Nearly 30 years after hanging up his cowl, Michael Keaton is reportedly considering a return to Gotham City. The Hollywood Reporter and The Wrap report that Keaton is "in talks" to reprise his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Warner Bros.' upcoming The Flash film, starring Ezra Miller in the title role.
Though The Flash has gone through numerous director and writer changes in the years since it was announced, a key concept at the heart of the film has long been that it will feature Barry Allen (Miller) exploring the DC Comics multiverse, something that plays a key part in numerous Flash story including Flashpoint, which was at one point the title for the Flash film and remains a key piece of source material. That leaves the project open to various interpretations of Batman across alternate Earths, which would make Keaton a perfect fit.
The report emphasized that the talks are in the "very early stages," but if Keaton does join the film it will fulfill a lot of fan wishes over the years to see Keaton play an older, more Dark Knight Returns-inspired version of his Bruce Wayne. Keaton last played the role in Batman Returns in 1992, before handing it off to Val Kilmer for 1995's Batman Forever.
But Keaton might not be appearing in just one film. According to THR's report, if the talks go well Keaton's version of Batman could stick around in DC films for a few years, appearing as a kind of behind-the-scenes mentor figure in the vein of Marvel's Nick Fury. He could even show up in the upcoming Batgirl film as an aide to that young hero, provided all goes well.
The Flash has been in development since before Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hit theaters, and has gone through several screenwriters, directors, and story shifts along the way. Everyone from Phil Lord and Chris Miller to Rick Famuyiwa to Seth Grahame-Smith and beyond has been attached to it. At one point, Miller himself was teaming up with comics legend Grant Morrison to work on a new draft of the script. Last summer, the film seemed to land its final creative team with IT director Andy Muschietti and Birds of Prey scribe Christina Hodson, but just as production seemed poised to wrap up, the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the schedule. The film is now set to hit theaters July 1, 2022.
If Keaton does eventually sign on, and this whole multiversal concept works out, it could be a key distinguishing factor for the DC Extended Universe going forward. After all, the multiverse has alread done wonders of the adventures of the Arrowverse DC Comics heroes over on The CW, where Batman voice acting legend Kevin Conroy recently got to try his hand at playing an aged Bruce Wayne in the Crisis on Infinite Earths event. Imagine DC films for years to come featuring Keaton's Batman -- who remains many fans' first glimpse of a DC Comics hero on the big screen -- popping up to counsel the younger heroes and school the younger villains in a scene or two. It could be a magic ingredient that even Marvel Studios can't quite replicate.