Michael Keaton is experiencing a meteoric career resurgence right now. After Birdman courted big award wins (including four Oscars and two Golden Globes - one for Keaton himself), the actor is returning to the genre of comic book blockbusters to play the maniacal villain Vulture in this summer's Marvel/Sony partnership venture, Spider-Man: Homecoming.
However, word is now in that Keaton's resume as a blockbuster movie villain will continue to expand after Spider-Man; Disney is reportedly looking to attach Keaton to its live-action remake of Dumbo, which is being helmed by Keaton's Batman director, Tim Burton!
Variety reports that Disney is in talks with Keaton to play what sounds like a version of The Ringmaster from the original film. The character was a man who owned the circus that Dumbo and his Mother worked in. The Ringmaster wasn't as evil and arch as so many Disney villains, but was nonetheless an arrogant and unlikeable boss character. In short, it's something that Keaton can bring a lot of nuance to, alternating between eccentrically comedic and menacing shades of the character. The part was previously rumored to be going to Tom Hanks - though Hanks had another offer on the table at the time, which he may have chosen to pursue if the role is now going to Keaton. Supposedly, in the live-action version, Keaton's Ringmaster acquires the circus from a character played by Danny DeVito.
This would mark the first reunion of Keaton and Burton since Batman Returns in 1992. Burton was visionary who helped launch Keaton to a new level of his career; after casting the comedic actor in the 1998 cult-classic Beetlejuice, it was Burton who helped back the actor's switch to the dramatic leading man lane of 1989's Batman, at a time when superhero movie trolls (yes, the existed even before the Internet) were tearing into the notion of a silly comedian like Keaton being their Batman. The rest, as they say, is history.
With Burton himself struggling to remain acclaimed and relevant in the last decade, hopefully Dumbo will be a chance for Keaton to pay back a favor, and help Burton's career achieve the sort of joyous comeback that his own has.
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