Michael Keaton has been making the rounds to promote the intriguingly strange Birdman, opening this Friday. Since Keaton portrays an actor who rose to fame playing a superhero modeled after a flying animal (so meta), every interviewer seems to be using the subject matter as an excuse to ask about him about playing Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns. SO MANY CLICKS.
Keaton has turned down several famous roles, often lucrative ones, because something about them didn’t have the artistic integrity or originality he was seeking, so many interviewers have been asking him, “Batman Forever was TURNED DOWN FOR WHAT?” (Sorry.)
Some of Keaton’s answers to that question have kept things polite, not even mentioning his disagreement with the batnipple-tombstoned Joel Schumacher replacing Tim Burton as director, but Keaton wasn’t mincing words when speaking to CBS Sunday Morning:
But when it came time for Batman III, Keaton bowed out, even after being offered a reported $15 million to do it.
“What was it about ‘III’ that you just didn’t like?” asked Cowan.
“Yeah? I guess that pretty much sums it up.”
“Yeah, it just was awful!”
So what would have kept Keaton in Batman 3? Letting Tim Burton stay on as the director, for a start. In an interview in Entertainment Weekly magazine, he said he’d play Batman again “in a heartbeat” if Burton were directing. It would also help if the studio understood that Batman movies are supposed to have a dark tone. Keaton explained:
“I hadn’t been stupid about it. I always knew it was a big machine with a big studio and corporation behind it. But the simple answer was, it wasn’t any good. I was nice. I said to them, ‘This is a really interesting character with a dual personality.’ I tried to make them understand. But when somebody says to you, ‘Does it have to be so dark?‘ I thought, are we talking about the same character? So finally I just said no.”
“Does it have to be so dark?” is exactly the kind of studio note that leads to this: