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Above the Line Newsflash: Michael Keaton’s Batman Returns for Batgirl, Plus a Double Dose of Keanu

December 23, 2021 11:12 | By
Batman 1989

Batman image via Warner Bros.

Batgirl Finds Her Mentor

Michael Keaton has joined the cast of the HBO Max movie Batgirl, so yes, you could say “Batman returns” once again.

Keaton is already set to reprise his iconic role as the Caped Crusader in The Flash, which hits theaters in November, and introduces the multi-verse concept to the DCEU. Instead of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield popping up as Spider-Man alongside Tom Holland, it’ll be Keaton and Ben Affleck coming back to don the cape and cowl in Ezra Miller‘s “solo” movie.

Leslie Grace stars as Barbara Gordon in Batgirl, which hails from Bad Boys for Life directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. J.K. Simmons co-stars as her father, Commissioner Gordon, while Brendan Fraser plays the villain. There’s no release date just yet, but 2023 feels like a safe bet to me, given The Flash‘s spot on the calendar.

I’m not sure whether Keaton is being positioned as DC’s answer to Nick Fury, or if he’ll function like more of a mentor, similar to how Iron Man and Doctor Strange were used in Holland’s Spider-Man movies. Either way, he’ll clearly be a key figure in the future of the DCEU, which could use an actor with his gravitas. Keaton is a commanding presence on screen, so here’s hoping his Batman is wisely deployed.

John Wick: Chapter 3

John Wick: Chapter 3 image via Lionsgate

John Wick: Chapter 4 Faces Year-Long Delay

Once upon a time, John Wick: Chapter 4 was supposed to come out on the same day as The Matrix Resurrections — May 21, 2021. It was going to be International Keanu Reeves a day. A testament to the action star’s staying power. Of course, that day came and went with neither movie being released, but now we have a bit more clarity.

For starters, The Matrix Resurrections is currently in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, where it has left audiences divided. And now, after several delays, John Wick: Chapter 4 has been dated for March 24, 2023. The action-packed sequel had most recently been slated for Memorial Day weekend of 2022, but Lionsgate was forced to abandon those plans when Paramount moved Top Gun: Maverick onto the same weekend. That set up an epic stare-down between two movies chasing the same audience, and as robust as the John Wick franchise has become, it was bound to blink.

Lionsgate had fun with the release date announcement, putting out the 22-second video you see below. I’m a big fan of this kinetic franchise, and I love the cast that director Chad Stahelski assembled for this outing, including Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard, Shamier Anderson, Scott Adkins, Marko Zaror, and the great Clancy Brown, in addition to returning cast members Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, and Laurence Fishburne.

And hey, speaking of Keanu and The Matrix Resurrections, keep an eye out in that film for an appearance from Stahelski, who shares scenes with Carrie-Anne Moss. Now, if only we could get a Lana Wachowski cameo in John Wick: Chapter 4

The Matrix Resurrections

The Matrix Resurrections image via Warner Bros.

The Matrix Has Been Resurrected, But Is That a Good Thing?

While we’re talking about Keanu, I’m curious where you fell on The Matrix Resurrections, which seems to have divided audiences, as I suspected it would all along.

This is the latest hyper-meta sequel from Warner Bros. following Space Jam: A New Legacy, and while I understand that director Lana Wachowski was looking for a way back into this world (or was she?), I did not care for her approach. The stakes feel dramatically lower this time around, as Neo has gone from trying to save the world, to trying to save his one true love, Trinity.

The thing is, while the Neo-Trinity romance bolstered all the heady ideas introduced in the first Matrix movie way back in 1999, no one is seeing these movies for the romance. Reeves and Moss may have more natural chemistry than, say, West Side Story leads Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, but their relationship in this new film feels well past its expiration date.

To be honest, there aren’t a whole lot of compliments I can pay this ill-conceived movie, which just feels so lazy — something I never thought I’d say about The Matrix franchise. Leaving aside the cringeworthy meta-ness of the whole enterprise, I was profoundly disappointed by the repetitive action sequences in Resurrections, which finds Reeves waving his arms a whole lot as he stops bullets, redirects missiles, and trades blows with Morpheus — or should I say, a shadow of the original Morpheus, as rising star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II simply doesn’t have the gravitas of Laurence Fishburne. He was able to make the character of Dr. Manhattan his own on HBO’s Watchmen, but you can smell the flopsweat here. The sunglasses just don’t fit, in this case.

In fact, the entire cast is a step backwards, as Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessica Henwick and Priyanka Chopra can’t really hold a candle to Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano and Gloria Foster, while supporting characters like Tank, Dozer, Apoc, Mouse and Switch are sorely missed, and replaced by rather generic support staff. If anything, Resurrections made me appreciate the original Matrix, and everything it accomplished 22 years ago, that much more.

Oh, and did I mention this new movie runs for an interminable 2 hours and 28 minutes — 12 minutes longer than the first film? The less said about this overhyped mess of a sequel, the better. You’re better off seeing Spider-Man: No Way Home again, to be honest.