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Mr. Mom as Batman?

July 03, 1988

So Michael Keaton has been cast as Batman/Bruce Wayne (Cinefile, by Leonard Klady, June 26)?

He might have made a good Joker, but his comic style, which he seems unable to shake (but can amplify), has doomed this promised "serious" treatment of Bob Kane's character to the same tired, boring level of artificial "camp" that made the TV series a hit yet simultaneously doomed it to an early cancellation.

The painful lesson of "Superman III"--when you don't treat venerable superheroes with respect the audience rejects the property--has been ignored in this cynical, opportunistic attempt to capitalize on the success of "Beetlejuice" (same director, same star).

The Sam Hamm script that director Tim Burton is filming has many blunders, but does treat the characters basically seriously. Obviously, in casting Keaton, Burton is rejecting this approach altogether and going after a manic comedy.

Batman has been a popular character for almost five decades--not because he is a figure of comedy, but precisely because he is \o7 not\f7 , especially in the last couple of years. By ignoring this, by casting a clown as Batman, Warner Bros. and Burton have defecated on the history of Batman and on the hopes of those who appreciate the character and his potential.

Better they should have filmed Frank Miller's "Batman: the Dark Knight Returns." But that would have required courage, taste and imagination.

ALLAN B. ROTHSTEIN

North Hollywood

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