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Batman Returns for Halloween in an Unusual Way

By: Colin Schroyer

Oct. 4th, 2022: While knowledge of the recently canceled Batgirl movie has been known for a few months, discussions regarding the film have resurged thanks partly to a children’s Halloween costume. The costume is designed to look like the outfit worn by Michael Keaton’s incarnation of Batman. He was set to reprise his role as Batman for both the upcoming film, The Flash, starring Ezra Miller, and Batgirl, which was set to be released on HBO Max and star Leslie Grace, J.K. Simmons, Brendan Frasier, and — of course — Michael Keaton.

The costumes first appeared in stores around the end of August, with images beginning to spread online quickly after. In addition to the appearance of the costume, the logo and the font used on the packaging of the costume seemingly confirm the costume to be based on Keaton’s iteration of the caped crusader, as the packaging design is taken from the theatrical poster of the 1989 film Batman. The costume itself also appears to have minor variations from the suit from that film, suggesting it to be an updated version intended for Keaton’s return as Bruce Wayne.

Keaton was first in talks to return as Batman as early as June 2020. His involvement in future projects was confirmed when he briefly appeared as a silhouette in the trailer for The Flash in October 2021. It was first confirmed in December of the same year that Keaton would also reprise his role for Batgirl. Keaton had initially portrayed the Dark Knight in the 1989 film, directed by Tim Burton, and its sequel, Batman Returns, released in 1992

However, The Flash was delayed to a June 2023 release, and Batgirl was canceled before its December 2022 release, despite getting far into post-production. According to Warner Bros., The Flash’s delay was based on the vast quantity of VFX shots accumulated, for which more time was needed. Given the erratic behavior of Miller, who is set to play the titular character, many fans have wondered if the series of arrests, criminal charges, and controversies have also contributed to the decision. The decision to cancel a nearly complete Batgirl was explained in a statement shared by a Warner Bros. spokesperson: “The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max….”

To see a costume based on Keaton appear close to a year before the release of The Flash has led fans to speculate it to be a byproduct of the canceled Batgirl film, which would have had a release date much closer to the Halloween season. If Warner Bros. had scrapped the film as a tax write-off, they would not have been permitted to make any profit from Batgirl merchandise. Repackaging the product based on the ’89 film, removing any ties to the canceled film, would act as a money-making loophole for the company. Due to the visible differences between the original Batsuit’s design and the one seen remade as a costume for children, it would be doubtful that Warner Bros. and DC intended to arbitrarily make a costume based on Tim Burton’s interpretation of Batman — especially when there were several other incarnations of the character, most recently portrayed by Robert Pattinson.

It should also be noted that there are two distinct variations of the costumes, based on the images surfacing online. One is a Walmart exclusive, based on the “Walmart Exclusive!” branding on the packaging, and the other is a Target exclusive with a light-up emblem and its own badge of retailer exclusivity.

Regardless of the fate of Batgirl and its cast, Keaton will still make his highly anticipated return as the caped crusader in The Flash, coming to theaters on June 23rd, 2022.

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