batman (1989)Warner Bros.
1989
PG-13

“Batman! Batman! Can somebody tell me what kind of world we live in, where a man dressed up as a bat gets all of my press? This town needs an enema!”

I remember all the hype surrounding the Batman movie of 1989. There was suddenly an explosion of merch items and tie-ins everywhere you turned. The classic 1960s television show was being shown in daily afternoon re-runs on the local UHF station in my area. The billboards were ubiquitous. There was a cereal, for crying out loud. I knew of at least three guys from my class that watched it multiple times in the theaters that summer. Even if you never had an interest in the comic book character itself, you knew of its existence that year, let me tell you.

And I never watched the original 1989 Tim Burton movie. I had better things to do, really. You can send your hate mail to my email address.

Seriously, even though I did watch all the other following sequels in the Tim Burton Batman series in the theater, I never did get around to watching the 1989 Batman, until about last year when I finally got around to popping it in and seeing what all the hype was about. And I know I’m going to be in the minority here, but…I really wasn’t all that impressed.

Maybe it was because I’m writing this post-Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy, or because this is what you would call the Comic Book Movie Renaissance. Maybe it was because everybody who not only have seen it and were equally shocked that I hadn’t yet (despite being both a Batman and Tim Burton fan) and had raised my expectations of this being the GREATEST MOVIE EVER(TM), that I was rather underwhelmed when I did watch it.

Mind you, I don’t hate 1989’s Batman. Far from it, for all of you extremist fanboys out there. It was quite entertaining, and had a nice dark yet whimsical quality that is vintage Burton shining through. For my money, Michael Keaton remains the undisputed Best Bruce Wayne / Batman in cinematic history (all apologies to the late, great Adam West). And Jack Nicholson made The Joker an icon all his own. No argument there. I think everybody should watch this Batman at least once, preferably as a double-header with Batman Returns.

I know, I know. There’s the point that, when this was released, the whole live action comic book adaptations available were dismal, and this Batman proved that you could make a dark and somewhat serious comic book superhero movie without delving into camp. And, I’m sure if my parents did decide to let me watch this back when I was 15, it would have certainly blown my mind, and I would be writing this with less jaded nostalgia glasses.

And so, here we are. 1989’s Batman. I like it, but I don’t love it. It is what it is.

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