Michael Keaton Returns as Batman After 20 Years—Here's Why

Michael Keaton is part of a coveted hall of fame: actors who have had the chance to play Batman on screen.

The DC superhero has been portrayed by only a select few over the decades, like Christian Bale, Adam West, and Val Kilmer. Robert Pattinson is set to portray the Dark Knight next in Matt Reeves' take on the character.

It's been almost two decades since Keaton played Bruce Wayne, but the actor confirmed on Wednesday, December 22 that he will reprise the role in The Flash movie and he is also reported to be in HBO Max's Batgirl.

Why Michael Keaton is returning as Batman

The Birdman actor first portrayed Batman in 1989 for Tim Burton's film that was named after the caped crusader.

Batman saw Keaton's billionaire vigilante go up against his most infamous adversary: The Joker, who was played by Jack Nicholson.

The film is widely regarded as one of the best in the Batman franchise, namely because of Nicholson's performance as the Clown Prince of Crime.

Keaton went on to portray the character once more in Burton's 1992 sequel Batman Returns, which also starred Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as Penguin.

This was the last time he played Batman though, as the character was then portrayed by Val Kilmer in Batman Forever in 1995, and George Clooney in Batman & Robin in 1996.

However, despite his two decades-long absence from the role, Keaton is returning for The Flash and he is reportedly doing the same in Batgirl, both of which are expected to be released in 2022.

Keaton spoke to Variety about playing Wayne once more, admitting that he was curious to see what a storyline with his iteration of the character would be like, but that he only wanted to do it for the right production.

He explained: "'What would that be like?' or 'What if I had to do that again?' Just because I was curious didn't mean I wanted to do it. So it took a long time, frankly... I'm not just gonna say I'll do it. It has to be good. And there has to be a reason."

In August 2020 it was confirmed he would portray Batman alongside Ben Affleck in The Flash, the Argo star played the character in Batman v Superman and also Justice League.

At the time, director Andy Muschietti told Vanity Fair of Affleck returning: "His Batman has a dichotomy that is very strong, which is his masculinity—because of the way he looks, and the imposing figure that he has, and his jawline —but he's also very vulnerable. He knows how to deliver from the inside out, that vulnerability. He just needs a story that allows him to bring that contrast, that balance."

The film will not have an impact on Pattinson's version of the character, whose movie is currently slated to be released in March 2022.

Variety reported Keaton would also reprise the role in Batgirl, which stars Leslie Grace, but this has yet to be confirmed by Warner Bros.

Newsweek has contacted Michael Keaton's representatives and spokespeople, Warner Bros., and HBO Max for further comment.

Michael Keaton as Batman
Michael Keaton on the set of "Batman Returns," directed by Tim Burton. The actor is set to return in "The Flash" and is reported to also be playing Bruce Wayne in "Batgirl." Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images