Today In Superhero Movie History: Michael Keaton Donned The Cape And Cowl As BATMAN Debuted In Theaters

Today In Superhero Movie History: Michael Keaton Donned The Cape And Cowl As BATMAN Debuted In Theaters

On June 23rd, 1989, the Dark Knight arrived on the big screen with Tim Burton's Batman, a movie which introduced moviegoers to a gothic new take on the iconic DC Comics character played by Michael Keaton.

These days, a lot of comic book fans express a certain amount of fatigue when it comes to DC Comics' Dark Knight and the fact he receives more attention on the big screen than perhaps any of the publisher's other equally iconic characters. However, when Batman was released in 1989, a new take on Bruce Wayne was welcomed, especially as most casual viewers still perceived the character as that campy do-gooder from the swinging sixties. 

It wasn't an easy journey to bring this new take on the Caped Crusader to theaters, and director Tim Burton only managed to get the movie greenlit after Beetlejuice proved to be an unexpected hit. Even then the odds were stacked against him, especially after Keaton's casting as Batman resulted in a huge amount of backlash (at the time, he was best known for his comedy roles, and there were many who doubted he could pull of a serious character like this). A-Lister Jack Nicholson, meanwhile, was happy to come on board as The Joker...providing he got to call the shots with his shooting scheduled, received a huge payday, and received top billing above The Batman himself. 

Despite a few challenges behind the scenes like a rapidly increasing budget, Batman soon started taking shape, and earned widespread critical acclaim along with a whopping $400 million at the box office (making it the fifth highest grossing movie in history at the time). It was by no means perfect for a lot of fanboys - the change made to The Joker's origin story proved to be particularly divisive - but it still ushered in a new era of storytelling for Batman and put Keaton on the map. A sequel - Batman Returns - would soon follow, and while it was all downhill for the Dark Knight after that (well, until 2005's Batman Begins came along), the film remains a classic to this day. 

Now, over thirty years after Keaton first suited up as the DC Comics icon, he's in talks to reprise the role in The Flash two years from now. Assuming those talks work out, he will join the DC Extended Universe as a Batman who has spent decades protecting Gotham City and a mentor to new characters like Batgirl and, presumably, Terry McGinnis. The possibilities are endless, and it's impossible not to be excited about seeing him back in the role. 

As for Batman, it set a benchmark for the character on screen many fans feel still hasn't been reached, and if you grew up with The Dark Knight Trilogy or Batfleck, then going back and checking these out - if you haven't already - should be a priority.

What are some of your favourite Batman moments?

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