With reports suggesting that Michael Keaton might be returning as Batman for The Flash, DC could be setting up Neo-Gotham as well as the Multiverse.
Michael Keaton’s return as Batman in The Flash might not just be an introduction of the Multiverse: it could be the first step to a live-action Batman Beyond film. The DCEU has been receiving a surge of news lately, as their virtual entertainment expo event FanDome inches closer. It all began with the unprecedented news that Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League would get an actual release on HBO Max, before being followed up by reports of Henry Cavill’s return to the role of Superman. Now audiences are grappling with the news that Andy Muschietti’s The Flash might incorporate the Multiverse, a DC Comics staple with huge implications for their cinematic future.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
Aside from introducing the Multiverse, The Flash is also set to defy expectations when it releases by reintroducing Michael Keaton’s Batman. Keaton played the role in Tim Burton’s two adaptations of the character, Batman and Batman Returns. While the Batman character has been embodied in live-action by Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Ben Affleck, with Robert Pattinson’s iteration due in 2021, fans remember Keaton’s stoic performance as Bruce Wayne as well as the dark and gothic direction used to bring Gotham City to life, along with some of its most deranged inhabitants.
With most fans rightfully focused on the infinite possibilities that could arise out of the introduction of the Multiverse, there’s a distinct lack of emphasis on the biggest possibility presented by Keaton’s return: an aging Bruce Wayne could be a secret set-up for Batman Beyond. And if that is the case, then DC would have a golden opportunity to explore the legacy of the Batman in a way that has never before been done in film.
Michael Keaton Returns As Batman Because Of The DCEU Multiverse
Even though it was released over 30 years ago, Tim Burton’s Batman still captivates the imagination of newcomers and die-hard fans alike, specifically because of the perfect marriage of the tragic Batman mythos with Burton’s macabre and morbid filmmaking style. Despite Batman’s lax view on killing, as well as some huge changes from the comics (most notably The Joker’s role in the death of the Waynes), it’s still celebrated as the first attempt at really embracing the outlandish pulp sensibilities of superhero comics while also taking them seriously. Due to its age and perceived non-canon status, however, fans never really expected the film to be revisited by DC or Warner Bros.
But as The CW recently showed, canon and continuity is always in flux when it comes to DC, who have been playing fast and loose with the concept ever since 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, introduced the concept of the Multiverse to DC, the idea that every Golden Age superhero written out of canon, every bizarre and outlandish alternate universe character, and every one-off Elseworld story belonged to a designated Earth somewhere in existence, making everything technically canon in a limited capacity. This idea has been reworked and reconfigured in multiple Crisis sequels since its inception and just recently made the jump to TV with the Arrowverse adaptation of the groundbreaking event. Up until now, fans could only dream of the DC Multiverse becoming a reality in film, and if reports are to be believed, The Flash will be the first movie to fully explore it, using the multiverse as a vehicle to revive Keaton’s Batman.
The Flash Movie Can Set Up A Batman Beyond Movie
While these reports have been notably lacking on details, the most common scenario offered up as an explanation is that, in his futile attempts to travel back in time to stop his mother’s murder, Barry Allen will somehow warp the timeline to a version of reality in which Keaton’s Batman still watches over Gotham City 30 years later. This would mean that most of the movie would take place in an alternate future of Gotham City, one that has been modernized with Burton’s gothic architecture in mind. This would also mean that the Bruce Wayne in The Flash would be well into his 60s at best, prime time for him to hang up the cape and cowl.
Since the movie is based on 2011’s Flashpoint, which served as a reboot of the entire DC Universe, Keaton’s aging Dark Knight is probably a surrogate for Flashpoint Batman, that universe’s version of Thomas Wayne who decided to create the Batman mantle as a response to his son being murdered. Flashpoint Batman is a killer and consistently struggles with the morality of his actions, something that could easily be lifted and tweaked to fit Keaton’s Batman (considering he was also a killer originally). In the Batman Beyond animated series, Bruce Wayne finally hangs up the cape and cowl because he nearly kills a henchman with a gun, causing him to realize how disengaged he’s become from his original crusade. Keaton’s character arc in The Flash could be something similar, with Barry helping him to realize that he’s become too old and jaded to continue his mission in good conscience.
This realization could be the push that Bruce would need to abandon his attachment to the Batman mantle. After Barry’s returned back to his own universe, Keaton’s Gotham City would still need a hero to watch over it, one preferably much younger and less cynical. This would be the perfect lead-in for Terry McGinnis to make his debut in a Batman Beyond spin-off, one that juggles the gothic aesthetics of Burton’s franchise with the neon cyberpunk atmosphere of the original cartoon.
What Batman Beyond’s Story Could Mean For The DCEU
The beauty of a live-action Batman Beyond film means that the DCEU’s filmmakers could decide how much or how little they want to include Terry and the world of Neo-Gotham. If Keaton’s Gotham is designated as an alternate universe that Barry ends up running into, then the Batman Beyond spin-off could be entirely disconnected and take place in its own slice of the multiverse, similar to Todd Phillips’ Joker. However, anytime the Multiverse has been heavily referenced in the comics, it usually precedes an earth-shattering crossover event, such as Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, or Final Crisis.
At this point, all fans can do is speculate, but what if The Flash isn’t just a setup for Batman Beyond, but the inklings of something much bigger happening at DC? What if Barry catching a glimpse of the Multiverse is the DCEU gearing up for their own Crisis-style event? If that were the case, then the DCEU’s Justice League would need all the help they can get, which means more appearances from other famous incarnations of certain heroes, Terry McGinnis included. No one truly knows what’s in store for the future of the DCEU, but one thing can be said for certain: The Flash holds the key.
Key Release Dates
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)Release date: Oct 02, 2020
- The Suicide Squad (2021)Release date: Aug 06, 2021
- The Batman (2021)Release date: Oct 21, 2021
- Black Adam (2021)Release date: Dec 22, 2021
- DC Super Pets (2022)Release date: May 20, 2022
- The Flash (2022)Release date: Jun 03, 2022
- Shazam 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 04, 2022
- Aquaman 2 (2022)Release date: Dec 16, 2022
Why Marvel & DCEU Are Both Creating Multiverses In 2022