Nerdist suggested that Michael Keaton should reprise his role as the Caped Crusader if there is ever a Batman Beyond film and all I have to say is an emphatic hell yes!
While Christian Bale in recent years has been the top favorite when it comes to live-action versions of the Batman, Keaton is usually close behind him, and my own personal favorite Batman. Batman Beyond is also one of my favorite cartoons and parts of the DCEU; in fact, Terry McGuinness is my favorite incarnation of Batman—which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy Bruce (depending on who’s writing him), but Terry was a more human Batman.
For those unaware, Batman Beyond was a television series that ran from 1999-2001 and took place 40 years after the timeline established in Batman: TAS—20 years after Batman’s in-universe retirement. Terry is a high school student who, after the death of his father, finds himself working under Batman.
Terry was kind of a juvenile delinquent turned good guy, like a well-written Jason Todd. Who could play Terry? Honestly, I think they should pick an unknown, because he’ll come in with a fresh slate, and there isn’t a long roster of other actors who he will be compared to in the role. When it comes to who would be perfect to play the older Bruce Wayne, yeah, Keaton is an easy choice to make.
Not only is Keaton loved and respected by the Batman fandom, but in this new stage in his career, he seems more willing to return to the role—from his performance in Birdman, where he plays a star trying to break away from being stereotyped as former superhero actor, to a return to comic book movies with Spider-Man: Homecoming, as one of the best MCU villains thus far.
Nerdist put it very well in their breakdown of what would make Keaton such a great fit for the role again, and how this will have something new for Keaton to work with even though he is the same character.
He’s angry, embittered, and lonely following decades shunning the Batman legacy (in the show, it happens when an aging Bats nearly has a heart attack during a rescue and his to pull a gun on the bad guy to save himself) and losing hold of his company. He’s still a wealthy man, but he’s lost, with only his dog as company. He then has to learn to re-enter the world through his begrudging friendship and mentorship of this teenage kid whose dad got murdered. That’s a lot to play, and Keaton is the best when playing someone with a lot going on.
Keaton is the perfect person to bring an older Bruce Wayne to life, and I think bringing him back into the DCEU world would do a lot to encourage fans who have been let down by the Justice League movie, or didn’t show up at all, to come back into the theater. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, especially 80s and 90s nostalgia, so what better movie than to bring in the Batman from that era to usher in the future of Batman on screen?
What’s more is that we’ve already seen Fox tap into the older superhero with Logan, and while I’m not suggesting that the DC movie universe take that idea entirely (they have already failed to properly understand The Dark Knight Returns so I’m not trusting them that much), going with an old Batman who has to know train a young person to take the mantle would be a great way to update the live-action storyline.
Batman as Bruce Wayne may be the most iconic version of Batman, but that character comes with a lot of baggage that the DCEU hasn’t been able to unpack. Ben Affleck’s “older” Bruce Wayne was good in terms of physicality and channeling the entitled persona of Bruce Wayne, but the script itself didn’t understand Batman. Or at least not the version of Batman I think most of us like.
While there is a definite fanbase that wants the gun-toting, clearly killing people Batman that is sort of campily done in the Burton and Nolan movies, BvS has a scene where Batman is legit gunning people down. This way of making Batman edgy doesn’t work because most people familiar with the mythos know that Batman doesn’t do guns.
If writers are struggling for a new way to reinvent Batman, especially if they do plan to use the “Flashpoint” storyline to clean up some of the rougher edges, then an older Batman is the way to go. Plus, we don’t know how long Affleck plans on being in this role, and with everything going on in his personal life I don’t think it is a priority for him.
The direction of making Bruce older is a good one and I think we need to go even older. The one role we’ve yet to see done right in the Bat live-action universe is Bruce as a true mentor. Batman Forever didn’t cut it. One of the best things about Bruce/Batman is the fact that he takes in lost children, that despite his harder edges he wants a family. LEGO Batman understood this.
So if the DCEU wants to reinvent itself, it’s time to go beyond and this is probably the best, and easiest way to do this while still giving the fans something to enjoy. Who doesn’t love a little Batman nostalgia?
(via Nerdist, image: Warner Bros.)
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