Michael Keaton once again donning the Batman cowl is a great move for DC. Firstly, it signals that DC on film (at least in the main timeline) is continuing to move away from grim, dark storytelling. And secondly, it acknowledges the long legacy of DC on film and strives to bring that past into the future.
On the 22nd of June the Hollywood Reporter broke the story that Michael Keaton was in talks to return to the role of the Batman. As covered here at ThatHashtagShow the plan is for the upcoming Flash film to feature Barry Allen bringing Keaton’s Batman into the main DC movie universe. Specifically, he’d be an older version of the Batman seen in the 1989 film from Tim Burton. Thereafter he’d returnfor future films as an older mentor, similar to Nick Fury in the MCU. Many filmmakers might find the task of handling a version of Batman so tied into the aesthetic style of Tim Burton daunting. Especially in an ensemble movie with other characters. But director Andy Muschietti is up to the challenge. He just finished both chapters of It for Warner Bros. and is tackling a remake of The Howling for Netflix.
Earlier reports indicated that Flash would feature the Thomas Wayne Batman with Jeffery Dean Morgan being approached to reprise his role from BVS. According to more recent updates however, Thomas Wayne has been out for several drafts. The film will still feature an older Batman. If what we hear is true, Keaton’s Batman will fill the role of Affleck’s Batman in all future main timeline DC films. This is critically important. It fits the narrative that the Flash film will decanonize Zack Snyder’s DC films once and for all…. Or at least move them out of the main DCEU timeline. Gone will be the grim dark gun toting Ben Affleck Batman, replaced by the more pop gothic Michael Keaton Batman.
The other key thing about this decision is that it will bring the two Burton Batman films into the timeline of the main DC universe. This move will add a sense of legacy and history to DC on film currently. Up until now the DC Extended Universe has been very forward-facing franchise. It’s introduced fans to heroes never seen on film before, like Wonder Woman, Shazam and Aquaman. But…. DC has been making movies since the 70s. Some of the earliest and most iconic contributions to the superhero genre were DC properties. Establishing the franchise as viable blockbusters and setting the stage for our current blockbuster environment. Bringing Michael Keaton back as Batman acknowledges that history.