ByRory O'Connor, writer at
Breathing movies. Humbly writing about them.
Rory O'Connor

Oh how times change. We might like to think that the superhero takeover began with Bryan Singer's X-Men in 2001 and the Raimi Spiderman films which followed, but the first great live-action strides were surely strode by Tim Burton in 1989. Christopher Reeves' Superman films had held themselves well but Batman was something entirely new.

At that moment in time, for the masses at least, Batman was known largely as a colorful camp Adam West, walking up walls in the late 60's, KAPOWing bad guys and having a laugh. Burton brought a darker, psychological element to proceedings which gave great weight to his hero's struggles. His film celebrated its 25th birthday yesterday, so to mark the great occasion here's 15 things you need to know.

No One Wanted Keaton

Sorry Dude...
Sorry Dude...

We'd be forgiven for thinking that fanboy backlash to superhero casting was born of the social media age but it would seem that's far from true. Bob Kane allegedly had problems with the casting and 50,000 protest letters (those paper things people used to write on) were sent to Warner Bros. offices too.

Robin Williams almost played The Joker

You said it Al...
You said it Al...

The studios allegedly used the great comedian as bait for Jack Nicholson, who was holding out on the role. Williams, of course, lost the part and refused to work for the studio again, until an apology was made.

Willem Dafoe, David Bowie, John Lithgow, Tim Curry, and James Woods, were also considered.

And Williams wasn't the only Robin to miss the cut.

In the original script, the Joker cuts down the Grayson parents as they perform during the parade scene. An orphaned Robin then suits up, as the above storyboard reveals.

Oh, and Keifer Sutherland would have had the role.

JP Trevor designed a city-scape of Gotham

Before painting it onto glass

Anton Furst's concept art went into further detail

The resulting set was insane.

The film was mainly shot just West of London in in Pinewood Studios, now home to Star Wars: Episode VII.

Burton's production team also built this grim, scaled down Gotham City model where the Joker could run amok.

The props ranged from a massive vault...

To life a life sized Joker...

To a miniature Batplane...

They believed in Harvey Dent(al)

The surgical tools used on the Joker's face are the same props used as dental tools on Bill Murray in Little Shop of Horrors in 1986 but, in a bizarre twist, Jack Nicholson had played Murray's role in the film in the original version in 1960.

All work and no play made Jack a serious boy...

In what could easily be mistaken as a piece of Nolan universe viral marketing, Michael Uslan came up with the look of the Joker by scribbling over a clipping of Jack Nicholson's most famous shot from The Shining.

It also made him a BOMB.

Batman made 411 million worldwide and since Nicholson had agreed to a percentage of the profits, the actor walked home with $60M in earnings. 25 years on, it remains amongst the top 10 salaries to be paid to an actor for a single film.

We could go on, there's just so much history here. Are there any other stories you know from the Batman production? Fill us all in below.

Many happy returns and congratulations to Burton and his caped crusader. The world simply wouldn't have been the same without them.

(Props to Geektyrant, IMDB)


What was your favorite pre Nolan live-action Batman?


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