10 Things You Might Not Know About Tim Burton's BATMAN (1989)

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Geek Dave dances with the devil in the pale moonlight...

1. The dark movie version of Batman all began with comic book fan Michael Uslan, who in 1971 began teaching the first college-accredited course on comic books at Indiana University. Several years later he began pursuing his dream by taking a job at DC Comics, eventually acquiring the film rights to Batman in 1979. Uslan said it was his hope to:
"...make the definitive, dark, serious version of Batman, the way Bob Kane and Bill Finger had envisioned him in 1939. A creature of the night; stalking criminals in the shadows."
Uslan joined forces with producer Benjamin Melniker and helped shift the darker version of a Batman film project over to Warner Brothers.

2. After nearly a decade of false starts and failings, Tim Burton was approached to direct the movie. Burton felt that the script was too similar to Superman, and didn’t focus on the “freakish nature” of who Batman is. Intrigued though, he wanted to come on board, and had his then-girlfriend Julie Hickson write a new 30-page film treatment. In a 1989 interview Burton stated that he felt like a psychology student, in that he was trying to give some psychology to what made Bruce Wayne tick and exploring the darker tone of who he is.

3. Hickson originally included a cameo for Robin, the Boy Wonder, set during the parade scene with the Joker shooting the trapeze artists parents. The scene was never filmed, but an animated storyboard sequence of the scene was shot with Mark Hamill providing the voice of the Joker.

4. Jack Nicholson was always the number one choice for the role of the Joker, but when negotiations briefly stalled Warner Bros and Tim Burton approached Robin Williams to play the role, something he was really interested in. When Nicholson caught word of this he accepted the part and Williams was unceremoniously dropped. Williams was so offended that he refused to play the role of the Riddler in Batman Forever or even do a Warner Brothers production until the studio apologized.

5. As well as top billing Jack Nicholson had it written into his contract that he didn't have to be on set for makeup any earlier than 9am. The transformation into the Joker would take at least two hours, and some years later Michael Keaton revealed that on most days Nicholson would sit in the the makeup chair and instantly fall asleep. 

6. Back in 1988, when the movie was announced, Michael Keaton was best known for his comedic roles and few people had him pegged for a good Batman. Nowadays, we're used to backlash against casting comic book characters - ask Ben Affleck - but back then there was unprecedented levels of objection. Warner Bros received nearly 50,000 letters from angry Batman fans, and the controversy was widely reported in the press. To calm the fanboys, Warner Bros released an early teaser trailer. It worked! The trailer quickly became so popular that people began buying full-priced tickets just to watch it.

7. Michael Keaton found the Bat suit to be very uncomfortable, and being that it was so skin-tight he could barely move his head. Initially this feeling of claustrophobia suit Keaton into a panic, something he channeled into his performance. Keaton realised that the suit functioned as a bizarre security blanket for Bruce Wayne.
“I thought ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this, I’m feeling really scared.’ And then it hit me, ‘I went this is perfect’ this is designed for this unusual dude. The guy who has this personality that’s really dark, and really alone, and really kind of depressed.”
8. Tim Burton filmed a scene with Bruce Wayne going into a “bat trance” but it never made it into the final cut. It was Keaton's idea, as he felt that there should be some sort of visual transition from Bruce Wayne to Batman. Burton obliged because Keaton continued to reveal that he thought it would further help him to better understand the character.
“So there was a thing we did early on that showed him going into a sort of trance and it justified this shift in him. So we did that scene and it never made it into the film but I think helped me in a way. It was part of the way he became this other thing and even if you didn’t see it, it was part of the character and the way we created him. Tim was always open to that.”

9. On the Special Edition DVD extras for Batman, actor Pat Hingle reveals that a scene was filmed which showed a young Bruce Wayne being cared for by commissioner Gordon. Although it was cut, the photo of young Bruce being held by an unseen policeman in the newspaper story that Vicki Vale reads is taken from that scene. The discarded scene did eventually see the light of day in a Batman movie, as it was later used by Christopher Nolan and Gary Oldman in the film Batman Begins.

10. Warner Bros wanted a big pop star to perform the theme tune for Batman, and their first choice was Michael Jackson. They enquired if he'd be interested in writing a few songs for the movie, but the singer was unable to commit because of his touring schedule. The studio then went to Prince, and contracted him to write two songs, but Prince was so inspired by Burton’s work that he ended up recording an entire album's worth. Only trouble was it was too late for inclusion as Danny Elfman had already scored the movie. Burton did make a last minute effort to feature more of Prince's music, but just couldn’t make them work. Something he still feels a bit guilty about.

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