Batman as a character is among the most popular comic book characters of all time. Batman has been around for eight decades, yet his popularity has only increased with time. As a result, every Batman story is unique and always feels fresh. You will not read a Batman story that you will not find special.
Similarly, Batman’s live-action portrayals, including animated adaptations such as Batman: The Animated Series, are quite distinct. And all these different Batman portrayals over the years gave rise to the debate about the best Batman portrayal.
Some people consider Adam West’s portrayal the best, while some consider Kevin Conroy’s animated Batman the best one. But most of the fans consider the Batman portrayal of Michael Keaton as the best one.
In this article, we will describe the complete history of Batman played by Michael Keaton. And also, discuss the reasons as to why Michael Keaton is considered the Best Batman ever.
History of The Michael Keaton
It might be hard to believe now, but the decision of the studio to cast Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight of Gotham was actually met with widespread criticism. The fans started campaigning against this casting and regularly sent letters to Warner Brothers to reconsider the casting.
The reason behind such negative reactions, especially from the fans, was due to the reason that Michael Keaton at the time was considered as a comedy actor predominantly. And the fans thought that by casting Michael, the studio intended to make a movie similar to the campy ’60s Batman (TV Series).
And it wasn’t until the release of the movie that the fans started to change their views on Michael Keaton as Batman. His portrayal is now considered one of the Best Batman portrayals ever.
Michael Keaton’s Batman Portrayal
Michael Keaton redefined the role of Batman and set an example that is followed to this day. His portrayal is considered as the standard for all the future Batmen. And every actor who played Batman after Michael Keaton took inspiration from his portrayal in one way or another. In this section, we will discuss the reasons as to why he is considered the best Batman.
Batman as the True Personality
One of the reasons that Michael is considered as the best Batman is that in his portrayal, Bruce Wayne is treated as the alter-ego while Batman is the actual personality. As a result, Michael is the most comfortable in the movie when he is wearing the cowl. His portrayal of Bruce Wayne is also very well-received in which he played the role of the billionaire who only makes appearances to maintain his image, a trait that was followed by all future portrayals.
Michael as Bruce Wayne can clearly be seen as someone who tries to stay away from the limelight. Even when Vicki Vale asked to meet Bruce Wayne to Bruce himself, he did not introduce himself.
One of the most iconic scenes of Batman (1989 Film) is when Michael Keaton is sitting in the dark on his sofa in the Wayne Manor, just waiting for the Bat-signal to light up.
This simple yet self-describing scene visually shows the audience that clearly Bruce Wayne is the mask while Batman is the true personality of Michael Keaton. He is the richest person in Gotham who can do anything, but he deliberately chooses to wait for the Bat-signal. The scene also shows us how Michael is more comfortable as Batman because he is waiting for a reason to put on the Batsuit.
The Dark Approach to The Michael Keaton Batman
The ’60s Batman (TV Series) might be a cult classic now. But the biggest criticism that it has faced after airing is that it was written to be campy. The show was originally supposed to be a comedy or, more accurately, a parody of these characters.
Although this approach was later changed, the show still showed visible signs of campiness that the writers introduced so that the adults can enjoy the comedy elements more.
Tim Burton rectified this approach in his Batman movies. Simply stating Michael portrayed Batman, as Batman should be portrayed. Michael himself preferred Batman in a more brooding and dark approach.
And because of this reason when Joel Schumacher took the directorial reigns from Burton. Michael also exited from the role citing creative differences. Because he was opposed to the comedic and campier Batman that Joel was going to direct in Batman Forever.
Introduction Of the Batwing
Michael Keaton’s portrayal is also considered the best because fans got to see everything they wanted in a movie, including the Batwing. The design of everything was perfect in Michael Keaton’s Batman, but the design of the Batwing introduced was even more phenomenal. Even the Joker stated that “I want one of those” after looking at the Batwing in praise.
Although the Batsuit worn by Keaton is hailed as the best costume ever, the suit still had many physical limitations. The biggest issue this Batsuit had was the fact that Batman could not move his neck.
We have all seen the Michael Keaton Batman in very stiff poses. This is not intentional but because the neck of the Batsuit is immovable. So Michael had to improvise to get a complete view of his surroundings. For this reason, he is seen standing very stiff throughout both the movies in which he has played Batman.
Nonetheless, this Batsuit and the classic Bat logo that this suit featured is considered a fan favorite.
The Batmobile used by Batman is also considered revolutionary for its time period. It was a significant improvement on any other live-action Batmobile at the time. This Batmobile added even more mysteriousness and fright in the hearts of the onlookers because this machine is unlike anything they have ever seen. This Batmobile perfectly complements the dark approach and personality of Batman, played by Michael Keaton.
Conclusion on the Micheal Keaton Batman
All these things combined made Michael Keaton the best Batman. Not only was his portrayal excellent. But everything else was also spot on. The suit, batmobile, and batwing were all perfectly designed for Michael Keaton. And everything collectively gave us an onscreen Batman that has now become a cult classic.
In our opinion, the comparisons between Batmen of different eras really not justified. However, because all of these portrayals were made to suit the audiences’ needs at their respective times, if you liked this article, then do visit our website www.batmanfactor.com to read other interesting articles as well.