Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Michael Keaton's Batman Got The Sequel He Actually Deserved In DC Comics

More than 30 years after he last wore the cape and cowl, Michael Keaton's Batman made his long-awaited cinematic return in "The Flash." But unfortunately for fans of the original Tim Burton take on the Caped Crusader, and despite his appearance being lauded as one of the film's high points, "The Flash" was met with a mostly tepid response from both critics and audiences. However, while his big screen return may have been underwhelming for many, a proper sequel to Tim Burton's "Batman" movies already exists in DC Comics.

Penned by Sam Hamm, one of the original writers of both 1989's "Batman" and 1992's "Batman Returns," "Batman '89" ignores the events of the Val Kilmer-starring "Batman Forever," as well as any subsequent sequels, and continues to explore the gothic world established by Burton. Incorporating elements that would have been included in a potential Burton-directed third "Batman" movie, the six-issue limited series was designed to "pull on a number of threads left dangling by the prolific director."

Considering many audiences were left disappointed with "The Flash," the comic offers a more fleshed-out look at what Keaton and Burton's version of Gotham might have looked like if it hadn't seen a three-decade hiatus.

Michael Keaton's Batman Returns (again)

With one of the original writers at the helm of the comic, the story is able to fairly seamlessly pick up right where "Batman Returns" left off. Billy Dee Williams' Harvey Dent is back and we finally get to see his transition from a well-intentioned politician into the villainous Two-Face. Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman, who we last saw looking over the Gotham skyline after having seemingly spent eight of her nine lives in "Batman Returns," returns to serve as a tentative ally and foil to Bruce. We also get the introduction of Barbara Gordon, who in this universe is a sergeant in the GCPD and engaged to Dent. 

And for the first time, the book gives readers a good look at what this world's Robin could have been. This updated take on the Boy Wonder is a young African-American Gothamite named Drake Winston. An early version of "Returns" was set to have Marlon Wayans as Robin, so the book could offer a glimpse of what that version of the character might have looked like. 

The story involves a gang war across Gotham between opposing factions inspired by Batman and Joker. It focuses largely on Harvey's descent into madness following his accident, which in this version happens as he was trying to save Drake from a burning building. It's filled with enough action, plot twists, and intrigue that could easily have been realized on film. 

Why did Tim Burton's Batman 3 never happen?

In spite of controversy regarding Michael Keaton's casting as Bruce Wayne, "Batman" proved to be a tremendous success at the box office. "Batman Returns," however, while still profitable, saw diminishing returns. There was also pushback on the movie for just how dark in tone Burton was taking the franchise. Despite both Burton and Keaton being willing to return for a third film, with the working title of "Batman Continues," the series went in an entirely new direction and was given a drastic, technicolor reboot in the form of the Joel Schumacher-directed "Batman Forever." 

The dark and gritty world of Gotham that Burton had established was replaced with a neon-tinged, kid-friendlier aesthetic and the films began to lean into the more cartoonish aspects of Batman's lore, at least until Christopher Nolan came along. It was an undeniably dramatic shift, leaving "Batman '89" as the closest thing to a fully realized Keaton-starring sequel we may ever see. Even if he never suits up as Batman again in live-action, "Batman '89" serves as a great substitute.