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Michael Keaton disagreed with Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever vision

The best big-screen Batman Michael Keaton explained why he didn’t star in Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever.

Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever

The best big-screen Batman, Michael Keaton, explained why he left the series. Keaton helped define the early DCEU with his moody and manic take on Gotham’s dark knight, but he left the franchise after the second movie leaving Val Kilmer to don the cape and cowl.

In an interview with In the Envelope: The Actor’s Podcast, Keaton explained his decision to leave. Basically, he disagreed with new director Joel Schumacher’s take on Batman. Keaton had enjoyed Tim Burton’s dark take on Batman’s alter-ego Bruce Wayne, but Schumacher wanted to focus more on the character’s more outlandish aspects.

“It was always Bruce Wayne. It was never Batman to me,” Keaton explained. “I know the name of the movie is Batman, and it’s hugely iconic and very cool and [a] cultural iconic and because of Tim Burton, artistically iconic. I knew from the get-go it was Bruce Wayne. That was the secret. I never talked about it. [Everyone would say] Batman, Batman, Batman does this, and I kept thinking to myself, ‘Y’all are thinking wrong here.’ [It’s all about] Bruce Wayne. What kind of person does that?… Who becomes that? What kind of person [does that]?”

“When the director who directed the third one [came on], I said, ‘I just can’t do it.’ And one of the reasons I couldn’t do it was—and you know, he’s a nice enough man, he’s passed away, so I wouldn’t speak ill of him even if he were alive—he, at one point, after more than a couple of meetings where I kept trying to rationalise doing it and hopefully talking him into saying I think we don’t want to go in this direction,” he continued. “I think we should go in this direction. And he wasn’t going to budge.”

Keaton finished by explaining how Schumacher once told him he didn’t understand why everything in the film had to be so dark and sad, to which Keaton replied: “Wait a minute, do you know how this guy got to be Batman? Have you read – I mean, it’s pretty simple.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Keaton left Batman Forever, and Kilmer came in to replace him. It wouldn’t be the end of Keaton’s time as the caped crusader though, as the veteran actor agreed to reprise the role in theFlash movie.