In a new featurette for the 2023 superhero movie, Muschietti explained what he sought to accomplish by bringing back Keaton as his famed version of the Caped Crusader. “I really wanted to defy people’s expectations of where Bruce Wayne would be thirty years later, and I also wanted to deepen the backstory if Bruce Wayne, as the story tells, has been retired for twenty-five years, what happened to him?” Muschietti said. “I always said something should happen to Bruce Wayne to want to stop being Batman.”
During the events of The Flash, Keaton’s Bruce Wayne seemed to suggest that he retired as Batman because Gotham had become one of the safest cities in the world. However, Muschietti has now revealed the real reason, which was removed from the theatrical cut of the film for reasons currently unknown.
Why did Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne retire as Batman?
“And my idea was, he did something that goes against his code and killed a criminal in front of [the criminal’s] child—not knowingly, but he still did it,” Muschietti stated in The Flash featurette. “Which is an exact mirroring situation of what happened to him when his parents were killed in front of him [next to] Monarch Theaters, and that created the monster that The Batman is.”
He continued, “So he just couldn’t cope with it, and that’s why he decided to shut off his other side, Batman. And he hasn’t been able to forgive himself. And now, the way we find him is a bit of like, the evolution of that journey. You know, he’s a tragic figure. He’s basically a character that is in search of redemption, but eventually finds a way to do it by helping Barry.”
The Flash marked Keaton’s third time portraying Bruce Wayne/Batman after starring as the iconic DC vigilante in Tim Burton’s duology, Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). The Flash also features two other former Batman actors: Ben Affleck, who reprises his role from previous DC Extended Universe films, and George Clooney, who makes a brief cameo at the end of The Flash. However, it is unknown if this is the same Batman that Clooney played in 1997’s Batman & Robin.
“Worlds collide in The Flash when Barry uses his superpowers to travel back in time in order to change the events of the past,” reads the synopsis. “But when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, Barry becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation, and there are no super heroes to turn to.”
The Flash is currently playing in theaters and is also available to own on Digital.