Michael Keaton as Batman in The Flash

In 2020 word broke that Micheal Keaton would be taking up the cape and cowl and playing Batman once again for The Flash. Then just last month Keaton said his involvement with the film wasn’t a done deal, and there was a chance he might not appear after all. Now it’s time to put all this to rest, as it’s been confirmed once and for all that Keaton’s Dark Knight will be in The Flash, marking his first return to the iconic role in nearly 30 years.

The confirmation that The Flash will bring back Michael as Batman comes from The Wrap, who got the word directly from Keaton’s talent agency, ICM Partners. And thus ends a weird period where we went from knowing that Keaton was in the movie, to thinking that he might not be in the movie, and then right back to knowing he was in the movie. Word of Keaton’s involvement with the film first broke in the summer of 2020. A month after that news, the online DC FanDome featured a panel devoted to The Flash that featured concept art clearly showing Keaton’s Batman fighting alongside Ezra Miller‘s Barry Allen/The Flash.

With all that, it truly seemed like this was a done deal. But just last month, Keaton himself threw a wrench into the works. The actor gave an interview with Deadline where he made it sound like he hadn’t actually agreed to anything just yet, and he was still weighing his options due to COVID-19. “To be honest with you, you know what worries me more than anything about all this stuff? It’s COVID,” Keaton said. “I’m more concerned. I keep my eye more on the COVID situation in the UK than anything. That will determine everything, and so that’s why I’m living outside the city here on 17 acres, staying away from everybody, because the COVID thing has got me really concerned. So, that’s my first thing about all projects. I look at it and go, is this thing going to kill me, literally? And you know, if it doesn’t, then we talk.”

But now that’s all in the past, and Keaton is confirmed for the film. Keaton played Batman in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and its follow-up Batman Returns. After Batman Returns, both Keaton and Burton left the franchise and it continued on without them. The Flash is going to ignore the Keaton-less sequels Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, and “explore what Keaton’s version of Batman has been up to since we last saw him.”

If you’re wondering how Barry Allen can suddenly be hanging out with the Michael Keaton Batman when we’ve already seen the character deal with Ben Affleck‘s version of the Caped Crusader, the answer is: time travel and alternate dimensions. The film is drawing influence from the Flashpoint comic run, which saw the Flash end up in an alternate timeline. In the movie, Barry will travel back in time to stop the murder of his mother. But the act of time traveling “inadvertently creates another universe protected by Keaton’s Batman, now 30 years older.” As for Affleck’s Batman, he, too, is supposedly appearing in the film, although it’s unclear how big a role he’ll have.

The Flash is currently in production under director Andy Muschietti. The film is scheduled to open November 4, 2022.

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