Has it been 25 years already? Tim Burton’s Batman flew into theaters on June 23rd, 1989 and and changed the public perception of what a comic book movie could be. Along with Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie, this film laid the groundwork for the superhero movie boom we’re currently experiencing, and considering this is also the 75th anniversary of the character of Batman, we figured it’d be cool to look back on the first Batman film to eschew the silly, campy tone of the old Adam West TV series and capture audiences’ imaginations with a darker character that reflected the era in which the ’89 Batman was made.
/Film points us to a cool behind-the-scenes promo video that was making the rounds before Burton’s film hit theaters. Adam West was apparently making some big claims in the media about how he was the one true Batman and Burton’s film didn’t have anything to do with the real version of Batman at all, so Warner Bros. released this video as a way to assuage fears of film distributors and merchandisers around the world and to prove to everyone that Burton (look how young he is here!) had a vision that would change the public’s idea of Batman forever.
If you haven’t revisited Burton’s take on Batman in a while, there’s some really interesting stuff in there about causality that’s worth mentioning. Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) essentially creates Batman by murdering Bruce Wayne’s parents in an alleyway, and then later in life, Batman basically creates the Joker by deflecting Napier’s bullet back onto him and letting him fall into a vat of acid. There’s a cosmic sense of destiny in all of this, and Burton’s larger-than-life production design, sweeping camera work, and theatrical way in which he presents the story plays that up.
It’s nothing for us to mention now that Napier was the guy who shot Batman’s parents, but the movie plays that moment like a big reveal, and audiences back in 1989 didn’t have any idea that would happen (because it differs slightly from the way it happened in the original comic book). Well, most audiences didn’t know that would happen – Michael Keaton spoiled that plot point while he was appearing on Letterman to promote the movie:
Can you imagine if something like that happened today? The fan community would go insane.
Anyway, I have some fond memories of Burton’s Batman, but I’d love to hear some of your own thoughts about the movie on its 25th anniversary. Head to the comments and share some of your Batman memories with us.
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