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SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Actor Michael Keaton accepts Best Male Lead for 'Birdman' onstage during the 2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Beach on February 21, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Many Batman fans consider Michael Keaton is the definitive Bruce Wayne; after 1989’s Batman and the sequel, 1992’s Batman Returns. He dropped out of that franchise after two films, and seemed to have left the character in his rearview mirror — 2014’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was seen as a sort of parody of both Batman and Keaton himself. He moved on to playing supervillains by playing Vulture in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. 

But The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Keaton is in talks to return to the role of Batman for the upcoming Flash film, starring Ezra Miller, who debuted in 2017’s Justice League… which saw Ben Affleck playing the Bruce Wayne/Batman role. Affleck has walked away from the Batman role, but how would the film explain that the much-older Keaton is now Batman? Here’s what we know:

The ’80s/’90s Bat-franchise had three actors over the course four films: after Keaton, came Val Kilmer and George Clooney. If the Hollywood Reporter is correct, it looks like Keaton will be playing the same Batman he did in his first two films. He wouldn’t be “replacing” Ben Affleck, because in the DC multiverse several parallel universes coexist, each with slightly different versions of the same characters.  For example: Ezra Miller’s Flash recently cameoed in an episode of the CW’s Flash series, which stars Grant Gustin as the Flash. That show crosses over with the CW’s Supergirl, and in a recent episode, Robert Wuhl reprised his role as Alexander Knox from the 1989 Batman film. Got it?

The Hollywood Reporter foresees Keaton’s Batman being envisioned like Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in the Marvel Universe; he would appear in multiple films without necessarily getting his own movie.

With Robert Pattinson recently being cast as Batman and Affleck scheduled to do re-shoots for Justice League, we could see three different Batman’s in one year.