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Comic Vine Question of the Week RESULTS: Why Do You Love 1989's Batman Movie?

What makes Tim Burton's first Batman movie a classic? Come see what the Comic Vine community has to say about it!

*We strongly recommend listening to this while reading. You're welcome*

This week, 1989's Batman turned 25 and we wanted you to celebrate by reflecting on the movie. If you loved it -- and apparently quite a few of you didn't -- we wanted to know what it is about the comic book movie that makes it so memorable. Is it the dark tone director Tim Burton casts over Gotham City and its inhabitants? Maybe you thought the cast or score was perfect? Or perhaps you love the action scenes? We had quite a few options on the poll and the Comic Vine community had two days to think it through. The poll is now closed and the people have spoken! According to the voters, Batman is special because of its tone!

Tim Burton's first Batman movie paints Gotham as a foreboding city that's in dire need of saving and constantly oozes a darker and more serious atmosphere. In fact, some may even say the city alone is one of the most impactful things about the film. Sure, the franchise began to implement more levity after this first entry, but this one remained gripping and kept its spotlight on making Gotham a unique city, showing Batman in a whole new light (a bit of a change from Adam West's, no?), and allowing Jack Nicholson to be all kinds of disturbing and crazy as the Joker. Let's go ahead and check out the poll's results. "Sorry, I don't love the movie" earned third place? Ouch!

  • The tone 33%
  • The cast 23%
  • Sorry, I don't love the movie 21%
  • The music 13%
  • The script 8%
  • The action 2%
  • The costume designs 2%

Plenty of Comic Viners shared their thoughts on this latest question, so let's see what a few of them had to say about the classic movie.

Omnicrono

"Love this movie. Just watched it again last week. Probably my favorite Batman movie after Batman Begins. It just oozes atmosphere and fun, man. Gotta love that soundtrack too.

Oh, and Jack Nicholson. Nuff said."

G_leno

"This film is everything that I want from a Batman movie. The cast, well, Michael Keaton is a perfect Bruce Wayne, he looks unassuming and normal and comes across as a troubled quiet man without being too brooding. Jack Nicholson is the ultimate Joker. He gives it the perfect amount of psychotic and clownishness in unison to make the Joker from the comics come to life, with all the lethal clown toys to boot. Gleeful with his killing and dancing around to prince songs, he is just so entertaining. Granted, we didn't get much of a Jim Gordon, but I don't miss him with the rest of the cast being so good. Michael Gough as Alfred is perfect and he was the quintessential English butler. I even loved Bob the goon.

Tim Burton nailed the feel of the Batman, and he was the herald of the Nolan films. Without Burton making Batman darker and in a Gothic setting, do you think the Pitch for Batman Begins would have been accepted? The costumes were exactly right for the tone of the movie, with the jokers bright orange shirt and purple tartan trousers clashing perfectly with the black batsuit (although it was a bit too ridged).

All of that combined with the most accurate Batman portrayal showcasing his detective skill along with his ability to fight legions of goons, and an awesome batmobile, both in looks and gadgets, and his own utility belt! Even the Joker gives a compliment about his wonderful toys. I love this movie and it will always hold a special place in my heart alongside Flash Gordon as epic 80's fare that will never be beaten."

Jayso4201

"I was seven years old when this movie came out and it absolutely changed my life and made me the obsessed comic fanboy I am today. I'm pretty sure I saw it at least three times while it was in the theaters and countless times since (I just watched it the other day on BBC America with my kids). I can still quote the movie from beginning to end. You ask why I love this movie and expect us to choose from only one reason. Impossible. This movie changed it all. It changed the way super-hero movies were viewed by the general populace and in my opinion they are still trying to reproduce the success of this movie.

Everything in this movie was brilliant, from the larger roles like Keaton and Nicholson to the smaller ones like Whul and Billy Dee the acting was great. Gough set the standard for what Alfred should be and kept his job throughout the entire series. The story was awesome and was very well directed by a then lesser known Burton, it made him famous and secured his status in Hollywood for years to come. The dark tone of the movie was incredible, such a far departure from what West did in the 60's. If I'm not mistaken a lot of this was lifted from what Miller was doing at the time as well as The Killing Joke and you can tell, from the moment Batman finds Jack on the catwalk to their confrontation in Vale's apartment it full of climactic and awesome scenes. My only gripe being how Gordon was portrayed as a bumbling oaf, not the Jim Gordon I know of.

Overall this movie made going to the movies fun, it made me pick up comic books, it made me the collector I am today. If it wasn't for this film I have no idea who I would have been. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe bad, either way it is a classic that we will still be talking about in another 25 years."

MuyJingo

"I actually really somewhat despise this movie. It's a stronger opinion than is warranted, because it certainly isn't that bad of a movie. I'm too young to appreciate the influence this movie had on the industry and the changes that followed although I can respect it for that - but as a Batman fan...it gets no love from me.

Why? Well, it's because of this version of Batman. This Batman kills people*. This Bruce Wayne is a hermit weirdo. All of this is a valid take and arguably a tribute to the original incarnation of the character. But, it's not the Batman I came to love, and that's why I don't like the movie.

The Batman I love is a genius. Batman is Batman because of his mind. Batman has multiple degrees useful in concocting antidotes or whatever, is a master detective, master martial artist and still balances keeping up appearances as a playboy Bruce Wayne. he isn't crazy, although he is close to snapping constantly and has to hold himself back. And he does. He also never kills. He holds himself to a high moral code, and has a code. He follows this code, always. That's why it is not only entertaining, and inspiring to see him always find a solution that does not involve killing, even when it shouldn't be possible. It's always important to try, and you might just succeed, saving lives in the process.

That Batman has yet to be seen on live action in a blockbuster film. Burton's Batman was a reclusive weirdo who killed. The Schumacher iteration was just an exaggerated version of that. Bale's Batman is close in many ways, but lacks the intellect to solve crimes or invent things, relying on his support staff or technology. He also has no problem killing.

Compare The Batman of TAS or the other DCAU movies to this Batman, and it becomes clear all that is wrong. Not to mention this iteration of Joker is...just Jack Nicholson. Joker is one of the most fascinating characters in comics, and he has been reduced to nothing more than a clown. That's it. It's not entertaining to me to see a guy in white makeup in a purple suit dancing badly to Prince. That isn't scary, not in the least. Joker should be frightening.

In my mind, this film has no redeeming qualities, except maybe as a tribute to earlier iterations of Batman.

*The same people who dispute this Batman kills people also probably don't understand Batman killed Ra's in BB. With the warehouse explosion, the Batwing firing a machine gun killing people, and deliberalty murdering Joker with the gargoyle...yes, this Batman kills."

Love or hate Burton's first Batman movie, we want to know what YOUR favorite scene is! So, think it through and then share it with us below. Also, feel free to suggest future question ideas in the comments below or via Twitter.

Love Batman movies? Well, you should also visit our latest edition of "Favorite Animated Movies." It's between Under the Red Hood and Mask of the Phantasm. Click here to check it out and cast your vote!

39 Comments
Posted by AirDave817

Tim Burton's 1989 Batman has it's "flaws", but casting Michael Keaton in the title role was not one of them. The only nits I could pick with the film is that his Bruce Wayne stumbled slightly into "wacky" comedy when he tried to tell Vicky about his dual identity. Vicki discovering the Batcave was unnecessary and too rushed. That tells me she wasn't coming back for the sequel. Jack Nicholson was just a little long in the tooth and fat as The Joker. The whole who-made-who was unnecessary, too. For all of these "flaws", Batman was a solid movie. It's a shame that Joker was killed off and that Michael Keaton could not continue in the role. It would have been nice to see what a third film would have been like with him.

Edited by RustyRoy

Loved this movie, its one of the reasons that made me a Batfan.

Posted by The Stegman

The movie is "meh" to me. I like Joker, that's about it.

Online
Posted by sonova

Top reason I love this movie,

Joker: Why didn't anyone tell me he had one of those....THINGS? Bob, gun.
Bob: Hands Joker gun
Joker: Shoots Bob

Posted by Ninjablade09

I have the same kind of feelings towards this as I have for Batman and Robin. I don't like the film, but I appreciate what it's done for the genre.

Posted by Ashr

I wasn't a fan of Tim Burton's Batman nor the soundtrack. Although the movie probably captured the feel of the Silver Age comics and TV series quite well, it didn't match the vibe of the character in the late 80s (i.e. Dark Knight Returns, Death in the Family, Batman Year 1,2,3).

Edited by tensor

Love it ,a classic movie.Good movie too back in the day.

Posted by Darkseid_Prime

Because it's great.. except for all the Prince music LoL

Posted by 8008S

This movie is all kinds of great.

Posted by tparks

Great movie. Surprised that many people didn't like it. Kids these days...Lol.

Posted by StMichalofWilson

@sonova said:

Top reason I love this movie,

Joker: Why didn't anyone tell me he had one of those....THINGS? Bob, gun.

Bob: Hands Joker gun

Joker: Shoots Bob

lmao! That was such a dick move!

Fun fact: Bob was played by a friend of Jack Nicholson's.

Posted by MuyJingo

Wooh I've been featured as a highlighted post :D

It's interesting to see all the different opinions. While I don't like this take on Batman, I like that there are so many takes and that many people have a favorite.

@g_leno

Congrats on also being featured :). Out of curiosity, could you elaborate on why you think this movie shows an accurate Batman depiction and shows his detective skills? It's been a while since I saw it, but the detective aspect didn't stand out to me at all, from what I remember.

Posted by Valdemocnij

I love that movie, because its best Batman movie until now, for my opinion :)

Posted by G_leno

@muyjingo:

He sits at his Bat computer trying to figure out what makes people die with a creepy grin, then set out on trying every combination of cosmetic products together until he finds the combination that has the lethal effect. Also as an accurate depiction, he uses gadgets during fights, he keeps a low enough profile as Bruce Wayne that people don't know what he looks like so that no one will recognise the Batman.

I love that movie, because its best Batman movie until now, for my opinion :)

Hell yeah.

Edited by AmazingWebHead

I'm pretty sure I voted for tone. Well, I really voted for the fact that it introduced the grapnel gun.

Posted by Pokeysteve

I missed this poll =/

If I caught it, I would have voted cast. Keaton was fantastic. Basinger complemented him well and is still one of the most attractive CBM ladies to be on screen, Nicholson was the best live action Joker and everything that came out of his mouth was gold. Good stuff.

Posted by bloggerboy
@tparks said:

Great movie. Surprised that many people didn't like it. Kids these days...Lol.

Posted by Jayso4201

Ha, Ha! Quoted again, thanks Katzman!

Posted by jaybake724

Why isn't Joker's "five foot long pistol that can shoot down bat planes" one of the options. That's my favorite part

Edited by Yung ANcient One

How did the birthday boy post not get a mention? (+)

Posted by ULTRAstarkiller

I like this movie, but didn't love it.

Edited by RustyRoy

@tparks said:

Great movie. Surprised that many people didn't like it. Kids these days...Lol.

Posted by Gojira2014

I like the movie, but really dated these days.

Edited by MuyJingo

Damn!

I actually forgot to mention one of the most important points of all in my post.

A huge problem I had with this film is that they made Joker be the same guy who killed Bruce's parents. That defeats the purpose of both characters in my mind.

The guy who killed the Waynes was meant to represent a random act of violence. He wasn't even an evil man, he just got scared and things went wrong.

Joker is meant to be the living personification of random, crazy violence and evil. Perhaps not, but that's certainly a valid interpretation. Jack's Joker had none of that.

I'm not articulate enough at almost 3AM to elaborate on why this change is so reductive...but it is. I've always been surprised other Batman fans don't seem to have an issue with it.

@g_leno said:

@muyjingo:

He sits at his Bat computer trying to figure out what makes people die with a creepy grin, then set out on trying every combination of cosmetic products together until he finds the combination that has the lethal effect. Also as an accurate depiction, he uses gadgets during fights, he keeps a low enough profile as Bruce Wayne that people don't know what he looks like so that no one will recognise the Batman.

Oh :\

He is reclusive and weird as Bruce Wayne...he sleeps upside down as a bat for chris sakes.

You think a movie that has Bruce Wayne sleeping upside down as a bat is an accurate portrayal?

I think the deliberate killing people trumps the simplistic armchair detective he does when it comes to measuring the accuracy of a depiction.

A Batman who kills, is no Batman to me - however well he combines cosmetics.

Posted by G_leno

@muyjingo:

who does he kill? one henchman that I can remember, the one that falls down the tower. Bale's bat does not care if Bane dies. Hanging upside down to practice inverted takedowns is what he would need to do as part of his training. It wasn't simplistic detective work, judging by the news presenters getting more and more dishevelled, I'd say it took him at least 3 days to figure out the combination of cosmetics.

Posted by MuyJingo

@g_leno: He kills the people in the factory when he causes the explosion, he actively tries to kills everal henchmen and joker with the machine gun, and deliberatly kills joker at the climax. Bale's Batman kills just as much, and I dislike his interpretation for the same reason.

It was simplistic detective work because there were no clues, he was just brute forcing. He didn't solve or investigate, he just kept guessing different combinations until he got the right one.

If that were a detective story, it would be a pretty crappy story.

Posted by G_leno

@muyjingo:

He had to deduce that it was the cosmetics in the first place, that is detective work. How do you think any problem is solved if not trial and error?

He does not try to kill Joker at the end, he tries to prevent his escape and its only Jokers refusal to let go of the ladder that kills him.

Posted by MuyJingo

@g_leno said:

@muyjingo:

He had to deduce that it was the cosmetics in the first place, that is detective work. How do you think any problem is solved if not trial and error?

He does not try to kill Joker at the end, he tries to prevent his escape and its only Jokers refusal to let go of the ladder that kills him.

I guess. I just thought the detective aspect int he movie was extremely weak. Blink and you'll miss it.

Disagree, he knows that what he is doing will lead to jokers death. He could have saved him and refused.

Also, I think it's a huge stretch to interpret his sleeping upside down as a type of training.

Anyhoo, lets agree to disagree, since I doubt we will convince each other. Just wanted to understand your view better, and now I do.

Cheers :)

Posted by G_leno

@muyjingo said:

@g_leno said:

@muyjingo:

He had to deduce that it was the cosmetics in the first place, that is detective work. How do you think any problem is solved if not trial and error?

He does not try to kill Joker at the end, he tries to prevent his escape and its only Jokers refusal to let go of the ladder that kills him.

I guess. I just thought the detective aspect int he movie was extremely weak. Blink and you'll miss it.

Disagree, he knows that what he is doing will lead to jokers death. He could have saved him and refused.

Also, I think it's a huge stretch to interpret his sleeping upside down as a type of training.

Anyhoo, lets agree to disagree, since I doubt we will convince each other. Just wanted to understand your view better, and now I do.

Cheers :)

No probs. Its been a year since I watched it, I can't remember him going to sleep upsidedown, but I guess this is an excuse to watch it again!

Edited by G_leno

@muyjingo:

OK, I replaced my DVD copy with Blueray today, and watched it. Yes he kills a bucket load of goons in the factory, but he does not however sleep upside down, he waits until Vale is asleep, then does it to train. He is woken up by Vale later while he is asleep in a chair.

You should watch it again, the detective aspect is much greater than you seem to think, he explains it all to Vale too.

Posted by MuyJingo

@g_leno:

I already watched it very recently.

He isn't "training", he is sleeping. He is sleeping upside down from a chin up bar, but he isn't training, under any circumstances. She even sees him sleeping and notices it.

The de3tective part is minor, and on the level of a mystery book for grade school kids. There really isn't a strong detective element to the story.

Posted by CheVelle

This movie is amazing in so many different aspects. Major part of my child hood and it will always be one of my all time favorite movies.

Posted by Krazy_Carmine

@chevelle: i got agree I'm drawn to this movie cause it also my childhood era, i appreciate "old school" movies like this...it was a time they made movies and got straight to the point unlike now a days people are always questioning every aspect of movies (how in Dark Knight Rises people cant understand how Bruce Wayne was able to get back to Gotham)

Posted by CheVelle

Yes exactly

Posted by Ollietheblur

The tone

Posted by NaveTorment

I think what we almost always miss -- and this is something I noticed after rewatching BTAS vol.1 -- is just how dark these movies are. Sure the delivery is nicely wrapped in Joker's cartoonish humour, but there is nothing wholesome about a mobster who has corrupt policeman working for him come back from a freak-accident and undergo uncertified plastic surgery to look like a demon-clown with a perpetual, creepy smile. Nothing funny about him returning and being essentially a serial killer out for mob-bosses, and who then goes around publically displaying his killing-spree on national television -- attacking the news during the hour -- and threatening to destroy the citizens of the city during a national festival all to quench his personal competition to be the greater freak in town. In BTAS we had themes such as Batman being framed for murder and running from the police in ep.1 , the Joker again taking the Commissioner, the elite news-caster and det. Bullock hostage and threatening to kill them live on national tv during Christmas; that episode about homeless children living in the sewers and the tycoon essentially running a concentration camp where Bruce gets involved in, not to mention episodes involving MR Freeze, Clayface, Poison Ivy and Harvey Dent. It was all there: stuff that are too dark even for kids to watch, and we ate it all up as kids, loving every dropping minute of it. It was all possible due to Burton's Batman.

I have this theory that Burton's Batman stories are essentially the "urban legends" that Gotham-mites tell about Batman and co. whereas Nolan's "hyper-realism" validates it, in my book, as what really happened, while the BTAS and Mask of the Phantasm are operatic reimaginings of the urban legends and 60s Batman is essentially Gotham's pop-culture in display. Then again, I'm a deluded fool who should belong in Arkham. As should you all for reading this rant.