Michael Keaton's 'Batman' (1989) Series Explained (2024)

Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne/Batman might seem like a thing of the past, but these days, it’s impossible for fans to let the past go. It’s even harder when their beloved actors/characters make surprising returns in sequels, spinoffs, and Multiverse movies.

Nostalgia is an incredibly powerful emotion, which is why there’ll always be a market for “legacy actors” and “legacy characters” in entertainment. Michael Keaton’s Dark Knight isn’t the only iteration who’s made something of a comeback — and he won’t be the last, either.

Michael Keaton's 'Batman' (1989) Series Explained (1)

Still, he seems to be the version fans tend to care about the most — at least when it comes to live-action movies. Now, he’s set to return in an official sequel. Unfortunately, it won’t be available in theaters — instead, it will be hitting bookshelves later this year.

But when that new sequel arrives, you can enjoy a long-running “series” of Keaton’s outings as the Caped Crusader, comprised of movies, novels, and more. Here are all the installments the beloved actor’s version of Batman in chronological order, including upcoming entries.

Batman (1989)

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First off the, ahem, “bat” is Tim Burton’s Batman (1989). While Keaton’s debut wasn’t the first time the Dark Knight hit the big screen — that honor goes to the 1966 movie adaptation of the ’60s television series starring Adam West — it was the first gritty superhero movie.

Not only did the 1989 film spawn waves of tie-in media, it even inspired the cult classic entry Batman: The Animated Series (1992 — 1995), whose Gotham City adopts a similar quasi-gothic look. With a $48M budget, the 1989 film grossed $411.6M at the global box office and became a beloved classic. To this day, many fans consider it the best Batman movie.

Related:Batman: Every Returning Version of the Dark Knight Explained

Batman (1989) Video Games

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Naturally, some of that tie-in media included video games. Starting in the year the film was released in theaters, games based on and inspired by Tim Burton’s 1989 superhero flick, thus featuring Michael Keaton’s Batman, were churned out over a three-year period.

While some of these titles attempted to capture the likeness of Keaton’s crime-fighter (to the best of their then-pixelated abilities at the time, of course), the actor did not lend his vocal talents to any of the projects. Still, his iteration of the Caped Crusader is very much present. Check out a “retrospective review” of the games from YouTuber Oliver Harper.

“Batman: Resurrection”

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“Batman: Resurrection” (2024) is an upcoming tie-in novel from Star Wars author John Jackson Miller. Described as a “direct sequel” to Tim Burton’s 1989 film, it sees the return of several characters, such as Alfred Pennyworth, Commissioner Gordon, and Alexander Knox.

The story takes place in the aftermath of The Joker’s death to find Gotham City — and Bruce Wayne — in a state of turmoil. The book will even bring in characters from Batman Returns (1992), including a pre-Catwoman Selina Kyle and corrupt wealthy industrialist Max Shreck, who are played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken, respectively, in the film.

Related: Michael Keaton’s Batman and Jack Nicholson’s Joker Make Official Return

Batman Returns

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Michael Keaton suited up as Bruce Wayne/Batman for a second time in the Tim Burton sequel Batman Returns, this time to battle Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin (Danny DeVito), Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Max Shreck (Christopher Walken).

While still a box office hit, as it had a bigger budget than its predecessor ($50–80M), the film didn’t perform as well, grossing $266.8M worldwide. Keaton didn’t return in the two Joel Schumacher-directed sequels, Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997), in which Val Kilmer and George Clooney, respectively, took over as the character.

Batman Returns Video Games

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Unsurprisingly, Batman Returns also inspired several video games that spanned then-popular consoles and other systems. There’s an in-depth walkthrough video of the 1993 beat-em-game based on the 1992 film, courtesy of YouTube channel NintendoComplete.

Like the ones that followed the 1989 film, these entries aren’t necessarily considered “canon,” largely because they’re simply straightforward arcade-style games of that era (these days, it’s easier to label a franchise’s tie-in game as “canon” with the films as they’re more cinematic and story-driven, and usually, many actors also reprise their roles).

Related: Upcoming ‘Batman’ (1989) Sequel: Every Returning Character Explained

“Batman ’89: Shadows”

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In 2021, DC Comics released “Batman ’89” (2021 — present), an ongoing comic book series set in the aptly-named “Burton-Verse,” following the sequel Batman Returns and capturing the likenesses of the actors from Tim Burton’s two films, including Michael Keaton himself.

The first series, “Shadows,” sees the return of Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Alfred Pennyworth, and Commissioner James Gordon, who are played on screen by Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Gough, and Pat Hingle, respectively. “Shadows” also introduces character who don’t appear in the two films, like Harvey Bullock, Carmine Falcone, and Barbara Gordon/Batgirl.

“Echoes”

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The second series in the “Batman ’89” comic book universe is titled “Echoes” and continues with the story established in “Shadows,” bringing back Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, Selina Kyle, and the new Robin character Drake Winston.

This time, we also meet the Burton-Verse versions of Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn, Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow, and Dr. Hugo Strange, all of whom have appeared in other movie adaptations of Batman but not in the two Tim Burton installments. “Batman ’89” completely ignores the events of the films Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.

Related: ‘Batman’ (1989) “Direct Sequel” Will Recast Michael Keaton’s Dark Knight

The Flash

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Last year, Michael Keaton made his long-awaited return the iconic superhero in the DC Universe (DCU) Multiverse movie The Flash (2023), which also stars Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash and Sasha Calle as Kara Zor-El/Kara Danvers/Supergirl.

While the film was a critical disaster and box office bomb (grossing $271.3M on a budget of $200–220M), fans of the Tim Burton films were still thrilled to see the beloved ’90s icon finally reprise his role as the Dark Knight — even if he is seemingly a Multiversal variant (it’s not entirely clear, but we don’t really care, because he says “You wanna get nuts?”).

Regardless of whether or not Keaton’s Batman is the same one from the Burton films, The Flash has still canonized the Burton-Verse (at least within Warner Bros.’ first version of the DCU, as the entire shared cinematic universe is now being rebooted from scratch).

Other Upcoming Projects Featuring the Dark Knight

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This year, Gotham City’s Caped Crusader turns 85 years old. So, in addition to “Batman: Resurrection,” there are several upcoming projects to look forward to.

The “Batman: Arkham” video game series is getting a new virtual reality (VR) entry titled “Batman: Arkham Shadow” (2024), which will be released later this year. The anime film Batman Ninja (2018) is also getting a sequel titled Batman Ninja vs. Yakuza League (TBA).

Another animated project in the works is the series Batman: Caped Crusader (TBA), with The Batman (2022) director Matt Reeves onboard as an executive producer.

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Related: DC’s Batman Reboot Finally Reveals New Dark Knight Actor and More

Matt Reeves is also directing The Batman — Part II (2026),which will see Robert Pattinson return in the titular role. A spinoff series titled The Penguin (2024), in which Colin Farrell returns as Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot/The Penguin, is also in development for Max.

Joker: Folie à Deux (2024), the sequel to Joker (2019), in which Joaquin Phoenix reprises his role as Arthur Fleck, this time opposite Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn. It will be released on October 4.

There’s also a Batman reboot in the works titled The Brave and the Bold (TBA), which will form part of the new DCU.

“Batman: Resurrection” will be published and released by Penguin Random House on October 15.

What’s your favorite entry in the entire Michael Keaton Batman series? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

Michael Keaton's 'Batman' (1989) Series Explained (2024)
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