Michael Keaton And Christopher Reeve Are Batman And Superman In A Single Universe

By Phillip Moyer | Updated

michael keaton batman

DC Comics has been dealing with multiverses since the 1960s, with the classic story Crisis on Infinite Earths being a (failed) attempt to wrangle all of DC comics into a single, cohesive universe. Now, Bleeding Cool reports that, thanks to the recently-released Dark Crisis: Big Bang, the Michael Keaton Batman movies and the Christopher Reeve Superman movies both take place in the same DC universe. Specifically, the two characters exist in Earth-789, noted as the universe where the Joker killed batman’s parents, and the earth’s only superpowered heroes are Superman and Supergirl.

These details are, of course, references to the classic Michael Keaton and Christopher Reeve films. In the first Tim Burton-directed Batman film, released in 1989, the story was simplified to have the Joker be the one who killed Bruce Wayne’s parents when he was a child. In the 1978 Superman film and its sequels (including the 1984 Supergirl spinoff), there are no other heroes besides Superman and Supergirl who have superpowers. Superman II does introduce the villainous Kryptonians Zod, Ursa, and Non, but as none of them could be considered heroes, they clearly don’t fit the mold.

While we do discover that Michael Keaton’s Batman and Christopher Reeve’s Superman exist in the same universe, we aren’t given much time to see what that would imply. The comic doesn’t show the two characters interacting with each other — in fact, it doesn’t show them at all.  

The focus of Dark Crisis: Big Bang doesn’t have much of anything to do with the Michael Keaton/Christopher Reeve movie universe, despite its mention. Rather, the one-shot issue is meant to show the aftermath of the series Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths. The aforementioned series features Pariah, a major character from the original Crisis on Infinite Earths series. In the Dark Crisis series, Pariah resurrects the DC multiverse, undoing the events of the 2015 Convergence storyline, which itself undid many of the events in the Flashpoint storyline. There’s a lot of retconning and re-retconning in the DC Comics universe if you haven’t caught onto that by now.

superman christopher reeve
Christopher Reeve as Superman

The Michael Keaton and Christopher Reeve movies aren’t the only classic versions of the heroes mentioned in Dark Crisis: Big Bang. The comic also mentions Earth-66, which describes a universe in which Batman and Robin go up against “exceptionally benign villains.” This appears to be a reference to the 1966 Batman TV series starring Adam West. The image of Earth-66 all but confirms this, showing designs of both Batman and The Joker that are nearly exact matches for the goofy TV series. 

There are, of course, plenty of other continuities mentioned in Dark Crisis: Big Bang. Along with the Michael Keaton and Christopher Reeve universe, the list of universes includes the New 52 universe, the steampunk-themed Gotham by Gaslight universe, the alternate universe in Superman: Red Son that portrays Superman as a communist after landing in the Soviet Union, and the dinosaur-themed universe of The Jurassic League. Oddly enough, the list appears to be missing several well-known series, including the Christopher Nolan Batman films and the world of Batman: The Animated Series.