The plot of "Birdman" follows Riggan Thompson, played by Michael Keaton, as he tries to improve his image as an actor by staging a Broadway play. As he plans the show, Riggan must deal with trouble in his personal life, as well as strange hallucinations.
In "Birdman," Riggan Thompson is a washed-up actor best known for playing the title character in the "Birdman" series of superhero films. Riggan wishes to improve his reputation as a serious actor, and decides to produce a play based on the works of Raymond Carver. In doing so, Riggan clashes artistically with Mike Shiner, an experienced actor played by Edward Norton, and Tabitha Dickinson, a theatre critic played by Lindsay Duncan. He also must deal with the personal issues of his daughter Sam, played by Emma Stone, and his ex-wife Sylvia, played by Amy Ryan.
Throughout the film, Riggan has a series of hallucinations of his past self as Birdman, who constantly berates Riggan's lack of talent as an actor. Due to Riggan's hallucinations, the film becomes increasingly unclear as to what is real, and climaxes with Riggan shooting himself in the head on-stage at the end of opening night of his play. He wakes up in the hospital the next day, having only shot off his nose. In a dark twist, Riggan's suicide attempt is widely praised for bringing an added level of realism to the theatre.