After 32 years, DC Comics is returning to the world of Tim Burton’s Batman with Batman ’89, (with a new comic series coming in July 2021). The original movie only received one sequel, Batman Returns, after which the series was pulled from Burton’s hands and given to Joel Schumacher for Batman Forever.
Nonetheless, Batman 1989 is still highly-regarded and is undoubtedly one of the most influential superhero movies ever made, as it was the first to take comic book adaptations seriously. In many respects, Batman can still be seen as the best movie about the Dark Knight, although there is an argument to be made to the contrary too.
The first and most important thing a Batman movie needs is a great Batman, and Michael Keaton inarguably nails the role. Keaton is firm, intimidating and draws people’s attention immediately. As soon as the cameras are rolling, he can go from standing perfectly still to taking out every bad guy in the room.
Keaton even looks great in the iconic suit, which may be impractical, but it’s stylish, elegant, and powerful. This is the Batman that all the others will compare themselves to.
Despite Batman’s one rule of never killing, it’s a rule that’s seemingly broken in Batman 1989. It’s probably the casualness of the murders that the scariest thing about this portrayal of Batman. Like the thug he drops from the Cathedral belfry, the guy he blows up with the Batwing, or the way he makes sure the Joker doesn’t escape, sometimes it feels like he is a lot more villainous than a hero.
With the Batman movies becoming more realistic since Tim Burton’s first movie, including the likes of The Dark Knight Trilogy, Batman V Superman, and the upcoming The Batman, the directors have always chosen a real city to stand in for Gotham City. This is perfectly fine, except no city can truly be Gotham, as it requires a level of filthiness and legacy that most cities struggle to replicate.
The early Batman movies were designed, and none more memorably than the haunting perfection of the iconic cityscape of Batman 1989. Sadly, set designer Anton Furst died shortly after completing the movie, which is why Gotham in Batman Returns looks so different.