Those who saw The Flash or read spoilers know Michael Keaton’s elder Bruce Wayne explained he retired because his Gotham became safer and no longer needed a Batman. He was very effective in his mission, so mission complete, case closed – or so it appeared. Unsurprisingly, there is more to the story, and director Andy Muschietti added the extra layer.
In a featurette, Muschietti clarified his vision for Tim Burton’s Batman with a little background that gives a tragic character more of a taste of tragedy. That’s not unheard of for the Caped Crusader, but the filmmaker stated his goal was “to defy people’s expectations of where Bruce Wayne would be.” To achieve that, he imagined Bruce breaking his one rule.
“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? I always said something should happen to Bruce Wayne to want to stop being Batman,” Muschietti said.
“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. 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.
In the end, the consequence was one many of us fans could’ve predicted: Bruce couldn’t live with crossing that line and hung up the cape for good. “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,” Muschietti explained.
But the vigilante was presented with a path to redemption, adds the director, “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.”
If that arc for an aging Bruce Wayne sounds familiar, it’s because a similar sequence of events played out in Batman Beyond when a desperate and heart-stricken Bruce pulled a gun on a kidnapper. After that incident, he withdrew from heroics until he met Terry McGinnis. The comparison is clear and very telling in this case.
Michael Keaton was slated to stay on for more films with DC before the latest merger changed plans. One of those was a rumored live-action Batman Beyond feature which Warner Bros. Discovery doesn’t want to put money on. Regardless, Muschietti appears to have been laying the groundwork for the project during Flash production and maybe positioning himself to direct.
Or it’s all coincidence. You be the judge.