I don’t know about you, but I love when an actor has a second wind in their career a little later in life. Just when you thought they had their share of the spotlight, and their best roles and movies were behind them, they come back even stronger than ever. The most recent example of this is Michael Keaton. The comedian/action star was huge in the 80s, and though he had some great “small” parts in the decades that followed, he never quite carried a popular film… until Birdman.
Birdman could almost have been an autobiographical movie for Keaton. How does an actor continue after he’s broken box office records in one of the most popular superhero movies of all time? How can he move on to drama when the world just wants to see him in a mask and cape (or wings). Though I never felt Keaton was not taken seriously as a serious actor, I think Birdman still shattered his own glass ceiling like Batman did when he confronted the Joker in the museum.
One might say that Keaton has had a touch of gold. The past two years the movies he’s starred in (Birdman and Spotlight) have won best picture Oscars. And the buzz is that he may be nominated again for his role as McDonald’s kingpin Ray Kroc in The Founder. And if that weren’t enough, this summer he’ll turn from hero to villain when he takes on the role of The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Now THAT’S coming full circle! At least when it comes to playing creatures with wings.
And on a personal note, Michael Keaton is one of the few celebrities I’ve actually encountered living here in LA-LA-Land. I met him at a book release party for Tim Burton. Keaton was so down to earth, he actually came up to me and said: “How’s it going?” and chatted for a while. So, on a personal level, I couldn’t be happier to see a nice guy like Michael Keaton having a great golden age.
So to celebrate Keaton’s, uhm, homecoming, I’ve dug up a bunch of shirts of his most iconic rolls. Starting with the ghost with the most! The bio-exorcist who gets the job done. That beetle guy… Beetlejuice! (I’ll only say it once to be safe.)
I remember before Tim Burton’s Batman came out, there was a petition at my comic book store saying: “Keep Michael Keaton out of the Batcave.” In the time before the Internet, angry Bat-fans sent petitions to Warner Brothers because they felt a comedian could not be The Dark Knight. Turns out he proved most cynics wrong. And as I told him, “I probably shouldn’t say this, but you were the best Batman.” He replied, “Why shouldn’t you? I’ll say it!” (Of course, this was before Christian Bale.) So here’s to the Batman that made the phrase “I’m Batman!” a household term.
And then there’s Birdman. I’m not sure if this character will sustain popularity as much as Beetlejuice and his Batman. But it should tie us over until Keaton’s next big thing.
I can’t wait to see what Michael Keaton does next.