Batman (1989 movie)

From Academic Kids

Batman DVD cover, 1997 release version
Batman DVD cover, 1997 release version

Batman was released in U.S. theaters on June 23, 1989 by Warner Bros. and soon became the highest grossing movie of the year. It was directed by Tim Burton and starred Jack Nicholson as a rather psychotic Joker, Michael Keaton as Batman, and Kim Basinger as reporter Vicki Vale. Although Keaton played the nominal hero of the film, Nicholson received top billing.

This movie ushered a return to the "dark" roots of the Batman of the comics and away from the campy 1960s Batman television series and cartoon Super Friends. Like many film versions of comic book heroes, the Batman movie told its own version of his origin, and how The Joker figured in that origin.

Many people who grew up watching the 1960s television series criticized the film for being too dark, not realizing that the comic books are in fact one of D.C. Comics' most gloomy.

Comic books fans themselves were aghast to learn of the casting of Michael Keaton as the title character and complained it was a sure sign of the production taking the same mocking tone of the television series. The producers hurriedly released a teaser trailer to prove they were treating the character with respect. The marketing move was successful and since the film's successful release, many fans consider Keaton as one of the best actors to have played Batman in a live-action film.

The minor-key score was written by Danny Elfman, with songs by Prince. Two animated series (Batman: The Animated Series and The Adventures of Batman and Robin) were created in the wake of the film's success, and four subsequent theatrical films (Batman Returns, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm [a spin-off of the animated television series], Batman Forever, and Batman and Robin) were produced.

Plot summary

The main story in the movie is that of Jack Napier, a mob hitman who's double crossed by his crime boss, and ends up falling into a vat of chemicals, which ingrain him with a permanent 'smile'. Naming himself the Joker, he tracks down and kills his own boss and takes over the criminal gang. The violent takeover attracts the attention of both Batman and a newspaper reporter named Vicki Vale. The rest of the story involves Batman fighting to stop the Joker and his henchmen from terrorizing the city with shootouts, assassinations, and a deadly chemical named Smilex.

Response and Legacy

Batman was easily the most succesful movie of 1989, earning $251,188,924 domestically and over $160 milllion abroad. The movie received mostly positive reviews, with Erik Preminger of KGO-TV/San Francisco hailing it as "the movie of the decade". Jack Nicholson was widely praised as ruthless thug Jack Napier and an even more ruthless Joker. Michael Keaton also got unexpected appeal as Bruce Wayne and Batman (before then, he was mostly known for his comedic roles). Danny Elfman's music received positive feedback, leading to nominations in various institutions (although not for an Academy Award). The film was criticised, though, for its dark, grisly nature in comparison with the campy 1960's TV show, the Prince-dominated soundtrack, and fans criticized the fact that Batman, who is never supposed to kill, kills a henchman in the film.

External links

fr:Batman (film, 1989) sk:Batman (1989 film)


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