Playing Batman Wasn't the Hardest Part of Making the 1989 Movie, Says Michael Keaton

Playing Batman Wasn't the Hardest Part of Making the 1989 Movie, Says Michael Keaton
Image credit: Warner Bros.

The actor was the first to portray the character in a full-length feature film.


  • Both Tim Burton and Michael Keaton had doubts about bringing Batman to the big screen.
  • Although the Batman costume was difficult to wear, it made the role quite easy to play.
  • Keaton believes it was harder to show the person behind the superhero.

This summer marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Tim Burton's Batman, the first big-screen installment of DC's beloved superhero franchise. Despite the film's age and the fact that the franchise has been rebooted many times since, Burton's iteration of Batman remains one of the most popular versions of the classic story.

Starring Michael Keaton as the titular character, 1989's Batman was a smash hit at the time of its release, grossing a staggering $411 million against a budget of $48 million. But Batman's success was not set in stone. On the contrary, the movie was a huge gamble, as neither Tim Burton nor Michael Keaton could say whether audiences would like it, since the movie was very complex in terms of cinematography due to Batman's stunts. But even that wasn't the hardest part for the actor.

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'Just Work the Suit'

Both Tim Burton and Michael Keaton realized the immense responsibility of accurately adapting the beloved Batman story, which had been made into several popular television shows, animated and otherwise, for the big screen. According to the actor, he and the director were still figuring things out the day before shooting began.

Tim Burton pinned most of his hopes on the Batman costume. It was so eye-catching and commanded so much attention that it helped plan scenes and actor positions in advance. The Batsuit also helped Michael Keaton connect not only with Batman, but with Bruce Wayne, a man filled with despair and loneliness. And it was the scenes with Bruce that were the most difficult for the actor to film.

Playing Batman Wasn't the Hardest Part of Making the 1989 Movie, Says Michael Keaton - image 1

The Drama Inside

Disguised by the costume, Michael Keaton had no problem portraying Batman. As the actor said in a recent interview, the suit did most of the work for him, although it was quite an ordeal to wear the weighty garment. The more difficult task was playing Bruce Wayne and exploring his complex and damaged personality.

'What I never talked about really, which was easy to be honest, was I never thought about Batman. It was always Bruce Wayne. Who is Bruce Wayne? You start with that,' Michael Keaton said of his two-sided character.

In Keaton's opinion, it was fascinating to try to understand a person who witnessed the murder of his parents. In addition, there was the dissonance between the cool Batman and Bruce Wayne, who was a very 'odd' man whose depth was the hardest thing for the actor to tackle. Anyway, Keaton seemed to nail his part in Batman and became one of the best actors to have portrayed the character.

Source: YouTube.