Michael Keaton's most iconic roles, ranked

Michael Keaton as Batman
(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC)

In honor of Michael Keaton's return to the Bat Cave (which was actually rather emotional), we ranked 7 of the actor's most iconic roles. From a musician turned snowman to the Ghost With The Most, Keaton's roles have been nothing short of cool – and not to mention well-acted with that signature eccentric flair that works strangely well for both comedy and drama.

Scroll on to see where your favorite role lands, or, if you find a new movie to add to your post-The Flash streaming list.

7. Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Much Ado About Nothing

(Image credit: MGM)

In Kenneth Branagh's modern-day Shakespeare adaption, Keaton plays a rather amplified version of Dogberry, a self-satisfied constable known for his malapropisms. In Branagh's version of the tale, Dogberry is a frantic, sniveling, unhygienic man played with a snarl and a Beetlejuice-esque flair. He also rides around on an imaginary horse (which is no doubt a homage to Monty Python). Basically, he's the most interesting part of a movie about gossip and heartbreak, managing to overshadow other A-listers like Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, and Keanu Reeves.

6. Ray Kroc in The Founder (2016)

The Founder

(Image credit: Netflix)

Ray Kroc might just be the Steve Jobs of fast food, but he's (at least in The Founder) a bit more like Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. He's a bit quirky, with at times odd mannerisms and cringey over-sincerity. Moreover, Keaton's Kroc is a ruthless opportunist and power-hungry businessman, so much so that he cons the McDonald's brothers (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) out of their own burger empire. Though we aren't technically supposed to root for the bad guy, Keaton plays Kroc with empathy, so much so that the audience feels deceived every time he steps on another little guy.

5. Jack Frost in Jack Frost (1998)

Jack Frost

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Sorry but, Snow Dad is better than No Dad.

In one of his most underrated roles to date, Michael Keaton plays a man named Jack Frost who gets into a car accident and is resurrected as a snowman via a magical harmonica. Here me out: it's a children's Christmas movie with a premise that's admittedly dopey in theory, but it's a tearjerker. Jack becomes a better dad after his death, sticking around all winter as an anthropomorphic ball of snow and using his little tree branch arms to teach his son how to play hockey. Of course, spring has to come eventually, snow has to melt, and that's when the tears start coming. 

4. Adrian Toomes/Vulture in Spider-Man Homecoming (2017)

Michael Keaton as Vulture in Spider-Man: No Way Home

(Image credit: Sony)

There's truly no better reveal than when Peter Parker (Tom Holland) goes to pick up Liz (Laura Harrier) for homecoming only to find out that her father is none other than Vulture. The ominous, knowing smile that Keaton flashes is just enough to put that teeny tiny feeling of dread in your stomach. 

In other iterations, Vulture is somewhat of a dorky-looking villain, wearing a bright green bird suit with feathers galore. Keaton's Vulture, however, is a sleek, sexy genius whose costume is more of a pilot wearing the wings of a jet on his back. He's this cool hard-working family man who just so happens to want to kill Spider-Man. Happens to the best of us.

It's also cool to see Keaton in his first superhero role since Tim Burton's Batman (Birdman doesn't count), and as a Marvel villain nonetheless. 

3. Riggan Thomson/Birdman in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)


(Image credit: Fox Searchlight)

Keaton plays a faded Hollywood actor plagued by visions of the superhero he played in the early '90s... sound familiar? Though Keaton himself says he doesn't have much in common with Riggan Thomson, you can't help but wonder throughout the film whether Keaton is pulling from his own personal experiences, the darker parts of Hollywood and the heartbreak and rejection that comes along with it. Keaton knows this too, and plays Riggan as if he's playing a more vulnerable version of himself in his own biopic.

2. Beetlejuice in Beetlejuice (1988)

Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

It's showtime!

When the living need an exorcism, they get a priest. Tim Burton’s horror fantasy comedy poses the question, “When the dead need to exorcise the living, who do they call?” Well, when the recently deceased Maitlands hire a bio-exorcist to get the new family out of their house, they end up with a pervy undead con-man who says things like “Attention K-Mart shoppers, we have a Blue Light Special” and thinks The Exorcist is one of the funniest movies of all time. 

Beetlejuice is a weird, gross little guy with mold growing over his sideburns who loves attention, has terrible intentions, and is somehow more lovable than all the living characters in the film. Maybe it’s his vertically striped black-and-white suits, maybe it’s his frizzed-out hair that looks like lightning just struck, maybe it’s his ability to be laugh-out-loud funny every single time he speaks. Either way, it’s Keaton at his zaniest with perhaps his most unhinged role to date – and we can’t wait to watch him do it again in Beetlejuice 2.

1. Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman (1989)

Michael Keaton as Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC)

It doesn't get more iconic than being the OG Batman.

We don't mean Keaton was the first actor to ever play Batman, but we do mean that Tim Burton's 1989 Batman paved the way for Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy and Robert Pattinson's recent turn in the suit.

Keaton ignited the long-standing tradition of getting a handsome, A-list actor to play Bruce Wayne, setting the tone for the character as a quiet pretty-boy billionaire who carries his darkness with him wherever he goes. Adam West had played a high-energy, quirky Batman just twenty-some years prior when the caped crusader was still more of a campy super spy rather than a traumatized, brooding orphan. Keaton changed all of that, though that’s not to say Burton’s Batman flick isn’t without camp of its own - “You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!”

After Supergirl was shelved, many of us wondered if we’d ever see Keaton in the mask again. Lo and behold, The Flash sees our Dark Knight take helm of the Bat Cave once more and attempt to guide his fellow super-orphan out of danger after he messes up time and space.

You can catch Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne in The Flash, in UK cinemas now and only in theaters June 16. If you're up to speed on The Flash, check out our spoilery deep dives on:

Lauren Milici
Senior Writer, Tv & Film

Lauren Milici is a Senior Entertainment Writer for GamesRadar+ currently based in the Midwest. She previously reported on breaking news for The Independent's Indy100 and created TV and film listicles for Ranker. Her work has been published in Fandom, Nerdist, Paste Magazine, Vulture, PopSugar, Fangoria, and more.