In Birdman, Michael Keaton Spoofs His Superhero Past 

October 15, 2014 9:24 PM

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Before there was a Birdman, there was a Batman — several, in fact, though the best was played by Michael Keaton in the two Tim Burton films. Since then, Christian Bale's somber strutting and muttering, as seen in Christopher Nolan's Batman movies, has — go figure — become the gold standard of Batman performances. But there's no vitality in Bale's brooding; he's dark in the way wet coffee grounds are. Keaton played Batman as a hero who, save for a somber twist of fate, might have been mischievous and joyful and confident — he wanted to be all of those things and just couldn't. Instead of stumbling around in his own self-pitying darkness, he kept turning, in futility, toward the light. His suffering had the keen, metallic edge of a migraine.

In Birdman, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Keaton pours all of Batman's simmering disquietude into a different form: that of Riggan Thomson, a has-been actor who hopes to reclaim his reputation by staging an ambitious Broadway show, an adaptation — one he's written himself — of Raymond Car...

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