Batman's Michael Keaton on Clashing With Schumacher Over 'Dark' Bruce Wayne

Once and future Batman Michael Keaton explained why his clash with Joel Schumacher over tone led to his early departure from Batman Forever.

Keaton appeared on In the Envelope: The Actor’s Podcast to discuss returning to his iconic role for DC's upcoming film The Flash. After starring in 1989's Batman and 1992's Batman Returns, both directed by Tim Burton, Keaton was set to return for a third film. But he ultimately felt like Joel Schumacher, who took over directing duties, didn't share his vision of the Dark Knight.

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"It was always Bruce Wayne. It was never Batman," Keaton said. "To me, I know the name of the movie is Batman, and it's hugely iconic and very cool and [a] 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. [Everyone would say] Batman, Batman, Batman does this, and I kept thinking to myself, 'Y'all are thinking wrong here.' [It’s all about] Bruce Wayne. What kind of person does that?… Who becomes that? What kind of person [does that]?"

After two films, Keaton was invested in the character and the darker style of the film, which mirrored the shift in the comics brought about by Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. All that changed, however, when Burton left and took his more macabre sensibilities with him.

"And then when the director who directed the third one [came on] I said, 'I just can’t do it,'" Keaton continued. "And 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 rationalize 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."

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Schumacher's eventual films in the franchise, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, were much campier and more colorful, calling back to the Caped Crusader's earlier comic book adventures and his 1960s TV show. But Keaton felt the tone deviated too far from his conception of the character, and he and Schumacher ultimately couldn't see eye to eye.

"I remember one of the things that I walked away going, 'Oh boy, I can't do this,'" Keaton said. "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… I mean, it's pretty simple.'"

Michael Keaton will once again don the cape and cowl in The Flash, which hits theaters Nov. 4, 2022.

Source: In the Envelope: The Actor’s Podcast, via The Playlist

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Math Erao has been writing about pop culture for 15 years. They've written for Screen Rant, Orlando Weekly, MCU Exchange, Mountain Xpress, and more.

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