I don’t know a nice way to say this, but Batman ’89 has some problems. I don’t want to make any of you nuts, but let’s get nuts.
Let me start by saying: I get it. I understand why people have such a reverence for this film; it is not bad, but it is flawed. From talking to both Bob and MJ, I understand the retrospective of, “this was the only movie like this then.” But, it’s 2018, I am 24 years old, and I just watched Batman ’89 for the first time: I don’t have that nostalgic filter. Here are my big 3 problems with Batman ’89.
1. The Suit is Somewhat (really) Silly
The “Bat-turn,” as the video above discusses, is just plain silly. Sure, you can justify the movement by saying it fits with the withdrawn nature of this iteration of Batman. I’ll accept that, just as long as you accept that Batman having to move his entire body so he can look to the left is ridiculous. (also, Keaton’s Batman looks really skinny. I know BatFleck doing Crossfit in his BVS montage is silly, but he looks like he is ready to fight someone.)
2. Half of the Joker’s “Antics”
While I have the utmost respect for Jack Nicholson’s performance as the Joker, but there are a few things that are a little hard to overlook. Like the Gif above, The Joker has some lines in this movie that don’t even make any sense. “Never rub another man’s rhubarb.” Seriously, WHAT? On top of that Joker has two (TWO) musical accompanied entrances. These Prince songs are so out of place and random that they I spent the whole time looking back and forth looking for an explanation. Why is this happening? What is the purpose?
The Joker shows the tightrope that this move tried to walk between Comic Book silliness and dark, grimy reality. When the Joker has these moments the movie falls off this tightrope into the overly comic book silly zone and it breaks the illusion of the movie reality. The suspension of disbelief is imperative for a comic book movie, and once you lose that, it is hard to gain back.
3. IT’S WHAT YOU DO
After I finished Batman ’89, I thought back to all of the Batman movies I have seen over the years and how they compared. (I realize this is the opposite to the way that many of you reading this went about comparing Batman movies, but this is the only way I can.) The closest comparison to ’89 that I could think of was Batman Begins because they are both the story of an early Batman. I concluded that a lot more happens in the latter movie, while only being fourteen minutes longer.
When you come from the Dark Night Trilogy and look back at ’89, so little happens to Bruce Wayne/Batman in those two hours and six minutes.
Beyond all that, there are some really weird moments. Don’t believe me? The scene below is a hooker trying to proposition a ten-year-old.
I want to make it clear that I did not hate this film. I really did enjoy it, but given all of the other comic book movies and Batman movies I had to compare it to, it doesn’t quite stack up for me.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!