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Why Tim Burton Wanted an ‘Average’ Batman in Michael Keaton: ‘That Was the Point of the Character’

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You either weren’t alive at the time or you weren’t aware of it at the time (because the cute-but-cursed antique doll known as the internet didn’t exist yet) but Bat-fans were pissssed when it was announced Michael Keaton was playing Batman in Tim Burton’s 1989 Caped Crusader film. There was a letter-writing campaign, fans (and members of the media) picked on Keaton’s looks (even Bob Kane infamously drew a toupee on a Keaton photo to show how he’d be “70% more handsome” with more hair), and so on.

“The guy from Beetlejuice?” they’d howl. “The dude from Gung Ho?” they’d whine. “The comedian-turned-dramatic actor who gave an acclaimed performance in Clean and Sober?” they’d wail. It was a cyclone. However, they had nowhere to vomit out their pre-judgey bile so the world kept turning and Warner Bros. never had to deal with a #ReleasetheMrMomCut movement.

Nowadays, Michael Keaton and the two Burton Batman movies he starred in are looked back upon with ultimate reverence. And the news that Keaton is now in talks to reprise his role as Batman three decades later in the upcoming Flash movie, appearing alongside Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen, has been met with absolute elation.

With all this in mind, check out this cool old interview from 1989 with Tim Burton where he talks a bit about why he wasn’t afraid of Jack Nicholson’s Joker stealing the movie and why he wanted to get away from the “traditional six-foot-five hulking square-jawed guy” look for Batman and take a big risk with Johnny Dangerously over here…Burton reasons, “If a guy looks like that, why does he need to put on a Batsuit?” The idea of transforming an average-looking guy into a shadowy vigilante was much more appealing to him. (His casting goals would become a bit more literal in Batman Returns though when he was like, “What if a guy shaped like a penguin played The Penguin?”)

“He’s a very modern superhero character,” the director adds of Batman. “It’s a guy with problems. I mean the guy has problems. He’s a bit of a split personality, and that’s the whole point of him.”

We’re all still waiting on a video where Burton goes into depth about Bob the Goon and how important he was to Joker’s operation and how everything went downhill for the Clown Prince after he callously gunned down Bob. Man, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone and you’re never aware of how much background programming your partner provides for you in your life until after you flippantly murder them because Batman stole your balloons.

So with the news of Keaton possibly returning as Batman in The Flash, and the rumor that the role might also be that of a Nick Fury-style mentor and recruiter to other superheroes in other DC movies, here’s a look at some other possible DCEU character cameos in The Flash.

The Flash Movie’s Possible DCEU Cameos

Matt Fowler is a writer for IGN and a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler and Facebook at Facebook.com/MattBFowler.

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