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"They turned off the Bat-Signal as the Sun set over Gotham City. A much quieter Gotham City. Down on the streets, music played, people laughed, life went on. And overhead, the gargoyles watched silently from the old Gotham Cathedral. Long ago, it was believed that gargoyles could protect a place from evil. One of the gargoyles moved. It was the Batman."
―Excerpt from end of the film's novelization.[src]

Batman is the first installment of the Warner Brothers Batman Film Franchise based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Released a month after Batman's 50th anniversary of his comic debut, directed by Tim Burton and the first to star Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Inspired by the earliest issues of Detective Comics as well as the grittier Batman comics of the 1980s (including the work of Frank Miller and Alan Moore), the film moved the franchise back toward Batman's dark roots and away from the comedic, child-oriented interpretation of the character previously seen in mass media. The film also served as an inspiration for Batman: The Animated Series, because of its dark nature and Academy Award winning production design. The look of the city as well as Batman's new paraphernalia would also impact DC's mainstream comic continuity.



The film's title.

The Rise of the Joker

"I'm not going to kill you. I want you to do me a favor. I want you to tell all your friends about me."
"What are you?!"
"I'm Batman.
―Batman to Thug.[src]

Approaching its 200th Anniversary, Gotham City's leaders fear that the high level of criminal activity will deter citizens from attending the celebrations. Gotham's Mayor Borg orders District Attorney Harvey Dent 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.

Meanwhile, a dark vigilante dressed as a bat has attracted the attention of both the police and the local media. Newspaper reporter Alexander Knox is attempting to investigate, but his questions are deflected by skeptical cops, including Lt. Max Eckhardt, one of many police officers on the take from Grissom. After stonewalling Knox, Eckhardt is shown taking a payoff from Grissom's second in command, Jack Napier.

Grissom, on discovering that his mistress is involved with Napier, sets him up to be killed by Eckhardt in a raid on Axis Chemicals. The plot is foiled by the arrival of Commissioner Gordon, who wants Napier taken alive, and Batman. Batman captures Napier, but releases him when Bob holds Gordon hostage at gunpoint. Batman vanishes, and in the confusion, Napier shoots and kills Eckhardt, then attempts to shoot a re-emerged Batman. The latter deflects his shot, sending shrapnel into the former's face. Napier falls over a railing into a vat of toxic chemicals. Although surrounded by the police, Batman escapes the scene.

Lines Drawn

"Where does he get those wonderful toys?"
―The Joker.[src]

Batman, as we discover, is actually billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne, an orphan who lives alone in the large mansion Wayne Manor, with only his butler Alfred in attendance. At a fund-raising party, Bruce meets and falls for famous photojournalist Vicki Vale, recently arrived in town to cover the "Bat-Man phenomenon."

Napier, in the meantime, is not dead but 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, killing off two of the latter's loyal partners in the process. His first scheme is to spread terror in the city by creating hygiene products that can kill by fatal hilarity when used in certain combinations, laced with a deadly chemical known as "Smylex." Following the death of a news anchor on-air, the city becomes paralyzed with fear. Making war on several fronts, the Joker then sets a trap at the Flugelheim Museum for Vicki, with whom he has become smitten; his fellows start to slash and deface the entire legacy of Western Art, but as one of them approaches to Francis Bacon's Figure with Meat, the Joker stops him saying "I kinda like this one". The Joker then tries to disfigure our damsel in distress, like he did to Alicia, with the help of his "very special flower", only to have Vicki douse him with water. At this point Batman descends in a shower of glass via the window ceiling and saves Vicki, to whom he then gives the secret of the Joker's chemical combinations. Batman renders her unconscious, and she awakes at home. 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.


"You want to get nuts? Come on! Let's get nuts!"
―Bruce Wayne to Joker.[src]

Vicki's apartment is then the scene of a confrontation between the Joker, who has come to woo her after his former mistress Alicia committed suicide, and Bruce, who has come to try and confess about his double-life but not getting very far. After Bruce challenges the Joker to a fight, the Joker pulls a gun and asks him: "Tell me something, friend. Have you ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight? I always ask that of all my prey. I just like the sound of it". He then shoots Bruce. The Joker then leaves amid his own hoopla, and Vicki is shocked to see that Bruce has disappeared, leaving behind only a metal platter which he used as an impromptu bulletproof vest.

At the offices of the Gotham Globe, Knox informs Vicki of disturbing details concerning the death of Bruce Wayne's parents, that they were mugged and murdered right in front of him as a boy. He shows her a photo of him as child being confronted by a young Jim Gordon at the scene, the look on his face haunts her. Vicki has a sudden realization that Bruce is Batman and immediately leaves to confront him at Wayne Manor. At the same time Bruce is studying the same newspaper clipping in the Batcave, having realized Napier is the man who murdered his parents years ago in the alley by the Monarch Theatre. The final clue was that his parents' murderer said the same phrase to him as the Joker said in Vicki's apartment ("Ever dance with the Devil by the pale moonlight?"). As Bruce grapples with this memory, he is shocked by the sudden appearance of Vicki in his secret lair; Alfred having let in her in when she demanded to see Bruce about the issue. Bruce laments that his vigilantism will always take priority over their relationship before leaving to suit up as Batman.

Duel of the Freaks

"And there will be entertainment. The big dukaroo. With me in one corner, and in the other corner, the man who has brought real terror to Gotham City, Batman. Can you hear me? Just the two of us; you and me. Mano a mano. I've taken off my make-up. Now, let's see if you can take off yours."
―The Joker to Gotham City.[src]

The Joker has put his own plans in motion to upstage the city's cancelled anniversary celebrations with a grand spectacle: a night-time parade at which he will dispense $20 million in free cash. Vicki and Knox are there to cover the pandemonium, and they notice strange tanks on the balloons. In the middle of his generosity, the Joker begins gassing the crowd. Batman arrives in the Batwing and snatches the balloons away to carry them out of the city. Furious, the Joker shoots Bob the Goon, his number one thug. Batman returns to make a strafing run on the Joker, who responds by shooting down the jet with an insanely long-barreled revolver. Vicki approaches the downed craft but is captured by the Joker, who leads her to the top of Old Gotham Cathedral. Dazed but not finished, Batman pursues. At the top of the cathedral, the two adversaries confront each other in single combat.

In a moment of opportunity, the Joker throws Batman and Vicki off the belfry, where they cling to the ledge for their lives. As the Joker begins mocking them his helicopter appears and he grabs hold of a dangling rope ladder. About to escape, Batman shoots a wire around the Joker's leg, connecting it to a stone gargoyle on the ledge. As the Joker is lifted away, the wire pulls the gargoyle loose. The extra heavy weight makes the Joker lose his grip on the ladder and plummet to his death.

1989 WB Batsignal

Batman looking upon the signal during the end of the movie.

"He gave us a signal!"
―Commissioner Gordon to Gotham City[src]

The movie ends with Commissioner Gordon announcing the Gotham police have arrested all the Joker's gang remnants, and unveiling the Batsignal supplied by Batman with a note promising to return if the city needs him.




Individuals (Alphabetical Order)








Merchandise Gallery

Trailers and tv spots



Originally this project was being written by Tom Mankiewicz (the on-set writer of the Superman movies) in the early 80's.


When the film was greenlit for production, there was still considerable fan concern that it would emulate the farcical parodying tone of the television series. All of the designs were based on the original Hamm script before significant rewrites when filming began. Many elaborate action scenes were altered or removed completely. As result many Batman gadget props were made that ended up merely decoration in the batcave vault.


Burton chose Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman because he thought he could play a dark, tortured Batman and a serious Bruce Wayne. Some people thought that Keaton wasn't built enough for the role of Batman and that he couldn't play a serious role because of his comedic roles in the past. However, before shooting Batman, Keaton worked out for two months and spent some time kickboxing with the help of his stunt double. In spite of Keaton being cast, other actors such as Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Selleck, Warren Beatty, Harrison Ford, Dennis Quaid, Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin, Charlie Sheen, Ray Liotta and Bill Paxton were also considered for the role.


The tone and themes of the film were influenced in part by Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke and Frank Miller's Dark Knight series. The early Batman comics from late thirties and forties were also an influence. The climax at the Bell Tower was partially inspired by The Phantom of the Opera musical Jon Peters and Jack Nicholson attended while shooting.



Batman teaser

Initial Batman Teaser Poster.

The design of the posters and logo were handled by the B.D. Fox ad agency. Renowned poster illustrator John Alvin created a multitude of designs using character images, all unused. Ultimately only Bill Garland's golden Bat-insignia teaser logo was used on the final release poster. Unlike the future sequels no other poster variants were used other than in some foreign markets.


The teaser trailer became so popular that many purchased movie tickets simply to see the trailer. The positive reaction to the trailer inspired a buzz that entered the general popular culture as t-shirts with the Batman symbol sold in large numbers in the weeks before the movie's premiere.

Prince Album and Videos

Main article: Batman (album)

There were two major LPs released in the summer of 1989. The first was the Original Motion Picture Score in May, featuring major cues by composer Danny Elfman.

The second was an album by Prince in June, featuring songs from the film (including Partyman, Trust and Scandalous) and others inspired by it like Batdance, the album's leading single. The Prince album has always been released separately from Elfman's Score.


Box Office Performance

Batman opened in 2,194 cinemas in North America, on June 23rd, 1989. In its opening weekend, it grossed $40,489,746, which, at the time of its release, was a record. The film ended its theatrical run with $251,188,924, and was not only the biggest moneymaker of the year, but was also the fifth highest-grossing film of all time.

The film's total worldwide box office gross is $411,348,924,which is about $680 million in 2006 dollars.

Batman was the first UK film to be given a '12' certificate but the '12' at that time was a cinema only certificate and for it's video release the rating was upgraded to a '15' certificate which had remained ever since.

Critical Analysis

Despite the early worries, the film became the second most successful of 1989 and received praise from many Batman readers, especially those who had read the Frank Miller stories that inspired it. Furthermore, Keaton changed many doubters' minds about his casting to become hailed as one of the best actors to play the title role. Critical reaction was mostly positive, with many praising the film for its set design and production value, while others panned it as being too much of an intellectual exercise for Burton and too little of a Batman movie. Roger Ebert gave the film two stars (out of four), remarking, "Batman is a triumph of design over story, style over substance - a great-looking movie with a plot you can't care much about." Hal Hinson of the Washington Post gave a more enthusiastic review calling the film "Dark, haunting and poetic".

Despite a mostly positive reaction, many comic book fans took issue with some aspects of the storyline, though, especially the fact that Batman killed Joker's henchmen, while in comics he only acted like that in early issues and was soon established as a superhero that doesn't kill. Many fans also complained that the Joker was portrayed as the killer of Bruce's parents, while in the comics it was an ordinary thug. One of the movie's screenwriters, Sam Hamm, even claimed, during an interview for the film's Special Edition DVD, that the only reason why he didn't protest against that decision was that he was participating in a writers' strike at the time. Some fans, however, thought the idea helped to further establish the parallel between the two characters.

Robin was originally written into the earliest drafts of the script. His introduction would take place in the latter portion of the second act, during a chase between Batman and the Joker and his thugs, in which the thugs drive into a local flea market. At the market, the flying Graysons are performing their acrobatic skills to a large crowd. The cars crash through the area, causing the hundreds of people to run away in fear. The Joker's car hits a pole that the Graysons are standing on and causes them to fall off, killing all except one: Robin. Robin joins in the chase screaming "You killed my parents!". At the end of the chase Batman comforts him. This idea was mainly disliked, and rewrites would later remove Robin from the script entirely. The preproduction storyboards for the sequence can be seen on the 2-disc Special Edition DVD. Actor Kiefer Sutherland claimed that he was considered for the role of Robin but turned it down, which he later regretted, calling the it "the coolest movie ever."[1]

Awards and Nominations

Batman won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (awarded to Anton Furst and Peter Young), making it the first Batman film to win an Oscar until The Dark Knight. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe, two Grammys and several BAFTAs.

Deleted Scenes

  • Michael Keaton has mentioned an extended take of Bruce Wayne in the Batcave. When Bruce removes his glasses and sits back in his chair, going into a trance-like state in order to transition into his Batman persona before heading to the chemical factory.[2]
  • In an alternate scene, Batman was held at gunpoint by the police at Axis Chemicals. He raises his hands as if to surrender, but then throws two smoke capsules against the cops to be able to "fly" away. This scene was shot but later discarded. Batman's escape was reshot and simplified for the theatrical cut. Both the comic and novel adaptations have the original alternative take. B-roll of Keaton's stand-in Sean McCabe filming this sequence can be seen in the Batman: The Making of a Hero documentary, but has never been officially released on home video.
  • Footage was filmed of Joker pulling Carl Grissom's body from his chair.
  • After Joker asked "Where does he get those wonderful toys?", he looked at his Goons and commanded "Don't just stand there, go and ask him!"
  • After fleeing with Vicki Vale from the Flugelheim Museum, a homeless girl played by Davelyn Rivers got caught in the ensuing attack by Joker's Goons. Batman carried her to safety, and after setting her down the girl asked "Is it Halloween?" in reference to Batman's unusual attire. A close-up of Michael Keaton smirking was filmed before he goes back to protecting Vale from gunfire.
  • Rather than dropping his knife and fleeing, Bob the Goon originally attacked Batman with the knife. Actor Tom Wu appeared as a goon during this alternate scene and never appeared elsewhere in the film. Peters was dissatisfied with the dailies and hired Sken Kaewpadung to play the Swordsman Joker Goon that appears in its place in the final cut. The only known pics of the fight scene with Bob and Batman was on the Topps trading cards, that were released directly before the film was released in theaters.

Alternate Ending

  • Directly after the scene where Commissioner Gordon listens to the Joker's laughing box, there was a scene involving the unconscious Alexander Knox. In an attempt to evade the police Batman puts his cloak over an unconscious Alexander Knox as a distraction. Gordon and the police find him and pull the cape off to reveal Knox instead of Batman.
  • Originally, the final scene of the movie when the Bat-Signal is unveiled, it was projected agains the cathedral, referencing the more realistic Batsignal in Frank Miller's 1986 Dark Knight series. Gordon and Dent have additional lines, threatening the corrupt cops in the police department.
  • After the press conference, there is a alternate scene where Vicki goes over to Alfred's car and sees two children dressed as Batman while the Dark Knight himself looks down at them from a ledge.

Deleted Scenes Photo Gallery

Home Video


Batman (Special Edition) DVD cover.

The film was first released on VHS, Betamax, and Laserdisc in 1989.

The film's first release on DVD was in late 1997, shortly after the format debuted; it was a single disc release featuring the ability to watch the film either in widescreen or in full-screen but not featuring any bonus materials, save for sparse production notes and cast info. On top of that, the scene selection menu was a nightmare, with random scenes picked for the menu while the rest were left out.

To coincide with the release of Batman Begins on DVD in 2005, Warner Bros decided to give all four of the original Batman films new DVD treatments and special edition versions of all four films were created. The special edition DVDs feature newly restored audio and video, a re-mastered Dolby Digital audio track, a new DTS audio track, and a second disc filled with bonus materials. Each title is available both individually and as part of a pack featuring the special editions of all four films in the franchise.


  • This film has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense stylized violence, some language and sexual innuendo. The film was originally rated 12 by the BBFC for moderate violence and horror, but later changed the rating to 15.
  • This movie is the only Batman movie where there is only one supervillain.
  • October 16: Date on issue of Time that covered Vicki Vale's pictures on the Corto Maltese Revolution, an event ocurred in Frank Miller's 1986 Dark Knight series.
  • Thursday, October 26: Day news of Thomas and Martha Wayne's murders covered in Gotham Globe.
  • Friday, November 7: Date given for news of Smylex combos revealed in Gotham Globe.
  • The original draft of the movie was originally much different, and also included Dick Grayson. Also, Joker's death was completely different, as he was about to finish off Batman (who was battered up from the earlier battles), but Batman decided to try and take The Joker with him by activating a bomb on his belt. Joker then has to try and escape, but is essentially trapped in the clock tower, and has to get on board the chopper to get away from the explosion, and just as he is about to make his escape, a huge swarm of Bats attack the chopper, causing Joker to let go of the ladder to his death. The Chopper was later destroyed by Batman throwing the bomb at it.
  • In order to combat negative rumors about the production, a theatrical trailer was hastily assembled to be distributed to theaters. To test its effectiveness, Warner Bros. executives showed it at a theater in Westwood, California to an unsuspecting audience. The ninety-second trailer received a standing ovation. Later, it would become a popular bootleg at comic book conventions, and theater owners would report patrons paying full price for movie tickets just to have an opportunity to see the trailer, and leaving before the feature began.
  • This movie was released the year of Batman's 50th anniversary.
  • Jon Peters wanted Michael Jackson and George Michael to contribute original songs as "rival factions" taking on different themes like romance, Batman and Joker.
  • The Joker would've returned in the cancelled fifth film, Batman Unchained, as a hallucination by the Scarecrow's Fear Gas.
  • Adam West, who played Batman in the live-action tv show, tried to get the role of Batman again in this movie. However, Michael Keaton was hired for the role. West claims he was offered the role of Thomas Wayne, but turned it down. Nineteen years later, West voiced Thomas Wayne in a episode of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon.


"I'm Batman."
"We received a letter from Batman this morning: please inform the citizens of Gotham that Gotham City has earned the rest from crime but if the forces of evil should rise again to cast a shadow on the heart of the city... call me."
―Harvey Dent[src]
"I have no wish to spend my remaining years grieving for the loss of old friends... or their sons."
―Alfred Pennyworth[src]
"......But he's out there right now....and I've gotta go to work."
"So remember! Put on a happy face HAHAHA"
―The Joker[src]
"Haven't you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?"
―The Joker[src]
"That you, sugar bumps?"
―Carl Grissom[src]
"Who the hell are you?"
―Carl Grissom[src]
"Have you ever danced with the devil... by the pale moonlight?"
―The Joker[src]
"Jack? Oh, oh, thank God you're alive! I heard you'd been... "
―Carl Grissom[src]
"Fried? Is that what you heard? You set me up over a woman. A *woman*! You must be insane."
―The Joker[src]
"It's as though we were made for each other... Beauty and the Beast. Of course, if anyone else calls you beast, I'll rip their lungs out."
―The Joker[src]


External Links

Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology (1989-1997)
Films:   Batman  • Batman Returns  • Batman Forever  • Batman & Robin