Batman (1989)

batman poster 1989 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Jack Nicholson, Tim Burton's Gotham

Michael Keaton is not Batman

Movie Info

Movie Name: Batman

Studio: Warner Bros.

Genre(s): Comic Book/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): June 23, 1989

MPAA Rating: PG-13


I’m Batman…Keep telling yourself that Michael Keaton…because you aren’t.

The mysterious Batman (Michael Keaton) begins patrolling Gotham City and Vickie Vale (Kim Basinger) joins Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) in trying to find the source of the urban legend. Meanwhile, Batman creates his own worst enemy when Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) is transformed into the evil Joker bent on destroying Gotham City.

Directed by Tim Burton, Batman was an instant blockbuster when it was released.  The movie helped reignite the franchise which had been dormant for years and is often pointed to and one of the best comic book movies of all time.  The movie was well received by both critics and fans.


Time for some action!

The movie is good, but time has not been kind to Batman. When it was released, it was edgy, gothic, and monumental. There weren’t comic book movies being released every week and most were relatively low budget. Batman felt like a huge jump forward and took the goofy Batman of the 1960s and brought him into the dark 1980s. Looking back however, Batman does look cheap. Tim Burton’s stylized scale models look very unrealistic, but his vision of Gotham still seems to the standard of all Gotham Cities since its release. When the movie calls for crowds of thousands in the streets during Joker’s celebration, it looks like all they could get was a couple hundred.


I’m Vicki Vale…and I like Batman!!!

It is obvious that Burton was a fan of the original series and there are some throwbacks to it. The throwbacks don’t mesh well with the attempts to movie it into the 1980s (which were a really dark period in comics). Michael Keaton is still horribly miscast as Batman (but maybe Burton was going for something like the Adam West Batman what was very over the top). It just doesn’t work in scenes like the scene in Vicki Vale’s apartment and Bruce Wayne “loses it”. It just doesn’t fit in the picture.

On the flipside, Jack Nicholson is still great as a Joker that combines the dark murderous Joker with the Cesar Romero goofiness. He has fun being the Joker and relished in all the over-the-top lines. Nicholson’s allowed to be his “Jack Nicholson” character but still seems to be a character since he’s hiding beneath the Joker character (but it still makes me long for the days that Jack Nicholson acted)…plus his line “Ever Dance with the Devil in the Pale Moon Light?” is a classic…only challenged now by “Why so serious?” from The Dark Knight.


Why does everyone hate me Joker? You’re suppose to be the villain!

The music is Prince driven and works for the time. It was suppose to be Michael Jackson doing the soundtrack but conflicts in schedules forced him to back out. I can only imagine how that would have been.

Batman still holds a soft spot for me in that it came out when it was really important.  I was the perfect age where it was gritty enough not to feel like a kid movie but also not violent enough to eliminate huge chunks of the audience.  I saw Batman a number of times through the years and seeing it again always brings back good memories.  Tim Burton followed up Batman with Batman Returns in 1992.

Related Links:

Batman Returns (1992)

Batman Forever (1995)

Batman & Robin (1997)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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