- "They turned off the Bat-Signal as the Sun set over Gotham City. A much quieter Gotham City. Down on the streets, music played, people laughed, life went on. And overhead, the gargoyles watched silently from the old Gotham Cathedral. Long ago, it was believed that gargoyles could protect a place from evil. One of the gargoyles moved. It was the Batman."
- ―Excerpt from end of the film's novelization.[src]
Batman is an American Academy Award-winning superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and was released a month after Batman's 50th anniversary of his comic debut. It is the first entry of the Batman film franchise, directed by Tim Burton and the first to star Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman. It also starred Jack Nicholson as The Joker. Inspired by the original work of Bill Finger and Bob Kane from the late thirties and forties and also by the darker Batman comics of the 1980s (including the work of Frank Miller and Alan Moore), the film moved the franchise toward Batman's dark roots and away from the campy 1960s interpretation of the character. The film also served as an inspiration for Batman: The Animated Series, because of its dark nature.
The Rise of the Joker
Approaching its 200th anniversary, Gotham City's leaders fear that the high level of criminal activity will deter citizens from attending the celebrations. Gotham's mayor Borg orders District Attorney Harvey Dent to make the city safe again, in hopes of revitalizing local business. Dent, in turn, targets mob boss Carl Grissom, who sponsors much of the criminal activity within Gotham and has paid off a significant segment of the police force.
Meanwhile, a dark vigilante dressed as a bat has attracted the attention of both the police and the local media. Newspaper reporter Alexander Knox is attempting to investigate, but his questions are deflected by skeptical cops, including Lt. Eckhardt, one of many police officers on the take from Grissom. After stonewalling Knox, Eckhardt is shown taking a payoff from Grissom's second in command, Jack Napier.
Grissom, on discovering that his mistress is involved with Napier, sets him up to be killed by Eckhardt in a raid on Axis Chemicals. The plot is foiled by the arrival of Police Commissioner James Gordon, who wants Napier taken alive, and Batman. Batman captures Napier, but releases him when Bob the Goon holds Gordon hostage at gunpoint. Batman vanishes, and in the confusion, Napier shoots and kills Eckhardt, then attempts to shoot a re-emerged Batman. The latter deflects his shot, sending shrapnel into the former's face. Napier falls over a railing into a vat of toxic chemicals. Although surrounded by the police, Batman escapes the scene.
- "Where does he get those wonderful toys?"
- ―The Joker.[src]
Batman, as we discover, is actually billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne, an orphan who lives alone in the large mansion Wayne Manor, with only his butler Alfred Pennyworth in attendance. At a fund-raising party, Bruce meets and falls for famous photojournalist Vicki Vale, recently arrived in town to cover the "Bat Man phenomenon."
Napier, in the meantime, is not dead but horribly disfigured, with chalk white skin, emerald green hair, and a permanent ruby red grin (after a botched reconstructive surgery attempt). Already erratic, the trauma has apparently driven him completely insane. Calling himself "The Joker", he kills Grissom and usurps his criminal empire. His first scheme is to spread terror in the city by creating hygiene products that can kill by fatal hilarity when used in certain combinations, laced with a deadly chemical known as "Smilex." Following the death of a news anchor on-air, the city becomes paralyzed with fear. Making war on several fronts, the Joker then sets a trap at the Gotham Museum of Art for Vicki, with whom he has become smitten; his fellows start to slash and deface the entire legacy of Western Art, but as one of them approaches to Francis Bacon's Figure with Meat, the Joker stops him saying "I kinda like this one". The Joker then tries to disfigure our damsel in distress with the help of his "very special flower", only to have Vicki douse him with water. At this point Batman descends in a shower of glass via the window ceiling and saves Vicki, to whom he then gives the secret of the Joker's chemical combinations. Batman renders her unconscious, and she awakes at home. Incensed at Batman eluding him while taking Vale and ruining his poisoning scheme, the Joker vows to eliminate the mysterious vigilante for interfering with his plans.
- "You want to get nuts? Come on! Let's get nuts!"
- ―Bruce Wayne to Joker.[src]
Vicki's apartment is then the scene of a confrontation between the Joker, who has come to woo her, and Bruce, who has come to try and confess about his double-life but not getting very far. After Bruce challenges the Joker to a fight, the Joker pulls a gun and asks him: "Tell me something, friend. Have you ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight? I always ask that of all my prey. I just like the sound of it". He then shoots Bruce. The Joker then leaves amid his own hoopla, and Vicki is shocked to see that Bruce has disappeared, leaving behind only a metal platter which he used as an impromptu bulletproof vest.
The scene is set as Bruce realizes that the Joker is actually the man who murdered his parents many, many years ago in Gotham. The final clue was that his parents' murderer said the same phrase to him as The Joker said in Vicki's apartment ("Ever dance with the Devil by the pale moonlight?"). As Bruce grapples with this memory, he is shocked by the sudden appearance of Vicki in the Batcave; Alfred having decided that she deserved to know the truth.
Duel of the Freaks
- "And there will be entertainment. The big dukaroo. With me in one corner, and in the other corner, the man who has brought real terror to Gotham City, Batman. Can you hear me? Just the two of us; you and me. Mano a mano. I've taken off my make-up. Now, let's see if you can take off yours."
- ―The Joker to Gotham City.[src]
The Joker has put his own plans in motion to upstage the city's cancelled anniversary celebrations with a grand spectacle: a night-time parade at which he will dispense $20 million in free cash (in a comic book adaptation this money is revealed to be fake as it has the Joker's face on it). Vicki and Knox are there to cover the pandemonium, and they notice strange tanks on the balloons. In the middle of his generosity, the Joker begins gassing the crowd. Batman arrives in his Batwing and snatches the balloons away to carry them out of the city. Furious, the Joker shoots Bob the Goon, his number one thug. Batman returns to make a strafing run on the Joker, who responds by shooting down the jet with an insanely long-barreled revolver. Vicki approaches the downed craft but is captured by the Joker, who leads her to the top of Gotham Cathedral. Dazed but not finished, Batman pursues. At the top of the cathedral, the two adversaries confront each other in single combat.
In a moment of opportunity, the Joker throws Batman and Vicki off the belfry, where they cling to the ledge for their lives. As the Joker begins mocking them his helicopter appears and he grabs hold of a dangling rope ladder. About to escape, Batman shoots a wire around the Joker's leg, connecting it to a stone gargoyle on the ledge. As the Joker is lifted away, the wire pulls the gargoyle loose and he plummets to his death.
- "He gave us a signal!"
- ―Commissioner Gordon to Gotham City[src]
The movie ends with Commissioner Gordon announcing the Gotham police have arrested all the Joker's gang remnants, and unveiling the Batsignal supplied by Batman with a note promising to return if the city needs him.
- Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne
- Jack Nicholson as The Joker/Jack Napier
- Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale
- Robert Wuhl as Alexander Knox
- Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent
- Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
- Jack Palance as Carl Grissom
- Pat Hingle as Commissioner James Gordon
- Jerry Hall as Alicia Hunt
- Tracey Walter as Bob the Goon
- William Hootkins as Lt. Max Eckhardt
- Lee Wallace as Mayor Borg
- Tim Burton - Director
- Sam Hamm (pre-production script) Warren Skaaren (shooting script), Charles McKeown (uncredited rewrites), and Jonathan Gems (uncredited rewrites) - Writers
- Jon Peters and Peter Guber - Producers
- Benjamin Melniker and Michael Uslan - Executive Producers (film rights holders)
- Chris Kenny - Co-Producer
- Danny Elfman - Composer
- Prince - Original Songs
- Ray Lovejoy - Editor
- Roger Pratt - Cinematographer
- Anton Furst - Production Designer
- Bob Ringwood - Costume Designer
- Marion Dougherty - Casting
- Peter MacDonald - 2nd Unit Director (most action scenes)
- Terry Semel, Bob Daly and Mark Canton - Executive Oversight at Warner Bros.
Individuals (in alphabetical order)
- Joker Goon Car
- Joker's Helicopter
- Joker's Van
- Gotham City Police Cars
- AMC Concord
- Caterpillar 900 Series
- Incident at the Flugelheim
- Car chase through the streets of Gotham
- 200th Anniversary Parade
- Skirmish of Gotham Cathedral
Originally this project was being written by Tom Mankiewicz (the on-set writer of the Superman movies) in the early 80's.
When the film was greenlit for production, there was still considerable fan concern that it would emulate the farcical parodying tone of the television series. All of the designs were based on the original Hamm script before significant rewrites when filming began. Many elaborate action scenes were altered or removed completely. As result many Batman gadget props were made that ended up merely decoration in the batcave vault.
Burton chose Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman because he thought he could play a dark, tortured Batman and a serious Bruce Wayne. Some people thought that Keaton wasn't built enough for the role of Batman and that he couldn't play a serious role because of his comedic roles in the past. However, before shooting Batman, Keaton worked out for two months and spent some time kickboxing with the help of his stunt double. In spite of Keaton's being cast, Alec Baldwin and Charlie Sheen were also considered for the role.
The tone and themes of the film were influenced in part by Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke and Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. The early Batman comics from late thirties and forties were also an influence. The climax at the belltower was partially inspired by The Phantom of the Opera musical Jon Peters and Jack Nicholson attended while shooting.
The teaser trailer became so popular that many purchased movie tickets simply to see the trailer. The positive reaction to the trailer inspired a buzz that entered the general popular culture as t-shirts with the Batman symbol sold in large numbers in the weeks before the movie's premiere.
Prince album and videos
Main article: Batman (soundtrack)
There were two compact discs released in conjunction with Batman. The first was an album by Prince featuring songs from the film (including "Batdance") and others inspired by it. It is considered both the soundtrack and an album.
The second cd release features the original score by composer Danny Elfman. According to the DVD Special Edition, Elfman says that Jon Peters was not sure about him as a composer until Burton made him play the main titles. The theme score, however, went on to become an incredibly iconic piece. It also served as the basis for the theme tune to Batman: The Animated Series, which premiered in 1992 although the theme tune was later retooled.
Box Office Performance
Batman opened in 2,194 cinemas in North America, on June 23rd, 1989. In its opening weekend, it grossed $40,489,746, which, at the time of its release, was a record. The film ended its theatrical run with $251,188,924, and was not only the biggest moneymaker of the year, but was also the fifth highest-grossing film of all time.
The film's total worldwide box office gross is $411,348,924,which is about $680 million in 2006 dollars.
Batman was the first UK film to be given a '12' certificate but the '12' at that time was a cinema only certificate and for it's video release the rating was upgraded to a '15' certificate which had remained ever since.
Despite the early worries, the film became the second most successful of 1989 and received praise from many Batman readers, especially those who had read the Frank Miller stories that inspired it. Furthermore, Keaton changed many doubters' minds about his casting to become hailed as one of the best actors to play the title role. Critical reaction was mostly positive, with many praising the film for its set design and production value, while others panned it as being too much of an intellectual exercise for Burton and too little of a Batman movie. Roger Ebert gave the film two stars (out of four), remarking, "Batman is a triumph of design over story, style over substance - a great-looking movie with a plot you can't care much about." Hal Hinson of the Washington Post gave a more enthusiastic review calling the film "Dark, haunting and poetic".
Despite a mostly positive reaction, many comic book fans took issue with some aspects of the storyline, though, especially the fact that Batman killed Joker's henchmen, while in comics he only acted like that in early issues and was soon established as a superhero that doesn't kill. Many fans also complained that the Joker was portrayed as the killer of Bruce's parents, while in the comics it was an ordinary thug. One of the movie's screenwriters, Sam Hamm, even claimed, during an interview for the film's Special Edition DVD, that the only reason why he didn't protest against that decision was that he was participating in a writers' strike at the time. Some fans, however, thought the idea helped to further establish the parallel between the two characters.
Robin was originally written into the earliest drafts of the script. His introduction would take place in the latter portion of the second act, during a chase between Batman and the Joker and his thugs, in which the thugs drive into a local flea market. At the market, the flying Graysons are performing their acrobatic skills to a large crowd. The cars crash through the area, causing the hundreds of people to run away in fear. The Joker's car hits a pole that the Graysons are standing on and causes them to fall off, killing all except one: Robin. Robin joins in the chase screaming "You killed my parents!". At the end of the chase Batman comforts him. This idea was mainly disliked, and rewrites would later remove Robin from the script entirely. The preproduction storyboards for the sequence can be seen on the 2-disc Special Edition DVD. Actor Kiefer Sutherland revealed that he was considered for the role of Robin but turned it down, which he later stated regretting after the film's success.
Awards and Nominations
Batman won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (awarded to Anton Furst and Peter Young), making it the first Batman film to win an Oscar until The Dark Knight. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe, two Grammys and several BAFTAs.
- In an alternate scene, Batman was held at gunpoint by the police at Axis Chemicals. He raises his hands as if to surrender, but then throws two smoke capsules against the cops to be able to "fly" away. This scene was shot but not used and then reshot. The comic adaptation show the alternative take.
- Footage was filmed of Joker pulling Carl Grissom's body from his chair.
- After Joker asked "Where does he get those wonderful toys?", he looked at his Goons and commanded "Don't just stand there, go and ask him!"
- After fleeing with Vicki Vale from the Flugelheim Museum, a girl got caught in the ensuing attack by Joker's Goons. Batman carried her to safety, and after setting her down the girl asked "Is it Halloween?" in reference to Batman's suit.
- Rather than dropping his knife and fleeing, Bob the Goon attacked Batman with the knife. It is possible that the scene in which the goon who attacked Batman with the two swords, may have taken the place of the scene with Bob. The only known pics of the fight scene with Bob and Batman was on the Batman Movie trading cards, that were released directly before the film was released in theaters.
- Directly after the scene where Commissioner Gordon listens to the Joker's laughing box, there was a scene involving the unconscious Alexander Knox. In an attempt to evade the police Batman puts his cloak over an unconscious Alexander Knox as a distraction. Gordon and the police find him and pull the cape off to reveal Knox instead of Batman.
- Originally, the final scene of the movie when the Bat-Signal is released, Gordon and Dent threaten even the cops are corrupt police department.
- At the end of the movie, there is a scene where Vicki goes over to Alfred's car and sees two children dressed as Batman.
Deleted Scenes Photo Gallery
The film was first released on VHS, Betamax, and Laserdisc in 1989.
The film's first release on DVD was in late 1997, shortly after the format debuted; it was a single disc release featuring the ability to watch the film either in widescreen or in full-screen but not featuring any bonus materials, save for sparse production notes and cast info. On top of that, the scene selection menu was a nightmare, with random scenes picked for the menu while the rest were left out.
To coincide with the release of Batman Begins on DVD in 2005, Warner Bros decided to give all four of the original Batman films new DVD treatments and special edition versions of all four films were created. The special edition DVDs feature newly restored audio and video, a re-mastered Dolby Digital audio track, a new DTS audio track, and a second disc filled with bonus materials. Each title is available both individually and as part of a pack featuring the special editions of all four films in the franchise.
- This film has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense stylized violence, some language and sexual innuendo. The film was originally rated 12 by the BBFC for moderate violence and horror, but later changed the rating to 15.
- This movie is the only Batman movie where there is only one supervillain.
- October 16: Date on issue of Time that covered Vicki Vale's pictures on the Corto Maltese Revolution, an event ocurred in Frank Miller's comic book, The Dark Knight Returns.
- Thursday, October 26: Day news of Thomas and Martha Wayne's murders covered in Gotham Globe.
- Friday, November 7: Date given for news of Smylex combos revealed in Gotham Globe.
- The original draft of the movie was originally much different, and also included Dick Grayson. Also, Joker's death was completely different, as he was about to finish off Batman (who was battered up from the earlier battles), but Batman decided to try and take The Joker with him by activating a bomb on his belt. Joker then has to try and escape, but is essentially trapped in the clock tower, and has to get on board the chopper to get away from the explosion, and just as he is about to make his escape, a huge swarm of Bats attack the chopper, causing Joker to let go of the ladder to his death. The Chopper was later destroyed by Batman throwing the bomb at it.
- In order to combat negative rumors about the production, a theatrical trailer was hastily assembled to be distributed to theaters. To test its effectiveness, Warner Bros. executives showed it at a theater in Westwood, California to an unsuspecting audience. The ninety-second trailer received a standing ovation. Later, it would become a popular bootleg at comic book conventions, and theater owners would report patrons paying full price for movie tickets just to have an opportunity to see the trailer, and leaving before the feature began.
- This movie was released the year of Batman's 50th birthday.
- Jon Peters wanted Michael Jackson and George Michael to contribute original songs as "rival factions" taking on different themes like romance, Batman and Joker.
- The Joker would've returned in the cancelled fifth film, Batman Unchained, as a hallucination by the Scarecrow's fear gas.
- Adam West, who played Batman in Batman: The Series, tried to get the role of Batman again in this movie. However, Michael Keaton was hired for the role. Later, West was considered for the role of Thomas Wayne, but David Baxt was hired for the role. Curiously, nineteen years later after the movie's release, West voiced Thomas Wayne in the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
|Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology|
|Films: Batman • Batman Returns • Batman Forever • Batman & Robin|