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A lot of people may look to the 1980s when recalling their favorite Michael Keaton movies, such as Beetlejuice or Batman, but I would say you only need to go back a few years to find some of his finest performances yet, like in back-to-back Best Picture winners Birdman or Spotlight to name a few. Thus, I cannot wait to see what the Academy Award-nominated actor will turn in next, such as his surprise casting in Morbius or in The Flash in which he will reprise one of his most famous characters. There is plenty more from Keaton to look forward to that I will now break down for you one movie (or TV show) at time, starting with what looks to be one of most exciting 2021 movies on the horizon.
The Protégé (August 20, 2021)
Michael Keaton has shared the screen with fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe actor Samuel L. Jackson’s a number of times before. They played opposite sides of the law in director Quentin Tarantino’s 1995 Elmore Leonard-based thriller Jackie Brown, opposing personalities in the world of law in the 2010 action comedy The Other Guys, and two pro-technology antagonists of the 2014 RoboCop remake, most recently. Their latest collaboration, however, sees them back on opposites sides, sort of.
Formerly titled The Asset, The Protégé stars action star Maggie Q (Mission: Impossible III, Nikita, the Divergent movies) as Anna, an assassin who discovers her trusted mentor, Moody (Samuel L. Jackson), murdered in his home. This set her on the path form an uneasy alliance with her longtime rival Rembrandt (Michael Keaton) as she attempts track down the culprit. The action-packed espionage thriller, written by 2016’s The Magnificent Seven and Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer scribe Richard Wenk and helmed by Casino Royale director Martin Campbell, hits theaters Friday, August 20, 2021.
Worth (September 2021)
The year 2021 will also see Michael Keaton in a role that involves him dealing with violence, political intrigue, and justice to the fallen. Based on the memoir What Is Life Worth by attorney Kenneth Feinberg, Worth chronicles Feinberg’s battle against cynicism and dehumanizing bureaucracy in order to bring aid to victims of the tragic events on September 11, 2001 after being appointed Special Master of the U.S. government's September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Keaton plays Feinberg, leading the a star-studded cast that also includes Stanley Tucci and Keaton’s Birdman co-star Amy Ryan.
Worth was helmed by The Kindergarten Teacher director Sara Colangelo and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020. In February of the following year, distribution rights were acquired by Higher Ground Productions and Netflix. The film will premiere on the streaming platform in sometime September, supposedly in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the devastating attacks in New York on 9/11.
Before films like director Ron Howard’s 1982 comedy Night Shift or Mr. Mom, another comedy classic with Teri Garr, made him a movie star, Michael Keaton got his start performing comedy on TV shows like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood or The Mary Tyler Moore Hour. He has since repeated this legacy through hosting Saturday Night Live in 2015 and guest spots on shows like 30 Rock or an episode of Documentary Now! poking fun at the Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country. Yet, this time, the actor’s latest return to television will be no laughing matter.
Author Beth Macy’s 2018 non-fiction book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America serves as the basis for this dramatized Hulu original miniseries that is set release sometime in 2021. In Dopesick, Michael Keaton plays Dr. Samuel Finnix, who is horrified by the discoveries linking Big Pharma to America’s opioid crisis. Keaton is also executive producing the eight-episode limited series, which is now filming and co-stars Peter Sarsgaard, Booksmart’s Katilyn Dever, and Rosario Dawson from The Mandalorian.
Morbius (January 28, 2022)
I remember finding it funny how the MCU cast Michael Keaton as the bird-like Spider-Man villain Vulture soon after playing the former star in a bird-like superhero movie in Birdman in 2014. Of course, the actor’s pitch perfect performance in Spider-Man: Homecoming opposite Tom Holland silenced that laughter immediately and had fans pining to see more of him as the winged antagonist. It looks like Adrian Toomes will return, but not how many had expected.
Marvel Comics’ “Living Vampire” will come to “life” on the big screen for the first time in director Daniel Espinosa’s thriller. Academy Award winner Jared Leto stars in the title role of Morbius - a biochemist whose experimental cure for his rare blood disease turns him into a rare kind of bloodsucker. When the trailer for the anti-hero story dropped in January 2020, it was a pleasant shock to see Michael Keaton appear in the final moment, teasing what could be the beginning of Sony’s long-awaited adaptation of Spidey villain collective, the Sinister Six. Perhaps we will find out for sure this January.
The Flash (November 4, 2022)
Interestingly, Morbius is a Marvel movie boasting two former DC movie actors - Suicide Squad’s Jared Leto and the Tim Burton’s Batman, circa 1989, Michael Keaton. More interestingly, the Sony film will not be the only 2022 comic book movie that sees Keaton revisit a past superhero role. In fact, he will not be the only one playing this particular character in the long-awaited solo film starring Ezra Miller as a super fast Justice Leaguer.
Using DC Comics Flashpoint as inspiration, The Flash sees the speedster accidentally alter history and put him in contact with alternate realities. That is where Michael Keaton’s Batman will come into play and share the screen with Ben Affleck as the DCEU’s Dark Knight - a collaboration that was not officially confirmed until April 2020. The only thing that could make fans more excited for It director Andy Muschietti’s multiversal superhero movie is Michelle Pfieffer as Catwoman, which would be a fun surprise to see in November 2022.
While our next entry is not a comic book film, it does share something in common with Michael Keaton’s Marvel movie history. In 2019, former Sony Pictures head Amy Pascal signed onto produce Goodrich, which Variety describes as the story of a man named Andy Goodrich, who enlists the help of his adult daughter to take care of his 9-year-old twins in the wake of his second wife’s separation from him.
Michael Keaton became attached to lead the cast of Goodrich in the title role when Amy Pascal signed on to produce the family, which will be written and helmed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, who made her directorial debut with the Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy Home Again in 2017. Updates about the film’s development have since been scarce.
Imagine Agents (TBA)
Apparently, Michael Keaton has set his sights on surpassing Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the most prolific comic book movie actor ever. Outside of his second Marvel movie outing in Morbius and epic Batman reprisal in The Flash, there is another graphic novel adaptation he may have in development. In fact, curiously, his involvement was announced not long after he poked fun at the comic book movie genre with Birdman.
Michael Keaton signed on produce and star in Imagine Agents, based on the inventive Boom! comic book series by writer Brian Jones and artist Bachan about an organization that keeps tabs on children’s imaginary figments (which are actually very real) to prevent things from getting out of control. The news of the deal, which was conducted with Fox, came out in 2015 before the company merged with Disney, and that also happens to be the last we have heard of the project since. Personally, I do hope there is a chance that Disney and Keaton could revive what sounds like a genuinely imaginative adventure.
Nothing Like The Son (TBA)
In addition to comic book movies, fact-based dramas seem to have become Michael Keaton’s bread and butter lately. Case in point, playing investigative journalist Robbie Robertson in Best Picture Oscar winner Spotlight, his stunning performance as McDonalds’ “founder” Ray Kroc in The Founder, and portraying attorney Ramsey Clark in Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 most recently. After audiences see him deal with the consequences of 9/11 in Worth, Keaton’s next fact-based drama will tackle another devastating event.
In 2019, Michael Keaton reportedly signed on to executive produce and star in Nothing Like the Son, inspired by the tragedy of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico from late 2017. The coming-of-age story follows Ray Bracero, forced to endure his high school senior year on his own and homeless after his mother returns to Puerto Rico right before the storm hits. Keaton is said to be playing a recovering addict and unlikely father figure to the young protagonist in the film, which was last announced a beginning production in January 2020.
Whether he is playing a winged black market weapons manufacturer, a winged protector of Gotham City, or an aging hired gun who still has what it takes to face off against his younger female opponent, I am always down for a good Michael Keaton movie. Whenever I see his name pop up in a movie credit I cannot help but say, to quote his title role from the Beetlejuice cast, “It’s showtime!”