Michael Keaton’s Batman Return: Why It Matters
With the flash slated for release on November 4, fans of Michael Keaton’s Batman are eagerly awaiting the big screen return of what many consider to be the one and only true Dark Knight. Whether it’s the screenplay, music, cinematography, direction, Jack Nicholson or Prince’s “Batdance,” the 1989 film Batman the film remains a timeless masterpiece that many fans consider the best Batman movie never made.
It has been the subject of much controversy among Batman passionate over the years, but the excitement over Keaton’s return might settle the argument once and for all; Michael Keaton is the best Batman.
This can escalate into schoolyard fights between fans. You will often hear people use the term “objectively” to try to remove themselves from the equation of having an opinion. They’ll pretend it’s a conversation about aesthetic science! The truth is that it will always be a matter of opinion, and everyone is entitled to that. That being said, one would have to look at the word right. If anyone were to claim the 1943 Batman was the best, they can be blamed for having a false sense of entitlement. the 1943 Batman so badly aged with horrible racial stereotypes, but should a fan claim this is their favorite version of Batman, who are we to judge? Or maybe that’s exactly what we should be doing – judging content on its merit. After all, having an informed opinion is important to identify what works and what doesn’t.
1992 Return of Batman audiences divided more than some people remember or realize. Many fans were put off by the farcical way Burton went with the Penguin, and found some of the banter between Catwoman and Batman cranky and awkward. Over time, it cemented its place as another stunningly stylized entry into the Batman mythos. It’s distinctly Tim Burton and features much of what made the 1989 film work so well.
Keaton was to appear for the third time in the years 1995 batman forever but left the project due to creative differences when director Joel Schumacher wanted to liven things up a lot. In the end, Val Kilmer launched the suit instead, splitting the franchise into what felt like another dimension. The stability of Batman’s space-time continuum completely crumbled after George Clooney brought up the cowl in what is considered by many to be one of the worst superhero movies of all time.
Circa 2005, during a sound mixing session somewhere in Hollywood, director Christopher Nolan sat there with a crew of people as Christian Bale’s voice was manipulated by a sound engineer. One has to wonder, was there anyone who disagreed with the decision? Was there anyone who was convinced of this but didn’t have the courage to speak out for fear of disagreeing with the director? Many fans to this day believe Christian Bale’s voice manipulation single-handedly ruined the entire trilogy. Others outright reject such a claim and point to less than stylized Gotham Chicago for removing them from the Batman universe. Others may argue that the action sequences felt rushed and difficult to follow. Some pointed to the scripts saying they were more like serialized TV writing than well-paced feature films.
That said, what you’re probably hearing the most is that Nolan’s trilogy is an impeccable masterpiece. It all depends on who you talk to, but in terms of re-watching value, Burton’s original trilogy (if you include Always, which he helped produce) is the clear winner. As a form of escapism and fantasy, Burton’s films take the cake.
Like a political spectrum, Batman has extreme left and right. On the far left you have Adam West and Burt Ward battling great whites with Shark Repellent Bat Spray, and on the far right you’ll find Paul Dano crying in the corner while Christian Bale and Robert Pattinson shout at each other above to find out who is the most depressed. In the center, you’ll find Michael Keaton standing in front of George and Val, keeping an eye on Ben Affleck pacing back and forth trying to find his place.
At this point, there’s something for everyone, but most fans agree that Keaton brings balance to the Batforce. 2017 seemed like a year in review for Batman as we got both The Lego Batman Movie and Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders which saw the return of Adam West. Both offered humility and commentary on Batman’s tonal spectrum. In Capped Crusaders, the tone becomes part of the plot itself. There’s a big moment where West echoes Keaton’s line, “You wanna go crazy, let’s go crazy!” For Keaton fans, it was validation. Sadly, Adam West died that year, but before he died, perhaps in code, he shared his thoughts with us; “Micheal Keaton was the best Batman!”
While the implications of Keaton’s return to Batman may overshadow Ezra Miller’s The Flash movie, it’s important to keep in mind that this is hopefully the first of many theatrical films. shine movies. Miller’s performance as The Flash was a key ingredient in the making of Zack Snyder Justice League to work. The only problem is, any self-respecting Flash fan knows that John Wesley Shipp is objectively the greatest Flash of all time. It’s just science.
Longtime Weird Al Yankovic drummer Jon Bermuda Schwartz releases Black & White & Weird All Over: The Lost Photographs of Weird Al Yankovic ’83 – ’86 this fall.
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