Batman (1989 film series)

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Official film series logo.
Cover of the 2005 DVD box set.
Directed by Tim Burton
Joel Schumacher
Produced by Jon Peters
Peter Guber
Denise Di Novi
Tim Burton
Peter MacGregor-Scott
Screenplay by Sam Hamm
Warren Skaaren
Daniel Waters
Lee Batchler
Janet Scott Batchler
Akiva Goldsman
Story by Sam Hamm
Daniel Waters
Lee Batchler
Janet Scott Batchler
Akiva Goldsman
Based on Batman publications and storylines published
by DC Comics
Music by Danny Elfman
Elliot Goldenthal
Cinematography Roger Pratt
Stefan Czapsky
Stephen Goldblatt
Edited by Ray Lovejoy
Chris Lebenzon
Dennis Virkler
Mark Stevens
DC Comics
Polygram Studio
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
Running time
499 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $340 million
Box office $1.252 billion

Batman is a superhero film series featuring the DC Comics character of the same name, who was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. It was produced by Warner Bros. from 1989 to 1997, 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 Unchained.


Batman (1989)[edit]

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 generally favourable 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 (1992)[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 Dent 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 (1995)[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 (1997)[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 ended 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]

Main cast and characters[edit]

Character Film Commercial
Batman Returns
Batman Forever
Batman & Robin
Batman OnStar Commercials
Bruce Wayne / Batman Michael Keaton
Charles Roskilly (young)
Michael Keaton Val Kilmer
Ramsey Ellis (young)
George Clooney
Eric Lloyd (young)
Bruce Thomas
Alfred Pennyworth Michael Gough Michael Gough
Jon Simmons (young)
Michael Gough
Commissioner Gordon Pat Hingle
Dick Grayson / Robin   Chris O'Donnell  
Barbara Wilson / Batgirl   Alicia Silverstone  
Jack Napier / The Joker Jack Nicholson
Hugo E. Blick (young)
  David U. Hodges
(flashback only; as young Jack Napier)
  Curtis Armstrong
Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin   Danny DeVito  
Selina Kyle / Catwoman   Michelle Pfeiffer  
Max Shreck   Christopher Walken  
Harvey Dent / Two-Face Billy Dee Williams (only as Harvey Dent)   Tommy Lee Jones  
Edward Nygma / The Riddler   Jim Carrey   Brian Stepanek
Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze   Arnold Schwarzenegger  
Pamela Isley / Poison Ivy   Uma Thurman  
Antonio Diego / Bane   Robert Swenson (as Bane)
Michael Reid MacKay (as Antonio Diego)
Thomas Wayne David Baxt   Michael Scranton  
Martha Wayne Sharon Holm   Eileen Seeley  
Vicki Vale Kim Basinger   Brooke Burns
Chase Meridian   Nicole Kidman  
Patrick Leahy   Himself (cameo)  

Crew and other[edit]

Crew/detail Film
Batman Returns
Batman Forever
Batman & Robin
Director Tim Burton Joel Schumacher
Producers Jon Peters,
Peter Guber
Denise Di Novi,
Tim Burton
Tim Burton,
Peter MacGregor-Scott
Peter MacGregor-Scott
Writers Screenplay by:
Sam Hamm
Warren Skaaren
Story by:
Sam Hamm
Screenplay by:
Daniel Waters
Story by:
Daniel Waters
Sam Hamm
Screenplay by:
Lee Batchler
Janet Scott Batchler
Akiva Goldsman
Story by:
Lee Batchler
Janet Scott Batchler
Screenplay and Story by:
Akiva Goldsman
Composer Danny Elfman Elliot Goldenthal
Director of photography Roger Pratt Stefan Czapsky Stephen Goldblatt
Production designer Anton Furst Bo Welch Barbara Ling
Editor(s) Ray Lovejoy Chris Lebenzon Dennis Virkler Dennis Virkler,
Mark Stevens
Distributor Warner Bros.
Running time 121 mins. 121 mins. 113 mins. 120 mins.
MPAA rating PG-13


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 $35 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]
Total $705,376,929 $547,530,615 $1,252,907,544 8[35] 3 $340 million [36]

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Batman 72% (68 reviews)[37] 69 (21 reviews)[38] A[39]
Batman Returns 80% (71 reviews)[40] 68 (23 reviews)[41] B[39]
Batman Forever 40% (58 reviews)[21] 51 (23 reviews)[42] A−[39]
Batman & Robin 11% (85 reviews)[27] 28 (21 reviews)[43] C+[39]

Cancelled sequels[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.[44] Titled Batman Unchained but often incorrectly referred to as Batman Triumphant,[45] 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 would appear as a supporting character, written as the Joker's daughter trying to kill Batman to avenge her father's death. George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell and Alicia Silverstone were set to reprise the roles of Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.[46]

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

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

Chris O'Donnell revealed in a 2012 interview with Access Hollywood that a Robin spin-off was planned but was scrapped after Batman & Robin.[47]

Warner Bros. abandoned J. J. Abrams' script for Superman: Flyby, which had been greenlighted with McG to direct.[48][49] When McG dropped out in favor of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle,[50] Warner Bros. approached Wolfgang Petersen to direct Superman: Flyby,[51] however, in August 2001,[52] Andrew Kevin Walker pitched Warner Bros. an idea titled Batman vs Superman, attaching Petersen as director. Superman: Flyby was put on hold,[51] and Akiva Goldsman was hired to rewrite Walker's Batman vs. Superman.[53]

Goldsman's draft, dated June 21, 2002, had Bruce Wayne going through a mental breakdown after his five-year retirement from crime fighting. Dick Grayson, Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon are all dead, but Bruce finds some solace in his fiancée, Elizabeth Miller. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is struggling because of a recent divorce from Lois Lane. Clark and Bruce are close friends, and Clark is Bruce's best man. After the Joker kills Elizabeth on their honeymoon, Bruce swears revenge, while Clark tries to hold him back. Bruce blames Clark for her death, and the two go against one another. Ultimately, Lex Luthor is revealed to have masterminded the entire plot to get Batman and Superman to destroy each other. The two decide to team up and stop Luthor.[54] Christian Bale, who would play the character in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, was simultaneously approached to portray Batman for Darren Aronofsky's Batman: Year One,[55] while Josh Hartnett was offered the role of Superman.[50]

Filming was to start in early 2003, with plans for a five- to six-month shoot. The release date was set for the summer of 2004.[56] However, Warner Bros. canceled development to focus on individual Superman and Batman projects after Abrams submitted another draft for Superman: Flyby.[57] According to Petersen "[Warner Bros.' chief] Alan Horn was so torn, because it's such a fascinating concept to do a Batman versus Superman film."[58] In the opening scene of I Am Legend, a billboard displays the Superman symbol within the Batman symbol in Times Square. It is meant as an in-joke by the film's writer, Akiva Goldsman, who also wrote the script for Batman vs. Superman.[59]

See also[edit]


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  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.
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  14. ^ Broeske, Pat H.; Thompson, Anne (August 9, 1991). "Big-Game Hunting". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 14, 2008. 
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