Michael Keaton Recalls Jack Nicholson’s Priceless Response to His Biggest Batman Mistake


  • Michael Keaton recalls Jack Nicholson’s reaction to his
    workout, admitting trying to bulk up was a mistake.
  • Keaton’s Batsuit in
    The Flash
    was lighter and allowed him to move his neck, fixing issues from 1989.
  • CGI in
    The Flash
    enabled more elaborate scenes compared to Keaton’s previous Batman films directed by Tim Burton.

Michael Keaton remembers Jack Nicholson’s hilariously droll reaction to his Batman workout regime. While many actors like Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth undergo impressive muscle-mass building training when preparing to play Marvel superheroes Wolverine and Thor respectively, Keaton’s “bulking up” attempts ended up being one of his biggest mistakes.

Batman (1989)

Release Date
June 23, 1989


Bob Kane , Sam Hamm , Warren Skaaren

Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?


During a retrospective GQ interview, in which Keaton revisits many of his most iconic roles, the actor recalled his casting as Batman, and how he prepared to play the Dark Knight for the first time by getting into a training routine. However, it didn’t exactly end up helping out in the way he expected. He said:

“I was training to be really fit. And I was training one day. Jack Nicholson walked by me. We were just about to start shooting and I was working on this bag and I had been training to get fit. And he walks by me and goes, ‘What are you doing?’ I said you know just working out. And he goes, ‘What are you doing that for?’ I didn’t have an answer for him and he just walked off and when into this other trailer. I approached it all wrong. It’s better to be real small and little and thin inside the thing. You can move, you can breath. There’s room inside. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I thought you know, I’m an actor and I’m gonna do all this stuff. I mean it helped in terms of carrying the whole thing around all the time. And I was part of something that was a frigging game changer in terms of how they make those movies.”

Michael Keaton Found a Lot Changed By the Time He Filmed The Flash

Michael Keaton wearing the Batsuit with no mask in The Flash.
Warner Bros.

At the time of filming Batman in 1989, and Batman Returns three years later, Keaton’s Batsuit was very restrictive, but he found that a lot had changed when he returned to the role over 30 years later in 2023’s The Flash. For a start, the suit was not as heavy to carry, and it also corrected one big issue with the original Batsuit.

Despite the 1989 Batsuit being deemed “perfect” by many fans, the visuals of the costume needed one amendment for Keaton’s return – a change to allow him to actually move his neck while wearing the cowl. The Flash’s director Andy Muschietti told Entertainment Weekly last year:

“You know the story. He was like, ‘That old suit was impossible to work with.’ [Michael Keaton] was very frustrated because he couldn’t move his neck or anything. The design was perfect, but it’s very often in movies that the better a suit looks, the more uncomfortable it is.”



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Although Keaton still had plenty to do in The Flash, many of the biggest action sequences also made use of CGI, something that Tim Burton’s movies did not have the option of using back in 1989. While The Flash’s computer generation effects were not completely appreciated by fans, they did allow for some more elaborate scenes than in either of Keaton’s previous outings. However, whether that made any of them better is still debatable.

You can compare Keaton’s Batman outings in
Batman, Batman Returns
The Flash
on Max, where these and other DC movies are currently streaming.


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