Today’s kids may know Christian Bale as their definitive take on the Dark Knight, but to an entire generation growing up in the late 1980s/early 1990s, Michael Keaton was their Batman. The actor – who donned the cowl and cape in the 1989 Batman and its 1992 sequel – has largely avoided the superhero genre since leaving his most iconic role behind, spending the last decade or so focusing on supporting turns (Robocop, The Other Guys) and voice work (his Ken was widely considered a highlight in Toy Story 3). However, that’s all about to change with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’sBirdman – well, sort of.
In the film, Keaton plays a washed-up actor – best known for playing the titular superhero – who aims to make a comeback on the Broadway stage. Other than some set photos of Keaton and the aforementioned costumed hero, fans have been left to speculate on what to expect form the final film. Now, thanks to Fox Searchlight, we have the first trailer for Birdman (see above).
From its haunting use of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” to the tracking shot of a weathered, tired Keaton, Birdman looks like it could very well be to superheroes what Black Swan is to ballerinas, in that it follows the behind-the-scenes psychological turmoil that befalls a performer in the pursuit of greatness. Furthermore, the leaked set photos indicate that the eponymous hero is shadowing Keaton’s character as he tries to shed his superhero image, which may mean that his character is even more damaged than the footage suggests.
This premise alone has promise, but with the pitch-perfect casting of Keaton in the lead role,Birdman boasts an art-imitating-life approach that should lend even more strength to the material onscreen. The film reportedly plays a dark comedy, but considering that Inarritu is best known for somber Oscar-nominated dramas like Babel and 21 Grams, Birdman could (as the trailer suggests) be more of a compelling character piece than a comic romp.
Of course, it’s far too soon to tell how Birdman will turn out or if the film will lead to something of a comeback for Keaton. For all we know, the film could very well prove to be a contender for Oscar gold next year. In any case, the stunning ensemble cast – which also includes Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan and Edward Norton – makes Birdman one to watch.
Robert Yaniz Jr. blogs at Screen Rant.