The Flash Star Michael Keaton Has Delved Into Why He Refused To Return For Batman Forever In The 1990s

Keaton is set to make his return as the Dark Knight some 30 years after hanging up his cape and cowl alongside Ezra Miller’s scarlet speedster and Ben Affleck’s own Batman for a film that will explore DC’s multiverse.

His original tenure as the Caped Crusader initially ended after 1992’s Batman Returns when Keaton refused to continue on once director Joel Schumacher replaced Tim Burton.

In the past, Keaton has joked that he turned down Batman Forever because the script “sucked”, but in a recent interview with the In the Envelope podcast, he more seriously discussed his disagreements with Schumacher.

He recalled: “I remember one of the things that I walked away going, ‘Oh boy, I can’t do this.’ He asked me: ‘I don’t understand why everything has to be so dark and everything so sad?’ And I went, ‘Wait a minute, do you know how this guy got to be Batman? Have you read?… It’s pretty simple.'”

Schumacher’s version of Gotham City was much more vibrant than Tim Burton’s gothic take on the city and its inhabitants. While his Batman Forever and Batman and Robin were criticised at the time, they have since developed their own cult following.

Still, Keaton argues that the shift in tone was too drastic for him and the films moved too far away from Bruce Wayne’s duality for him to continue with the franchise.

“One of the reasons I couldn’t do it was – and you know, he’s a nice enough man, he’s passed away, so I wouldn’t speak ill of him even if he were alive – he, at one point, after more than a couple of meetings where I kept trying to rationalise doing it and hopefully talking him into saying, ‘I think we don’t want to go in this direction, I think we should go in this direction.’ And he wasn’t going to budge,” he recalled.

He would later explain: “It was always Bruce Wayne. It was never Batman. To me, I know the name of the movie is Batman, and it’s hugely iconic and very cool and cultural iconic and because of Tim Burton, artistically iconic.

“I knew from the get-go it was Bruce Wayne. That was the secret. I never talked about it. [We say] ‘Batman, Batman, Batman does this,’ and I kept thinking to myself, ‘You all are thinking wrong here.’ [It’s actually about] Bruce Wayne. What kind of person does that?… Who becomes that? What kind of person [is he]?”

As mentioned, Keaton will finally be donning the cowl once again in the Worlds of DC going forward. He will return for The Flash as well as the upcoming Batgirl movie.

The Flash is currently due for release on November 4, 2022.

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