In this blockbuster film version of Bob Kane’s classic comic, released in 1989 by Tim Burton, “Batman” gained a new image. The director reimagined eponymous superhero, “Batman”, as a dark and conflicted character. Michael Keaton played the main role as a tortured soul Bruce Wayne, the brooding man, who as a child saw his parents killed by muggers, in a darkened alleyway. During the day, he is a multimillionaire industrialist, at night he dons a cape, mask and boots to become Batman and right the wrongs of bleak, gothic Gotham City. Photojournalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) and reporter Alex Knox (Robert Wuhl) are among those who want to discover Batman’s secret identity and find out the truth.

While Burton gives him Caped Crusader depth, darkness, and even romance, the show is almost stolen from his hero by the villain Joker, played wonderfully by Jack Nicholson. Resplendent in a purple suit and clown-like makeup, dancing to the Prince songs that spice the soundtrack.

Warner Bros.


The tone and themes of the film were influenced in part by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland‘s The Killing Joke and Frank Miller‘s The Dark Knight Returns. The film primarily adapts the “Red Hood” origin story for the Joker, in which Batman inadvertently creates the Joker by causing him to fall into Axis Chemical acid, resulting in his transformation into a psychopath, but it adds a unique twist in presenting him specifically as a gangster named Jack Napier.

Filming took place at Pinewood Studios from October 1988 to January 1989. The budget escalated from $30 million to $48 million, while the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike forced Hamm to drop out. 

“Batman” was a critical and financial success, earning over $400 million in box office totals. It was the fifth-highest-grossing film in history at the time of its release. The film received several Saturn Award nominations and a Golden Globe nomination, and won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. It also inspired the equally successful Batman: The Animated Series, paving the way for the DC animated universe, and has influenced Hollywood’s modern marketing and development techniques of the superhero film genre. Three sequels, Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997), were released.