“I’ve got one more thing to say and it’ll only take me a second, and I’ve got two words that I want you all to remember,” he said, capping off his nearly 20-minute-long speech. “They’re very important, and if I leave you with anything, I’m going to leave you with these two words. And those two words are: I’m Batman.”
Keaton uttered those words in Tim Burton’s Batman from 1989 and its 1992 sequel Batman Returns. It’s since become his signature as he continues to make various fan appearances.
Keaton still ranks as one of the most iconic Batman actors, but he also revealed in 2017 why he turned down a return appearance in Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever. “It sucked,” he said, bluntly. “The script never was great. I didn’t understand why [Schumacher] wanted to do what he wanted to do … I knew it was in trouble when he said, ‘Why does everything have to be so dark?’”
Val Kilmer would go on to replace the actor as the Caped Crusader and Keaton found a new niche with films like Noah, Birdman, Spotlight, The Founder, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Keaton will now reunite with Burton for Disney’s live-action Dumbo film, but to many, he will always be Batman.
Watch his full commencement speech in the video above, and skip to the 17:44 mark for his stellar sign-off.