In the mid-1960s, the late Adam West was the Bright Knight of ABC for three seasons. Then, for five seasons, young David Mazouz rose to the challenge to become a dark knight as boy billionaire Bruce Wayne on FOX’s Gotham.
Now comes Michael Keaton not only on his birthday, but celebrating 30 years as the haunting and brooding Caped Crusader known as Batman. Directed by Tim Burton, the film became THE blockbuster of 1989, where Keaton’s Bruce Wayne romanced beautiful photographer Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) while his masked alter-ego uses his “wonderful toys” against Jack Napier/Joker (Jack Nicholson). While Gotham City considers him to be as “dangerous” and “psychotic” as the Joker, Batman must protect a world that is neither normal nor perfect: a world where men like the Joker are responsible for the deaths of his parents, a world where he must fight the evil no one else would.
Batman may have made Jack Napier into the Joker, but it was Jack Napier who made Bruce Wayne into Batman.
Where Christopher Reeve made us believe that a man can fly as Superman, we did Michael Keaton a favor in telling the world all about him: that he’s definitely Batman. Keaton reprise the role in 1992’s Batman Returns, as the Caped Crusader deals with the Penguin (Danny Devito) and his plans for becoming mayor. While still dealing with his difficulty with his duality, Bruce Wayne/Batman finds a kindred spirit in Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer): realizing that the two are indeed “the same split, right down the center”. After Batman Returns, Keaton hang up the cape and cowl and was succeeded by Val Kilmer for 1995’s Batman Forever. However, the title of the third film says it all for Keaton following the first two in the franchise, and still does after three decades.
In 2014, the year that Gotham premiered, Keaton surprised critics and moviegoers with the film Birdman: portraying an actor, best known for playing a superhero, seeks a comeback with a role on Broadway. The role earned Keaton several accolades, which includes winningg a Golden Globe and a Best Actor Oscar nomination. In the summer of 2017, Keaton entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming opposite Tom Holland’s titular web-slinging superhero.
Recently this spring, he reunited with Burton for the live-action version of Disney’s Dumbo. The year before, he became Batman, Keaton worked with Burton as Beetlejuice.
WHAT ARE YOU?