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Gotham City (Burton Films)

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Gotham City
General Information
Official name: Gotham City
Created by: Anton Furst (Batman)
Bo Welch (Batman Returns)
First Appearance: Batman
Country: United States of America
"Decent people shouldn't live here. They'd be happier someplace else."
―Jack Napier[src]

Gotham City was Batman's home city and his base of operations.

Due to the absence of contributing businesses due to corruption and criminal influence, the city's tax base was crumbling.



"And there will be entertainment, the big dukeroo, with me in one corner and in the other corner the man who has brought real terror to Gotham City... Batman."
The Joker[src]

Batman Returns

"The liberation of Gotham has begun!"
The Penguin[src]


Batman (1989)

Batman Returns



Batman Returns

Behind the Scenes

Background Information and Notes


In the opening lines of the Sam Hamm screenplay for the 1989 film, Gotham was described as if "Hell erupted through the pavement and built a city". The logic was that when the elevators were utilized for taller structures, the buildings that reached over a few stories were built around the existing structures of Gotham City. Those skyscrapers cast a shadow over the city that was coupled with the smoke from Gotham's industry and kept the city in perpetual dusk.

Anton Furst's set designs for the film were an attempt to imagine what might have happened to New York City had there been no planning commission and had it been run by pure extortion and crime. Hence, there were no height restrictions, the skyscrapers were cantilevered toward the street rather than away, there were lots of bridges over the streets. In return, the city appeared to be extremely dark and claustrophobic. Director Tim Burton even stated himself that his take on Gotham was "As if Hell came sprouting out of the concrete and kept right on growing".

A majority of Gotham's street scenes in Batman (1989) were achieved with model buildings and matte paintings in the background. Furst deliberately mixed clashing architectural styles to make Gotham City the ugliest and bleakest metropolis imaginable.

For Tim Burton's second Batman film, Batman Returns, Bo Welch took over the production design duties from Furst. Welch for the most part, based his designs on Furst's concepts. Whereas Furst's designs showed a considerable amount of sinister visual grandeur, Welch's designs had a more whimsical approach. Welch blended "Fascist architecture with World's Fair architecture" for Gotham City. Russian architecture and German Expressionism were also studied.


In a 1992 comic book storyline, Destroyer, a man who was obsessed with Cyrus Pinkney's architecture blew up several Gotham buildings in order to reveal Pinkney's structures that were hidden; the editorial purpose behind that was to transform the city that was depicted in the comics to resemble the designs created by Furst for the 1989 Batman film.

Noted buildings in the film; such as the Gotham Cathedral, the Monarch Theatre and the appearance of the GCPD Headquarters, were also accommodated into the comic books and Batman mythos.


  • A map of Gotham City that was used in Batman was actually an inverted map of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
  • The flag of Gotham City closely resembled the state flag of Indiana. It could be seen briefly in Harvey Dent's Office
  • At least 50% of the Warner Brothers lot was taken up with Gotham City sets for Batman Returns. The massive Gotham City sets were all constructed to be mobile, and were often shifted between days of filming. Michelle Pfeiffer routinely got lost on her way to filming each day.
  • The design of Gotham City was based on the work of architects Antoni Gaudi, Otto Wagner, Shia Takamatsu and Louis H. Sullivan.

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