Although he seemed like an unlikely choice at the time, Micheal Keaton knocked it out of the park when he played the Dark Knight in Batman and Batman Returns. It was expected that the actor would return for the third film but he had a difference of opinion with director Joel Schumacher about how the character should be treated.
While speaking on the Backstage podcast, Michael Keaton said that it was always about Bruce Wayne for him, not Batman.
To me, I know the name of the movie is Batman, and it’s hugely iconic and very cool and 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]?
Micheal Keaton seemed to know that Joel Schumacher would be taking Batman away from the more gothic atmosphere of the first two films and towards something more on the campy side for Batman Forever. “And then when the director who directed the third one, I said, ‘I just can’t do it,’” Keaton said. “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.” Keaton added that Schumacher asked him why everything had to be so dark and sad all the time, to which he responded, “Wait a minute, do you know how this guy got to be Batman? Have you read… I mean, it’s pretty simple.“
As we know, Micheal Keaton will be returning to the role of Batman in The Flash, which is set to hit theaters on November 4, 2022. He will also be reprising the role for the Batgirl movie that’s currently in production.