It is very easy to forget that without Tim Burton’s gothic macabre 1989 version of Batman, there would be no X-Men, Hellboy, Kick Ass, Spider-Man or any other Marvel films… certainly not the way we know of them anyhow. If it did not exist, would Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy have ever happened?
By the time The Caped Crusader became a blockbuster feature film, Superman, despite the loyal attachment of the popular Christopher Reeve, had steadily declined and fallen at the box office. The image of Batman was firmly trapped within the 1960s Adam West show with its bright, vibrant colours, over the top villains and camp atmosphere (some say all of which was still in Tim Burton’s films). Certainly the comics had been steadily rehabilitating the character since the 1970s and Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns had gained some mainstream attention. But in the main, not many people thought that Batman was, or could ever, be cool.
In addition, the pre-production news that this adaptation was to feature the star and director of the weird and kooky comedy Beetlejuice reuniting did not make a lot of fans happy. Had there been the widespread internet access of today, it could have melted down with the sheer rage. Then the publicity began building, the film opened and made box office history.
I’m not going to claim that Tim Burton’s Batman is a masterpiece, it has flaws: Kim Basinger’s character Vikki Vale is underwritten, at times appearing to do little but different types of shrieking, and the supporting cast also get little to work with and the third act/climax isn’t that strong. However it still kick-started Batman’s career on screen, and it is rightly considered a classic of the genre.
For the most iconic of superheroes, here’s 10 of the most iconic stills and imagery from his first blockbuster outing;
10. The Bat Logo
This Bat symbol only appeared in the comics in the sixties, but it became the main image for the marketing of the film. For several months it was the only thing most fans had to go on about the next Batman movie and how it would turn out. It was reproduced on posters and merchandise, dominating the cultural landscape in 1989.
The symbol tied in with the film’s title sequence, where the camera goes through a stone structure before pulling back to reveal that it is this logo.
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