When it comes to the cinematic world of superheroes, it is their live-action adaptations that almost always nab the spotlight even when their animated versions have been equally, or even more, successful. But while the majority of the DC fans end up forgetting the contributions by the animated versions of their favorite superheroes, actor Michael Keaton made sure to give credit where credit is due by establishing Will Arnett’s Batman in The Lego Batman movie as the best version of the caped crusader.
Recently Michael Keaton appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote his upcoming miniseries, Dopesick, on Hulu, which is based on the non-fiction book, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy. Given that Keaton is all set to make a comeback as Bruce Wayne/Batman in 2022’s The Flash, the topic of the Dark Knight cropped up during the chat. So, when Colbert labeled Keaton’s version of the character as “the gold standard,” the actor was swift in correcting the host by claiming that the best version of Batman was played by Will Arnett in The Lego Batman Movie, which is “really funny.”
The Lego Batman Movie is not just Michael Keaton’s first choice but was also the favorite of critics at the time of its release in 2017. The animated version of the famous Batman stories, directed by Chris McKay, was praised for its action and humor, as well as for cleverly referencing all Batman movies including the serials based on the Gotham savior released way back in the 1940s. Given its massive success and the majorly positive reviews it received, a sequel was announced by McKay in 2018 and was set to release in 2022. The film’s storyline would have seen Batman working alongside the Justice League and going up against villains like Lex Luthor and OMAC. But then in 2020, Universal Pictures acquired the rights to The Lego Movie franchise, and all plans for the sequel were subsequently scrapped.
While Michael Keaton was hesitant in accepting praise from Colbert, his version of Batman is indeed one of the best iterations of the character. The actor first played the famed superhero in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and reprised the role for Batman Returns (1992). As the films and Keaton’s performance as the Dark Knight were very well received and were box office hits, there were plans to make a third film. But then Tim Burton was removed from the film and Joel Schumacher was given the reins, which led to Keaton, unhappy with the script, stepping down from the role. His decision didn’t change even Warner Bros. offered him a whopping $15 million, which in turn forced the studio to replace him with Val Kilmer in Batman Forever (1995).
But now, almost thirty years after he first played Batman, Michael Keaton is all ready to once again return to the character in Andy Muschietti’s upcoming The Flash. Set in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), the film will see him alongside Ben Affleck’s version of the Dark Knight. It is well known that the upcoming film will see Barry Allen usher in the multiverse, thus allowing different versions of the same character from alternate universes to appear together.