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SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Actor Michael Keaton accepts Best Male Lead for 'Birdman' onstage during the 2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Beach on February 21, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

For many, Michael Keaton is the definitive Bruce Wayne/Batman; he played the role in 1989’s Batman and the sequel, 1992’s Batman Returns. He dropped out of that franchise after two films, and seemed to have left the character in his rearview mirror — 2014’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was seen as a sort of parody of both Batman and Keaton himself. Keaton has even moved on to playing supervillains as well – he played the Vulture in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. 

But The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Keaton is in talks to return to the role of Batman for the upcoming Flash film, starring Ezra Miller, who debuted in 2017’s Justice League… which saw Ben Affleck playing the Bruce Wayne/Batman role. Affleck has walked away from the Batman role, but how would the film explain that the much-older Keaton is now Batman?

The answer gets a bit geeky.

The ’80s/’90s Bat-franchise had three actors over the course four films: after Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney played Batman. If the Hollywood Reporter is correct, it looks like will be playing the same Batman he did in his first two films; he’s not “replacing” Ben Affleck. While that might be confusing to some, comic book fans are familiar with DC’s multiverse, in which several parallel universes coexist, each with slightly different versions of the same characters.  Indeed, Ezra Miller’s Flash recently cameoed in an episode of the CW’s Flash series, which stars Grant Gustin as the Flash. That show crosses over with the CW’s Supergirl, and in a recent episode, Robert Wuhl reprised his role as Alexander Knox from the 1989 Batman film.

Got it? Anyway, The Hollywood Reporter also says that Keaton’s Batman is being envisioned like Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in the Marvel Universe; he would appear in multiple films without necessarily getting his own movie.

You might recall that Robert Pattinson has recently been cast as Batman; that version of the character won’t be a part of this universe. Well, at least not yet.