Despite playing one of DC Comic’s most famous superheroes and one of Marvel’s iconic villains, Michael Keaton is not versed in the finer points of either companies’ cinematic universe. It’s not for lack of people trying to explain it though. Luckily for him — and for audiences — it doesn’t matter, because Keaton knows what’s really important.
In a lengthy profile over at the Hollywood Reporter, Keaton mentions his current film career in the superhero movie biz, in which he’ll soon reprise his role as the Spider-foe the Vulture in Sony’s Morbius, and more importantly, as Batman in The Flash.
Specifically, he mentions how the movie-makers tried to break down what’s been happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe leading up to Morbius, along with the concept of the DCEU multiverse, which will be traversed by Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen, aka the Flash. Specifically, here’s what the actor says happened when the Morbius filmmakers “started talking him through the logic of the fictional universe, referencing recent Marvel plot points”:
“I’m nodding like I know what the fuck they’re talking about. I go, ‘Uh-huh.’ And I’m thinking, ‘You may as well be explaining quantum physics right now to me. All I know is I just know my guy. And I know the basics.’ So finally, they were looking at me, and they just started laughing. They said, ‘You don’t know what we’re talking about, do you?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t, no idea what you’re talking about.’”
As for The Flash, here’s the actor on figuring out the multiverse…eventually: “I had to read it more than three times to go, ‘Wait, how does this work?’ They had to explain that to me several times. By the way, I’m not being arrogant, I hope, about this. I don’t say it like, ‘I’m too groovy.’ I’m stupid.”
That might sound discouraging for some modern superhero movie fans, but it needn’t be. First of all, this is not information Keaton needed when he played the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and somehow made one of Spidey’s more ludicrous foes genuinely compelling.
He certainly didn’t need to know much about the DC universe, let alone the multiverse, when he played Batman in Tim Burton’s iconic 1989 film, which helped launch the modern superhero movie craze. It’s true both films were stand-alone and had little-to-no backstory required. But the real reason is that Keaton knows the characters, which is what makes them — and their roles in the movies — work.
It shouldn’t be a problem for Keaton to step back into the boots of Adrian Toomes for Morbius, and Batman is no different — even though it’s been almost 30 years since he put on the cowl. In fact, Keaton believes he gets the Dark Knight even more now than he did before: “What’s really interesting is how much more I got [Batman] when I went back and did him. I get this on a whole other level now. I totally respect it. I respect what people are trying to make. I never looked at it like, ‘Oh, this is just a silly thing.’ It was not a silly thing when I did Batman. … This is a big deal in the world to people. You’ve got to honour that and be respectful of that.”
As someone initially fretted when Michael “Mr. Mum” Keaton was cast as Batman, only to be blown away by his performance in 1989, I could not be less concerned about what he knows (or doesn’t know) about the MCU or DCEU. He knows what’s really important.
Currently, the Morbius movie is scheduled for January 28, 2022, followed by The Flash in November 2022, but it probably won’t hurt to cross your fingers.