Thirty years ago, the world of comic book movies saw one of its most powerful moments arrive with the opening of Tim Burton’s Batman. A film that defined the modern summer blockbuster, as well as helped create the template for successful comic franchises built for the cinema, it was a landmark event that still resonates to this very day.
But even funnier is the fact that, back when promoting the show on Late Night with David Letterman, Michael Keaton established another precedent that would follow the comic film into our modern age: spoiling the damned movie during a press junket. Here now is video proof of Michael Keaton being the Tom Holland of his day, and spoiling a huge twist for Batman ’89:
To set the scene a bit, let’s turn back to the context that Tim Burton’s Batman occupied upon its release in 1989. With a dark and gothic sensibility that was completely foreign to an audience that expected the pastel madness that Adam West’s original Batman TV series and film brought to the fable, this new interpretation showed the brooding orphan turned justice seeker that we now know and love in a fresh coat of paint.
And part of that freshness came from switching up the origins of Bruce Wayne’s vigilante persona. So when the time came to show Thomas and Martha Wayne gunned down in Crime Alley, after taking in an evening showing of the musical “Footlight Frenzy," it wasn’t Joe Chill that pulled the trigger. Rather, it was gangster Jack Napier, who we saw transform into The Joker earlier in Batman ’89.
Unsuspecting audiences didn’t know this particular twist, unless they’d accidentally heard about Michael Keaton spoiling this very moment in a TV interview that took place 30 years ago this very day. And while Twitter wasn’t around back then to circulate this rather big deal through the news media, it’s certainly here today to remind us that spoiling superhero movies isn’t exactly a new thing.
It certainly didn’t hurt Batman’s chances at the 1989 box office, though, as the film would open at $40.5 million in its first weekend, taking the top crown of that year’s domestic box office with a $251.2 million total. That only added to the Tim Burton film bringing in a total $411.5 worldwide gross, and spawning three sequels -- only one of which Tim Burton and Michael Keaton would participate in.
While this remains as one of our only instances of Michael Keaton spoiling a movie he’s been in, it has to be asked if he somehow passed this skill down to his Spider-Man: Homecoming co-star Tom Holland. If so, there’s a case to be made for Keaton being one of the MCU’s biggest comic book villains, because only a dastardly mastermind would incite the next generation to make the same spoilery missteps.
At the very least, making that young man’s error in 1989 must have given Michael Keaton a serious laugh when seeing Tom Holland do just that time and time again, as he too knew what it was like to open the presents before Christmas for comic fans all over. The torch, finally passed to the next generation, burns on.
Spider-Man: Far From Home heads to theaters on July 2nd, and so far, it hasn’t been spoiled. And if you haven’t seen Batman in its glorious 4K home video re-release, you can pick it up as an individual release now, or as a bundle with the other three original films this September.