Michael Keaton believes himself to be the best Batman ever, and a lot of fans would agree. However, there were just as many people crying foul back when it was first announced the Beetlejuice star would be playing the role, with tens of thousands of angry letters being sent to Warner Bros. headquarters by comic book enthusiasts upset that a so-called ‘comedy actor’ had been cast as the Dark Knight.
It might have been the first time a big screen Batman came in for criticism criticism when being announced, but it was far from the last. In fact, Christian Bale is the only one to have been cast as a cinematic Caped Crusader that didn’t receive any notable backlash. Val Kilmer wasn’t Michael Keaton and folks didn’t like that, E.R.‘s George Clooney was dismissed as a mere TV actor back when it was still an insult, Ben Affleck was… well, he was Ben Affleck, and Robert Pattinson still can’t shake the stench of The Twilight Saga.
Of course, not all of them managed to knock it completely out of the park, but Keaton definitely did. The doubters and naysayers were won over by the end of the very first scene, in fact, and a lot of that was down to the leading man himself, who improvised the now-iconic “I’m Batman” line when the alternatives handed to him didn’t play quite so well.
It’s one of the most famous soundbites in the entire Batman back catalogue, and it wouldn’t have had anywhere near the same influence or impact had he gone with “I am the night” or “I am vengeance” as had been suggested to him before Keaton decided to try his own spin on the dialogue and improvise it, which worked out very well for everyone in the end.