Earlier today, news broke that Michael Keaton is in talks to reprise his role as Batman for the forthcoming The Flash movie starring Ezra Miller -- and that afterwards, Keaton could be set up to play a version of Batman who would be able to return in future films as a kind of mentor figure to younger heroes. The news has DC fans already speculating about the possibilities for such a move, whether it's a multiverse or a Batman Beyond movie. And one of the questions that comes to mind pretty quick is: will this film feature more than one version of The Dark Knight?
Even if you get away from the fan-driven part of this speculation -- some people are already speculating that it might clear the decks for Pattinson's Batman to be the backstory of Keaton's aging one, etc. -- there's good reason to ask: the movie is reportedly inspired by the comics event Flashpoint, and in that series, there were two Batmen represented.
In the comic, Barry Allen wakes up in an alternate reality where his mother never died and he never became The Flash. The catch? He remembers being The Flash, and this world is terrible in a number of ways that make him wonder what villain might have done it.
Spoiler alert: that villain is Barry, who it turns out had used his time-travel powers to save his mom, resulting in the fractured timeline.
In any event, if you live in the DC Universe and suddenly find yourself powerless and trapped in a nightmare reality, where do you go for help? Well, the Justice League. But in a world where Cyborg is a government agent, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are dictators whose kingdoms are at war, Superman doesn't appear to exist, and The Flash is...well, we covered that...the next obvious choice is Batman.
Barry finds out quickly that Batman in Flashpoint isn't Bruce Wayne but his father, Thomas, who is a miserable, gun-toting Batman scarred forever by the death of his son. That's the bad news. The good news? Miserable, gun-toting, scarred Batman is happy to give himself up if it means his son gets a chance to live. So after giving Barry his powers back and sending him on his way with a note for Bruce, Thomas sacrifices himself and Barry shares a final, touching moment with Bruce.
That means that if The Flash really is based on Flashpoint, the odds are already pretty good that we will see at least two Batmen in the film.
That jives with recent rumors that Jeffrey Dean Morgan would return to reprise his role as Thomas, first seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in Flashpoint. He has, for years, expressed a consistent enthusiasm for donning the cape and cowl. Perhaps on the other side of that, The Flash will return home and present the Michael Keaton Batman with a note from his dad.
If so, it may raise some questions about what happened to Ben Affleck's Batman, and what could happen to Robert Pattinson's. If either of those were ot make a brief cameo, it wouldn't be entirely shocking. And, as "Crisis on Infinite Earths" taught us with three significant Supermen, there's always room for more as long as the writing works.