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25 Things You Probably Didn't Know About BATMAN (1989)

Batplane flies in Batman, Source: Warner Bros.
This week is the 25th anniversary of Batman. Released on June 25, 1989, Batman is described by Wikipedia as "a critical and financial success, earning over $400 million in box office totals. The film received several Saturn Award nominations and a Golden Globe nomination, and won an Academy Award. It also inspired the equally successful Batman: The Animated Series, paving the way for the DC animated universe, and has influenced Hollywood's modern marketing and development techniques of the superhero film genre." Here's some trivia you may not have heard about this iconic film.

1. The tone and themes of the film were influenced in part by Alan Moore's The Killing Joke and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.

2. Tim Burton says he never read comics as a child because he never knew what order to read the boxes. The Killing Joke was the first comic he ever read that made sense.

3. Gotham City's design was described by art director Anton Furst as "what New York City might have become without a planning commission."

4. The 1985 film Brazil by Terry Gilliam was a notable influence upon the film's production design, as both Burton and Furst studied it as a reference.
Brazil (1985); Credit: Universal Pictures
5. The tools the surgeon uses on Jack Napier are the same tools used by the sadistic dentist in Little Shop of Horrors.

6. One scene had a young James Gordon on duty the night of the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents, but was cut. The scene was later recreated in Batman Begins.

7. Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Charlie Sheen, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Selleck and Bill Murray were all considered for the role of Batman.

8. Keaton's casting caused a controversy among comic book fans who only knew him as a comedian in movies like Mr. Mom. They sent 50,000 protest letters to Warner Bros. offices.

9. Tim Curry, Willem Dafoe, David Bowie, John Lithgow and James Woods were all considered for the Joker.

10. Producer Jon Peters approached Nicholson about playing the Joker as far back as 1986, during filming of The Witches of Eastwick.
Jack Nicholson and Jon Peters on set, Source: Warner Bros
11. Robin Williams was briefly announced as the Joker, but only as a way of pressuring Nicholson to take the part. When Williams found out he was never seriously considered, he refused to do any Warner Bros movies (including the Riddler in Batman Forever) until the studio apologized years later.
Fan art of Robin Williams as the Joker
12. Nicholson's contract specified the number of hours he was entitled to have off each day, from the time he left the set to the time he reported back for filming, as well as being off for Los Angeles Lakers home games.

13. Sean Young was originally cast as Vicki Vale, but was injured in a horse-riding accident prior to commencement of filming.

14. Burton suggested replacing Young with Michelle Pfeiffer. Keaton (who was dating Pfeiffer at the time) declined, saying it would be too awkward. But he changed his mind for Batman Returns.

15. Michael Keaton found the Batman suit claustrophobic, but used his discomfort and fear in his portrayal of the character.

16. The police sketch handed to reporter Alexander Knox (a funny drawing of "Batman") is by Bob Kane, the original artist and co-creator of Batman. Note the signature on the lower left.

17. Knox was originally supposed to die by the Joker's poison gas in the climax. The studio liked his character so much they allowed him to live.

18. It was Burton's last-minute decision to have the Joker murder Wayne's parents, and have Alfred let Vicki Vale into the Batcave.

19. The shot of Batman standing in front of the word AXIS at Axis Chemicals is meant to compare his acts to those of the totalitarian governments of World War II.

20. The Joker's real name, Jack Napier, is not from the comics and was made up for the movie. The last name is an homage to Alan Napier, who played Alfred Pennyworth on the 1960's Batman TV show.

21. The map of Gotham City examined by Vicki Vale is actually a map of Vancouver.

22. Originally in the climax, the Joker killed Vicki Vale, sending Batman into a vengeful fury

23. Jon Peters reworked the climax to the now-famous cathedral scene, and had Furst build the model cathedral, all without telling Burton. Burton disliked the idea, having no clue how the scene would end, even while shooting it.

24. Jon Peters wanted to use a Nike product placement with the Batsuit, so Batman's "boots" in the movie are actually modified Nike Air Trainer sneakers.

25. In the months leading up to Batman's release in June 1989, the character experienced a pop culture craze known as "Batmania." Over $750 million worth of merchandise was sold.

What did you think of Batman?

Correction: Bob Kane wasn't in the cameo due to scheduling conflicts.


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  1. Bill Murray as Batman - no, can't see it.
    Sean Young is a bit crazy. Not that Kim wasn't also crazy, just in a good way.
    And Burton didn't know what order to follow the boxes? Now that is funny.
    Some interesting stuff, guys!

  2. I knew a couple of those. It's always amazing in hindsight some the potentially terrible casting ideas studios have. Anyway that version was fine for its time but the Nolan movies are much better.

  3. How very cool to have the original artist in the scene!! Perfect :)

  4. Great article, Mo. I knew most of them. But it was nice to see them all on the same page.

  5. Joy Campbell-ChambersJune 27, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    You're right. Most of this stuff I didn't know. Fascinating though. Fans do spend a LOT on their passion.

  6. I actually wrote this one. Glad you liked it

  7. Sorry, that one is wrong. Kane provided the sketch, but the artist was played by an actor due to scheduling conflicts. Fixed!

  8. It is funny to think of different people in the role

  9. I got confused over the glasses, Mo. It was that, or else I just discovered that I'm Twin-a-phobic. No. I don't know what that means, either.

  10. Murray was probably from when they thought it would be a comedy like the sixties version

  11. Funny that you didn't include the influence of the film Metropolis on the way Gotham looked also. Google gave me your link...


  12. Some of these I knew, but a lot I didn't. For nostalgic reasons, this Batman will always be my favorite even though the Nolan-Bale movies are sooo awesome!

  13. Yeah, I heard that Burton would walk around the set showing people The Dark Knight Returns saying, "that needs to look like this!" Uh, nothing in this film is like The Dark Knight Returns.


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