Saturday, June 28, 2014

25 Years of Tim Burton's "Batman"

Almost exactly 25 years ago, I was sitting in a movie theater with my mother, and while I didn't know it at the time, I was about to have an eye opening experience that would go on to define the rest of my childhood and even move on into my adulthood. It was something that my young mind may not have totally been ready for, but all the same it was something that I'll never be able to forget.

I'm talking about seeing motherfucking "Batman".

Tim Burton's 1989 update of the classic DC superhero was an awe-inspiring experience for me and countless other kids (and adults alike). Beforehand the only knowledge of the character and Batman mythology I had at that point was through comic books, which I had only just started getting into at that point, and believe it or not, I really don't think I was all that enthused about seeing "Batman" as I should have been (my Mom was actually more interested in seeing it actually, having a life-long love of Jack Nicholson).

But what is it that makes "Batman" not only so endearing to this day, but how it helped shape the legacy of superhero films in general? Is it the dark tone? The gothic, art-deco landscape? The magnetic villain? The brooding, tortured, somewhat psychotic superhero? It's a mix of all that and more besides. It all helped make "Batman" all the more special, and it paved the way for so much more to come (including the legendary "Batman: The Animated Series") that now, two decades and a half later, has a legacy that no other superhero film can ever hope to match.

That's not to say that "Batman" isn't without its flaws. I never gave two shits about what happened to its damsel in distress Vicki Vale, who in herself has such an underwhelming characterization and damn little in terms of character development that any scenes that focus on her become a bore. Making the Joker be the killer of Bruce Wayne's parents is also a bit of a "why the fuck?" moment as well, but all that aside, "Batman" is still a quintessential genre film with a cemented legacy.

Though in the end I do think that Christopher Nolan's trilogy served the character better than Burton's two films (and we won't dare mention the Schumacher abortions), there's no denying the impact and effect that "Batman" had in 1989, and still resonates to this day. If you haven't seen it in a while, give it a watch, and follow it up with "Batman Returns" and some handpicked episodes of the animated series. You'll be glad that you did.

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