*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.
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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!