The Dark Knight was reinvented as a brooding, gothic hero in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie…
The One Where: An urban legend of a Bat-Man is sweeping Gotham, just as mobster Jack Napier has a hideous accident and is reborn as self-styled ‘homicidal artist’ The Joker. Can Batman step out of the shadows and at long last avenge the death of his parents?
Star Turns: It’s not often remembered now how controversial a choice Michael Keaton was for Bruce Wayne – with fans queuing up outside Warner Bros. offices to protest. Once people saw him in action, though, they realised Keaton gets the character spot on. His is a brilliantly understated performance, with hints at mania underneath, which perfectly plays off Jack Nicholson’s scenery-chewing turn as The Joker (who is also fantastic).
Best Scene: The opening scene is an ingenious play off the well-known Batman origins story (even if this was the first time it was shown on screen) and it cleverly segues into Batman’s spectacular entrance. The swooping. The mist. The music. The “I’m Batman'” line. It is simply a perfect introduction for the first serious take of the character on the big screen.
Verdict: If you don’t expect any fidelity to the source material (The Joker killed who now?!), Batman is a visually-stunning film – one that is probably closer to old-fashioned noir movies than comic books. The story might be slight, but the gothic atmosphere is pitched perfectly and Gotham is suitably foreboding and timeless (everyone dresses like its the 30s but they have 80s hair). There are flaws – Kim Basinger’s Vicki Vale basically screams her way through the film – but Batman is so grand and sweeping it remains one of the definitive superhero films ever.
Holy interesting trivia, Batman! At an earlier stage, the film was set to be directed by Ivan Reitman of Ghostbusters fame. He would have cast Bill Murray as Bruce Wayne!