It’s official: Michael Keaton is returning to the role that made him a superhero movie legend in the 1990s. The actor will once again don Batman‘s cape and cowl in the upcoming The Flash DCEU movie, which will reportedly see the Caped Crusader become a mentor to the much younger Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) during a multiverse-spanning adventure.
We know very little for sure about Batman’s role in the movie besides the rumors, but with filming currently in progress in the UK, we’re starting to get a sense of what Keaton’s return will look like. Already, we’ve learned that his Wayne Manor will look a lot like Bruce’s Gothic home in Tim Burton’s Batman. But of course what we really want to see is Keaton back in the suit, a bright yellow Bat symbol shining bright on his chest.
Well, while Muschietti isn’t quite ready to give away the whole thing, he has posted a teaser of the suit on Instagram. Let’s just say fans of the 1989 and 1992 Burton movies are going to be pretty happy with how Keaton’s new costume is turning out:
Yes, some actual color is returning to the Batsuit for the first time since Batman Forever, the last big screen take on the Dark Knight to feature the yellow oval before Val Kilmer shed it for an all-black suit in the third act. It’s clear the costume design team is going for nostalgia here, with a Batsuit definitely meant to evoke Keaton’s era as the Caped Crusader. It’s also a nice way to differentiate Keaton’s suit from the Dark Knight Returns-inspired suit worn by Ben Affleck, who is also set to appear in the movie (reportedly as ANOTHER Bat mentor for Barry).
Another interesting thing about Keaton’s new suit is that it looks a lot closer to the one he wore in Batman Returns than Batman ’89. The suit seems to be going for the more angular, armor-plated look from Burton’s sequel than the sculpted design of the first movie. The symbol in Muschietti’s picture also more closely resembles the one from Batman Returns.
Of course, the look of the armor isn’t the only detail Muschietti wants you to focus on. There’s also the blood splattered across the Bat symbol, which evokes the classic image from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal 1986 comic book Watchmen, a work that has been a north star for the DCEU since its inception. But what does Watchmen have to do with The Flash movie?
Although this DCEU installment has long been described as a loose adaptation of Flashpoint, the infamous storyline in which Barry goes back in time to stop his mother’s murder and accidentally rewrites reality, the seemingly intentional Watchmen reference suggests the movie could also touch on elements from “The Button,” a newer story that brought back Bruce’s father from an alternate Earth to the main DC continuity. It’s likely no coincidence that “The Button” also happens to be a pseudo-sequel to Flashpoint.
In “The Button,” which was written by Tom King and Josh Williamson, and picked up threads introduced by Geoff Johns in the 2016 DC Universe: Rebirth special, Batman and Flash set out to investigate the mysterious appearance of a blood-stained button in the Batcave, one that looks remarkably similar to the one found on the Comedian’s body at the start of Watchmen and which later became that comic’s most recognizable symbol. The investigation, which is complicated when Reverse-Flash steals the button from Batman, eventually leads the heroes to a reunion with the alternate version of Thomas Wayne from Flashpoint. On Flashpoint Earth, Bruce’s father became the Dark Knight after his son was murdered during the mugging in Crime Alley.
Flashpoint Batman’s return would later have huge repercussions for King’s Batman run, as Thomas Wayne turned villain and sought to supplant his son as the new “protector” of Gotham City. But going back to Muschietti’s movie, could the bloodstained symbol mean that the Batman that Barry will meet in The Flash is actually the Thomas Wayne version from Flashpoint? Or at least a much darker, more haunted take on Keaton’s Bruce?
It’s still too early to say. The blood could just be a detail added to the picture to get fans talking and speculating. Either way, we’ll find out for sure when The Flash hits theaters on Nov. 4, 2022.