Buzz appears to be growing at AT&T and WarnerMedia surrounding Michael Keaton and Batman Beyond as a new rumor details that the Joker could be the villain of a Batman Beyond film with Tim Burton returning to helm it.

Not only does this latest rumor indicate that Burton could return for this Batman Beyond film, but he would also bring with him long-time collaborator Johnny Depp to play the Joker.

Related: Rumor: Michael Keaton To Play Batman In The Flash Movie

Recently TheWrap reported a rumor that the studio was courting Michael Keaton to appear in the upcoming The Flash film as an older Bruce Wayne and Batman. They detailed, “After nearly 30 years, Michael Keaton is in talks to return to the role of Batman.”

However, they added the caveat that “talks with Keaton are in the very early stages, it is far from a sure thing, and can go either way.”

The Hollywood Reporter would elaborate on Keaton’s alleged role in future DC Films describing him as playing a “mentor role, perhaps showing up in Batgirl.”

They added, “It’s easy to imagine his role in this regard being similar to Bruce Wayne’s in the animated Batman Beyond, though Keaton, younger than that series’ Bruce Wayne, would likely still be able to get in on the action.”

They also speculated that there could be a chance of Jack Nicholson or even Michelle Pfieffer returning to their roles from Burton’s Batman films.

Related: Rumor: Michael Keaton’s Talks Include More Than One DC Movie; Batman Beyond Could Be One

Following this initial rumor about Michael Keaton from TheWrap, scooper Mikey Sutton revealed to YouTube channel Midnight’s Edge that not only could Keaton land a role in the upcoming The Flash film, but he might also reprise his role in a live-action Batman Beyond for HBO Max.

Sutton explained, “A live-action Batman Beyond is being talked about again and this time for HBO Max although no development has begun.”

He added, “If they could net Keaton for it, the possibility of this materializing greatly increases.”

Sutton concluded, “AT&T is quite excited about the commercial and social-media buzz Keaton in Batman Beyond could generate for HBO Max. Only time will tell if Keaton is similarly thrilled with the idea.”

Related: Dream Casting: If Batman Beyond Is Made, Michael Keaton Should Come Back, Kevin Smith Says

Now, Sutton is back with a new rumor for Batman Beyond that details it might be a theatrical release rather a HBO Max exclusive and it could involve Tim Burton directing and Johnny Depp as the Joker.

First Sutton details that the Batman Beyond film would actually be a live-action adaptation of the Return of the Joker film, which was a direct-to-video animated film released in 2000.

The film saw Terry McGinnis facing off against the Joker and the Jokerz gang. However, the film is quite layered and an older Bruce Wayne can’t believe that the Joker has returned because he thought that the Joker had died in their last battle. Not only that, but with the Joker’s return Bruce doesn’t want Terry fighting and demands Terry turn over the Batsuit, which he does.

Related: Rumor: Ezra Miller’s Status as The Flash Still in Question and Why Michael Keaton’s Batman Returns

Things take a twist when the Joker sends his goons after Terry while he attacks Bruce in the Batcave leaving him reeling from poison. Terry then begins trying to figure out the identity of the Joker and what happened during Batman’s last encounter with the infamous villain.

Terry eventually tracks down the Joker at the abandoned Jolly Jack Candy Factory and it’s revealed that Tim Drake is actually the Joker. Drake had previously been kidnapped and tortured by the Joker before Batman and Batgirl rescued him from the Joker and Harley Quinn.

During that rescue the original Joker’s body did in fact die, but he implanted a high tech microchip in Tim filled with the Joker’s consciousness and genes. The microchip gradually transformed Tim Drake into a Joker clone.

Terry confronts the Joker and has to use his wits and street fighting abilities in order to overcome him. He eventually does and is able to destroy the microchip reverting Tim Drake back to his normal self.

Sutton explains, “Apparently, AT&T is feasting on the idea of the Joker being the central villain in it. That may sound like an unimaginative cash grab given the immense popularity of the Joker but there is actually an artistic reason for this: a live-action adaptation of the Return of the Joker animated film.”

Related: Rumor: Ready Player One’s Tye Sheridan on the Shortlist for Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond Film

He then goes on to indicate that the film might not actually be a HBO Max, but instead a theatrical release, “What was originally planned for HBO Max could now be a theatrical release depending if certain pieces fall into place.”

As for what those pieces are, Sutton details the big one is director Tim Burton, “First, AT&T sees Tim Burton helming this project as the potential for a billion-dollar blockbuster, much larger than HBO Max.”

He then notes Keaton’s involvement is also key, “Having Burton reunite with Keaton could be box-office dynamite; if done well, it would go nuclear.”

Finally, he provides some details on the Joker noting that he “has been hearing about discussions for Johnny Depp as the Joker so much lately that he was convinced they were targeting him for Matt Reeves’ Batman trilogy. That might not be the case. They haven’t negotiated with Depp yet but Sutton was told WB is planning on nabbing him for Batman Beyond as the world’s most famous psychotic clown.”

Related: Concept Artist Imagines Batman Beyond Movie as a Sequel to Christopher Nolan’s Trilogy Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt

But Sutton indicates that for everything to fall into place, it begins with Michael Keaton, “However, it all begins with Keaton. Sign him first, then Burton, and Depp will be checkmate.”

Midnight’s Edge also notes in their video above that they’ve heard about Johnny Depp taking on the role of the Joker. They explain, “I have heard from other sources that while no formal talks have yet taken place the notion of Johnny Depp taking on the mantle of the Joker in some project has been discussed over drinks if nothing else for months already. So, Depp is no stranger to the idea.”

They add, “If they are able to first secure the services of Michael Keaton and if they are then able to secure the services of Tim Burton then Johnny Depp, from what I understand, is practically a lock.”

What do you make of this rumor? Would you want to see a live-action adaptation of Return of the Joker? Would you want to see Depp become the Joker? What about Keaton playing an older Bruce Wayne?

  • About The Author

    John F. Trent
    Founder and Editor-in-Chief

    John is the Editor-in-Chief here at Bounding Into Comics. He is a massive Washington Capitals fan, lover of history, and likes to dabble in economics and philosophy.