Not many actors return to a role over 30 years later, but Michael Keaton isn’t just doing it, he’s embracing it.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Keaton opens up about returning to his iconic role after 30 years. “Frankly, in the back of my head, I always thought, ‘I bet I could go back and nail that m*****f*****,’ ” Keaton said. “And so I thought, ‘Well, now that they’re asking me, let me see if I can pull that off.’ ”

It wasn’t an easy road, however, as he the actor got hung up on the parallel-universe concept. “I had to read it more than three times to go, ‘Wait, how does this work?’ ” said Keaton. “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. There’s a lot of things I don’t know about. And so, I don’t know, I just kind of figured it out, but this was different. 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. But it has become a giant thing, culturally. It’s iconic. So I have even more respect for it because what do I know? This is a big deal in the world to people. You’ve got to honor that and be respectful of that. Even I go, ‘Jesus, this is huge.’ “

And Keaton does not take the place in movie history Batman holds lightly. “What Tim [Burton] did changed everything,” Keaton says. “Everything you see now started with him. If you really think about what happened between 1989 and now, on a cultural, corporate, economic level, it’s unbelievable. After the first Batman, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an entire [comic book] movie,” said Keaton. “I just never got around to it. So you’re talking to a guy who wasn’t in the zeitgeist of that whole world. When I went down to do the Marvel things in Atlanta … It’s an entire city dedicated to Marvel … They’ll be doing Marvel movies forever. I’ll be dead, and they’ll still be doing Marvel movies.”