Director: Tim Burton
Stars: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger
Plot: After witnessing the death of his beloved parents in front of his face, billionaire Bruce Wayne vows himself to protecting the good people of Gotham City against evil forces that threaten the city. But his vow is put to the test when he starts to wage his crime fighting crusade against the maniacal Clown Prince of Crime...also known as the Joker.
Robin Williams was offered the role of The Joker when Jack Nicholson hesitated. He had even accepted the role, when producers approached Nicholson again and told him Williams would take the part if he didn't. Nicholson took the role and Williams was released. Williams resented being used as bait, and not only refused to play The Riddler in Batman Forever (1995) but also not to be involved in any Warner Bros. productions until the studio apologized.
Jack Nicholson received a percentage of the gross on the film, and due to its massive box-office took home around $60 million.
In order to combat negative rumors about the production, a theatrical trailer was hastily assembled to be distributed to theaters. To test its effectiveness, Warner Bros. executives showed it at a theater in Westwood, California to an unsuspecting audience. The ninety-second trailer received a standing ovation. Later, it would become a popular bootleg at comic book conventions, and theater owners would report patrons paying full price for movie tickets just to have an opportunity to see the trailer, and leaving before the feature began.
Sean Young was originally cast as Vicki Vale, but broke her collarbone while filming a horse-riding scene with Michael Keaton. The scene was subsequently written out of the script. Tim Burton suggested replacing Young with Michelle Pfeiffer but Keaton, who was in a relationship with Pfeiffer, believed it would be too awkward. She went on to portray Catwoman in Batman Returns (1992). Jon Peters suggested Kim Basinger and she was cast.
Michael Keaton casting as Bruce Wayne/Batman caused a controversy amongst comic book fans, with 50,000 protest letters sent to Warner Bros. offices. Bob Kane, Sam Hamm and Michael Uslan also heavily questioned the casting.
Michael Keaton, who called himself a "logic freak", was concerned that Batman's secret identity would in reality be fairly easy to uncover, and discussed ideas with Tim Burton to better disguise the character, including the use of contact lenses. Ultimately, Keaton decided to perform Batman's voice at a lower register than when he was portraying Bruce Wayne.
The name of the Joker's Alter-Ego, Jack Napier, was created by the filmmakers. In the comics, The Joker was never given a real name.
Mel Gibson was the first choice for the role of Bruce Wayne/ Batman, but had to turn it down, because he was already committed to Lethal Weapon 2 (1989).
In the original script with Robin included, the Flying Graysons (John, Mary, and Dick) are introduced at the parade scene. The Joker shoots the trapeze artists sending John and Mary to their deaths and leaving Dick to survive. Dick later becomes Robin in full costume at the end. Kiefer Sutherland was offered the role of Dick Grayson and turned it down before the character was subsequently written out of the script.
To prepare for his role as Bruce Wayne/ Batman, Michael Keaton did some researches about Bats and studied Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns for inspiration and lived alone in London before production started.
Michael Keaton hated the Batsuit because he suffered from claustrophobia. Director Tim Burton and Keaton both decided that it would enhance his performance, so they stuck with it.
The first scene involved the mugging of a couple and their young son upon their leaving a movie theatre. This was a nod to Batman's origin story as Bruce witnessed his parents murder while returning home from a movie, which was depicted later in the film in a flashback. Some viewers when first seeing the movie first believed the family seen in the opening scene to be Bruce and his parents, thus establishing the beginning of Batman's origin story.
As an art lover, Jack Nicholson admitted that the scene in which the Joker destroys priceless works of art was the only scene that made him uneasy.
Tim Burton has a cameo as one of The Joker's goons in the Museum scene.
According to actor Pat Hingle (Commisioner Gordon) in his Special Edition DVD interview, there was a flashback scene shot, but not used, that reveals that after Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered, Bruce was watched over that night by Gordon, who was then a young street patrolman. The still photo of the young Bruce Wayne being held by an unseen policeman in the newspaper story that Vicki Vale and Alex Knox reads, is from that scene. Although discarded, the idea was re-used for the re-boot film, Batman Begins (2005) with Gary Oldman as Gordon. The same idea has been incorporated into some comic book reiterations to further explain the alliance between Gordon and Batman.
The climax of the film; with Batman, Joker and Vicki on the roof of a cathedral, is inspired by the climax of Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Appropriately, there is a second influence from Hugo: the Joker is inspired by Gwynplaine from The Man Who Laughs.
Though the murderer of the Waynes is shown here to be Jack Napier, who eventually becomes the Joker, in the comics the name of the killer is Joe Chill. The method of the killing and the effect and consequence it had on the young Bruce Wayne is the same in both comics and movie. The Joe Chill scenario would later be used in Batman Begins (2005).
Originally in the climax, the Joker was to kill Vicki Vale, sending Batman into a vengeful fury.
The revelation of the Joker having killed Bruce Wayne's parents became a point of controversy for some, as it conflicted with the long established Batman origin story in which Joe Chill was the killer. However, Batman creator Bob Kane approved of the twist in the origin story, saying that if the story had been planned out ahead of time, he would have likely made Joker the killer also. A popular fan theory is that the Joker isn't the actual killer, but that Batman projects this on all of his enemies.
Kim Basinger wore flats in all her scenes with Michael Keaton so he would appear several inches taller.