It’s hard to believe, but this month marks the 25th anniversary of Tim Burton’s “Batman.” A film which set the box office on fire, an revolutionized the comic book movie genre for years to come.
Even if you weren’t a comic book fan, you knew the Batman characters. But ,much of the country only knew Batman from the Adam West and Burt Ward “POW, WHAM, ZAP! days. The 1960’s television show was great, but by 1989 things had changed, and Batman had changed.
During the 1980s, DC Comics gave us Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” and Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke.” The days of Bat-Shark Repellant were gone, and Tim Burton knew that.
Tim Burton’s vision for Batman was to be much darker, more in line with the comics of the mid to late 1980’s. Little did anyone know this new take on the Dark Knight would become one of the most successful movies of the decade, and the first in a long line of super-hero movies.
The casting of Michael Keaton created a firestorm for Warner Bros. as comic fans flooded the studio with 50,000 letters demanding Keaton’s removal from the film. The backlash was massive, but at least it happen before the internet and social media.
But in the end it didn’t matter who was wearing the cowl. Nothing could stop the Batman machine and film became the first movie to earn $100 million in its first ten days of release.
Jack Nicholson did a great job as the Joker, a role that defined him for many years. Nicholson was funny when he had to be, but he was always evil. And the actor took the role seriously give it his all. His version of the Joker seems a bit cartoony now compared to Heath Ledger’s performance. But for 1989, Jack Nicholson was the right choice, and really the only one who could pull it off.
Kim Basinger was a last-minute addition tot he cast, but she was very good as the love interest for Bruce Wayne. Although sometimes I wonder if she was only cast for her ability to scream. Regardless, she was very beautiful and did a solid job. Meanwhile Robert Wuhl as Alexander Knox brought some light-hearted (and much-needed) moments.
Now, as much as I enjoyed this movie, I did have a couple of issues with “Batman,” for instance:
In the film it’s revealed that the Joker was, in fact, the criminal that killed Bruce’s parents. If you ask me that’s just crazy talk and a clear sign of Tim Burton running amok. Then there was the scene in which Alfred brings Vicki Vale into the Batcave. As a comic fan I was in disbelief. How could Alfred betray Bruce like that?
I saw “Batman” on opening day with a friend and my douche bag uncle. It was an event, one of those moments you don’t forget for the rest of your life. To me the movie was as if a comic book had come to life.
After Christopher Nolan’s epic (and mega successful) trilogy, Tim Burton’s movie looks a bit dated, and somewhat small since it was shot completely in the backlot of Pinewood Studios. But I’ll tell you this much:
I may not have been a Batman fan before, but 1989’s “Batman” made me a Bat-fan for life.