, so I didn’t want to do it." In 2000, Warner Bros. hired Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) to direct an adaptation of Year One, despite Batman Forever and Batman & Robin helmer Joel Schumacher's interest in the project. However, the production was abandoned when WB decided to move forward with a Batman Vs. Superman film, which of course was also canned. The studio finally produced a reboot in the form of 2005's Batman Begins, which was heavily influenced by Year One.

Would you have liked to see Michael Keaton star as Batman in an origin story? Share your thoughts in the comments below.









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Spideyguy94 - 1/6/2013, 10:11 AM
He was a fantastic batman, but his Bruce Wayne was quite terrible though. I wouldn't put it down to him though I'd put it down to the scripts he was working with.
thanos83 - 1/6/2013, 10:19 AM
Whats with all these OLD stories being regurgitated as if there new?

Also

I would make this place "EXPLODE" with trafic if script reviews were allowed

Can a compromise be made?
BrotherStarkofMABMindz - 1/6/2013, 10:24 AM
Before the raspy voice Bale Keaton owned Batman
BrotherStarkofMABMindz - 1/6/2013, 10:24 AM
Sucked as Bruce Wayne though
PaulRom - 1/6/2013, 10:26 AM
I wasn't big on Keaton's Wayne either. He was great as Batman, but his Wayne was lacking. I thought Bale was fantastic as both though.
PaulRom - 1/6/2013, 10:27 AM
Although, I will say that Keaton's Batvoice is better. ;)
Edmundo - 1/6/2013, 10:32 AM
I can remember when the announced Keaton as Batman, I thought God no. But he turned out to be my fav live action Batman. Bale is second and I try not to think of any others
Spideyguy94 - 1/6/2013, 10:35 AM
Bale in my opinion is the only one who has played both batman and Bruce Wayne well. Kilmer was a good Bruce Wayne but a terrible batman, clooney......... Uh yeah don't think I need to say anymore
jimpinto24 - 1/6/2013, 10:37 AM
Michael Keaton was awesome as Batman. I wish he would have reprised his role as Batman in the third Batman film. But since WB & Joel Schumacher decided to take Batman Forever in a more PG-13 feel, Michael backed out.
Mystery - 1/6/2013, 10:38 AM
Well he got his wish in some sorts because what came after was just toy commercials and the infamous bat-card (Seriously). So to speak, I would consider Batman Begins the 3rd Batman movie, and still the best one of all the movies IMO, but as the best Batman story, Mask of the Phantasm takes the number one spot for me.
NerdyGeek - 1/6/2013, 10:38 AM
NerdyGeek - 1/6/2013, 10:39 AM
NateHawk89 - 1/6/2013, 10:47 AM
Michael Keaton is my favorite Batman actor. hands down. i did NOT like Christian Bale whasoever. the only good thing about Nolan's trilogy was the villains, and that's sad when it comes to a superhero movie.
webslinger2099 - 1/6/2013, 10:49 AM
keaton was the best, personal opinion
Christuffer - 1/6/2013, 10:50 AM
Seems like we could have had the perfect Batman way back when...but what might have been has been lost in time I'm afraid. R.I.P. Robin Williams as Riddler
ToddDamian - 1/6/2013, 10:51 AM
I actually enjoy Batman Forever and Batman & Robin more than Batman '89 and Batman Returns. Of course, The Dark Knight trilogy trumps all of those.
LP4 - 1/6/2013, 10:52 AM
Keaton was my most favorite live action Batman/Bruce Wayne and still is to this day.

He had the perfect Bat-voice, he was quiet, subtle yet tough. He didn't suffer throat cancer like Bale's Batman.

Keaton= Greatest live action Batman ever
LP4 - 1/6/2013, 10:57 AM
And Batman Returns is STILL my favorite Batman film. Better than the entire Nolan trilogy IMHO
xfactor - 1/6/2013, 11:00 AM
@ nerdy geek-thank you, two cool ass scenes from batman.
xfactor - 1/6/2013, 11:00 AM
well batman and batman returns
xfactor - 1/6/2013, 11:02 AM
@ lp4 soo right about keaton, and lets face it. Tim burton was the perfect choice to direct batman, with his goth-emo style, am i the only one who feels like tim burtons gotham city actually LOOKED like gotham city? more than any of the other films?
ATrueHero1987 - 1/6/2013, 11:07 AM
Not really fond of him as Batman or those Batman movies.

SN: I remember I had almost all the toys from those Batman movies. Even the Batcave & Batmobile.....memories
scotticus17 - 1/6/2013, 11:09 AM
Michael Keaton is my favorite batman. so seeing him do a origin would of been [frick]in awsome. wish he would of stuck around for the 3rd one anyway, cuz even with the mess that is batman forever i feel it would of been alot better with keaton.
LAXtremest - 1/6/2013, 11:10 AM
I thought Keaton was the best Batman. Bales Batman is terrible, but Bale is a good Bruce Wayne.
AC1 - 1/6/2013, 11:12 AM
@LEVITIKUZ I actually had an idea a while ago that Keaton could have a role in a future Batman reboot as Thomas Wayne - what better homage to the first real cinematic Batman than have him play the new guy's father, sort of a symbolic 'passing on the cowl'. Could also work for Bale in the future, depending on how long it takes to reboot Batman.
AnakinShatner - 1/6/2013, 11:15 AM
I've always been conflicted by Burton's Batman films. Though there's so much I love, there's so many things wrong. One point that always bugged me was when some random clown-faced rioter throws something at the batmobile that has zero effect, and in response, Batman turns the car around and sets him on fire. Doesn't that seems a like a bit of an over reaction?
AC1 - 1/6/2013, 11:16 AM
I still think Bale is the best Batman in terms of the proper balance - his Batman is just as good as Keaton's IMO, but his Bruce Wayne is far better, even though Bale's Bruce Wayne only has about half of the character's traits from the comics, etc, such as the wealth, conflict, class, business knowledge, and willpower. I think we're yet to see a version of Batman that lives up to the 'World's Greatest Detective' mantle, however.
AC1 - 1/6/2013, 11:18 AM
@AnakinShatner that's also one of the reasons Burton's films are beneath Nolan's IMO, because Batman is so ready and willing to kill bad guys; apart from your example, the big WTF moment for me every time I watch the 1989 movie is the part where he remote-controls the Batmobile and blows up one of the Joker's hideouts along with all the goons inside.
Christuffer - 1/6/2013, 11:27 AM
What is Warner Brothers made an actual film adaptation of "The Dark Knight Returns", and they hired Michael Keaton to do it? They could do this after the Justice League movie...just a thought. Probably no. Lol
Super12 - 1/6/2013, 11:30 AM
@ManofSuperguy - ooh that's an interesting one. Dean Cain's Clark Kent vs Christopher Reeves. THAT I would like to see properly debated. Reeve's Kent was so loved for his awkwardness and extreme nerdiness, which contrasted starkly with his Superman. But Cain's Kent was much more realistic but with that Midwestern wholesome charm. I don't think you're that out of place with that claim...
DarkGrifter - 1/6/2013, 11:30 AM
Christuffer
Frank Miller already gave Zack Snyder the thumbs up to direct a Dark Knight Returns movie, so it's not completely out of the question :P
GodzillaKart - 1/6/2013, 11:32 AM
Might have been interesting.

Hope they finally do the character justice when he is rebooted.
pintoman - 1/6/2013, 11:33 AM
It's revisionist. The first film was too centered on the Joker and the second film was too centered on the Penguin, all thanks to Burton because that's his strength. He didn't really understand Batman's point of view. These films came on the heels of Superman where New York became Metropolis—large and real. Gotham felt too small and the shot compositions were terrible. Plus, the sign of a bad (non comedy) movie is "goofy" cops. This film had them.
thewonderer - 1/6/2013, 11:35 AM
Yes a batman that willingly throws people off roofs and INCINERATES thugs is the best Batman.

Bale is the best and will always be so. Surprised Cbm people complain about the raspy voice, considering its described that way in the comics
THEDARKKNIGHT1939 - 1/6/2013, 11:41 AM
He was an awesome Batman. I remember in an interview for Batman Returns, he told the script writers that Batman had too many lines and should cross some out. He knew Batman so well.
xfactor - 1/6/2013, 12:14 PM
@ MANOFSUPERGUY clearly nolan's trilogy topped the first 2 by burton and keaton obviously, but the simple fact is, keaton, believe it or not, was a WAAAAYYYYYYY better batman, bale had bruce wayne on lock, but his voice as batman threw me off from time to time and it just wasnt....it just wasn't batman. And no way in hell, hear me, in HELL is dean cain a superior superman that reeves was. Not by a long shot, both him and routh were the most stale bland versions of superman/clark kent i have ever seen, and dean cain's version of clark/superman fit with the cheesy family oriented programming that was popular on the abc station. He was just trash, teri hatcher was a fine ass lois lane though ;)
ScabbyJ - 1/6/2013, 12:37 PM
Funny someone should mention Robin Williams as Riddler: there is INCREDIBLY rare test footage of Robin Williams as Riddler I remember seeing on [Entertainment Tonight*] as a kid. It's of Williams jumping out of a dimly lit area of a room, sideways into the lit area and he's wearing purple and grey tights. Can't find it on YouTube, I've tried for years.
xfactor - 1/6/2013, 12:39 PM
@ manofsuperguy cocky? how did chris reeves come off as cocky to you? I got none of that from reeves, dean cain felt like.....like a guy in costume pretending to be superman.
xfactor - 1/6/2013, 12:42 PM
and bale was great altogether. He was the man, and his bruce wayne was on point, his batman too, but his raspy voice....at times it sounded right in certain scenes, but in others, it just didn't match well. Like in the dark knight interrogation, he had the perfect tone, but when he's yelling at criminals like bane for the trigger,that sounded awful.
ScabbyJ - 1/6/2013, 12:45 PM
http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1993-11-19/entertainment/9311190178_1_dirty-shame-riddler-batman-iii
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