It’s confirmed that Michael Keaton is returning to his role as the Dark Knight and there are already several great opportunities that can highlight his version of Batman within the modern DCU. The first full trailer of The Flash heavily highlighted Keaton’s return to the DC Universe and it likely means that he’ll have a strong presence in the upcoming film. Michael Keaton’s future beyond The Flash remains a mystery right now, but it’s also been confirmed that Ben Affleck‘s Batman will not be in the next generation of DCU films, presenting an intriguing opportunity for Keaton’s Batman.
The latest DC film seems to suggest that it could be Keaton’s swan song in the DC universe; however, The Flash could set up different avenues for the character worthy of exploration in the long run. Despite all the controversy surrounding The Flash, the film remains one of the most anticipated of 2023; that is largely thanks to Michael Keaton’s return as Batman. As such, it would be interesting to see if the DCU has a place for the character in the long run.
The Flash Can Be Michael Keaton’s Swan Song
The story behind Michael Keaton turning down Batman Forever starts with the studio wanting to take the series in a more family friendly direction. The Oscar nominee was offered the opportunity to reprise his role in Joel Schumacher‘s Batman Forever, but Keaton turned down the film because he wasn’t a fan of the new version. That means his Batman never got an official end to his story. The multiverse angle is a clever way to go back into Keaton’s dimension and finishing his overall arc.
With advanced de-aging technology, it wouldn’t be hard to recreate the early 90s version of Michael Keaton. This gives the writers the perfect opportunity to dive deeper into Bruce’s trauma following the events of Batman Returns. To Batman, Selina Kyle is dead and he failed her as a mentor because she killed Shreck against his wishes. The ending of Batman Returns reveals that Catwoman is alive and well, but since Michelle Pfeiffer isn’t in The Flash then the film can easy play it off as if she disappeared without a trace. A story of this nature gives more of a personal connection to the character and it would perfectly tie-in with the events taking place in The Flash.
The Flash movie sees Barry Allen trying to change the events that killed his mother. Keaton’s Batman, who can commiserate with his loss, will see this as another mistake he can try to course correct by serving as a mentor to Barry. It could be in the same vein as Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man in Spider-Man: No Way Home who saves MJ from her death, something he couldn’t do with Gwen Stacy. For Batman, it could be a redeeming arc of saving Barry Allen from certain doom, or even a side story that ultimately puts wraps his Batman’s story once and for all.
The Flash Can Create A Batman Beyond Timeline For Keaton’s Bruce Wayne
Originally, Michael Keaton was confirmed to reprise his role in a live-action version of Batman Beyond. Keaton would’ve played the mentor to Terry McGinnis, a teenage version of Batman in the Cyber-Punk society of Gotham City. The actor wasn’t set to be just a cameo in The Flash as he had his fingerprints in numerous films including the now-cancelled Batgirl.
The Flash could easily be a set-up for Batman Beyond. There seems to be a future for Michael Keaton in the DCU, and it would be a great way to organically introduce Batman Beyond with a notable name. Seeing the dynamic between a broken down and beaten Bruce Wayne mentoring a young and arrogant Terry McGinnis would deliver a fresh take on the iconic Batman character in live-action films. Peter Safran did tease another multiverse film in the works, so it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that its Batman Beyond.
Keaton’s Batman Can Be A New Mentor For The DCU
The DCU could also keep Michael Keaton’s Batman around by having him mentor various characters in the modern DCU. Keaton was initally scheduled to be apart of four films in the DCU including Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, so him being the father figure of the DC Universe could be a great way to serve nostalgia while not overshadowing the new characters. Similar to Rocky in the Creed series, Michael Keaton’s Batman could be a helpful voice to anyone facing their own personal demons in the DCU, that keeps him from being in a thankless role. There’s plenty of excitement in the air over Michael Keaton’s return as Batman and the endless possibilities The Flash offers for his place in the DCU is very intriguing.