Tim Burton’s vision for Batman has proven to be a long-lasting one, and star Michael Keaton stayed loyal to that vision to the end. Along with Burton, Keaton deserves credit for reinventing the Dark Knight and superhero cinema as a whole. In fact, the Oscar nominee’s take on the character in both “Batman” and the 1992 sequel, “Batman Returns,” became so ingrained that it made it hard for him to gel with the vision for later entries.

Much like Burton, Keaton knew that mastering his depiction of Bruce Wayne was the key to making Batman work. On an episode of the Backstage podcast, In the Envelope, Keaton explained, “I know the name of the movie is ‘Batman,’ and it’s hugely iconic and very cool. [But] I always knew from the get-go, it was Bruce Wayne. That was the secret.” The actor goes on to explain how he read Frank Miller’s comics to dive deeper into Wayne’s tortured psyche.

For 1995’s “Batman Forever,” Burton’s gothic edge was replaced by the zanier vision of director Joel Schumacher. While Keaton fought to keep his character intact, Schumacher was dead set on the new concept, which is part of why the actor ultimately decided to jump ship. “I kept trying to rationalize doing it and hopefully kind of talking [the director] into, ‘I think we don’t want to go in this direction,’ And he wasn’t going to budge,” Keaton recalls. “I walked away going, ‘Oh, boy, I can’t do this.'” Of course, decades later, Keaton would reprise his iconic role for the DCEU film “The Flash,” and though the footage will likely never be released, he also reprised the hero for “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” and the shelved “Batgirl” movie. It’s no wonder his interpretation is so beloved, as just about every superhero movie owes something to Keaton’s portrayal.

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