Michael Keaton’s Batman Return Being Axed By Warner Bros. Discovery?

David Zaslav's recent comments that there wouldn't be "four Batmans" has some speculating Michael Keaton's return to the role has been canceled.

By Sean Thiessen | Published

A dark shadow has been cast not by Batman, but over him. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav discussed the future of DC Films in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview, stating, “[T]here’s not going to be four Batmans.” With the canceling of DC’s Batgirl, which was to co-star Michael Keaton in his return to the Batman role, and the future of Matt Reeves’ Gotham ever-expanding, anything feels possible.

But in the battle to be Batman, does Michael Keaton stand a chance?

The casting of the Caped Crusader is a storied history in its own right. Many brilliant actors have donned the cape and cowl, either in front of the camera or in the voiceover booth. At the movies, there has only ever been one Batman at a time; that is, until recently.

Robert Pattinson took on the mantle of the World’s Greatest Detective earlier this year in Matt Reeves’ dark and brooding hit The Batman. Following the success of the film, Reeves signed a deal to continue bringing his vision of the sprawling Gotham underbelly to the big and small screens, and it seems he’s bringing Pattinson along for the turbo-powered ride.

Then, there’s Ben Affleck. The last appearance of Batfleck was in the 2021 release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a version of the 2017 film that was seemingly willed into existence by fans. Affleck is supposed to return to the DCEU next year alongside Jason Mamoa in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and with Ezra Miller and Michael Keaton in The Flash

Michael Keaton, who hasn’t appeared as Gotham’s protector since Tim Burton’s Batman Returns in 1992, makes three big screen Batmans to contend with. Keaton’s role in the DC universe has been under much speculation, with some believing he would continue to play the character through multiple films as a mentor. But with one Keaton appearance already axed, it seems Zaslav’s insinuation that there are too many Batmans may spell the end for him.

micheal keaton batman
Michael Keaton in Batman Returns (1992)

Enter Jason Mamoa. The Aquaman star recently hinted at the possibility that Batfleck may not be the only dark detective on the case in James Wan’s upcoming sequel. While this may be Mamoa being his usual playful self, it could also be a clue that Michael Keaton will make a surprise appearance in the King of Atlantis’s sequel.

Though there is much speculation and non-committal language from stars and executives alike regarding the future of DC Films, fans can rest easy knowing that somewhere, there is a plan.

Zaslav told THR that James Gunn and Peter Safran, the filmmakers recently appointed as co-heads of DC Films, are nearing the end of an exciting roadmap that will pave the way for DC movies for years to come. Gunn, the acclaimed director of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and DC’s The Suicide Squad is no stranger to making crowd-pleasing blockbusters. The whirlwind of DC Films may finally be settling in a new direction.

While there is no clear answer yet as to how many actors can play Batman at one time, fans can rest assured that the character is not going away any time soon.