For most, Michael Keaton is easily one the best actors to portray Batman, but many also loved Val Kilmer’s one-film portrayal. But while its clear why George Clooney and even Ben Affleck left the role, it hasn’t always been understood why Keaton and Kilmer did.
Michael Keaton’s exit from Batman Forever.
After the release of Batman Returns in 1992, Michael Keaton was offered a third chance to play Batman in Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever. Keaton revealed to the Hollywood Reporter in 2019, why didn’t come back for the third adventure:
“It sucked. The script never was good. I couldn’t understand why he wanted to do what he wanted to do.”
The Batman Forever script was written by Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler and Akiva Goldsman. Warner Bros reportedly offered Keaton a record $15 million to return for the role, but it still wasn’t enough.
“I knew it was in trouble when (Joel) said, ‘Why does everything have to be so dark?,’” Keaton explained.
Keaton was coming off of Tim Burton’s much darker Batman and Batman Returns, so its no surprise that he would have been taken aback by Joel Schumacher’s more “colorful” approach to the material. But good on him for turning the paychecks down, and sticking to his guns.
Val Kilmer’s exit from Batman & Robin.
Recently in an interview with the New York Times, Val Kilmer shedded some light on his decision to walk away from the franchise after just one film.
Director Joel Schumacher called Kilmer “psychotic” in interviews after directing him in Batman Forever. As for why Val Kilmer didn’t return for Batman and Robin, the actor blames scheduling difficulties with another film he was contractually obligated to do” The Saint — but the idea of Kilmer being difficult on set, is a theme discussed by many and in great-detail throughout the article.
Kilmer also shares a story from his days as The Batman when Warren Buffet and his grandkids visited set to see Batman, so Kilmer stuck around in the suit, but the guests ultimately didn’t want to talk to Kilmer. They wanted to wear the mask then ride in the Batmobile. Kilmer realized then the man in the suit is merely a prop. Batman needs to be anonymous so that any person looking at him can see themselves. “That’s why it’s so easy to have 5 or 6 Batmans,” Kilmer says in the inteview. “It’s not about Batman. There is no Batman.” He was grateful to take the suit off, as the interview says: When he took it off, he was finally free.
Who followed the Batman franchise next?
Batman Forever met with a mixed critical response but managed to collect over $336 million worldwide.
Kilmer’s exit gave a chance to George Clooney to star in the 1997’s Batman & Robin. However, Batman and Robin is considered one of the weakest Batman films, both by fans and critics. It created such a mess that Batman was seen next in 2005’s Batman Begins.
Batman Begins got directed by Christopher Nolan and starred Christian Bale as Batman. This particular duo returned for two more films. In the end, the trilogy became a massive box office and critical success.
Ben Affleck then took up the cape and cowl for Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. He then walked away from the franchise fo star in and directed a stand-alone film.
Looking to the future, Robert Pattinson is the latest actor to play Batman in a theatrical setting.
The audience must now wait to see how Robert plays the superhero in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. The movie releases on October 1, 2021. Fans may now gear up for the next. However, stay tuned for more DC comics updates!