Bruce Wayne (1989 film series character)
Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne in the 1989 film Batman
|First appearance||Batman (1989)|
|Last appearance||Batman & Robin (1997)|
|Full name||Bruce Wayne|
|Home||Wayne Manor, Gotham City|
Bruce Wayne, better known by his superhero alias Batman, is a fictional character from Tim Burton's 1989 superhero film series, portrayed by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney based on the DC Comics character Batman, created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger.
This adaptation of the character maintains the origin of his parents being murdered in an alleyway behind a movie theater, however this adaptation does not feature the killer as Joe Chill, but rather Jack Napier, who would go on to become Batman's arch-nemesis, the Joker.
Multiple actors were considered for the role of Batman during production. In Tom Mankiewicz's original script which Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman was attached to, actor Bill Murray was considered for the role in a script that featured Eddie Murphy as Dick Grayson / Robin. Gremlins director Joe Dante was attached to the project as well at one point. The script was intended as a comedy, but was altered significantly after Tim Burton's involvement. Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Charlie Sheen, Tom Selleck, Harrison Ford, Pierce Brosnan, Willem Dafoe, Alec Baldwin, Patrick Swayze, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Quaid and Jean-Claude Van Damme were all considered for the role. Eventually, producer Jon Peters suggested Michael Keaton, claiming he had the right "edgy, tormented quality" for the role, and based his argument off Keaton's dramatic performance in the film Clean and Sober. At the time, Keaton was primarily known for comedic parts in Mr. Mom and Beetlejuice, the latter also being directed by Burton. Keaton's casting as the character caused an uproar from fans of the character, who claimed Keaton was too comedic and too short for the role. Over 50,000 recorded protest letters were sent to Warner Bros. offices, and the casting was questioned by screenwriter Sam Hamm, producer Michael Uslan and even Batman co-creator Bob Kane.
The design of the Batsuit worn by Keaton was designed by costume designer Bob Ringwood. Ringwood turned down the opportunity to work on James Bond film Licence to Kill to work on Batman. Ringwood stated that designing the Batsuit was difficult, claiming "the image of Batman in the comics is this huge, big six-foot-four hunk with a dimpled chin. Michael Keaton is a guy with average build. The problem was to make somebody who was average-sized and ordinary-looking into this bigger-than-life creature." Producer Jon Peters had requested for the Batsuit to feature a Nike product-placement, but was shot down by Burton and Ringwood, feeling that it would not be intimidating. 28 latex designs of the suit were made, as well as 25 different capes and 6 different heads. It was decided the use of spandex as in the comics and previous adaptations would not be intimidating enough, so the character was given black armor pieces.
The Batsuit was upgraded for Batman Returns, using a more flexible foam latex, as well as a more traditional chest emblem. The updated Batsuit also featured a zipper to allow for urination in between takes and an updated plated armor torso that did not resemble sculpted muscles. Keaton still had difficulty hearing but found the neck movement much less restrictive on than the first costume. Due to the second costume's much thinner cowl with increased flexibility, a greater range of head turning was allotted but could still leave gaps folding away from the cheek. The infamous "Bat-Turn" movement became an iconic part of the character's body language despite not truly needing to depend upon it, contrary to speculation from contemporary pundits. The wardrobe department spent seven weeks sculpting Batman Forever costumes on his body cast, preceding under the assumption that he would be returning. The addition of nipples and an enlarged codpiece to the Batsuit and Robin's costume in Batman & Robin was the subject of criticism.
The audience is first introduced to Bruce as Batman when he witnesses a mugging of a tourist family in Gotham City. He tracked the thugs who committed the crime and told them to spread word of his presence to the rest of the criminals in Gotham, when one of the criminals scaredly asks "Who are you?", he simply replies with "I'm Batman" and vanished into the night. Prior to this, there has been numerous sightings of the vigilante, and a criminal associate of the muggers', Johnny Gobbs, who died after accidentally fell off from a roof (possibly while fleeing from Batman), creates a rumor that the vigilante killed Gobbs in a manner of a vampire that feeds on blood and cannot be killed. Batman's reputation as a menacing creature of the night that hunts wrongdoers strikes fear on the city's superstitious and cowardly including corrupt police lieutenant Max Eckhardt, who'd rather avoid talking about him in order to hide his. Publicly, Bruce involves with the city's infrastructures, but he repeatedly absence himself from events such as a press conference headed by Mayor Borg in favor of fighting crimes on the city's streets and alleys. The next night, Bruce hosts a fundraiser at Wayne Manor to help fund the Gotham City 200th Anniversary Parade. At the party, Bruce met photographer Vicki Vale, as the two began conversing, Alfred arrived to let Bruce know that Commissioner Gordon had to leave the party quite unexpectedly. Bruce reviewed the Manor's surveillance cameras and discovered that Gordon had been summoned to Axis Chemicals due to a break-in by Jack Napier. Bruce suited up as Batman to assist Gordon in Napier's capture, knowing that the criminal's arrest might lead to crime lord Carl Grissom's conviction and possibly ends his operations over the city. However, during the ensuing fight, a bullet ricocheted off Bruce's armor and pierced Napier's face, causing him to fall into a vat of chemicals below, seemingly killing him. Batman vanished from the scene before he could be captured by Gordon's men.
The next night Bruce would share an evening with Vale where the two began to fall in love, when Vale invited Bruce to lunch the next day, Bruce turned her down, as it was the anniversary of his parents' murder. Bruce left the scene at Crime Alley and witnessed a mob hit by the confirmed alive Jack Napier, now with his face bleached white, his hair turned green and a macabre smile etched into his face, calling himself "The Joker". Bruce then discovered that Napier had poisoned various consumer products with his laughing toxin, Smylex. After further investigation into Napier, Bruce is informed by Alfred that he has a date with Vale at the Flugelheim Museum. Bruce informs Alfred that he had no plans to meet with Vale that day, and discovers that the meeting was set-up by Napier, who had intended on gaining information on Batman via Vale. As Batman, he stormed the museum and rescued Vale from Napier's men, making their escape in the Batmobile. This would result in a chase between Napier's men and Batman, which resulted in Vale capturing several photos of Batman in action. The two return to Batman's hideout, The Batcave, where he revealed his investigation into Napier to Vale and gave her his research notes to release, before causing her to pass out with an incapacitating agent and confiscating the film from her.
Due to a suggestion from Alfred, Bruce headed over to Vale's apartment to inform her that he is in fact, Batman. However, the two are interrupted by the Joker. Bruce hid a silver tray under his shirt for protection before confronting the Joker. Bruce hints that he knows The Joker is Napier, and begins to act violently, to which the Joker responds with "Have you ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight?" before shooting him. Having been protected by the tray, Bruce retreated to the Batcave, and discovers that Napier was the one who killed his parents. Bruce slipped into a flashback of his parents death due to another television broadcast by Napier, and was awoken by Vale, having been led into the Batcave by Alfred, therefore uncovering his identity to her. Bruce then suited up as Batman and raided Axis Chemicals, which he had deduced as The Joker's hideout. He witnessed The Joker make his escape via personalized helicopter, and returned to the Batcave and headed to Downtown Gotham in the Batwing. Bruce came across The Joker's parade float during the 200th Anniversary Parade, where The Joker had planned on releasing Smylex on the citizens of Gotham from the stolen parade balloons by luring the crowd through throwing money to them. After using the Batwing to dispatch of the balloons, Batman returned to the parade and killed many of The Joker's men, but was shot down by The Joker, crashing at the front steps of the Gotham Cathedral. He watched as Joker took Vale hostage and entered the cathedral.
Recovering from the crash, Batman pursued Joker and Vale into the cathedral, eventually coming across them at the top level. Batman revealed to Napier that he had killed his parents, and thus reveals his identity and that he wants revenge. After Batman beat the Joker over the edge of the cathedral, Joker then dragged Batman and Vale with him, leaving them dangling above the streets of Gotham as the Joker's helicopter arrived to collect him and escape. Determined to fulfill his vendetta, Batman used his grapple gun to tie one of the cathedral's gargoyles to The Joker's leg. Weighed down by the statue as he attempted to climb up the helicopter's ladder, causing the gargoyle to break free from its foundations, and causing Napier to plummet to his death. In the aftermath of taking down the Joker, the Gotham City Police Department awards Batman with his own personalized signal as a way of contacting him for cooperation. Due to his double-life as Batman however, Vale would eventually break up with Bruce, as he became more interested in the investments made by business mogul Max Shreck.
Batman Returns (1992)
During Christmas celebrations, Bruce was brought to the attention of the Batsignal in the sky, and discovered that the Red Triangle Gang (whom he and the police have been work on finding) had interrupted the Gotham City Tree Lighting Ceremony and had taken Max Shreck hostage. While Batman attempted to deter the gang, the next morning a member of the gang kidnapped the Mayor's baby during a speech denouncing the previous night's attacks. The baby is "saved" by a mysterious man called "The Penguin". The Penguin claims that he hopes to find his parents, who had abandoned him when he was an infant due to his deformities. Bruce initially felt sympathy for the Penguin, but after seeing him with Shreck, his suspicions increased considerably. Bruce discovers that Penguin was once a performer in the Red Triangle Circus, where a series of disappearances of children occurred. He then suspects that the Penguin already know who his parents were and is the gang's leader, and is planning something else. Penguin grew in popularity and discovered that his name is Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, and that both his parents were deceased. Bruce had a meeting with Shreck to contest Shreck's plans to build a new powerplant, during the meeting Bruce met Selina Kyle, Shreck's secretary, with whom Bruce begins a romantic relationship, unaware that she is the masked vigilante known as "Catwoman". Batman first encounters Catwoman during a confrontation with the Penguin, where the two come across her as she had finished vandalizing a Shreck's Department Store, and causing it to explode. Batman attempted to pursue Catwoman, only to grow confused due to her passive aggressive attacks, and attempted seductions of Batman. After returning to the Batcave, Penguin officially announced his plans to run for Mayor of Gotham City.
Some nights later, Bruce and Selina share a date at Wayne Manor, and discover via television broadcast that Penguin was attempting to frame Batman using one of his Batarangs at the Relighting of the Tree Ceremony, and had kidnapped the "Ice Princess", who was supposed to press the button to light the tree. While investigating the disappearance, the members of the Red Triangle Gang begin working on modifying the Batmobile to allow The Penguin remote control access. Batman found the Ice Princess standing on the edge of a rooftop. The Penguin arrived and startled the girl by opening one of his trick-umbrellas and causing a swarm of bats, which knocks her off the roof to plummet to her death. She landed on the button used to light the tree, causing a mass swarm of bats to attack the onlookers. Batman gets shot at by the Gotham City Police Department upon his attempted escape, due to his reputation and the apparent evidence that places him as the culprit of the murder. Batman fended off Catwoman and returned to the Batmobile, which has now been hacked by The Penguin, who takes the car on a destructive joyride. Despite regaining control of the vehicle, Penguin's plan had succeeded and Batman's reputation as a hero had been tarnished. In retaliation, Bruce hacked into the Gotham Plaza's speakers and played the incriminating quotes Penguin had said over the monitor during the joyride during one of his public speeches. Penguin reacts violently to the crowds backlash and opens fire on them and flees the scene, with Shreck rescinding his support of Cobblepot. Meanwhile, Bruce made plans to attend Shreck's masquerade ball in hopes of running into Selina. The two meet at the party, neither of them wearing costumes, and Selina suffers a mental breakdown and announces to Bruce her plans to kill Shreck. While attempting to console Selina, she makes an off-hand comment that leads to Bruce and Selina deducing each other's secret identities. The two left to sort out their issues as Penguin crashed through the floor of the room, announcing his plans to kill all of the first-born sons of Gotham, and takes Shreck hostage. Batman arrived and interrogated Penguin's right-hand man, The Organ Grinder, and learned of Penguin's hideout underneath the Arctic World exhibit at the abandoned Gotham Zoo. Batman entered the Gotham Sewers via Batboat as Alfred worked to hack Cobblepot's pet penguins armed with missiles who were marching into Gotham Plaza to claim more lives. Batman confronted Penguin and used his own penguin army to fire their missiles at The Penguin's hideout, causing Cobblepot to fall through the skylight into the pool of toxic waste he had used to kill the children. Batman then attempted to stop Selina from killing Shreck, confirming their identities to each other, his attempts to calm Selina did not work, as Selina used a taser she had acquired during the Red Triangle Gang's initial attack to electrocute and murder Shreck, and caused the power generator to explode. Bruce searched for Selina in the wreckage, only to find the charred corpse of Shreck. Penguin rises from the sewage and bleeds to death, with Bruce watching as his penguin army dragged him into the water to serve as his grave. Bruce began driving around the streets of Gotham hoping to find Selina. After believing to have seen her silouhette, Bruce pursues her down an alleyway, only to find a black cat there which he adopts.
Batman Forever (1995)
Due to the backlash Batman Returns faced from parents who believed the film was too dark for children, Burton left the franchise and was replaced by Joel Schumacher. Burton's exit prompted Keaton to leave the franchise as well, turning down $15 million to reprise the role. The film was reworked as Batman Forever which featured Val Kilmer as Batman. Ethan Hawke, Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Ralph Fiennes (who would later voice Alfred Pennyworth in The Lego Batman Movie), Daniel Day-Lewis and Johnny Depp were all considered to be Keaton's replacement before Kilmer's casting.
Bruce decides to invest more time in his family's company, Wayne Enterprises, and while visiting applied sciences, he becomes acquainted with Edward Nygma, an employee obsessed with him and who has developed a machine, the Box, capable of transmitting television signals directly into the human brain. Bruce turns Nygma down due to the potential dangers of the device, and in retaliation, Nygma kills his supervisor, stages it as a suicide and resigns from the company. At the same time, as Batman, he comes into conflict with former district attorney Harvey Dent, whom he failed to save from an accident which transformed him into the supervillain Two-Face and who is now bent on revenge on Batman, becoming acquainted with psychologist Dr. Chase Meridian in the process, who has briefly come to Gotham to help capture Two-Face and who becomes enamored of the Dark Knight. During a charity circus performance, Bruce witnesses Two-Face attack and murder the Flying Graysons, leaving only the youngest, Dick Grayson, alive. Bruce takes Dick in as his ward. Dick soon discovers that Bruce is Batman, and demands that he help him find and kill Two-Face in revenge, but Bruce refuses. Meanwhile, Nygma watches Two-Face's attack on television and takes on the moniker of the Riddler, tracking him down and enlisting his help in funding mass production of his Box in order to absorb all of Gotham City's knowledge and bring the city under his rule, promising him Batman's true identity in return. Bruce and Chase soon start a romantic relationship and she also discovers that he is Batman, as do the Riddler and Two-Face, who attack Wayne Manor, take Chase hostage and destroy the Batcave. In retaliation, after learning that Nygma is the Riddler from several riddles that Nygma had previously left him, Batman tracks them to their hideout, the Mother Box near Gotham bay, with help from Dick, now going by the name "Robin". While Batman manages to break into the lair, Robin confronts and briefly fights Two-Face, but is subdued and also captured. Batman confronts the Riddler, who gives him the choice to save either Chase or Robin, but Batman instead destroys the Mother Box, severely damaging the Riddler's mind, and manages to save both Chase and Robin. Two-Face corners them at gunpoint, and while flipping his coin to decide their fates, Batman throws a handful of coins at him, causing him to fall to his death, avenging Dick's family. Nygma is incarcerated in Arkham Asylum, where his scrambled memories have left him believing that he himself is Batman. Chase and Bruce bid each other farewell with a kiss, while Bruce accepts Dick as his crimefighting partner.
Batman Forever received mixed reviews from fans and critics, many believing the film was too campy and diminished the tone established in Burton's original.
Batman & Robin (1997)
In the film, Batman and Robin face off against Mr. Freeze, who has been committing a string of diamond thefts. After Freeze freezes but spares Robin in order to escape, Bruce chastises Dick, who starts to chafe under Bruce's leadership. Bruce deduces that Freeze is Dr. Victor Fries, whose wife Nora is suffering from MacGregor's Syndrome and whom Fries has placed in cryogenic sleep while he searches for a cure. Fries was mutated after a lab accident that left his body unable to withstand room temperature, which leaves him dependent on his cryosuit to survive. In order to lure Freeze out, Bruce hosts a charity ball auctioning off the Wayne family diamonds with himself and Dick attending as Batman and Robin. The ensuing battle and chase results in Freeze's capture. At the same time, both Bruce and Dick become acquainted with Wayne Enterprises employee Dr. Pamela Isley, who was previously mutated into Poison Ivy at the hands of Dr. Jason Woodrue after she witnessed his illegal experiments that created Bane, and who murdered Woodrue in retaliation and has come to Gotham with Bane, proposing a project to Bruce to save nature. Bruce politely turns her down, so she decides to fracture Batman and Robin's partnership by seducing Robin and allying with Freeze, breaking him out of Arkham. When Freeze initially appears uninterested in Ivy's proposal, as his plan was to use the Wayne Enterprises telescope at Gotham Observatory to freeze part of Gotham and hold it ransom in order to get funding for his research, Ivy pulls the plug on Nora's chamber and frames Batman for it; a grieving Freeze subsequently decides to freeze all of humanity instead as revenge against Batman, after which Ivy proposes that they repopulate Earth with mutant plants. At the same time, Alfred's niece, Barbara Wilson, comes to visit Wayne Manor and meets Bruce and Dick. Dick soon discovers Barbara participating in illegal motorbike races in order to win money to take Alfred back to England, upon which she reveals that Alfred is ill and dying of MacGregor's Syndrome. Ivy and Bane steal the Bat-Signal and alter it into a Robin signal to lure Robin out, but Bruce pleads with Dick to trust him that Ivy is working with Freeze. The two work together and trick Ivy into revealing her plan. Barbara manages to access the Batcave, where a hologram of Alfred reveals that due to Barbara's previous martial arts training and witnessing Bruce and Dick drifting apart, he had constructed a Batsuit for her to aid them. Taking on the moniker of Batgirl, Barbara intervenes and defeats Ivy, and the three of them head to the observatory to stop Freeze. Robin and Batgirl defeat Bane while Batman faces and subdues Freeze, redirecting the telescope's satellites to reflect the sunlight to thaw Gotham, but Freeze detonates several bombs that he had placed around the telescope, destroying it, though Robin and Batgirl are still able to thaw the city. Defeated, Freeze begs Batman to kill him and end his suffering, but Batman reveals Ivy's treachery and that Nora is still alive, having been rescued in time. Batman appeals to Freeze's humanity and asks him for the cure to MacGregor Syndrome's early stages to save Alfred. Freeze provides him with the cure and is returned to Arkham, where he is allowed to continue his research. Alfred makes a full recovery and reunites with Bruce, Dick and Barbara. Their family bond stronger than before, the three form a surrogate family of crimefighters.
The Flash (2022)
On June 22, 2020, TheWrap reported that Michael Keaton was in early negotiations to reprise his role of Bruce Wayne / Batman in the DC Extended Universe film The Flash (2022). On August 20, Vanity Fair confirmed Keaton's casting, being one of the variations of Batman that will appear in the film along with Ben Affleck's version of the character.
A comic adaptation of Tim Burton's Batman titled Batman: The Official Comic Adaptation of the Warner Bros Motion Picture was released in June 1989. Longtime Batman editor at DC Dennis O'Neil adapted the screenplay, with art provided by Jerry Ordway.
A comic adaptation for Batman Returns titled Batman Returns: The Official Comic Adaptation of the Warner Bros Motion Picture was released in June 1992. The story was once again adapted by Dennis O' Neil, with pencils provided by Steve Erwin and inked embellishments by José Luis García-López. Many of the illustrations García-López did for the film's style guide were re-purposed for the comic adaptation.
Possible canonical comic continuation
A comic continuation that was to chronicle the events of Tim Burton's failed third Batman film titled Batman '89 was submitted to DC Comics written by Joe Quinones and Kath Leth. The run was inspired by DC's recent comic run Batman '66, which was a continuation of the 1966 television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. The story was to continue the events of Tim Burton's Batman franchise with visual allusions to Michael Keaton as Batman, Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face, Marlon Wayans as Robin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Robin Williams as The Riddler. The story would also introduce iterations of Barbara Gordon, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn into the world. However, the comic run was rejected by DC.
In other media
- Keaton's Batman was referenced in the Arrowverse television crossover event "Crisis on Infinite Earths", where it was revealed that Bruce Wayne had married Selina Kyle in a newspaper article. This series establishes the universe in which Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) exist as Earth-89, with Robert Wuhl, who portrayed Alexander Knox in Batman, reprising his role for the series for a cameo appearance.
- The suit from Tim Burton's Batman films was added as an alternate skin to Batman: Arkham Knight during a free update in August 2015.
Reception and legacy
Michael Keaton's portrayal as Batman was seen as hugely influential towards further adaptations of the character. Keaton's portrayal inspired the portrayal by Kevin Conroy in Batman: The Animated Series, as well as Christian Bale's portrayal of the character in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy. As the first version of the character to carry a grapple device with a motorized reel, as well a cape that can harden and transform into a hang-glider, these concepts would become highly influential for most contemporary appearances of the character. Keaton's distant, monosyllabic persona in-costume has been paid tribute to throughout multiple adaptations of the character, including video game appearances and homages. This adaptation of the character was also seen as the first to change their voice while in costume as Batman, something which future actors Kevin Conroy, Ben Affleck and Christian Bale would also add to their interpretations. Michael Keaton's portrayal of the character appears on AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains at #46 on the heroes side, while Jack Nicholson's portrayal as the Joker ranked 45th on the villains side.
Due to his involvement in the film, Michael Keaton's role in the film Birdman directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu has been compared to Keaton's own experiences as Batman. Many people have come to the conclusion that the film is a reflection of Michael Keaton's life post-Batman, as the film itself focuses on a struggling, aging actor who is best known for having played a winged superhero earlier in his career. When Inarritu contacted Keaton about taking the role of Riggan, Keaton asked him if he was making fun of him for playing Batman. Despite comparisons between Riggan and Keaton and many people believing that the role was taken by the actor to let out frustration at the role, Keaton has claimed that he loves talking about his time as Batman, and is extremely grateful for the role. Keaton was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Birdman, his first ever nomination, and this was what helped him gain the villainous role of The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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