The Flash ushers in the new DC Universe by examining the split between the two through a journey into a turbulent past that was influenced by DC’s Flashpoint comic book saga. Barry Allen tampered with history to create a new timeline where Supergirl is behind bars, there are no metahumans, and Batman is no longer active. Batman is called out of retirement when Batman is approached for assistance by two different versions of Barry Allen. Barry did not work with the same Batman in the Justice League, though.
Michael Keaton, who has played the Dark Knight for more than three decades, plays an earlier version of the character. In Tim Burton’s 1989 picture Batman and its 1992 sequel, Batman Returns, Keaton played Bruce Wayne. Keaton can be seen once more dressed in the most recent iteration of his Batsuit in the first full trailer for The Flash.
It is unclear, though, if this is the same Bruce Keaton who featured in Tim Burton’s Batman or a multiversal doppelganger who just so happens to resemble that universe’s Bruce thanks to The Flash’s examination of various timelines and parallel realities. The Flash’s Super Bowl TV spot and trailer both provide some hints.
The DCU’s version of Flashpoint’s changed timeline is the new reality that Barry Allen discovers in The Flash. Whereas in Flashpoint Bruce’s father took over as Batman, Ben Affleck’s Bruce was simply replaced by Michael Keaton in The Flash. If Keaton is portraying the same Batman as in his earlier roles, then his original movies must have taken place in another history that was influenced by Flashpoint. The Super Bowl TV ad reveals that Bruce, played by Keaton, owns many Batsuits.
There are two of his original costumes from Batman and Batman Returns among them, but there are more ties to both movies than just having the costumes on display. In keeping with that movie, where the outfit was destroyed when The Joker shot down the Batwing before his last encounter with the Dark Knight, the Batman suit features apparent fire damage across the logo on its chest.
There is some evidence in The Flash teaser that suggests Bruce may not be the same as in Tim Burton’s Batman movies. For starters, Burton’s movies presented a distinct Gothic image of Gotham, rich in Art Deco elements anchored in a world with influences from the 1940s.
The Crisis on Infinite Earth comic book storyline from DC was adapted for this television universe’s crossover event in 2019. The crossover featured a brief appearance by the Earth-89 version of Michael Keaton’s Batman and a cameo from Ezra Miller’s Flash, proving that the DC Universe and the TV series share a shared multiverse.
The crossover not only seemed to contradict The Flash’s portrayal of a retired Bruce Wayne by 2019 and Keaton’s Batman in that universe, but it also seemed to show Earth-89 existed in the multiverse before the Flash changed time. Unless, of course, Burton’s DC reality is not Earth-89.