Michael Keaton is returning to the role of Batman after a three-decade hiatus in the upcoming DC film The Flash. The last time Keaton suited up for the role was Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, his sophomore outing as the Caped Crusader. Keaton would then pass the part to Val Kilmer for 1995’s Batman Forever, directed by the late Joel Schumacher. Keaton hasn’t concealed his distaste for Batman Forever over the years, but now, he goes in-depth on why he couldn't return for that third film.

“When the director who directed the third one [approached me], I said, ‘I just can’t do it,’” Keaton told Variety in a recent interview. “And one of the reasons I couldn’t do it was — and you know, he’s a nice enough man, he’s passed away, so I wouldn’t speak ill of him even if he were alive — he, at one point, after more than a couple of meetings where I kept trying to rationalize doing it and hopefully talking him into saying, “I think we don’t want to go in this direction, I think we should go in this direction.’ And he wasn’t going to budge.”

Back in 2017, Keaton was a little less reserved when talking about his true feelings towards Batman Forever. “It sucked! The script never was good. I couldn’t understand why he [Schumacher] wanted to do what he wanted to do,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I hung on for many meetings. I knew it was in trouble when he said, ‘Why does everything have to be so dark?’”

Keaton’s latest statement reaffirms his stance on Schumacher’s 1995 film, and indeed confirms that Keaton would have stuck with the franchise had the material meshed more with the version of Batman he had created with Burton. Anyone familiar with Burton’s work knows that he doesn't shy away from the macabre, and that signature darkness colored his Batman films with a unique flair that complements Keaton's performance.

You can catch Keaton on-screen as the Caped Crusader in The Flash, which comes out November 4.

Gallery — A Visual History of Batman In Movies: 

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