POLL: Should Tim Burton and Michael Keaton Make a Third Batman?
Director Tim Burton and star Michael Keaton redefined the nature of superhero films with his dark, gothic take on The Caped Crusader with 1989’s Batman. In 1992 they re-teamed for the more idiosyncratic sequel Batman Returns, but never got to round out the trilogy as both passed on 1995’s Batman Forever. Now that the original Batman is turning 30 this year, should Tim Burton and Michael Keaton reunite for one last Batman movie? Should this hypothetical Batman III take its cues from The Dark Knight Returns, Batman Beyond or both? Let us know what you think by voting in the poll below!
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Tim Burton was admittedly not a huge comic book fan, but took to the character of Batman/Bruce Wayne because of his dual nature and the gothic underpinnings of his origin. He and the first Batman movie’s screenwriter Sam Hamm were also partly inspired by the new darker direction the character was taking in the 80’s with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke. One cannot overstate how much of a phenomenon Batman was when it came out in the summer of ’89, racking up an amazing $251 million ($568 million adjusted for inflation), with many fans to this day still citing Keaton’s brooding portrayal as the best onscreen Dark Knight. Jack Nicholson’s psychotic portrayal of The Joker was also one for the ages.
Even after the huge success catapulted Burton to the top of the A-list, Burton was reluctant to return for a sequel, and was ultimately enticed back by Warner Bros. with the promise that he could make it more of “a Tim Burton movie.” The 1992 sequel Batman Returns saw Burton giving the film a fresher look more in line with his own German Expressionist sensibilities, and a more subversive narrative involving Michelle Pfeiffer’s punk-feminist take on Catwoman, Danny DeVito’s sewer-dwelling Penguin, and Christopher Walken’s Trump-esque amoral businessman Max Shreck. The ending promised an encore for Catwoman, either in a third film or a spinoff that ultimately went through development hell before emerging in totally different form with Halle Berry. It was also hoped that Burton would get to do his take on other iconic members of the Rogues Gallery, including Two-Face, The Riddler and Scarecrow.
Unfortunately the second film polarized audiences and grossed $162 million ($354 million adjusted for inflation), leaving Warners feeling like they had left money on the table by letting Burton’s dark imagination run wild. Burton took a meeting for a proposed Batman III later that year, discussing some of his ideas, but sensed the studio no longer wanted him on the project and thus bailed. After turning down Sam Raimi for the directing gig, Warners ultimately turned to Joel Schumacher for Batman Forever. While briefly flirting with the idea of returning for Schumacher’s film (they even cast Rene Russo as Dr. Chase Meridian opposite him), Keaton ultimately bailed as well, telling The Guardian that the third film “just wasn’t any good, man. I tried to be patient, but after a certain point, I was like, I can’t take this any more, this is going to be horrible… And the truth is, I’m not boasting, but I was correct.”
PROS OF BATMAN III: A third Batman outing with Burton attached to direct and Keaton to star would be a huge cultural event. In an era where legacy sequels like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Creed are dominating at the box office with their mix of new and old faces, seeing Keaton don the cape and cowl one more time would be nostalgia bait of the highest order. Obviously discarding the events of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, this new Batman III would also be a chance to, as James Mangold and Hugh Jackman did with Logan, explore an aged Batman at the end of his days trying for one last hurrah as a hero ala The Dark Knight Returns. He could also possibly be training a replacement, as in the beloved animated series Batman Beyond. You know that the first time Keaton utters his immortal line “I’m Batman” in a teaser trailer audiences will be on their feet cheering for more! A Batman III with these two is a license to print money, and could be done outside the current DCEU continuity the same way Todd Phillips’ Joker movie is.
CONS OF BATMAN III: While Keaton has since mocked his turn as Batman in Best Picture winner Birdman and appeared as the villain in Spider-Man: Far From Home, you get the sense that he may not be interested in reprising that particular Caped Crusader role. Ditto for Burton, who doesn’t seem to have a lot of passion for the character anymore. While he and Keaton are reuniting for the upcoming Dumbo, one gets the sense they would rather reprise Beetlejuice as they’ve been attempting for several years. No one wants to see two rich guys who don’t need the money doing a movie only for the money, if that is the case. It also may be confusing for Warner Bros to both recast the role in the DCEU as they’re doing for The Batman while ALSO bringing back Keaton for a one-off sequel to 80’s/90’s era.
Why do you think Tim Burton and Michael Keaton should team up for one more Batman? Why do you think they shouldn’t? Let us know in the comments below!