The actor was never a fan of director Joel Schumacher's colorful style
Although Michael Keaton was the first actor to play Batman in a big-screen blockbuster (1989’s Batman), he bailed on the franchise after two films with director Tim Burton. During a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter‘s “Awards Chatter” podcast, Keaton said he quit the series because he was unimpressed by the vision of Burton’s successor, Joel Schumacher.
“It sucked,” Keaton said of the Batman Forever screenplay. “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?’” Keaton was replaced as the Caped Crusader by Val Kilmer (who himself was replaced by George Clooney in Schumacher’s next stab at the material).
While Burton’s two Batman films were dark and gothic (particularly 1992’s Batman Returns), Schumacher took the franchise in a more colorful, light-hearted direction — one that proved unpopular with viewers and critics alike by the time the fourth film, Batman & Robin with Clooney as the superhero, was released in 1997. Following that misfire, the franchise stayed dormant until Christopher Nolan’s gritty 2005 revival Batman Begins.
Although his Batman days are behind him, Keaton will return to the world of superhero film with a role as the villainous Vulture in this year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.