To commemorate the 80th-anniversary of Batman (#Batman80), AFJ has decided to join in the fun with columns, lists, and reviews from now until Batman Day (Sept. 15th, 2019). The incredible thing about 80 years of Batman in pop culture is that we can literally feature anything from comics to movies to bat-nipples. Yes, bat-nipples (Google it Millenials). Today, we turn our attention to 1989. Enjoy Junkies! #AFJ4LIFE
Written by Rick Alaia
This week we're talking about the 1989 blockbuster Batman. This is movie is celebrating its 30th-anniversary! Has it really been 30 years? Crazy.
I remember the summer well. The anticipation for this movie was reaching astronomical levels. Bat-Fever was in the air! Big time! This was my take on the film and the experience of it.
Warner Bros. had decided To keep the reveal of Batman's costume until the movie came out. It was a brilliant move on their part as it kept interests at an all-time high. Everyone was excited to see the caped crusader on the big screen again! The last time Batman was in theaters, it was Adam West as Batman. Now, like my father, they were taking their children to see the caped crusader in action. To say this wasn't your father's Batman though, would be an understatement.
Now people say that this is not a good Batman Movie. I disagree completely with that. This movie was not only a blockbuster in the theaters, but it was a turning point for Batman.
Michael Keaton's Batman was dark and violent to a point. He was also VERY green. At this point, in his Batman career, he was only known as "The Bat". Which means he was very new on the job. Keaton's Bruce Wayne was just as good.
The story was set in an '80s Noirish timeline. Gotham City was very Gothic and looked like it jumped right out of the '30s. It was an interesting take that definitely made this movie very unique.
To its credit, it showed many aspects of the Batman character. It proved that Batman was a skilled fighter as well as a detective. He puts his detective skills to work and solves the mystery of the delivery of SmileX to the people by The Joker.
Keaton's Batman, a lot like the character in the Batman: Year One comic, made a lot of mistakes. His training hadn't prepared him for someone like The Joker. So in essence, this was a Batman with no understanding of what he was dealing with, and as many people dropped into an unknown situation they become reactionary. It was brilliant writing.
The costume was mind boggling too. He wore an all black suit! It was armor! It was AWESOME looking! Very intimidating as well as explaining how he would avoid being injured by bullets and knives. It was such an epic time for the reveal. I remember everyone in the theater gasped when they finally saw it.
Now onto the Joker! The 1989 Joker was a product of his environment. While being absolutely nuts, he also strived to be the boss of Gotham's underworld. Giving him an ambition like that kind of contained some of the chaos of the character IMO. Although he would lash out at the population via the SmileX formula. He truly was a wild card.
I remember leaving the theater BLOWN AWAY. To me, it WAS Batman. That entire summer was Bat-crazy. I chased down all the trading cards from series one and two. I had posters, buttons, comics, and everything else! It was truly unlike any other summer I would ever remember. I wanted the toys so bad that my father had to get me Batman with his extending bat-belt before I would be satisfied. I could wait until Christmas for the rest, but I needed that Batman figure! That figure would be my favorite figure until 3 years later when Kenner released it's Dark Knight line around Batman Returns.
To this day, this movie is one of my favorite Batman films. I just have one question for those reading this. Have you watched it in black and white? Do it. It's an awesome way to rewatch this movie. Feels just like an old '50s noir film. Happy 30th-anniversary 1989 Batman! #LongLiveTheBat