6 Ways Batman '89 Changed The World Of Comic Book Movies
June 23rd, 1989 will forever be known as a landmark moment in box office history. Crowded theaters of anxious patrons sat gripped in fear of a madman who stood to rip apart the world that they knew and loved. Their only hope was a caped crusader whose main cause was justice. His weapons of choice were fear and brute strength, both used in the name of defending the city that his parents helped raise up from the dregs. To the world he was Bruce Wayne, but to his fans and those who knew him best, he was also Batman. By the end of Tim Burton's Batman, everything changed for audiences who grew up with campier interpretations of a traditionally melancholic super hero. This in turn changed everything the film industry came to expect when it came to adapting comic book adaptations, and thus it changed the very market it existed in to fit its own existence.
On this day 25 years ago, Tim Burton's Batman changed the way we'd see comics on the big screen, and this is why:
We Finally Got A Serious Version Of The Dark KnightUp until Tim Burton's rather gothic interpretation of the Batman story, the series was defined by the iconic yet campy portrayal the hero had enjoyed on television in the 1960's. The Batman of that era wasn't a brooding, violent crime stopper, but moreso a thinker and a witty punster, tossing off one liners that made the show as light as the hero’s cartoonish punches. The fights, the villains, even the action sequences were all designed as gags rather than actual life-threatening moments. Perception of the Dark Knight completely changed with Burton's Batman, as the film really dug into the core reason why billionaire Bruce Wayne started this whole vigilante business: vengeance for his murdered parents.
Michael Keaton's portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman did maintain a keen mind, sharp sleuthing skills, and an arsenal of gadgets that would make Q Branch flush with glee, but all of that came with the burden of the trauma he suffered as a boy. While Burton’s vision ultimately screwed with the classic origin story told in the comics, Batman showed a man's journey of catharsis through the employment of theatricality, deception, and vigilante justice. When Batman actually tries to save The Joker in the film's final battle, he finally accepts that he has to move on from the death of his parents, thus proving to himself that he's no longer an aimless thug tearing down the city's walls to find his parent's killer. He realizes that he's not a killer at all, but instead a protector and a dispenser of justice. Without Batman, we would have never gotten movies like Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, or even Zach Snyder's Man Of Steel for that matter. Of course, DC Comics weren't the only ones who benefited from the rise of the darker Knight.
This article was first published on June 23, 2014 and was last updated on September 6, 2014.
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