Does the Burton Batman suck?

I kinda started this tangent in the thread about the trailer for the new one. I think it would be better served by being in a different thread.

I think Burton’s Batman sucks. There is exactly one thing that he gets right, and that is the visual style and design of Gotham City and its contents. Jack Nicholson plays his one character and it’s a poor fit for the Joker. The best thing I can say about Michael Keaton is that he’s unremarkable. Burton apparently believes that one of Batman’s core competencies is getting shot in the chest a bunch, then standing up and scaring the crap out of the people who shot him, since this happens three fucking times over the course of this movie.

And then there’s Prince.

I honestly think the Adam West Batman is superior. To me, there are two directions you can take Batman. Goofy campy Batman reflects a lot of the classic comics, and it’s just fun besides. Dark brooding Batman is also awesome and represents both the original intent and the more modern take on it. The problem with Burton was that he made it plenty dark and brooding, he just forgot to make it Batman at the same time.

Also, for me the definitive Batman is the animated series. That’s partially due to the fact that it ran when I was a kid, but I still think it has the best visual style of all time and a good, consistent tone.

Yes, it sucks. It really, really sucks.

Well, let me expand on my post in the other thread:

Burton’s Batman is great because it furthered the concept of an adult superhero movie. The real groundbreaker was Donner’s Superman, but by the late 80s, its influence on Hollywood wasn’t all that apparent. Batman’s grosses changed that. Burton may have gotten many bits of the characterizations wrong (I still don’t like Keaton as Bruce Wayne, but I thought Nicholson was terrific as the Joker), and some parts may be awkward to watch, but it was crucial that the movie was made when it was made. At the very least, no Burton Batman would have meant no Batman:TAS, and that, we can agree, would have been a bad thing.

Batman Returns is the one I really hate, because it was far more of a Tim Burton movie than it was about Batman. Plus, it’s relentlessly bleak, DeVito’s Penguin is disgusting, and Batman seems to like incinerating bad guys with the Batmobile…

The less said about the Schumacher films, the better, though I’ll rank Batman Forever higher than Batman Returns. I would only watch BatClooney again if there were a Rifftrax to go with it.

Speaking of Adam West, have you seen the ‘Lookwell’ pilot, written by Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel? It should still be on Youtube.

The Batmobile was pretty good in the Burton films. And the costume LOOKED good, it just lacked flexibility, which of course ruined all the fight scenes. I don’t think Tim Burton really LIKED the Batman character…he seemed to sympathize with and focus on the poor, misunderstood villains too much.

Absolutely. It may not have been a great movie in retrospect, but it was an absolute watershed moment in the history of nerd media. If you weren’t an aware human in the year 1988 you can’t get it. Batman was everywhere that year, and it changed the equation in terms of the impact that a geek license could have.

Batman Returns is the one I really hate, because it was far more of a Tim Burton movie than it was about Batman. Plus, it’s relentlessly bleak, DeVito’s Penguin is disgusting, and Batman seems to like incinerating bad guys with the Batmobile…

Oh, it’s so much worse than that. You can’t kill Mac Shreck, Catwoman, even though he’s a rich guy who threw you out a window. But it’s okay to burn the circus guys to death at the beginning of the movie with my Batmobile.

Except it was 1989. Must not have been that monumental.

I still like the Burton Batman fine. A lot of it hasn’t aged well at all, but to say Adam West’s version is better is pretty close to madness. I agree that Batman Returns is awful, but even with all the ridiculous Burton-ism, I prefer it to the Schumacher ones.

Okay, '89. I’ve been drinking wine this evening.

I still like the Burton Batman fine. A lot of it hasn’t aged well at all, but to say Adam West’s version is better is pretty close to madness. I agree that Batman Returns is awful, but even with all the ridiculous Burton-ism, I prefer it to the Schumacher ones.

Burton’s Batman is a big screen remake of the 60’s TV show. If you look at in that light it all makes sense.

I think I ended the 80s considering that Burton Batman as my favorite movie of the decade. Largely because I wasn’t a huge fan of 80s cinema.

After seeing Batman Begins, I found all the Burton/Schumacher films to be unwatchable.

It hasn’t stood up well for sure. Even mediocre adaptations of comic book superheroes have turned out better as of late.

But as said, it was a pretty important film in comic book film adaptation history. It also took a lot of chances - of which only a few worked, especially in retrospect. But it established a comic book mood quite well, and did have a few classic, memorable bits ("…I’m Batman." “THIS TOWN NEEDS AN ENEMA!” “Where does he get those blasted toys?”). I mean, you can go back and watch Superman II and it’s not going to knock your socks off much better, yet it is also full of classic moments and is highly favored through nostalgic lenses. Limits in CG and other effects at the time these films were made is certainly going to have an effect on how they’re regarded against contemporary films, so really it’s in your best interests to avoid watching any super hero film older than 10 years.

That is exactly how I feel about all the original Batman movies. Batman Begins came out and got Batman completely right so why would I go back and watch what Burton felt Batman should be.

But I do agree that the movie (along with the Superman movies… well the first 2 anyway) helped pave the way for comicbook movies in the 90s and 00s (for better or worse)



No, No, and No.

The first two batman movies were thoroughly entertaining. Delightfully weird (especially the first one), imaginative, humorous, and dark. They’re among the best of Tim Burton’s films and until recently he had an excellent track record. No Batman 1 and 2 aren’t as good as Batman Begins (which I just saw) but to me they are classic superhero films for the time they were released.

And anything negative said about Prince should get you banned from life in my book.

I’ll agree that the animated series was quite good, and I’ll also admit that the fact that Batman was the first non-PG rated film I ever saw might make me a biased source. But your dead wrong about the Adam West films which are the worst by far.

When a homicidal clown-faced maniac bursts into her home and talks about having just killed someone, ace reporter Vicki Vale responds by picking up a bowl of popcorn. And snacking on it during the following tense showdown.

In other words, yes, it sucks.

And I liked Batman Returns, just for the Catwoman origin segment.

Ok, full disclosure. I was eight when the movie came out, and my parents were kind of overprotective, so I didn’t get to see it. Batman Begins was actually the first Batman movie I ever saw. I’ve seen Burton’s Batman, but I really don’t care enough to watch any of the other sequels. I am totally aware of the massive cultural impact, and I agree that it was important on that level. Also, the whole “impetus for the animated series” thing. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the movie was any good, only that it led to related good things.

I didn’t see the movie start to finish until last year (I’d caught bits on TV). It wasn’t even like I had high expectations going in, but it was still just utterly meh. We got that and the Adam West movie and watched them back to back. First Burton, then West. We all had a bad taste in our mouth from Burton, and West was a breath of fresh air.

So what’s with all the West hate? I don’t really see where people are coming from on that. That shit is hilarious. I guess if you can’t mentally separate campy Batman from moody Batman it could be unwelcome. I just like it as some high-quality deadpan humor.

Oh, and for comparison, I hadn’t seen the Superman movies until last year either. We rented 1 and 2 the week before Superman Returns came out. I thought the first one was pretty crappy, mostly down to Gene Hackman being the worst Luthor ever. 2 was awesome though, thanks to the talents of Terence Stamp.

I agree. Batman has such a long history that you can find lots of wildly different takes on him. Adam West epitomizes the campy era of Batman in comics, TV and Saturday-morning cartoons. All my comic-collecting friends and I were hoping to see something that was in some way influenced by Millers’ Dark Knight, which was very fresh in our minds at the time. But aside from the sets and architecture, it was pure Adam West all the way. Batman Begins is much closer to what we wanted.

Nope, it was great.

Now the Spiderman movies. Those suck.

I really don’t get the hate for Batman Returns. It is far superior to the first film, though I, too, loved Batman the first time I saw it in the theater (thanks in large part to its amazing score). It was so cool to finally see the dark take on the character that had been brewing in the comics since the O’Neill/Adams run. Only after the geek euphoria wore off did I notice that Sam Hamm’s dialogue was appallingly bad, that Nicholson was simply inserting Jack Torrance for Jack Napier, and that the whole “dance with the devil in the pale moonlight” schtick was ridiculous plotting (“I just like the sound of it.” What? WHAT?)

Batman Returns, on the other hand, had better villains, had a better script, and had tighter direction all the way around. Plus, it had that awesome bit where the Batsignal is reflected into the Wayne Manor study. Sure, the Catwoman origin was stupid, but Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance more than made up for it (and I’m not just talking about how she looked in that leather cat suit).

Batman Returns gets the bronze, following on the heels of Batman Begins and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm as the best Bat flick ever.

The thing that struck me about Burton’s Batman, even the first time I saw it, was the sheer amount of camp and charicature in it. Combine that with some mediocre to downright poor performances and you’re not off to a good start. Add to that Burton’s making his two films more about the villian than Batman himself (even though for my taste Batman is pretty much the only interesting superhero out there), and I’m even further detached.

I was 14 when Batman came out, and I remember thinking after the screening that a lot of Burton’s Batman had been cheesy, and it was almost entirely because of the Joker’s antics. Nicholson was good for that part as it was created, but I think I’m going to prefer Ledger’s homicidal maniac.

I will definitely concede that Batman (1989) was truly the first dark superhero movie, but even that wasn’t enough to save it for me.

The second Batman film was just terrible.

Honestly, Begins wasn’t all that great either. The first 2 acts are decent but it fell apart at the end.