By Jason McCall
In 1989 something very special happened. No, I’m not referring to the fact that Michael Jordan scored his 10,000 point in the NBA. I’m referring to the release of a comic book movie that changed the game for a certain famous character. That’s right, I’m talking about Batman.
On June 23, 1989, the Tim Burton film “Batman” was released in theaters and was widely loved. It had a great cast, great reviews and even won an Academy Award. It’s been 25 years since its release, and it’s amazing to see the impact the film has had on the character of Bruce Wayne. Three sequels have followed in its wake and it set a new standard for “Dark Knight.”
What was this new standard? Well, Batman is now viewed as a much darker character.
Before the film’s release, the main view of Batman was from the old Batman television show from the ‘60s starring Adam West. Not to say that the television show doesn’t hold a special place in my heart but it was just a bit campy. Batman was less of a deep brooding character and, instead, was seen as a folksy, spandex-wearing hero.
That all changed in 1989 when the new Batman emerged for the first time wearing an all black costume and talking in such a deep, heroic voice. It was the first Batman to truly pummel criminals in Gotham and even led to a major villain death.
When you watch Batman movies, like Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy,” it’s pretty easy to see how this standard of the character has lived on through the years.
However, Burton’s classic film wasn’t always seen as the icon that it is today. In fact, when the film first started production it was universally hated by fans.
It was the choice to have lovable comedian Michael Keaton play Batman that had fans in a whirlwind. Most people couldn’t imagine “Mr. Mom” playing this supposedly newer and darker Bruce Wayne. So, they hated the mere thought of the film.
The hate didn’t last long when the film was released, and fans raved about Keaton’s performance so much that he returned for the film’s sequel “Batman Returns.”
It may sound like a silly issue from the past, but it happens even to this day. Similar distaste was shown when Ben Affleck was announced as the newest incarnation of Batman.
That’s one of the reasons this film is so iconic: there is always something to learn from it. Despite its age, Burton’s “Batman” is seen today as quite possibly the best mix of realism and fantasy in a Batman film ever.
That’s why I want to wish Tim Burton’s “Batman” a happy 25th Birthday. Congratulations, you’re finally old enough to rent a car.