Batman movies from 1989 to 1997

A quick look back at the four Batman movies I grew up with plus my thoughts on "The Dark Knight Rises."
July 30, 2012
Retrodave here. Before I begin I would like to give my respects to the victims and families of the Colorado shootings. May the fallen rest and peace, and may the families overcome this tragedy.

Now then on to "Batman"this movie first hit theaters in 1989 it was incredible. Even today people say this is the best Batman movie. There wasn't a Batman movie on the same level until "The Dark Knight" came out. After the 1989 "Batman" the Batman films have seriously decline from "Batman Returns" to the god awful "Batman & Robin." Luckily Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale for bringing us "Batman Begins." A movie that give dignity to the Batman character again. Before I continue this article these are my personal opinions yours may very.

Well here we go no point into going detail about these movies. Batman is well known that anyone anywhere can identify him by his symbol alone. So for the movie poster all that was used was the Batman symbol.

Batman 1989

We all know Michael Keaton played Batman. At the time he was only known for Beetlejuice. So comic book fans were concern that the man who was Beetlejuice would be playing Batman. Since Beetlejuice was played for laughs so people thought with Keaton as Batman it would be silly. Boy was the public wrong. Not only was Keaton a good Batman but some including me consider him to be the Best Actor to play Batman ever. Christian Bale is good, but I prefer Keaton. The general audience was also wrong about Tim Burton not doing a good job with directing. Burton's only had directed two previous films, "Beetlejuice" and "Pee-wee's Big Adventure."

I wouldn't trust a director with Batman knowing he made those two movies. However they took a chance and it worked. Jack Nicholson as the Joker held the standard for playing Joker until the late Heath Ledger. Some people say Ledger was the best and I would have to agree. Nicholson's was better However Ledger's Joker brought something new to the character, a scarier edge and personality which I really love. I love Nicholson, but you got to hand to Ledger he was able to put a new twist on a character that has been done so many times before. Still no matter who plays the Joker the character is awesome.

Michael Gough as Alfred and Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon continued their roles throughout the next three movies, and did a good job even though I prefer Gary Oldman as Gordon. Of course Oldman is given more to do than Pat Hingle. Billy Dee Williams plays district attorney Harvey Dent which was supposed to turn into Two-Face in a later movie, but that got ruin in "Batman Forever" thank you so much.

So this movie is basically Batman vs. Joker. With the twist of the Joker being the one to kill Bruce Wayne's parents when Bruce was just a kid. I know Joker didn't actually kill his parents in the comics, but this change was made in the movie to make the confrontation between them more personal. So without Joker one could say there would be no Batman. Of course without Batman there would be no Joker. In this movie it was Batman who knocked Jack Napier into a vat of chemicals deforming him with a permanent smile and pale "clown like" skin making him known as the villain The Joker. However I find that the final confrontation between him and Batman not as impressive as it should have been, but still a great film beside that fact and my second favorite Batman movie next to "The Dark Knight."

Batman Returns 1992

Micheal Keaton returns as Batman and Tim Burton returns to direct. Instead of one villain they added two. Also there went with a animal motif. The Bat, the cat, and the bird. Batman, Catwoman, and Penguin. Michelle Pfeiffer played Catwoman and did a good job too. Danny DeVito gives in my opinion the best performance as Penguin. Christopher Walken is also in it. With Chris Walken you know your in for some fun even if he isn't asking for "More Cowbell." Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) of Tim Burton's first movie made an appearance as the Penguins father as when Penguin (Oswald Cobblepot) was just a baby.

This one was still liked by fans but not as much as it's predecessor. Some thought it was too dark, like when The Penguin wanted to kill all of the first born children of Gotham's elite while the parents celebrated at a Christmas Ball. The story is more Penguin's story then it is Batman's. However I find that we told Batman's story in the first movie; what else needs to be said? I think that the Batman comics are great because not only Batman is great but also his villains are great. Sometimes it's just as fun to focus on the villains.
The Penguin is great. He has a gang of evil circus performers, a vehicle shaped like a duck, and weapons disguised as umbrellas.

In the second grade I had a Batman umbrella with Batman symbols on it and the handle was a Batman figurine. I would pretend it was the Penguin's umbrella instead and it could be a machine gun, a sword, or even a children's mobile. I think the Penguin is a tortured soul and doesn't fit in with society because of his appearance. Like Batman he also grew up without parents. Only his parents abandoned him and weren't murdered. Later Penguins tries to fit in with society and starts to get excepted as he runs for mayor. It looks like he could of reformed if Batman didn't expose him with a recording of him saying bad stuff about the city. He wanted to be mayor if only a corrupt mayor. However, at a campaign speech he turns on the city after Batman plays audio on the PA of Penguin saying, " You gotta admit I played this stinkin' city like a harp from hell." He then turns back on the city and plans his plot to do away with the children I mentioned before.

Catwoman is nice and I just love the scene where she returns home and goes nuts transforming into Catwoman. She wants revenge on Max Shreck (Walken) from pushing her out a window. Later Batman gets in the way, and she wants to destroy Batman with the aid of Penguin."Batman Returns" may not be as good as "Batman" but it is still entertaining, and I mainly enjoy it because of DeVito's performance. I also like Burton's style of film making.
Batman Forever 1995

One might ask why was Tim Burton dropped as a director and replaced by Joel Schumacher? Well let's take a look. Although "Batman Returns" was highly successful with a worldwide Gross over $282 million. Warner Bros. wasn't pleased because it wasn't as successful as "Batman" with a worldwide Gross over $411 million. Well if those greedy bastards can't be pleased $282 million, then why bother? Okay so then so what was the problem? Parents complained it was too adult. Well it the MPAA rating was PG-13. If parents would pay attention to that then they shouldn't complain about the adult situations if the take their young children that to these movies. Well I digress.

So now the goal was to make the next Batman more family oriented. So Burton was removed, but stayed on as producer. Schumacher came on to direct. Why Schumacher? Before Batman Schumacher was known for directing "The Lost Boys." Okay so if Warner wanted a more family friendly Batman then why hire a director
who made a movie about teenage vampires?

So with Burton gone Keaton backed out. So with that being said we got "Batman Forever." Val Kilmer replaced Keaton. In my opinion Kilmer was the worst Batman. I even like Clooney better. At least Clooney had personality. To me Kilmer is so bland. Schumacher thought Kilmer was actually the best, prior to "Batman Begins." Oh well.

Robin was finally added to the franchise. Fun Fact: Christian Bale was considered to play Robin at the time. Luckily for us he wasn't Robin and became Batman in "Batman Begins." So then Robin was played by Chris O'Donnell. Honestly I don't know him in anything else. Jim Carrey is the Riddler paired up with Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face instead of Billy Dee Williams. I like Tommy Lee, but he is just awful as Two-Face. Why couldn't he be as good as Two-Face from Batman the animated series?

Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent / Two-Face is awesome as well. However the Two-Face in the movie is just bad despite being played by a great actor. Also in "Batman Forever" is Dr. Chase Meridian played by Nicole Kidman. A character that is used as a damsel in distress at the end of the movie. Sure she consoles Bruce as he talks about his shattered past, but I really think they wanted her as a damsel in distress. What else can I say about the movie? It was taken less seriously and is not as dark as the last two. This makes the movie less enjoyable to me although I did like it more as a kid. At least it isn't "Batman & Robin."

Batman & Robin 1997

According to Schumacher he didn't want to do a follow up to "Batman Forever." He wanted to do a darker Batman this time like "Batman: Year One." However Warner didn't want that. "Batman Forever" was such a huge success they needed a follow up. "Batman & Robin" was so bad that Schumacher actually apologized.

In "Batman & Robin" Val Kilmer dropped out and he was replaced with George Clooney. George disliked being in the movie but it did propel is career forward. Chris O'Donnell returns as Robin. Also Alicia Silverstone plays Batgirl. Why? Another question to ask; why is Batgirl Alfred's niece in this movie? Batgirl is supposed to be Barbara Gordon, the Commissioners daughter? Oh well. There are many other problems in the movie like the villains. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. He spouts out one stupid pun after another. Here observe.

Other considerations for this character were Sylvester Stallone. That would be like Arnold except less understandable speech. Patrick Stewart was also considered. He would work better but the material written for him would not have. Uma Thurman was Poison Ivy. Great actress, great character, but again bad dialogue. Of course there was Bane played by some guy no one knows. No one could save this role the way it was written. I can some up Bane in one word "BOMB." Luckily for fans of Bane he is given the respect he deserves in "The Dark Knight Rises."

Is there anything good in this movie? Yes the subplot about Alfred dying is really done well. However it is sad when the best part of a Batman movie is a subplot about the butler with a deadly illness. "Batman & Robin" may be the worst Batman movie ever, but it's failure was what prompt to redo the franchise which led to make "Batman Begins." So something good came out of something bad. Okay that about sums up the four films. As I mentioned in the summary I was going to talk about my thoughts on "The Dark Knight Rises"

The Dark Knight Rises

I not going to give away too much. Christian Bale is still good as Batman despite his voice he does that everyone hates. Michael Caine is remarkable as Alfred. Of course Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are still playing their roles as well. The new villain Bane played by Tom Hardy is fantastic. He rises the stakes more than the Joker did. I love the Joker character and Ledgers performance more; not a whole lot more but more. Anne Hathaway as Catwoman is great. I may be a minority on this but, I prefer Michele Pfeiffer as Catwoman. I find her to be more "cat-like." Although it is unnecessary for Hathaway's character to be so in your face with the cat stuff. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a great performance as a cop character and really does a lot in the movie. The story is great but it has it's flaws. Overall I loved it and it's probably just as good as the previous film "The Dark Knight." Those I talked to really liked it, and so far there hasn't been too much negative criticism except a few plot-holes my friends and I found. If you haven't seen it yet go ahead and check it out, chances are the majority of you readers will like it.
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