The 10 Best Michael Keaton Batman Moments
The cape crusader’s appearances on the silver screen have made him a global icon. The campy serials have their place in history, but it is arguably Michael Keaton’s performance in Tim Burton’s 1989 film, Batman (order your copy here), that modernized the character. Keaton wasn’t just a good Batman but also a stellar Bruce Wayne: a perfect concoction of suave and grit. A lot of people grew up with Keaton’s Batman (the same way a lot of us grew up with Christian Bale’s); to this day, he is who they picture wearing the cape and cowl.
Comic books movies are more commonplace now than they were in 1989. However, without Burton’s Batman films we may never have gotten acclaimed outings like Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. Today’s shared universes — both on the big and small screen — are well aware of their roots. The Arrowverse has paid homage to the past and now the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe are set to explore the multiverse (enabling them to do this as well). The latest reports regarding the DCEU’s upcoming The Flash solo film, which will introduce the multiverse, says that Michael Keaton will be returning as Batman. This will honor both Keaton’s legacy and make fans swoon. To celebrate the best DCEU news since the Snyder Cut, let’s take a look back at some of Keaton’s best moments as Batman.
10. Oswald Cobblepot’s school of driving
In 1992’s Batman Returns (order your copy here), Danny DeVito’s Penguin gets the Batmobile’s blueprints. At one point in the film, Oswald gains complete control of the car and its security features (while Batman is in it). This is a rare moment where Batman feels like he’s in trouble. He’s noticeably panicked as the Penguin drives him around Gotham wreaking havoc. Fortunately, Batman regains control and evades the police. The cherry on top of this moment comes when the Batmobile transformations into the Batpod (a moment nodded at in The Dark Knight). In many ways, Keaton’s Batmobile set the cinematic standard.
9. Stealing the Joker’s balloons
In 1989’s Batman, Jack Nicholson’s Joker uses balloons to gas the citizens of Gotham City during the 200th Anniversary Parade. Nicholson’s Joker is iconic for many reasons. He’s worthy of the caped crusader. We rarely see this Joker flustered. There’s something so satisfying about seeing the Batwing drag away his balloons all while the Joker exclaims, “HE STOLE MY BALLOONS! Why didn’t somebody tell me that he had one of those things?” Right before shooting his henchman, Bob in the head.
8. We’re the same
At the end of Batman Returns Catwoman intends to kill Shreck. Batman tells her they should just take him to the police because they are not above the law. He begs Selina to come home with him, saying that “they’re the same, split, right down the middle” before unmasking himself. The dichotomy of the two characters is accentuated beautifully at this moment; a tragic reminder of how they are so similar yet so different (she does end up killing Shreck).
7. I gotta go to work
In the climax of Batman (right before the showdown with the Joker), Vicki Vale shows up at the Batcave. She asks him, “why won’t you let me in?” He tells her that she did get in. She then asks if they’ll try to love each other.
“I’d like to. But he’s out there right now, and I gotta go to work.”
The following suit-up sequence hits all the right notes. From the opening of the vault revealing the suit to storming off in the Batmobile.
6. Bat-Signal Opening
At the beginning of Batman Returns, Bruce Wayne is seen sitting in Wayne Manor. He appears bored and without a purpose. That is until the Bat-Signal lights up. We then see Michael Keaton rise and once again, don the cape and cowl. He is Batman.
5. Hi, I’m Bruce Wayne
At the beginning of Batman, Vicki Vale attends a fundraiser at Wayne Manor. While Vale and Alexander Knox explore the mansion and making fun of Bruce Wayne’s “bankroll,” the man of the hour casuals sneaks up behind the two. Amused, he continues to listen to their mockery before chiming in on the conversation. “Who are you?” asks Knox.
The moment cements Keaton as easily the most charismatic and suave Bruce Wayne ever to grace the silver screen. In a way, it’s just Keaton being Keaton.
4. Where does he get those wonderful toys?
This is probably the second most quoted line in Keaton’s run as Batman. While the Joker harasses Vicki Vale about Batman in the first film, the Dark Knight comes crashing through the ceiling, swoops up Vale, and zip lines her out of there. This prompts the Joker to ask, “where does he get those wonderful toys?”
3. Death of the Joker
Batman usually doesn’t kill, unless it’s Michael Keaton’s Batman, then we’re okay with it (he even throws a stick of dynamite at a henchman in Batman Returns). In the final showdown with Jack Napier AKA the Joker in Batman, the titular character spews the iconic villain’s line back at him, “you ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” He then punches him in the face and tells him “I’m gonna kill you.” He has reason to: Napier killed Bruce Wayne’s parents and, in turn, Batman threw Napier into a bat of acid. The created each other. In the end, their final showdown unmakes the Joker.
2. Bruce and Selina’s dance
Keaton’s Bruce Wayne has had the best love interests of any big-screen Batman. From Kim Basinger’s Vicki Vale to Michelle Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle. His relationship with Catwoman is a driving force behind Batman Returns. When they first meet, Catwoman licks Batman’s after he says, “mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.” Her reply: “But a kiss can be even deadlier if you mean it,” is one of the film’s most iconic lines. Later on, Bruce and Selina dance at a charity ball. Selina tells Bruce that she plans on killing Max AKA Shreck. They then kiss beneath some more mistletoe, repeating the same lines from earlier in the film and revealing their secret identities to each other. The scene is done so well that The Dark Knight Rises pays homage to it when Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle dance again twenty years later.
1. I’m Batman
Bruce Wayne’s reveal as Batman in the 1989 film was tastefully replicated in 2005’s Batman Begins. However, instead of drug runners, Keaton’s Batman creeps up on a couple of thugs (after they rob an innocent family at gunpoint) discussing rumors of the “bat guy.” The sleazier one of two shoots Batman twice before he grabs the aggressive:
“I’m not going to kill you. I want you to do me a favor. I want you to tell all your friends about me.”
What are you!?
An iconic moment in the character’s history and Keaton’s most memorable.