The Screen Room
Behind the Scenes of: Batman (1989)
Behind the scenes of: Batman (1989)
I recently stumbled across this first picture of Michael Keaton without his cowl on chatting to Jack Nicholson, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen many behind the scenes pictures from this movie. Needless to say I did a bit of Googling…🧐
I love this movie! In fact I love both of the Tim Burton Batman films.
I’d always liked Batman as a kid but after seeing this film I became a super fan, gorging myself on comics and graphic novels and collecting anything to do with the franchise. I’m pleased to say I still have it all packed away safely in several boxes in my loft.
Up until this film, if you mentioned Batman to anyone, most of them would immediately think of the camp, yet highly amusing and entertaining Adam West TV show from the 1960s. As much as I like that show and the movie that followed, in the 80s the Batman in the comics was something much different and much darker and had been for a while.
Despite early drafts of the first script playing to that light-hearted campy tone, the film we eventually got (almost 10 years after its initial conception), thankfully was anything but. 🙌
The general idea for the original story (way before Tim Burton came on board) had not one, but three villains for the dark Knight to face off against. The Joker was always going to be one apparently, but corrupt politician Rupert Thorne (featured more prominently in the 90s Animated Series) was another, as was The Penguin. Bats wouldn’t have been fighting them all alone however, since it was planned that Robin would be introduced later on in the film (with producers considering Eddie Murphy for the role).
As it happens it was decided that there just wasn’t room for everybody so the whole thing was re-worked and scaled down over a number of years and different writers.
With the arrival of Tim Burton as the film’s director came the suggestion of Michael Keaton for the starring role as the iconic comic book character - a casting choice that would be met with a lot of controversy and hostility.
Up to that point Keaton had mainly starred in comedic roles and it took a lot of convincing from Burton (who had recently worked with him on Beetlejuice) that he had the intensity for the role.
It worked out a treat with a lot of people having to eat their words, but as you might expect there were a lot of other actors considered for the part.
Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Charlie Sheen, Harrison Ford, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Selleck, Ray Liotta (and if we’re to believe it) even Bill Murray were all contenders to wear the cowl!
Likewise, as much as Jack Nicholson was always first choice to play the Joker, other actors were also considered on the off chance Jack didn’t want the job.
These include: Willem Dafoe (who I think would’ve been brilliant), Brad Dourif (voice of Chucky), James Woods and even David Bowie.
Robin Williams was apparently offered the the role after Nicholson initially turned it down, but after eventually being talked into taking it by Burton during a meeting on horseback (that’s another story) the offer to Williams was withdrawn leaving the actor understandably furious. 🤬
Finally, Kim Basinger only fell into the role of photojournalist and Bruce Wayne/Batman’s love interest, Vicki Vale late in the game. Blade Runner’s Sean Young had already been cast, but while practicing riding a horse for a scene that would eventually be cut, she was seriously injured in a fall and had to be replaced at short notice.
Too bad for her, great for Kim Basinger. 🤷♂️
As much as I’ve liked most of the portrayals of Batman on the big screen, being a fan of the late 80s/90s graphic novels I’m still waiting to see a version of the character that’s close to the one on those pages.
To be fair, Ben Affleck was pretty close to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns Batman but sadly the films were…not great. ☹️
Michael Keaton still holds the top spot for me as far as Batman on the big screen goes. Who’s your favourite version of the caped crusader? 🤔