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BATMAN (1989)

Michael Keaton portrayed The Batman in two of the 4 Bat-films that have been made: 1989's BATMAN and BATMAN RETURNS in 1992. When word first broke in '88 that Keaton had been chosen to play the Dark Knight, it met with a wide array of criticism. And, I must say, rightfully so.

Up to that time, Keaton had been know primarily for his comedic roles; such as in NIGHT SHIFT (a classic!--Jett), MR. MOM, and BEETLEJUICE. I was one of many who assumed that we were about to see a big-screen version of the old TV show (unknowingly that would come about 8 years later!) It was the latter movie in which Keaton worked with director Tim Burton that caught the director's eye and eventually led to his casting as the Bat. Burton's reason, he has said, was that when you look in "...Michael's eyes, there is something 'going on'." I agree. Keaton does have the ability to look as if there is something more happening than what meets the eye. However, it was his physical shortcomings that have always dogged the actor's portrayal of the caped crusader.

Let me say, Michael Keaton did win me over and I thought he did a hell of a job as Batman. He had the voice down pat. This is exactly how I always imagined Batman talked. The quiet, raspy voice was great. His demeanor as Batman was on the money. However, I could never get past the fact that he is rather short in real life; (although the camera angles and the costume helped disguise that) and, just did not have the physical presence to be Batman when he was Bruce Wayne. When I saw him as Wayne, I have always thought "There is Micheal Keaton;" not "Oh, there is Wayne." I guess what I am saying is that while Keaton convinced me that he was The Batman, he never convinced me hat he was Bruce Wayne.

Another thing that bothered me about Keaton's portrayal was his and Burton's insistance that Bruce Wayne/Batman was psychotic. Wayne is a man with issues of course, but a psycho? NO! This was more of a Burton influence than Keaton's, but Michael agreed with Tim's take on the Bat.

So, despite his shortcomings and the puclic outrage and questioning of his selection to play Batman (including your's truly), Micheal Keaton pulled it off. Even today, almost a decade since his last outting as the Bat, there are many who refuse to accept anyone else in the role. They still call for his return; which of course will never happen. But we do owe Michael a big thanks for taking the role of Batman serious, and helping return Batman back to his dark roots.

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