On June 23rd, 1989 comic book movies changed forever with the release of Tim Burton’s Batman. Twenty-five years later, the movie has become a classic that still remains among the best Batman movies ever made. As today is the film’s actual 25th anniversary, we thought it’d be the perfect time to run down a list of the reasons why even with so many other Batman movies out there, we still love Tim Burton’s Batman.
It’s a Comic Book
People love Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but there are some who felt that it took itself too seriously and forgot that Batman is a comic book character. Burton’s isn’t the comic book Batman at all, as the Keaton Batman is almost a homicidal maniac tossing thugs (and The Joker) off buildings to their death…and enjoying it. But its tone is still that of a comic book and it didn’t try to make Batman into something grounded in reality. That’s one of the biggest reasons why Batman ’89 is so re-watchable a quarter of a century later. If anything, the grounded Nolan trilogy made Burton’s Batman even more enjoyable. Sometimes you just want to see a comic book movie.
When we ranked the movie Batsuits, the Burton ones came in second after the new Affleck one. Sure it’s rubber, he can’t turn his head, and it made some movement look a little restrictive, but it captured the look of Batman better than any other film Batsuit until the new one. There were minor changes to it for Batman Returns, but even with those slight molding modifications in the sequel, the Burton suits were the best.
The Batmobile (and Batwing)
I’m sorry, but when I see the Nolan tumbler I don’t think “Batmobile”. The other two 90’s cars looked too flamboyant (like the costumes…) for Batman. The Burton designs for both the Batmobile and Batwing were perfect, and the Batmobile from the ’89 movie and Batman Returns remains the most iconic version of the vehicle on the big screen.
Some people consider Burton’s Batman to be more of a Joker movie, and in some ways that is true. I know people love The Joker in The Dark Knight, but I still think Nicholson’s is closer to the comic version of the character. In The Dark Knight, The Joker doesn’t take any joy in his killing. It’s like he’s doing it because he’s scarred. Nicholson’s Joker kills because it’s a joke. When The Joker returns for revenge after his transformation, he’s cracking up as he’s killing because to him it’s all a joke. That’s The Joker.
What would the movie be without Danny Elfman’s soundtrack? Prince may date it to the late 80s, but much like John Williams and Superman, many people still associate Batman with Elfman’s theme. The hushed, low-key, themes used by Zimmer in the Dark Knight trilogy have nothing on the bombastic score Elfman created for both Burton films.