Michael Keaton's Next Villainous Turn May Be in Dumbo

Image: Disney
Image: Disney

Hey, remember how Tim Burton is making a live-action Dumbo movie because that’s the world we live in now? It seems that, if nothing else, this movie may reunite Burton with Michael Keaton.


Variety reports that Keaton is in negotiations to play the “villain” in Dumbo. Since the original movie was just over an hour long—and the original source material was a children’s book literally dozens of pages long—it should come as no surprise to anyone that a bunch of new stuff is being added. Variety also says that Keaton’s character is a man who buys the circus “to exploit the lovable elephant and his mother.” Presumably, that’s either right after Dumbo’s talents are discovered or he’s the one to realize that the circus might have something and he swindles the circus away from Danny DeVito, who will play the original circus owner.

If none of that sounds familiar to you, that’s because there is no circus sale in the original movie. The “villains” are other animals that bully Dumbo, the clowns who make it so Dumbo has to perform a dangerous and scary trick, the circus manager for his treatment of Dumbo and Dumbo’s mother, and the sort of the ringmaster. There are cruel characters, but there’s no antagonist or classic Disney villain to be found in Dumbo.

Until now, I guess.

Katharine is the Associate Director of Policy and Activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the former managing editor of io9. She writes about technology policy and pop culture.


“...a live-action Dumbo movie.”

It’s kinda’ been done.