WINGED ROLES

Michael Keaton’s many airborne roles, ranked by box office

Obsession
Glass
Obsession
Glass

Give the people what they want—old-fashioned apocalyptic porn... They love this shit. They love blood. They love action. Not this talky, depressing, philosophical bullshit… The next time you screech, it’ll explode into millions of eardrums. You’ll glimmer on thousands of screens around the globe. Another blockbuster.

So says the metaphorical Birdman to actor Riggan Thomson, played by Michael Keaton, in the 2014 movie Birdman. The Oscar-winning film, about a washed-up movie star who tries to prove he’s a serious actor, eerily mirrors Keaton’s own career.

Like Riggan in Birdman, Keaton built his name in the 1980s and 1990s by taking flight in fun, fantastical roles, like Beetlejuice (1988) (in which he levitates and flies, for the record), as well as Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). But, after a series of half-baked comedies and thrillers, he became a go-to for second-rate family-friendly films like Herbie: Fully Loaded and action movies like the RoboCop reboot.

It was the odd arthouse hit Birdman that put Keaton back on the map in 2014—and gained him an Oscar nomination. He has since graduated to more serious stories with awards potential like Spotlight and The Founder. In the midst of his career renaissance, Keaton now finds himself in one of the biggest movies of the summer, donning wings again as the villainous Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

What’s wrong with giving people what they want?

Homecoming landed the biggest opening for any of Michael Keaton’s high-flying roles—unadjusted for 2017 ticket-price inflation—this weekend with $117 million at the domestic box office, which includes the US and Canada, Box Office Mojo data showed.

Keaton’s portrayal of Batman in the 1989 Tim Burton-directed film is the highest grossing of all his airborne roles, overall, both on an adjusted and unadjusted basis.

And Batman is the top earner worldwide.

But Homecoming could very well overtake his iconic Batman role this year, giving Keaton more reason to embrace his avian side, and relevance to a new generation. (He’s opposite a 15-year-old web-slinger in the Spider-Man reboot.)

The Sony and Marvel co-production grossed $140 million overseas this past weekend, according to ComScore. That puts it more than halfway to Batman’s unadjusted lifetime total, and Homecoming has still yet to open in France, Germany, Spain, Japan, and other major markets. It is also expected to play in China, a massive market for big-budget action movies, though Sony has not yet announced a release date.


Read next: “Spider-Man” is back in the Marvel universe—but the film studio won’t get a penny of the profits

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