Batman (1989 film series)

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Batman-The Motion Picture Anthology (1989 - 1997).jpg
Cover of Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology (1989 - 1997) box set of the four films
Based on Batman publications and storylines published 
by DC Comics
DC Comics
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
Country United States
Language English

Batman is a superhero film series featuring the DC Comics character of the same name, who was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Warner Bros. began producing the series towards the end of the 1980s, beginning with the 1989 film Batman, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton. Burton and Keaton returned for the 1992 sequel Batman Returns, and in 1995, Joel Schumacher directed Batman Forever with Val Kilmer as Batman. Schumacher also directed the 1997 sequel Batman & Robin, which starred George Clooney. Batman & Robin was poorly received by both the critics and the fans, leading to the cancellation of the planned sequel Batman Triumphant, and the series was rebooted with The Dark Knight Trilogy.



Main article: Batman (1989 film)

Tim Burton took over as director of the first Batman film in 1986. Steve Englehart and Julie Hickson wrote film treatments before Sam Hamm wrote the first screenplay.[1][2] Numerous A-list actors were considered for the role of Batman before Michael Keaton was cast. Keaton was a controversial choice for the role since, by 1988, he had become typecast as a comedic actor and many observers doubted he could portray a serious role.[1] Jack Nicholson accepted the role of the Joker under strict conditions that dictated a high salary, a portion of the box office profits and his shooting schedule. Nicholson's final salary is reported to be as high as $50 million.[3][4][5][6] Principal photography took place at Pinewood Studios from October 1988 to January 1989.[7] The budget escalated from $30 million to $48 million,[3] while the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike forced Hamm to drop out. Rewrites were performed by Warren Skaaren, Charles McKeown[4] and Jonathan Gems.[8] Batman received highly positive reviews, broke numerous box office records, and won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The film grossed over $400 million,[1] and left a legacy over the modern perception of the superhero film genre.[9]

Batman Returns[edit]

Main article: Batman Returns

Burton originally did not want to direct a sequel because of his mixed emotions over the previous film.[10] Sam Hamm's first script had Penguin and Catwoman searching for hidden treasure.[11] Daniel Waters delivered a script that satisfied Burton, which convinced him to direct the film. Wesley Strick did an uncredited rewrite, deleting characterizations of Harvey Denton and Robin and rewriting the climax.[12][13] Various A-list actresses lobbied hard for the role of Catwoman before Michelle Pfeiffer was cast, while Danny DeVito signed on to portray the Penguin.[14] Filming started at Warner Bros. in Burbank, California in June 1991. Batman Returns was released with financial success, but Warner Bros. was disappointed with the film's box office run because it earned less than its predecessor.[15] In addition, Batman Returns received a polarized reaction, particularly with a "parental backlash" which criticized the film for containing violence and sexual innuendos that were thought to be unsuitable for children.[15] McDonald's shut down its Happy Meal tie-in for Batman Returns.[16]

Batman Forever[edit]

Main article: Batman Forever

Although Batman Returns was a financial success, Warner Bros. felt the film should have made more money. The studio decided to change the direction of the Batman film series to be more mainstream. Joel Schumacher replaced Tim Burton as director, while Burton decided to stay on as producer.[17] However, Michael Keaton did not like the new direction the film series was heading in,[18] and was replaced by Val Kilmer as Batman. Chris O'Donnell was introduced as Robin, Jim Carrey starred as The Riddler, while Tommy Lee Jones starred as Two-Face. Filming started in September 1994,[17] and Schumacher encountered problems communicating with Kilmer and Jones.[19] Batman Forever was released on June 16, 1995 with financial success, earning over $350 million worldwide and three Academy Award nominations, but the film was met with mixed to negative reviews from critics.[20][21]

Batman & Robin[edit]

Main article: Batman & Robin (film)

After the release of Batman Forever, Warner Bros. started development on Batman & Robin, commissioning it on fast track for an adamant June 1997 release.[22] Val Kilmer did not return, because of scheduling conflicts with The Saint,[23] and was replaced by George Clooney. Arnold Schwarzenegger starred as Mr. Freeze, while Uma Thurman starred as Poison Ivy and Alicia Silverstone starred as Batgirl. Chris O'Donnell reprised his role as Robin. Principal photography began in September 1996[24] and finished in January 1997,[25] two weeks ahead of the shooting schedule.[26] Batman & Robin was released on June 20, 1997, and was panned by critics and audiences.[27] Observers criticized the film for its toyetic and campy approach, and for homosexual innuendos added by Schumacher.[23] Still, the film was a financial success,[28] but remains to be the least commercially successful live-action Batman film ever. Batman & Robin received numerous nominations at the Razzie Awards[29] and is ranked among the worst superhero films ever made.[30][31]

Recurring cast and characters[edit]

Character Film
Batman (1989) Batman Returns (1992) Batman Forever (1995) Batman & Robin (1997)
Bruce Wayne / Batman Michael Keaton Val Kilmer George Clooney
Jack Napier / The Joker Jack Nicholson   David U. Hodges
(flashback only; as young Jack Napier)
Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin   Danny DeVito    
Max Schrek   Christopher Walken    
Harvey Dent / Two-Face Billy Dee Williams   Tommy Lee Jones  
Edward Nygma / The Riddler     Jim Carrey  
Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze       Arnold Schwarzenegger
Pamela Isley / Poison Ivy       Uma Thurman
Vicki Vale Kim Basinger      
Selina Kyle / Catwoman   Michelle Pfeiffer    
Chase Meridian     Nicole Kidman  
Dick Grayson / Robin   Chris O'Donnell
Barbara Wilson / Batgirl       Alicia Silverstone
Alfred Pennyworth Michael Gough


Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Reference
North America Other
Worldwide All time
North America
All time
Batman June 23, 1989 $251,188,924 $160,160,000 $411,348,924 #71
#156 $48 million [32]
Batman Returns June 19, 1992 $162,831,698 $103,990,656 $266,822,354 #206
#338 $80 million [33]
Batman Forever June 16, 1995 $184,031,112 $152,498,032 $336,529,144 #148
#231 $100 million [20]
Batman & Robin June 20, 1997 $107,325,195 $130,881,927 $238,207,122 #460 #394 $125 million [34]

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Batman 72% (66 reviews)[35] 66 (17 reviews)[36] A[37]
Batman Returns 80% (67 reviews)[38] B[37]
Batman Forever 41% (58 reviews)[21] 51 (23 reviews)[39] A-[37]
Batman & Robin 11% (66 reviews)[27] 28 (21 reviews)[40] C+[37]
List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates the information is not available for the film.

Cancelled projects [edit]

During the filming of Batman & Robin, Warner Bros. was impressed with the dailies, prompting them to immediately hire Joel Schumacher to reprise his directing duties for a third film. Writer Akiva Goldsman, who worked on Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, turned down the chance to write the script.[26] In late 1996, Warner Bros. and Schumacher hired Mark Protosevich to write the script for a fifth Batman film. A projected mid-1999 release date was announced.[41] Titled Batman Triumphant, Protosevich's script had the Scarecrow as the main villain and the Joker would return as a hallucination in Batman's mind caused by the Scarecrow's fear toxin. Harley Quinn appeared as a supporting character, written as the Joker's daughter trying to kill Batman to avenge her father's death.[42] George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell and Alicia Silverstone were set to reprise the roles of Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.[43] Schumacher had also approached Nicolas Cage for the role of Scarecrow.[44] However, when Batman & Robin received harsh reviews and failed to outgross any of its predecessors, Warner Bros. was unsure of their plans for Batman Triumphant.

The Triumphant script was heavily rewritten by Lee Shapiro and Stephen Wise and made into a project titled Batman: DarKnight. This script kept the Scarecrow, but replaced Harley Quinn with Man-Bat. Schumacher dropped out of the project, forcing Warner Brothers to find a replacement in Andrew Davis. Plans for a fifth movie in the series were officially canceled in late 2000.

During the same time frame, Warner was being approached with a proposal for a live-action Batman Beyond film. The script was written by the show's creators, Paul Dini and Alan Burnet; Boaz Yakin was chosen to direct, but insisted on an R-rated movie, which led to the project's cancellation.

Warner eventually decided to do an adaptation of Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. Schumacher had been one of the prominent advocates of this idea since as far back as 1998,[45] saying that he "owe[d] the Batman culture a real Batman movie. I would go back to the basics and make a dark portrayal of the Dark Knight."[45] However, Warner replaced him with Darren Aronofsky, which proved problematic because Aronofsky preferred to adapt Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. The Year One project was pushed aside in favor of the similarly themed but less problematic Batman Begins.

Chris O'Donnell revealed in a 2012 interview with Access Hollywood that a Robin spin-off was planned but was scrapped after Batman & Robin.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Mark Salisbury; Tim Burton (2006). "Batman". Burton on Burton. London: Faber and Faber. pp. 70–83. ISBN 0-571-22926-3. 
  2. ^ Englehat, Steve. "Batman". Archived from the original on December 14, 2007. Retrieved November 25, 2007. So I got to do the second treatment with just the characters that eventually hit the screen: Bruce Wayne, the Batman, Silver St. Cloud, Boss Thorne, and the Joker. 
  3. ^ a b Nancy Griffin; Kim Masters (1997). "Hit Men". Hit & Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony For A Ride In Hollywood. Simon & Schuster. pp. 158–174. ISBN 0-684-80931-1. 
  4. ^ a b Alan Jones (November 1989). "Batman". Cinefantastique. pp. 55–67. Retrieved May 2, 2008. 
  5. ^ Stephen Rebello (November 1989). "Sam Hamm – Screenwriter". Cinefantastique. pp. 34–41. 
  6. ^ Iain Johnstone (August 1989). "Dark Knight in the City of Dreams". Empire. pp. 46–54. Retrieved May 14, 2008. 
  7. ^ Joe Morgenstern (April 9, 1989). "Tim Burton, Batman and The Joker", The New York Times. Retrieved October 26, 2008.
  8. ^ Salisbury, Burton, p.145
  9. ^ Geoff Boucher (October 15, 2008). "Tim Burton talks about Johnny Depp, 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'The Dark Knight'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  10. ^ Alan Jones (November 1989). "Batman in Production". Cinefantastique. pp. 75–88. Retrieved May 13, 2008. 
  11. ^ Jeffrey Resner (August 1992). "Three Go Mad in Gotham", Empire, pp. 39–46. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
  12. ^ Judy Sloane (August 1995). "Daniel Waters on Writing", Film Review, pp. 67–69. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
  13. ^ David Hughes (2003). "Batman". Comic Book Movies. Virgin Books. pp. 33–46. ISBN 0-7535-0767-6. 
  14. ^ Broeske, Pat H.; Thompson, Anne (August 9, 1991). "Big-Game Hunting". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 14, 2008. 
  15. ^ a b Salisbury, Burton, p.102-114
  16. ^ Olly Richards (September 1992). "Trouble in Gotham", Empire, pp. 21–23. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
  17. ^ a b "Batman 3". Entertainment Weekly. October 1, 1993. Archived from the original on September 21, 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2008. 
  18. ^ Jeff Gordinier (July 15, 1994). "Next at Batman". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on September 21, 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2008. 
  19. ^ Benjamin Svetkey (July 12, 1996). "Holy Happy Set!". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on September 7, 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2008. 
  20. ^ a b "Batman Forever (1995)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  21. ^ a b "Batman Forever". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  22. ^ Michael Fleming (February 21, 1997). "Helmer's 3rd At Bat". Variety. Archived from the original on October 19, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  23. ^ a b Joel Schumacher, Peter MacGregor-Scott, Chris O'Donnell, Val Kilmer, Uma Thurman, John Glover, Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Part 6-Batman Unbound, 2005, Warner Home Video
  24. ^ Degen Pener (September 13, 1996). "Holy Hearsay". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 11, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  25. ^ Anita M. Busch (January 10, 1997). "Schumacher on 'Popcorn'". Variety. Archived from the original on December 16, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  26. ^ a b Michael Mallory; Michael Fleming (March 5, 1997). "Holy caped caper, IV". Variety. Archived from the original on December 16, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  27. ^ a b "Batman & Robin". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  28. ^ Dave Karger (July 11, 1997). "Big Chill". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on November 21, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  29. ^ "1998 Razzie Awards". Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on December 16, 2008. Retrieved November 14, 2008. 
  30. ^ "Comix Worst to Best: Batman & Robin (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on October 14, 2008. Retrieved November 14, 2008. 
  31. ^ David Fear. "Men in Tights". MSN Movies. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved November 14, 2008. 
  32. ^ "Batman (1989)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Batman Returns (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Batman and Robin (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Batman". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Batman (1989): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved May 17, 2007. 
  37. ^ a b c d "CinemaScore". Retrieved February 18, 2015. 
  38. ^ "Batman Returns". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Batman Forever (1995): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved May 17, 2007. 
  40. ^ "Batman & Robin (1997): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved May 17, 2007. 
  41. ^ Michael Fleming (February 21, 1997). "Helmer's 3rd At Bat". Variety. Archived from the original on October 19, 2008. Retrieved October 17, 2008. 
  42. ^ Brian Linder (July 27, 2000). "Rumblings From Gotham". IGN. Retrieved October 17, 2008. 
  43. ^ Michael Fleming (November 11, 1997). "Schumacher trims sails". Variety. Archived from the original on December 16, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  44. ^ Gabe Toro (2011-10-05). "Joel Schumacher Says He Wanted Nicolas Cage To Play Scarecrow In The Aborted 'Batman Triumphant'". IndieWire. Retrieved 2014-09-01. 
  45. ^ a b Jeff Jensen (December 4, 1998). "Winging It". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 19, 2008. Retrieved October 17, 2008. 
  46. ^ Eric Anderson (2012-09-13). "Chris O'Donnell On Why His 'Robin' Spin-Off Never Happened & Passing On Men In Black". Access Hollywood. Retrieved 2014-09-08.