Movie Classics – Batman (1989)
Yes, it was way back in the 80s when Warner Brothers first got hold of Batman and left him alone in a studio with the brilliantly twisted mind of Tim Burton. And to think, none of it would have been possible without Beetlejuice.
Yup, you read that right – it wasn’t until Beetlejuice (also starring Michael Keaton) succeeded that the fat cats doled out the dollars for Batman. Keaton was Burton's pick for Batman – and comics fans were outraged at the comic actor taking on the role of the Dark Knight. It wasn't until Burton released an early trailer showing his hard-edged take on the comic book that they were mollified.
Burton's vision encompassed a noir-inspired Gotham (designed by Anton Furst), which was terrorised by The Joker – played by a spine-chilling Jack Nicholson. And spines weren't the only body part left tingling, as Kim Basinger steamed up the screen playing Vicki Vale, journalist and love interest to Keaton's Bruce Wayne.
Burton drew inspiration from classic 80s Batman comics The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller, and Alan Moore's The Killing Joke. Getting Jack Nicholson to play the Joker was a stroke of genius – but it came at a cost. Nicholson demanded a huge salary, a percentage of the film’s profits and his choice of filming schedule – who called him a diva?
The heart-pounding soundtrack by Danny Elfman was only matched for eccentricity by the Batmobile itself. The long-nosed beast of a motor was based on the Salt Flat racers of the 30s and the Sting Ray macho machines of the 50s – with added Browning machine guns for that Batman edge.