“Batman 3,” as Batman Forever was initially known, could have looked very different. When Joel Schumacher took over the directing reins from Tim Burton, Michael Keaton was still set to continue the role of Bruce Wayne. But he would end up quitting because he didn’t like the “camp” direction that Schumacher went in.
It’s interesting to hear Keaton talk about Batman in 1993, when he still had every intention of continuing as the caped crusader. In an interview with The Morning Call; Keaton said he would “probably” reprise his role in the next Batman sequel, but refused to voice a preference for any of the actors mentioned as potential Riddlers. Robin Williams or John Malkovich? “Gee,” he said, “I haven’t given it much thought.” Jim Carrey would eventually don the green leotard.
Joel Schumacher was hired to replace director Tim Burton when he passed on the Batman sequel in favor of a Catwoman movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer – and how we wish that had come to pass. “If Tim can’t do it, then I think he (Schumacher) is a great idea … But, you know, it (Batman) is my side business. It’s a little franchise on the side. It’s a fun job that I don’t take too seriously.”
Keaton continued; “I never really got excited about the first two like most people, because I wasn’t that familiar with Batman lore. I was never a comic book fan or anything. I just looked at it like another role. But now, there’s a part of me that actually thinks it’s a cooler idea than ever. It’s like I’m just getting it. What a great idea – this guy is a bat at night and he does this and that and he has superhuman powers. Wow!” It’s a shame that Keaton’s new-found enthusiasm would end up going nowhere.
Keaton was less comfortable once it came to promoting the movies, however; “When it comes to my performance in a movie, you get it all, down to my toes, out of my gut, out of my testicles and lungs. Anything you want. In life, I don’t have to give you (the media) anything.”
The movie would go on to become Batman Forever, with Val Kilmer taking over from Keaton, and the rest, as they say is history. Keaton has of course returned to the cowl, and will be appearing in the upcoming Batgirl HBO Max series.