Michael Keaton is one of my favorite actors. He is that all-too-rare performer who can make each line and every action feel as if it is happening for the first time. He's genuinely exciting to watch. The only grievances I have with him are that a) he works much too infrequently, and b) when he does work, it's too often in projects that are beneath him (Jack Frost, Herbie Fully Loaded, White Noise...let me just say Jack Frost one more time.) He hit his creative stride in the late 80's, showing his range in under-appreciated gems like The Dream Team and Clean and Sober, and with a very fruitful Tim Burton collaboration. That pairing brought us one of the all-time great comic performances in Beetlejuice and of course, Keaton as Batman in -- for my money -- the two best superhero films ever made. As far as I'm concerned, no other film Batman even comes close to Keaton, and I immediately associate him with the role. Kilmer sleepwalked through it, Clooney looked embarrassed (rightfully so), and Christian Bale bored me to tears. Keaton played the role largely straight, but it's the flashes of madness and manic energy that brought his Bruce Wayne and Batman to life. "You wanna get nuts? Let's get nuts!"

And now it seems Keaton has been spending time around the Chicago set of The Dark Knight! I did some hunting online and found that Keaton is shooting his directorial debut, The Merry Gentleman in Chicago right now, so it's possible he just stopped by to say hello. But the kid in me who saw Batman at the dollar show eight times can't help but hold out some sliver of hope that Michael Keaton might make some sort of appearance in the new Batman flick. I'm being realistic, I don't expect him to suit up and high-five with Christian Bale, or for them to fight crime side-by-side, but wouldn't it be a great touch to have a little winking cameo from (apologies to Adam West) the real Batman? Keaton did a similar fun little reprise of his Jackie Brown character Ray Nicolette in Out of Sight, so why not this? The fans would love it. Of course this is all pure speculation and dreaming, but we'll find out if it comes true when The Dark Knight hits theaters on June 18th of 2008.