Critical Mass: Michael Keaton takes flight in 'Birdman'

October 19, 2014 4:30 PM

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Michael Keaton was the first movie actor to say, “I’m Batman.” In 1989, Keaton defied the skeptics who’d shrieked when Tim Burton cast him as the Caped Crusader when Batman became a blockbuster, laying the groundwork for the future of superhero franchises and, hence, Hollywood. But after a popular sequel, Keaton hung up the cape, and despite some memorable performances since then—The Paper, Jackie Brown, The Other Guys—he’s never found another role with either the depth or profile of Batman.

In Birdman, Keaton plays someone we immediately identify—even if he claims he does not. Riggan Thomson is an actor best known for walking away from the fame and riches of playing a franchise superhero, now trying to recapture a modicum of that fame with a Broadway play. His personal life is messy, h...

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