For some (young) folks, the Batman they grew up with was Christian Bale, and for an older group, Adam West has that honor. However, for those ‘80s and ‘90s kids, our Batman was the one and only Michael Keaton.
The man donned the cowl for two dark, twisted films directed by Tim Burton, Batman and Batman Returns. In sharp contrast to Adam West’s campy portrayal of the Caped Crusader, Michael Keaton’s was very much closer to the darker vision that permeated comics in that time period.
While Batman and Batman Returns didn’t necessarily alienate the younger audience, it didn’t bother trying to talk down to them. It told the story it wanted to tell, and the studio allowed Burton all his dark quirks along the way.
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However, a big change came with the third film. Rather than stick with Burton, the studio turned to Joel Schumacher for what would become Batman Forever. Leaving with Burton went Keaton, and in his place, Val Kilmer donned the cowl. But why did Keaton leave? Was he sick of playing the character, or was it something else? Speaking with The Guardian, Keaton was blunt about his reasons for leaving.
“[The film] just wasn’t any good, man. I tried to be patient, but after a certain point, I was like, I can’t take this any more, this is going to be horrible. But, look, there was some really horrible taste in the 90s, and I probably contributed to that, unfortunately. It was a time of nouveau riche excess – everyone was known for their jets and their stuff. And I thought, I’m in this job for the long run, I don’t want this. And the truth is, I’m not boasting, but I was correct. There are a whole load of people who ran things that are long gone.”
While I would argue that Batman Forever was a passable, albeit large step down from Burton’s films, Keaton certainly has a point regarding the strange taste of the era. After Forever, things skewed harder towards the camp, and we’ll never forget the product that was Batman and Robin.
The franchise went on to prove what NOT to do, and while it was painful at the time, it did ultimately bring us Batman Begins.
However, if there’s another silver lining apart from that, it’s the fun story that Keaton has with George Clooney, who played Batman in Batman and Robin. When asked if he and Clooney shared stories, Keaton responded that they didn’t, but Clooney did say something that he didn’t understand for the longest time.
“He used to shout at me, ‘Hey, the brotherhood!’ And I’d go, ‘Hey!’ But I had no idea what he meant. Swear to God! And he did it a bunch of times: ‘Brotherhood!’ And then someone explained it to me and I was like, ‘Ohhhhh!’ I mean, I think I’d forgotten he was in [Batman].”
Great stuff. Kind of awkward, but hilarious.
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SOURCE: The Guardian