How did The Flash bring back Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton as Batman?
The two stars both return as the Caped Crusader in the new film.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Flash, which is out now in UK cinemas.
The Flash has now arrived in UK cinemas – meaning fans can finally enjoy the heavily publicised returns of two big stars from DC's past.
Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton both reprise their role as the Caped Crusader in the brand new film, with the latter donning the Batsuit for the first time since he starred in Tim Burton's iconic Batman Returns more than three decades ago.
Of course, prior to the film's release, there had been a lot of speculation about exactly how they might both appear in the film and how DC would be approaching the multiverse – read on to have those questions answered now the film is out.
How did The Flash bring back Ben Affleck as Batman?
There's no real multiverse trickery in this particular instance: the film simply takes place in the same timeline as the previous DCEU films in which Affleck played the Caped Crusader, such as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.
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At the beginning of the film, Barry Allen/The Flash is seen to still be working closely with Bruce, often being called in to clean up his mess, which has led to Barry describing himself as "the janitor of the Justice League."
When The Flash realises he can go back in time and could potentially prevent his mum's death from ever happening, Bruce warns him against doing so – but Barry presses ahead anyway and sets the events of the film in motion.
Speaking earlier this year about returning to the role one last time, Affleck told The Hollywood Reporter, "I did finally figure out how to play that character [Batman], and I nailed it in The Flash.
"For the five minutes I’m there, it’s really great. A lot of it’s just tone. You’ve got to figure out, what’s your version of the person? Who is the guy that fits what you can do? I tried to fit myself into a Batman."
How did The Flash bring back Michael Keaton as Batman?
Now this is slightly more complicated. Of course, as outlined above, Keaton had not appeared as Bruce Wayne since Batman Returns in 1992, so his return has certainly been a long time coming.
His first appearance comes after Barry Allen has been knocked out of the Speed Force, when travelling back to the present after going back in time to prevent his mother's death.
Rather than returning to the modern day, Barry arrives in an alternate 2013, and after first meeting his past self and losing his powers, he attempts to rally the Justice League when it emerges that General Zod is preparing to invade Earth.
These attempts are largely fruitless, and when he travels to Wayne Manor to track down Bruce, rather than finding the Ben Affleck variation of the character he instead finds Keaton's version – who is much older and who has retired from crimefighting.
Using a slightly laboured spaghetti analogy, Bruce explains to The Flash that time is not linear, and therefore by going back and changing a moment in history, Barry has created a number of alternate universes such as this one.
Although he is initially rather reluctant to put the Batsuit back on, he is eventually persuaded by the two Barrys and joins them in their mission against Zod after helping Barry regain his powers.
In a recent interview with Empire magazine, director Andy Muschietti admitted that: “I never thought that Keaton would come back as Batman."
He added: "You'll see a Michael Keaton that we find 30 years after we'd seen him for the first time, in a very different place than he's been before," and continued that figuring out how the character would have changed in that time was "one of the focuses of [his] conversations with Michael".
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