Michael Keaton Had To Read 'The Flash' Script Three Times To Understand His Return As Batman

It's hard to believe that Michael Keaton is suiting up as Batman again for The Flash, the new movie starring Ezra Miller. The actor hasn't put on the cape and cowl since Batman Returns in 1992, which means 30 years will have passed by the time we see his version of the Dark Knight back on the big screen. Though the actor didn't have a hard time getting back in the mindset of Gotham's greatest detective, he had a harder time understanding the script for The Flash, mostly because his comic book knowledge is extremely lacking.

The Hollywood Reporter recently featured a big profile on Michael Keaton, who has enjoyed a revitalized career over the past decade. From comedic turns in The Other Guys and Toy Story 3 to his Oscar-nominated leading role in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), and acclaimed performances in The Founder and Spotlight, Keaton has been on a non-stop roll. His forthcoming return as Batman will keep the momentum going, but the actor needed some time to figure out exactly how it was all going to work in the story for The Flash. Keaton admitted:

"I had to read it more than three times to go, 'Wait, how does this work?' They had to explain that to me several times. By the way, I'm not being arrogant, I hope, about this. I don't say it like, 'I'm too groovy.' I'm stupid. There's a lot of things I don't know about. And so, I don't know, I just kind of figured it out, but this was different."

Even though Keaton may have had a tough time understanding the logistics of the storytelling in the Flash script, likely because of the complicated time travel at the center of the Flashpoint comic book arc that is being utilized for the movie, he found himself with even more respect for the role than he had before. Keaton explained:

"What's really interesting is how much more I got [Batman] when I went back and did him. I get this on a whole other level now. I totally respect it. I respect what people are trying to make. I never looked at it like, 'Oh, this is just a silly thing.' It was not a silly thing when I did Batman. But it has become a giant thing, culturally. It's iconic. So I have even more respect for it because, what do I know? This is a big deal in the world to people. You've got to honor that and be respectful of that. Even I go, 'Jesus, this is huge.'"

Comic book movies have gotten so much bigger since Batman debuted in 1989. Back then, there wasn't the same respect for the source material, which was often seen as a medium made only to entertain children. Since the comic book movie boom, what was once hardcore nerdity has turned into mainstream pop culture, largely thanks to the success of X-Men in 2000 and the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the world's biggest franchise. In many ways, Keaton returning as Batman today is bigger than his debut as the character over 30 years ago.

Michael Keaton Doesn't Understand the MCU Either

In case you think that the Flash script is the only comic book property that confused Keaton, the actor also admitted that he's not exactly knowledgeable when it comes to how the Marvel Cinematic Universe works. That's especially true when discussing another comic book movie role that he'll be reprising in Morbius.

The Morbius movie is adapting the Marvel Comics character as part of the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters, which features dozens of Spider-Man adjacent heroes and villains. That movie will see Michael Keaton reprising his Spider-Man: Homecoming role as Adrian Toomes, AKA the villainous Vulture. But if you ask Keaton, he has no clue how that crossover is possible. The actor recalled the filmmakers trying to explain how it all works:

"I'm nodding like I know what the fuck they're talking about. I go, 'Uh-huh.' And I'm thinking, 'You may as well be explaining quantum physics right now to me. All I know is I just know my guy. And I know the basics.' So finally, they were looking at me, and they just started laughing. They said, 'You don't know what we're talking about, do you?' I said, 'No, I don't, no idea what you're talking about.'"

Michael Keaton may be Batman, but he's also just like your uncle who has no idea why Spider-Man and Superman couldn't ever be in a movie together, let alone how the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters can co-exist and crossover into each other. At the end of the day, Keaton just needs to know enough to do his job and then move along.

Nothing is Certain Except Death and Marvel Movies

Even though comic book movies have taken over the blockbuster box office business, there are still plenty of people out there who just haven't been bitten by that bug. Despite the fact that he's appears in both DC Comics and Marvel movies, Keaton is still one of those people. In fact, he may be worse off than most general audiences. Keaton explained:

"After the first Batman, I'm not sure I've ever seen an entire [comic book] movie. I just never got around to it. So you're talking to a guy who wasn't in the zeitgeist of that whole world. When I went down to do the Marvel things in Atlanta ... It's an entire city dedicated to Marvel ... They'll be doing Marvel movies forever. I'll be dead, and they'll still be doing Marvel movies."

At some point we'll all be dead, and they'll still be making Marvel movies. By then they'll probably be interactive holograms where everyone stars in their own Marvel movie, but it's all but certain that Marvel movies will outlive us all.

Morbius is currently slated for release on January 19, 2021 and The Flash is scheduled for November 4, 2022.