|Directed by||Tim Burton|
|Produced by||Peter Guber|
|Music by||Danny Elfman|
|Editing by||Ray Lovejoy|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release||June 23, 1989|
|Running time||126 minutes|
|Preceded by||Batman (1966)|
|Followed by||Batman Returns|
Batman is a 1989 American superhero film directed by Tim Burton and produced by Jon Peters, based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It is the first installment of Warner Bros.' initial Batman film series. The film stars Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton in the title role, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, and Jack Palance. In the film, Batman deals with the rise of a costumed criminal known as "The Joker".
After Burton was hired as director in 1986, Steve Englehart and Julie Hickson wrote film treatments before Sam Hamm wrote the first screenplay. Batman was not greenlit until after the success of Burton's Beetlejuice (1988). Numerous A-list actors were considered for the role of Batman before Keaton was cast. Keaton's casting caused a controversy since, by 1988, he had become typecast as a comedic actor and many observers doubted he could portray a serious role. Nicholson accepted the role of the Joker under strict conditions that dictated a high salary, a portion of the box office profits and his shooting schedule. The tone and themes of the film were influenced in part by Alan Moore's The Killing Joke and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.
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. Uncredited rewrites were performed by Warren Skaaren, Charles McKeown and Jonathan Gems. Batman was a critical and financial success, earning over $400 million in box office totals. The film received several Saturn Award nominations and a Golden Globe nomination, and won an Academy Award. 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.
Approaching its 200th anniversary, Gotham City's mayor fears that the high level of criminal activity will deter citizens from attending the celebration. He orders District Attorney Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams) and Commissioner Gordon (Pat Hingle) to make the city safe again, in hopes of revitalizing local business. Dent, in turn, targets mob boss Carl Grissom, who sponsors much of the criminal activity within Gotham and has paid off a significant segment of the police force. But in recent days reports about the acts against criminals by a mysterious and elusive dark vigilante nicknamed as the "Batman" has attracted the attention of both the police and the local media. Newspaper reporter Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) and the photojournalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) are attempting to investigate.
Meanwhile, Carl Grissom (Jack Palance), on discovering that his mistress is involved with his second-in-command Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson), sets up a trap to kill him with the corrupted cop Max Eckhardt (William Hootkins) in a raid at the Axis Chemicals plant. During the shooting between the police and the criminals, Napier manages to kill Eckhardt, when suddenly Batman arrives on the scene helping out the cops by fighting off the thugs. But while taking down the criminals, Batman accidentally knocks Jack Napier into a vat full of chemical waste and flees from Gordon's men as Napier is thought deceased. Batman, as the viewer discovers, is actually the billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton), an orphan who lives alone in the large mansion Wayne Manor, with his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Gough) in attendance. At a fund-raising party, Bruce meets and falls for Vicki Vale and starts off a relationship with her, much to Knox's envy.
Napier, in the meantime, has actually survived the accident at the chemical plant but is horribly disfigured, with chalk-white skin, emerald-green hair and a permanent ruby-red grin after a botched reconstructive surgery attempt. Already erratic, the trauma has apparently driven him completely insane. Calling himself "The Joker", he kills Grissom and usurps his criminal empire making the Axis plant his headquarters. His first scheme is to spread terror in the city by creating hygiene products that makes victims laugh to death when used in certain combinations, laced with a deadly chemical known as "Smilex", causing the citizens to become paralyzed with fear of buying any products, unknowing if there's Smilex in them or not. Making war on several fronts, the Joker then sets a trap at the Gotham Museum of Art for Vicki Vale, with whom he has become smitten, as his henchmen vandalize the surrounding artworks. At this point, Batman storms in and saves Vicki by fighting off Joker's thugs and leaving with her on the Batmobile. After entering into his lair, the Batcave, the caped crusader gives the secret of the Joker's Smilex combinations to her, so that she can publish them as prophylaxis on Gotham newspapers.
Incensed at Batman eluding him while taking Vale and ruining his poisoning scheme, the Joker vows to eliminate the mysterious vigilante for interfering with his plans. In the meantime, Bruce investigates on Jack Napier, and upon hearing the Joker's taunt ("Have you ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight?"), he discovers that the supercriminal was actually the very same murderer who scarred him as a kid by killing his parents. As Bruce grapples with this memory, he is shocked by the sudden appearance of Vicki in the Batcave; Alfred having decided that she deserved to know the truth. After avouching himself to Vicki, Bruce dresses up as Batman and leaves to destroy the Axis Chemical plant with the Batmobile. But it's too late since the Joker has left his lair to upstage the city's cancelled anniversary celebrations with a night-time parade at which he dispenses $20 million in free cash. The parade is actually a trap and the Joker starts killing the citizens by spreading the Smilex gas from his balloons, but once again Batman busts the supercriminal's plan by snatching the balloons away using the Batwing. Furious, the Joker manages to gun down the flying vehicle to then capture Vicki Vale from the crowd and take her on the top of Gotham City's Cathedral. Dazed but not finished, Batman pursues the two and at the top of the dusty edifice, the two adversaries confront each other in single combat in which the Batman prevents the Joker from escaping on a chopper and plummets him to his doom.
With Joker's death, Gotham City is granted with a peaceful period due to the retreat of the criminal forces and Commissioner Gordon unveils the Bat-Signal along with a note from Batman read by Harvey Dent, promising to defend Gotham whenever crime strikes again. The movie ends with Batman observing the Bat-Signal from the edge of a building.
- Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman
- Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier/The Joker
- Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale
- Robert Wuhl as Alexander Knox
- Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon
- Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent
- Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
- Jack Palance as Carl Grissom
- Jerry Hall as Alicia Hunt
- Tracey Walter as Bob the Goon
- Lee Wallace as Mayor Borg
- William Hootkins as Lt. Max Eckhardt
- Hugo E. Blick as Young Jack Napier
- Charles Roskilly as Young Bruce Wayne
- David Baxt as Thomas Wayne
- Sharon Holm as Martha Wayne