6 Ways Batman '89 Changed The World Of Comic Book Movies
It Opened The Door For Comic Adaptations With Harsher Subject MatterWhen Superman: The Movie broke onto the scene in 1978, it took comic films a gigantic leap forward into the world of legitimate, big-budget Hollywood productions. It also set the bar that Batman would pick up and run with in terms of presenting a comic book series as a thing to be taken seriously at the movies. The legend goes that director Richard Donner had a huge banner with the word "Verisimilitude" printed on it in his production office for Superman, proving that even in 1978 there were visionaries that took comic book legends as seriously as any Greek myth you'd learn about in a typical English class.
While Superman: The Movie tempered its more serious aspects with a lot of old fashioned comic book humor and gags, however, Batman substituted light hearted whimsy for gallows humor and light combat for grittier hand to hand fights, changing the comic book movie world forever in the process. To compare the execution of the Batman and Superman films is similar to comparing their fighting styles side by side. While Superman is more of a clean cut, by the book superhero with very bright colors and a stereotypical comic adaptation disposition, Batman is a darker, more hard-edged noir interpretation of heroes and villains. After 1989, the coast was clear for stoic and dark heroes to come out and play dirty in their quest for justice.
Without the success of Burtonís Batman, films like X-Men, Daredevil and even Sin City or V For Vendetta would never have had a shot to be made as faithful adaptations. Under the Superman: The Movie model, we might have seen the X-Men without adult messages about social change or a PG-13 Sin City with pop art sensibilities.
Even worse, without Tim Burton's Batman to lead the way, Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy would have never stood a serious chance of being made the way it was. With Burton's success in translating Batman into a tragic, darker hero who isn't afraid to knock a few skulls in, it lead the way for other comics of similar (if not harsher) thematic nature to be given the due that they deserved. Coincidentally, Sam Hamm (one of the two writers ultimately credited with Batman's final screenplay) would benefit from this film's triumph by being hired to write the first screenplay to a certain DC property that owes a lot to Batman: Zach Snyder's Watchmen.
This article was first published on June 23, 2014 and was last updated on September 6, 2014.
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