Michael Keaton did have meetings about appearing in Batman Forever, but it seems creative difference just made it too difficult.
Appearing on the Backstage podcast, Keaton discussed meeting with Joel Schumacher to discuss the third outing as the Caped Crusader. It seems, however, that the meetings simply could get the two in alignment.
“It was always Bruce Wayne. It was never Batman,” Keaton said of his view of the character. “To me, I know the name of the movie is Batman, and it’s hugely iconic and very cool and cultural iconic and because of Tim Burton, artistically iconic, [but] I knew from the get-go it was Bruce Wayne. That was the secret. I never talked about it. [Everyone would say] Batman, Batman, Batman does this, and I kept thinking to myself, ‘Y’all are thinking wrong here.’ [It’s all about] Bruce Wayne. What kind of person does that?… Who becomes that?”
“And then when the director who directed the third one, I said, ‘I just can’t do it,’” said Keaton. “And one of the reasons I couldn’t do it was — and you know, he’s a nice enough man, he’s passed away, so I wouldn’t speak ill of him even if he were alive — he, at one point, after more than a couple of meetings where I kept trying to rationalize doing it and hopefully talking him into saying, ‘I think we don’t want to go in this direction, I think we should go in this direction.’ And he wasn’t going to budge.”
Keaton continued, “But I remember one of the things that I walked away going, ‘Oh boy, I can’t do this.’ He asked me, ‘I don’t understand why everything has to be so dark and everything so sad,’ and I went, ‘Wait a minute, do you know how this guy got to be Batman? Have you read… I mean, it’s pretty simple.’”
The role ended up going to Val Kilmer who remained with the character for one film.
Keaton will be returning to the role of Batman in the upcoming The Flash movie which is set to hit theaters on Nov. 4, 2022.