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‘Batman’ 30th Anniversary: One Of The Most Influential Movies In History

Today is the 30th anniversary of Batman, the film that changed the way we look at superhero movies and had an enormous impact on the iconic DC character. For film and pop culture, the year 1989 is basically synonymous with Batman, as the next decade—particularly in that initial summer of ‘89—was filled with Batmania.


If you look back, especially with the release of the unquestioned all-time classicThe Dark Knight in 2008, Batman might not be in consideration among the best movies of all-time. But there aren’t many movies that have been more influential.


Many people questioned it when Tim Burton was tapped to direct the live-action film on the Caped Crusader, and there was big-time criticism when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman (concerns alleviated by Jack Nicholson starring opposite Keaton as the Joker). And there were questions about the apparent dark nature of the film, which was in stark contrast to the Adam West television series from the 1960s.


However, this gritty, dark take on the character was truer to the comics—and it paved the way for most of the Batman content that came after it. Without Batman, there would have been no Batman: The Animated Series. Christopher Nolan probably wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to take an ultra-realistic approach to Batman. There wouldn’t have been the video games and other content. Even the Marvel movies might not have come to reach their level without 1989 Batman. Overall, the Dark Knight just wouldn’t have been the unstoppable force it is today.


Batman was already one of the most popular characters in the world, but somehow 1989 Batman made him substantially more popular. The film helped Batman become perhaps the greatest fictional character ever. Ask a kid today for their favorite superhero, and there’s a good chance the answer will be Batman. The character would not be at these heights without Burton’s hit.


Batman made the padded, weapon-resistant Batsuit the standard moving forward. The heavily-armored-yet-sleek Batmobile became the coolest thing in the world. Gotham City was brought to life by Burton and his ambitious, amazing visuals. The movie’s theme was epic and is considered by many to be the clear preeminent Batman theme. This all appealed to both kids and adults alike.


It also helped that the cast led by Nicholson and Keaton set the bar for perhaps the best hero and villain in history, as they all delivered memorable performances to help make Batman more believable as a relatively serious take on Gotham.


Back to 1989 and the several years after it in particular, and you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the Batman logo on a shirt. Batmania was legit. I remember that back when Time Warner owned Six Flags, the theme park was filled with Batman-themed rides, games, prizes, and a live-action stunt show that was impossible to miss because of that huge yellow oval bat logo. It was like that most places, and it started with Batman.


If there ever was a must-see summer blockbuster, it’s Batman. It was simply a phenomenal film that defined a genre in a way that’s arguably unmatched in the history of cinema.


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