With Ben Affleck hanging up his cape and cowl, the debate is if he’s the best Batman we’ve ever seen (Zack Snyder certainly thinks so). Sure, Affleck looked the part and pulled off some neat tricks, but there’s the thing: He was no Michael Keaton.
Sorry not sorry, but Keaton is still the best person to have ever suited up as the Dark Knight. Whether it was as Bruce Wayne or the masked vigilante, he mesmerised in both Batman and Batman Returns. In case you need some reminding of how good he actually was, here are six reasons below.
Turned the Hate Around
While everyone knows the internet is full of cry-babies who complain about every single comic book movie casting, it was just as bad when Keaton was announced as Batman as 50,000 protest letters were sent to the Warner Bros. offices. Remember, at that point in time, Keaton was renowned mostly for his comedic work, coming off Beetlejuice.
Well, he crushed the role. After Batman was released, every doubter ate their hat because he proved everyone wrong and turned perceptions around. While Affleck undoubtedly did something similar with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, he isn’t as widely revered as Keaton was by the fandom, with question marks over his final appearance in Justice League.
Acting Ability Trumps Looks
If you think about all the actors to have portrayed the Caped Crusader, Keaton probably looked the least like the comic book version of the character. He’s not what you’d term a traditional good-looking leading man, nor did he have the physical stature to convince anyone that he could take down a host of bad guys.
His acting ability, however, made us believe that he was Batman. He didn’t need all of those things to be successful in the role, because he convinced us through his talent and portrayal on screen. It’s a lesson for us in terms of whoever is cast as Batman next; let’s not judge based on appearance but on talent. After all, it’s called acting for a reason.
Respects the Role
The most annoying thing about actors is how they sometimes denigrate their time in comic book movies roles. They almost laugh it off as a silly period in their lives and how they’ve gone on to achieve bigger and better things since then. Bitch, please, you took the paycheck and loved it.
In Keaton’s case, he still talks about it as an extraordinary time in his life. While he admits he was hesitant of taking the part at first and all the attention it brought, he looks back on his time rather fondly. Heck, even when he was cast as Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, he still spoke about his time in the cape and cowl. Lest we forget, he still reminds everyone that he is Batman.
Walked Away at the Right Time
After Tim Burton walked away from Batman Forever, Keaton did the same out of principle. He showed his loyalty to the director who turned him into a global superstar. He’s gone on record to state that he didn’t believe in the script or what Warner Bros. wanted to do with the character.
If you look at other actors who’ve portrayed the Dark Knight, most didn’t have the guts to say, “Nah, this isn’t what I signed up for.” Keaton could’ve easily have taken a nice payday but he chose to do the honourable thing instead. That takes fortitude.
Chemistry with Co-Stars
Whether it’s his on-screen time with Kim Basinger’s Vicki Vale, Jack Nicholson’s Joker, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, Danny DeVito’s Penguin, or even Michael Gough’s Alfred, Keaton had chemistry with everyone he interacted with in his two movies.
It’s a rare feat for an actor to click with everyone in a production, but Keaton made every relationship that much more believable. Whichever emotion he needed to convey, he did so and we bought it as authentic.
People Still Want Him as Batman
It’s testament to his popularity that his name is still mentioned as the character 30 years after he appeared in the first film. He defined a generation of Batman and you could say it was his set of movies that rejuvenated comic book movies. To this day, many fans pray for a Batman Beyond film, where Keaton will be cast as the older Bruce Wayne.
Think about it: You never hear a large group of fans clamouring for Val Kilmer, George Clooney, or Christian Bale to come back to the Batcave. Yet, you’ll always see Keaton’s name being mentioned in terms of anything Batman-related.
Tell us, do you think Michael Keaton was the best Batman ever? Let us know in the comment section.