33 years since the premiere of Tim Burton’s Batman

For the role of Batman, Tim Burton wanted to hire an unknown actor.

Photo: PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images

Michael Keaton starred in the film as billionaire Bruce Wayne, who was transformed into Batman, who fights crime after witnessing the brutal murder of his parents as a child.

When the action of the movie begins, the mob henchman Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) he is horribly disfigured after Batman inadvertently throws him into a vat of acid during a showdown at a chemical factory.

After killing his boss (Jack Palance), Napier, now known as The Joker is on the loose in Gotham City.wreaking havoc and trying to turn his people against the caped crusader.

When Batman’s affections for a beautiful reporter are revealed, Vicki Vale as Kim Basingerthe Joker uses it to expose his rival, with dramatic results.

Controversy surrounded the casting of Keaton (best known for comedies like 1983’s Mr. Mom) as Batman. A full roster of notable male leads, reportedly including Mel Gibson, Dennis Quaid, Harrison Ford, and Kevin Costner, were considered for the role, and reportedly, Burton wanted to hire an unknown actor.

Having previously worked with Keaton on Beetlejuice (1988), Burton liked the idea of ​​collaborating with him again, and the producers agreed, after screening Keaton’s 1988 film Clean and Sober, that Keaton also had “serious” acting talent. ”.

In a new marketing strategy that would become a trend for movies starring superheroes, Warner Brothers hyped Batman as a big summer “event” long before it was released..

The results were surprising, since the film grossed about $100 million in its first ten days of release, including $82.8 million at the domestic box office alone.

Reviews of the film were mixed, although most critics praised Nicholson’s performance as the Joker.

For his creation of the film’s impressive Batmobile and the dark, cavernous Gotham City, Batman’s production designer, Anton Furst won an Oscar for Best Art Direction – Set Decoration.

Burton’s second Batman film, Batman Returns (1989), also starred Keaton. Most critics considered the sequel, also a box office success, to be a better film than its predecessor.

Warner Brothers, seeking even greater commercial success for the franchise, hired Joel Schumacher to direct the next installment, Batman Forever (1995), starring Val Kilmer as Batman; Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey were the villains in that movie, while Nicole Kidman was the love interest and Chris O’Donnell appeared as Robin, Batman’s sidekick.

Kilmer, like Keaton before him, left the franchise before the next planned film was made because felt that Batman was getting less attention than his enemies; George Clooney took his place for Schumacher’s Batman & Robin (1997), which was heavily criticized.

A few years later, director Christopher Nolan refocused the series, returning to Bruce Wayne’s childhood for Batman Begins (2005), starring Christian Bale in the title role.

Nolan and Bale returned for a 2008 sequel, The Dark Knight, which featured a surprising role from Heath Ledger (who was found dead from an accidental prescription drug overdose shortly after filming wrapped) as the Joker.

The third and final installment was The Dark Knight Rises (2012), also a critical and commercial success.

Batman later appeared in several DC Extended Universe movies, including Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).

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