BATMAN Star Michael Keaton Reflects On Tim Burton’s “Ballsy” Decision To Cast Him As DC’s Dark Knight

When the news broke in the late 1980s that Michael Keaton had been cast as Bruce Wayne in Batman, the news didn’t receive the warmest of responses.

Sure, there was no social media to complain on, but the buzz surrounding the Beetlejuice star playing the Dark Knight wasn’t good. Keaton was primarily known for his comedy work and, in the eyes of comic book readers, wasn’t the right fit for the brooding Batman. 

Talking to GQ, the actor praised filmmaker Tim Burton’s “ballsy” movie to cast him in the 1989 classic. 

“When they said, ‘We’re thinking of doing Batman,’ I said, ‘Wait, you’re going to make a movie of Batman?'” Keaton recalls. “Yeah, there was Superman, but that’s Superman, which Dick Donner did, which was really, really good. Very charming, actually. And Chris Reeve was great, and it had humor, and it was like, you know…”

“So, the fact that Tim said, ‘That guy. I want that guy.’ Like, why people even cared one way or another that much is still baffling. But, still, that was a ballsy move on his part,” he continues. “And we also had a nice working relationship, you know, from Beetlejuice, so I think he felt he and I would get along through this. You know, we work well together.”

Keaton was clearly aware of the backlash but it didn’t faze him and between Batman and 1991’s Batman Returns, he remains one of the most popular live-action versions of this iconic DC Comics character. 

Elsewhere in the interview, the Batman star remembers Joker actor Jack Nicholson’s shock that he’d embarked on a strict exercise regime to physically transform into the Caped Crusader. Ultimately, Keaton realised if he slimmed down, then he’d have more “room to breathe” in the Batsuit.

However, increasing his strength still had its benefits as the costume was surprisingly extremely heavy (the actor famously couldn’t turn his head while wearing the Batsuit, a problem which wasn’t solved until 2008’s The Dark Knight). 

Keaton reprised the role of Batman in The Flash last year and received widespread acclaim for his work in the movie. Warner Bros. had planned to bring him back for a cameo role in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and a supporting part in Batgirl. The latter was scrapped, his appearance in the former was left on the cutting room floor, and plans for a Batman Beyond movie came to nought following DC Studios’ formation.

Check out the full interview with Keaton below.