Release Date: 1989
Director: Tim Burton
Running Time: 126 minutes
Cast: Jack Nickolson (The Joker), Michael Keaton (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Kim Bassenger, Robert Wuhl, Michael Gough (Alfred), Jack Palance
Comic Artist: Bob Kane and Bill Finger
First Appearance: Detective Comics 27 (1939)


Appearing one year after the first issue of Superman hit the news stands, Batman has no "super powers" and has to rely on his physical prowess and his toys: the utility belt, batmobile, bat plane etc. As he is really multi-millionaire playboy / industrialist Bruce Wayne, then replacing broken toys never seems to be a problem. Kane cited many inspirations for Batman, including Zorro and the pulp character the Shadow, and a 1930s film called The Bat Whispers - about a criminal who shines his bat insignia on the wall to frighten victims.


Behind the black cowl, Gotham City superhero Batman is really millionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton), who turned to crimefighting after his parents were brutally murdered before his eyes. The only person to share Wayne's secret is faithful butler Alfred (Michael Gough). The principal villain in Batman is The Joker (Jack Nicholson) who'd been mob torpedo Jack Napier before he was horribly disfigured in a vat of acid. The Joker's plan to destroy Batman and gain control of Gotham City is manifold. First he distributes a line of booby-trapped cosmetics, then he goes on a destruction spree in the Gotham Art Museum while the music of Prince blasts away in the background, and finally he orchestrates an all-out campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Gothamites, hoping to turn them against the Cowled One. Meanwhile, reporter Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) becomes the love of Batman's life-which of course plays right into the Joker's hands. Photographed by Roger Pratt, designed by Anton Furst, and scored by Tim Burton's favorite composer Danny Elfman, Batman was a monstrous box-office hit, making $100 million in the first ten days of release--$82,800,000 in North America alone. Incidentally, Billy Dee Williams' comparatively small role as DA Harvey Dent was originally designed to set up the sequel, wherein Dent was to convert into master criminal Two-Face; but by the time the producers got around to that character in 1995's Batman Forever, Two-Face was played by Tommy Lee Jones.

© Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Prequels, Sequels and Follow-ons:

The Batman [Serial - 1949] Directed by: Lambert Hillyer. Starring: George Cheseboro, Douglas Croft, Karl Hackett, J. Carrol Naish, Ted Oliver, Michael Vallon, Lewis Wilson, John Maxwell

Batman (1966) - Dir. Leslie Martinson. Starring Adam West, Burt Ward, Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Le Meriweatger, Neil Hamilton, Madge Blake and Reginald Denny. Compiled for the cinema from the TV series.

Batman Returns (1992) Directed by: Tim Burton. Starring: Danny DeVito, Michael Gough, Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken

Batman Forever (1995) Directed by: Joel Schumacher. Starring: Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, Nicole Kidman, Val Kilmer, Chris O'Donnell

Batman and Robin (1997) Directed by: Joel Schumacher. Starring: George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Alicia Silverstone, Uma Thurman, Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Batman Begins (2005) Directed by: Christopher Nolan. Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman.

Batman: The Dark Knight (2008) Directed by: Christopher Nolan. Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Directed by: Christopher Nolan. Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard , Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Directed by Zack Snyder: Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot

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