Before he was announced to be starring in Batgirl, Michael Keaton was confirmed to be reprising the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in next year’s The Flash. Regardless, there are now rumblings that Keaton’s return to Gotham has been cut short. While he’s still expected to appear in The Flash, apparently his overall DCEU role is now in danger.
On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter published their own take on what was going on behind the cancellation of Batgirl, including speculation that Michael Keaton will now have a “diminished role” in the DCEU. His version of Batman was expected to act as an “elder statesman” to the younger heroes, as well as being somewhat like Samuel L. Jackson’s version of Nick Fury in that he would connect the disparate movies. Along with Batgirl and The Flash, Keaton filmed a scene for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. This latter scene was shown to test audiences who THR says found it confusing, and not long after came the reports that Ben Affleck was returning to the role of Batman for Aquaman 2.
Though no one knows for sure what is meant to transpire in The Flash, the assumption has been for some time that the events of the film — which would largely be informed by DC’s multiverse — would see the timeline of the DCEU reset. The news that Michael Keaton was returning as Batman for multiple films alongside Ben Affleck’s numerous confirmations that The Flash would mark his final appearance as Batman naturally fueled speculation that the presumed timeline reset would see Affleck’s Batman erased from existence, to be replaced by Keaton’s version. But with the more recent reports it now seems likely that the replacement Batman has been replaced by the Batman he was meant to replace.
In spite of all of this, at present Michael Keaton does seem to be a lock for The Flash, but that brings up the thing that could throw a wrench into everything going on right now behind the scenes at Warner Bros. Discovery: Ezra Miller. The actor who has already portrayed Barry Allen/The Flash in three films as well as cameos in HBO Max’s Peacemaker and The CW’s Arrow is proving to be the DCEU’s biggest problem child; and yes, we’re counting Amber Heard in that. Since the beginning of the year, Miller has been arrested twice, been accused of grooming children, and also fielded accusations of violence and harassment against women. In one particularly disturbing report, Miller was said to be hosting a woman and her child on his Vermont property, where multiple firearms were alleged to be kept out in the open and in random places; including one which was allegedly kept next to a pile of stuffed animals in Miller’s living room.
With a reported budget of $200 million, at last check The Flash was too expensive and too integral to the DCEU narrative for Warner Bros. Discovery to shelve the way it has Batgirl. But if the lead actor’s alleged behavior escalates, CEO David Zaslav may find himself with few choices. It could be that Michael Keaton’s DC superhero return will be cancelled entirely.