top of page
  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

Batman (1989) ft. Terry Bartley and Adam Freed



  • Tim Burton, Director

  • Sam Hamm and Walter Skaaren, Writers

  • Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier / The Joker

    • Hugo E. Blick as young Jack Napier

  • Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne / Batman

    • Charles Roskilly as young Bruce Wayne

  • 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

  • Lee Wallace as Mayor Borg

  • William Hootkins as Lt. Max Eckhardt


  • Batman was originally wide-released on June 23, 1989.

  • Batman grossed $40.49 million during its opening weekend. This broke the opening weekend records held by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Ghostbusters II.

  • Additionally, it had the largest opening weekend for a Jack Nicholson film for 14 years until it was dethroned by Anger Management in 2003.

  • Batman also set a record for a second weekend gross with $30 million (also the second biggest 3-day weekend of all-time) and became the fastest film to earn $100 million, reaching it in 11 days. It would ultimately gross $411.6 million on a budget of $48 million.

  • The film would hold the record for being the highest-grossing Warner Bros. film until 1996 when Twister surpassed it. It was the highest-grossing film based on a DC comic book until 2008's The Dark Knight. Furthermore, Batman held the record for being the highest-grossing superhero film of all time until it was taken by Spider-Man in 2002.

  • The film's gross is the 143rd highest ever in North American ranks, and, although Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade made the most money worldwide in 1989, Batman was able to beat The Last Crusade in North America and made a further $150 million in home video sales.

  • Batman was criticized by some for being too dark, but nonetheless received a generally positive response from critics especially for the Art and Production Design, Score, and the performances of the two leads: Keaton and Nicholson.

  • Comic book fans reacted negatively over the Joker murdering Thomas and Martha Wayne; in the comic book, Joe Chill is responsible.

  • The songs written by Prince were criticized for being "too out of place". While Burton has stated he had no problem with the Prince songs, he was less enthusiastic with their use in the film. On the film, Burton remarked, "I liked parts of it, but the whole movie is mainly boring to me. It's OK, but it was more of a cultural phenomenon than a great movie."

  • Anton Furst and Peter Young won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction, while Nicholson was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor (Musical or Comedy). The BAFTAs nominated Batman in six categories (Production Design, Visual Effects, Costume Design, Makeup, Sound and Actor in a Supporting Role for Nicholson), but it won none of the categories.

  • The success of Batman prompted Warner Bros. Animation to create the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series, as a result beginning the long-running DC Animated Universe and helped establish the modern day superhero film genre.

  • Batman would spawn three other sequels in the 1990s, and it has been remade 3 times after that.

  • Batman has been recognized by the American Film Institute on the following lists:

    • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – Nominated

    • AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills – Nominated

    • AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:

      • The Joker – #45 Villain

      • Batman – #46 Hero

    • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:

      • "Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?" – Nominated

    • AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores – Nominated

    • AFI's 10 Top 10 – Nominated Fantasy Film

  • Batman currently holds a 77% among critics on RT, a 69 score on Metacritic, and a 3.6/5 on Letterboxd.

Plot Summary: In Tim Burton's "Batman," we are plunged into a dark, brooding Gotham City where crime festers in the shadows and hope seems a distant dream. The film opens with a scene that establishes the city’s grim atmosphere, a place where danger lurks around every corner. Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton), the reclusive billionaire, conceals a dual identity as the masked vigilante, Batman, striving to bring order to the chaos.

"Batman" is a triumph of style over substance, a visual feast that captures the essence of the Dark Knight. It is a film where the atmosphere and aesthetic take precedence, creating an unforgettable experience that redefined the superhero genre. Batman may be a figure shrouded in darkness, but Burton’s film sheds a new light on the mythology of the caped crusader.

Did You Know:

  • Writer Sam Hamm said it was Burton's idea to have the Joker murder Wayne's parents. "The Writer's Strike was going on, and Tim had the other writers do that. I also hold innocent to Alfred letting Vicki Vale into the Batcave. Fans were ticked off with that, and I agree. That would have been Alfred's last day of employment at Wayne Manor," Hamm said.

  • Robin Williams was offered the role of Joker when Jack Nicholson hesitated. He had even accepted the role, when producers approached Nicholson again and told him Williams would take the part if he did not. Nicholson took the role, and Williams was released. Williams resented being used as bait, and not only refused to play Riddler in Batman Forever (1995) but also refused to be involved in any Warner Bros. productions until the studio apologized.

  • Jack Nicholson received a percentage of the gross on the film, and due to its massive box-office take, he took home around $60 million. When adjusting for inflation, this equals roughly $143,359,355 in 2022.

  • Jack Nicholson loved his performance in this film so much that at one point, he was watching the film once a week at his house. Jack Nicholson said of his role, "The thing I like about the Joker is that his sense of humor is completely tasteless." He later said The Joker was one of his favorite roles he played.

  • Michelle Pfeiffer, who was dating Michael Keaton at that time, was asked to audition for Vicki Vale, but Keaton was against it, saying it would be awkward. Pfeiffer would later be cast alongside Keaton as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in Batman Returns (1992), after their relationship had ended.

Ask Dana Anything:

  • Eliza Kilpatrick from Australia:

    • If you review The Castle (1997) on the show, she is willing to send us a box of Australian snacks; we can take or leave the Vegemite.

Best Performance: Jack Nicholson (Joker)/Anton Furst and Peter Young (Production Design)/Danny Elfman (Music)

Best Secondary Performance: Kim Basinger (Vicki Vale)/Robert Wuhl (Knox)/Michael Keaton (Batman)/Tim Burton (Director)

Most Charismatic Award: Batman Theme/Michael Keaton (Batman)/Jack Palance (Grissom)/Billy Dee Williams (Harvey Dent)

Best Scene:

  • I'm Batman

  • Axis Chemical

  • Gangster Meeting

  • Flugelheim Museum

  • Let's Get Nuts

  • Parade

  • Final Showdown

Favorite Scene: I'm Batman/Becoming the Joker/Flugelheim Museum/Parade

Most Indelible Moment: Flugelheim Museum/Bat Signal/Thomas and Martha's Deaths/Axis Chemical

In Memorium:

  • Hiram Kasten, 71, American comedian and actor (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

  • Tony Lo Bianco, 87, American actor (The Honeymoon Killers, The French Connection, The Seven-Ups)

  • Tony Mordente, 88, American actor, choreographer, dancer, and TV director (West Side Story - both original Broadway cast and Best Picture of 1961)

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

The Joker: You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?

The Joker: Never rub another man's rhubarb.

Vicki Vale: What do you want?

The Joker: My face on the one dollar bill.

Vicki Vale: You must be joking.

The Joker: Do I look like I'm joking?

Vicki Vale: Well, I mean, let's face it. You're not exactly normal, are you?

Batman: It's not exactly a normal world, is it?

Nic: What are you?

Batman: I'm Batman.

The Joker: Where does he get those wonderful toys?

The Joker: This town needs an enema!

Bruce Wayne: I know who you are. Let me tell you about this guy I know, Jack. Mean kid. Bad seed. Hurt people.

The Joker: I like him already.

The Joker: I have given a name to my pain, and it is Batman.

Bruce Wayne: You're a real nice girl, and I like you a lot, but right now, shut up.

Batman: You weigh a little more than a hundred and eight.

The Joker: [fuming] Batman... Batman... Can somebody tell me what kind of a world we live in, where a man dressed up as a *bat* gets all of my press?

The Joker: Now comes the part where I relieve you, the little people, of the burden of your failed and useless lives. But, as my plastic surgeon always said: if you gotta go, go with a smile.

Vicki Vale: You're insane!

The Joker: I thought I was a Pisces!

The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 8.63

Impact/Significance: 9.25

Novelty: 7.88

Classic-ness: 6.63

Rewatchability: 7.13

Audience Score: 8.4 (84% Google, 84% RT)

Total: 47.92

Remaining Questions:

  • Why didn't Billy Dee come back as Harvey Dent?

  • Why is Batman so flippant with revealing his identity?

  • Did Alfred allow Vicky into the Batcave, and why?

  • Where does Nicholson's Joker rank in the pantheon of on-screen Jokers?

  • Where did Kim Basinger's career go?

  • How do Knox and Vale not know who Bruce Wayne was?

  • Did Burton have a fundamental misunderstanding of who Batman and Joker are? Batman kills the Joker in the end after killing his henchman just before that, and is using bullets and rockets during the parade while the Batman ethos has always been to never kill and especially not the Joker.

Listener Questions:

  • Eliza Kilpatrick from Australia:

    • What is your favourite Batmobile from the Batman movies?


bottom of page