I had expected Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman to be a little on the nose as far as following the career of Michael Keaton. I was pleasantly surprised to find out this was not the case. Keaton has continued to act and be successful since his Batman of 1986, and remains a respected and relevant actor even if not as active as he once was. Keaton plays Riggan Thompson, once famous for his roles inBirdman I, II & III (presumably things went down hill for Riggan when he refused to cash in on the opportunity to do Birdman IV — analogue to the Batman franchise and the Schumacher bombasts to follow the gritty Tim Burton Dark Knight interpretation. Riggan finds himself struggling to stay in the spotlight on Broadway, producing, directing and starring in his own play “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver.
Another superhero movie actor, (arguably three, all told) stars in the film, Edward Norton. Norton’s own relationship with his Marvel superhero, The Incredible Hulk (2008) is complex as he was replaced unceremoniously by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers (2012). Norton’s arrogance off screen is perhaps a reason he was replaced, and here in Birdman he plays a well known stage actor Mike Shiner, struggling to inject realism on the stage playing opposite his girlfriend Lesley (Naomi Watts). Shiner drinks real gin on stage, throws tantrums and is just a real dick to everyone. Perhaps it is because he can’t get it up!
Zach Galifianakis plays Riga’s agent and astraight man this time around. As comic artist Ray Hueston in HBO’s Bored to Death, he played the alter ego of Super Ray — a hero that can fight with his enlarged penis!
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