Without a doubt, one of the most thrilling aspects of DC’s ‘The Flash’ is the reappearance of Michael Keaton as Batman after a 31-year hiatus from the role, something that was as thrilling for the film’s director as it was for audiences. “I was a teenager when Tim Burton’s movie came out and I was blown away by it,” Andy Muschietti told IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast. “I was very attracted to the idea of finding Bruce Wayne 30 years later and fantasizing about what his life would be like.”
Bringing back the actor and Tim Burton-created Wayne iteration of Keaton in 1989’s “Batman” raised a key question for Muschietti: How much should he carry over from Burton’s “Batman” films and where did he want to hit in his own directions? “Including that story created big questions,” Muschietti said. “How closely do we stick to aesthetics and tone?” Some choices were dictated by Muschietti’s desire to make “The Flash” a more grounded comic book film than Burton’s films. “One thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to emulate the cinematography of the previous films, because the level of whimsy in the design would have been prohibitively expensive.”
Yet Muschietti wanted to create a compelling evolution for Keaton’s character from 1992 to 2023, which meant tweaking various designs from previous films. “I’ve tried to blend the worlds and achieve a balance where it’s still believable that Michael Keaton exists in this timeline,” said Muschietti, noting that one of his first steps was to convey his ideas about the character of Keaton. “There’s been a lot of talk about what happened to Bruce, why do we find it the way we find it? Why he stopped being Batman was very important to me. In fact, there was more material related to Wayne’s journey in the original cut, but Muschietti scrapped it for pacing. “It’s a very revealing and important scene, and you’ll see it in the DVD extras,” Muschietti said.
The story Muschietti and Keaton discussed worked its way into every element of production and costume design when it came to Wayne Manor and Batman’s suits and props. “I didn’t want to find Bruce Wayne in the same spot we left him 30 years ago,” Muschietti said. “I wanted to create a backstory where he continues to be Batman for a few more years, hence the new gadgets and technology. The suit is a little different, the Batwing is different – now it’s a three-seater and has new rotation technology – everything looks like the design from Tim Burton’s movies, but slightly modified. I just enjoyed exploring it.