- This article is about the film. For the character, see Batman.
The movie begins with Batman, a caped crusader defending the streets of Gotham City, warning two thugs. His superhero life began when his two parents were shot and murdered in a alley when Batman, aka Bruce Wayne, was a child. Gotham's crime level is rising, as a criminal named The Joker, aka Jack Napier, is taking over. Even with a new attorney, the crime is still bad.
Soon, it seems peaceful and calm at a banquet at Wayne Manor, Bruce's home, where he chats up with his love interest, Vicki Vale. However, Napier and his henchman crash the party, and a gun fight between Napier and Batman ensues. A bullet dodges off of Batman's suit and hits Napier, making him fall into a pool of acid where his face turns white and his hair turns green, thus "The Joker" is born.
As Vicki and Bruce start to show their love even more, The Joker is striking it big in crime. He's been using a gas to make victims laugh non-stop and have a "Joker smile"- a face freezing smile.
Vicki soon knows Bruce is Batman and soon, The Joker has a parade in downtown Gotham. He uses his gas once again- however, this one is more deadly. Batman has been trying to keep up with The Joker, but hurries when Joker has kidnapped Vicki. Batman has nearly got him when The Joker grabs onto a nearby helicopter, but Batman uses a grappling hook to save the day and Gotham itself, as Joker plunges to his death.
Batman has told Gotham and Commissioner Gordon he is ready to fight more crime when the time comes as the movie ends.
- Michael Keaton as The Batman / Bruce Wayne
- Jack Nicholson as The Joker / Jack Napier
- Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale
- Robert Wuhl as Alexander Knox
- Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
- Jack Palance as Carl Grissom
- Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent
- Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon
- Lee Wallace as Mayor Borg
- William Hootkins as Lt. Eckhardt
- Jerry Hall as Alicia Hunt
- Tracey Walter as Bob Hawkins
After the financial success of Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Warner Bros. hired Tim Burton to direct Batman. Burton had then-girlfriend Julie Hickson write a new 30-page film treatment, feeling the previous script by Tom Mankiewicz was campy. The success of The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke rekindled Warner Bros.' interest in a film adaptation. Burton was initially not a comic book fan, but he was impressed by the dark and serious tone found in both The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke. Warner Bros. enlisted the aid of Steve Englehart to write a new treatment in March 1986. It included the Joker and Rupert Thorne as the main villains, with a cameo appearance by the Penguin. Silver St. Cloud and Dick Grayson were key supporting roles. It followed the similar storyline from Englehart's own Strange Apparitions. Warner Bros. was impressed, but Englehart felt there were too many characters. He removed the Penguin and Dick Grayson in his second treatment, finishing in May 1986. Burton approached Sam Hamm, a comic book fan, to write the screenplay. Hamm decided not to use an origin story, feeling that flashbacks would be more suitable and that "unlocking the mystery" would become part of the storyline. He reasoned, "You totally destroy your credibility if you show the literal process by which Bruce Wayne becomes Batman." Hamm replaced Silver St. Cloud with Vicki Vale and Rupert Thorne with his own creation, Carl Grissom. He completed his script in October 1986, which demoted Dick Grayson to a cameo rather than a supporting character. One scene in Hamm's script had a young James Gordon on duty the night of the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents. When Hamm's script was rewritten, the scene was deleted. Warner Bros. was less willing to move forward on development, despite their enthusiasm for Hamm's script, which Batman co-creator Bob Kane greeted with positive feedback. Hamm's script was then bootlegged at various comic book stores in the United States. Batman was finally given the greenlight to commence pre-production in April 1988, after the success of Burton's Beetlejuice When comic book fans found out about Burton directing the film with Michael Keaton starring in the lead role, controversy arose over the tone and direction Batman was going in. Hamm explained, "they hear Tim Burton's name and they think of Pee-wee's Big Adventure. They hear Keaton's name and they think of any number of Michael Keaton comedies. You think of the 1960s version of Batman, and it was the complete opposite of our film. We tried to market it with a typical dark and serious tone, but the fans didn't believe us." To combat negative reports on the film's production, Batman co-creator Bob Kane was hired as creative consultant.
The filmmakers considered filming Batman entirely on the Warner Bros. backlot in Burbank, California, but media interest in the film made them change the location. It was shot at Pinewood Studios in England from October 1988 to January 1989. 18 sound stages were used, almost the entirety of Pinewood's 95-acre backlot. Locations included Knebworth House and Hatfield House doubling for Wayne Manor, plus Acton Lane Power Station and Little Barford Power Station. The original production budget escalated from $30 million to $48 million Filming was highly secretive. The unit publicist was offered and refused $10,000 for the first pictures of Jack Nicholson as the Joker. The police were later called in when two reels of footage (about 20 minutes' worth) were stolen. With various problems during filming, Burton called it "torture. The worst period of my life!" Hamm was not allowed to perform rewrites during the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike. Jonathan Gems, Warren Skaaren and Charles McKeown rewrote the script during filming. Hamm criticized the rewrites, but blamed the changes on Warner Bros. Burton explained, "I don't understand why that became such a problem. We started out with a script that everyone liked, although we recognized it needed a little work." Dick Grayson appeared in the shooting script but was deleted, as the filmmakers felt he was irrelevant to the plot. Bob Kane supported this decision. Originally in the climax, the Joker was to kill Vicki Vale, sending Batman into a vengeful fury. Jon Peters reworked the climax without telling Burton and commissioned production designer Anton Furst to create a 38-foot (12 m) model of the cathedral. This cost $100,000 when the film was already well over budget. Burton disliked the idea, having no clue how the scene would end: "Here were Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger walking up this cathedral, and halfway up Jack turns around and says, 'Why am I walking up all these stairs? Where am I going?' 'We'll talk about it when you get to the top!' I had to tell him that I didn't know."
The critical reaction to Batman was mostly positive.