Was Michael Keaton Chosen For 'Birdman' Because of His 'Batman' Past? Don't Jump To Any Conclusions

As soon as the opening credits roll for Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman , any suspicion that you're about to watch a comic book super hero movie completely dissolves. The film is, in fact, as far from a big-budget action flick as you can get... even though it's about a character who can't escape his past as the former biggest super hero star on the planet. It also happens to star an actor who once played one of the most famous super heroes of all time. But the similarity pretty much ends there. Keaton told Entertainment Weekly: "The truth is that I was playing a person, just a person.”

Sure, Birdman and Batman are both winged crusaders played by the same actor. And sure, in the film and in life, said actor takes a long hiatus before returning to acting. And sure sure, the fictional Riggan Thomson tries to re-start his career as a serious actor by staging Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” and the real Michael Keaton made huge waves with critics playing that very role. Sure, it's more than a little meta, but it's not the reason Keaton got the role.

The fact of the matter is, Keaton completely disappears into Riggan Thomson. You don't see the actor who plays Batman, and you don't see Batman one bit in Birdman. Keaton has also said in multiple interviews that he doesn't see himself at all in Riggan Thomson. The character's desire for attention and fame are not at the core of the man, Keaton.

According to Iñárritu, Keaton was perfect for the role because of his fearlessness. “Michael is the most confident person I have known in my life... It’s the only way you can play this character like he did. The braveness and boldness that he has come from that incredible self-assurance.”

We'll see on Oscar night if Keaton's transformation into the troubled, desperate, and misunderstood Riggan Thomson will earn the actor the highest honor in cinema... which oddly enough, would have been Riggan Thomson's greatest dream realized.

And for the record, Keaton really was the best Batman.

Image: New Regency Pictures