Ever since Michael Keaton was announced to be making the return to the role of Batman, fans have been waiting on bated breath for more information. Well, when Jake of Jake’s Takes was given the chance, he didn’t miss the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions. Keaton was doing press for his upcoming film The Protégé, but he still seemed very excited to talk about his return as Bruce Wayne.
While Keaton might not be the most excitable person when he’s not in front of a camera or yelling “let’s get nuts,” he still seemed pretty excited to return to the role. He even referred to getting back in the suit as “feeling normal” and “bringing back a lot of memories.” Just to hear Keaton actually confirm his return to the character is incredibly exciting, but some of the other things he said raised a lot of questions.
When asked about the way people approach him on the streets, he goes off on a bit of a tangent, mentioning how the movies he’s in at certain times affect the public reactions to him during those specific timeframes. However, he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to talk about his experience during the filming of The Flash, and the new and old techniques that he’s gathered in his career that he used while filming the upcoming DC film.
He strangely mentions Multiplicity and how that was similar to his work in The Flash, even going on to say “I don’t want to give too much away, but I do have to learn how to play ‘against’ myself and ‘with’ myself.” Keaton saying such a thing is kind of jarring. The connection that his mind made with Multiplicity is strange enough, but then mentioning playing “against” himself is even weirder.
For those of you unfamiliar, the 1997 Harold Ramis film Multiplicity features multiple different versions of Michael Keaton playing off of each other. Now, most people assume when he mentions playing off himself he’s just hinting at playing off a different version of his character by way of Ben Affleck — but Multiplicity doesn’t really connect to that in any way, and it’d be weird if THAT’S the reason he connected the two in his brain at that moment.
While it’s more likely that Keaton IS referring to the already confirmed inclusion of Ben Affleck as another iteration of Bruce Wayne/Batman, allow me to play the “tin foil hat” game for a moment. Just a couple of weeks ago there were set images that hinted at a scene where Ezra Miller’s main character Barry Allen would converse with an alternate version of himself; in the subsequent weeks, we’ve had a rumor emerge hinting at the villain of the film being an evil version of Barry Allen.
What if Barry’s not the only character in the film who will play off another version of themselves? Again, while I’m aware of how unlikely it is, I don’t think I can overstate how strange I find it that he mentioned Multiplicity in relation to his time working on The Flash. Regardless, I’m still very excited for the prospect to see Keaton and Affleck play off of each other, which is something I was unsure we’d get in the film in the first place.
This brings me to my next point: If Keaton is truly talking about playing off of another version of his character, that’s still something that wouldn’t typically happen in an adaptation of the Flashpoint story (which is widely believed to be the main inspiration for the film).
Batman’s role in the Flashpoint storyline is a large but succinct one, with a huge emotional payoff. The film (my sole exposure to the story) establishes that Barry is familiar with Bruce Wayne as the Batman before he ever changes the timeline. But once Barry does and he realizes how strange everything around him is, he goes to find Bruce to help him — all he finds is Thomas Wayne, a man even more broken and vengeful than the Batman we knew. The story ends with Barry resetting the timeline back to the way it’s supposed to be, and he reunites with Bruce, allowing for a beautiful moment where Barry gives Bruce a letter from his father. It’s incredibly touching, and honestly, a shame that the film has (seemingly) abandoned the father/son relationship.
So following that story (if that’s what the film is doing), the two Batmen should never cross paths in any significant way, especially since they’ve removed the Thomas Wayne father/son relationship from the whole equation. But when Keaton mentions possibly playing off of another version of himself it opens up a slew of possibilities, and it could open up the door for Keaton AND Affleck to play the character for the foreseeable future.
Keaton’s next film, The Protégé (directed by Martin Campbell), hits theaters on August 20, 2021. You’ll see Keaton suit back up as Batman once again when The Flash hits theaters on November 4, 2022. The film is directed by Andy Muscietti and stars Ezra Miller in the titular role, alongside Ron Livingston, Sasha Calle, Kiersey Clemons, Ben Affleck, and of course Michael Keaton.