Batman (1989)

Batman Movies Ranked
Warner Bros.

Tim Burton had a complicated job in 1989: Most general audiences knew Batman as the campy caped crusader from the delightful ’60s TV show starring Adam West, but comic book audiences had come to revere him the gritty detective of Frank Miller’s masterful and wildly influential The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and Batman: Year One (1987).

Burton and screenwriters Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren threaded the needle by combining the camp of the TV show (throaway jokes, Jack Nicholson’s garish joker) with an ultra-sincere, deeply wounded Batman and Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton). Kim Basinger’s Vicki Vale serves as kind of an audiences surrogate, acknowledging the weirdness all around Gotham, while keeping things kind of grounded.

The film also paid homage to Batman’s 1939 roots with the slickly updated Art Deco set design.

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