Batman Vs. Batman

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Apr 30, 2008

Filed under: Movies 45 comments

Compare the 1989 Batman trailer, and the one from this year. Everyone is unconsciously aware of the rhythm of these things, but I never would have guessed they were this formulaic:

I wasn’t a very big fan of the 1989 Batman, a position that is viewed as heretical by most. I expect to get flamed for this one. I know it’s coming. I know it broke box-office records and was hailed and embraced even by die-hard Batman fans, but the 1989 movie earned little more than a polite shrug from me.

I was glad it was made, and happy that Hollywood threw us a bone, but I couldn’t help but wish they had landed closer to the mark. It looked like Batman, but didn’t feel like Batman. The love story stuck out like armpit noises in a concerto. The movie could have aimed for the campy 60’s Batman (ugh) or the brooding detective Batman, but instead it kind of went out and made its own Batman. It was given weight by Tim Burton’s cinematic skill, but Batman shouldn’t need to be propped up like that. Once Burton left the series the thing collapsed into idiocy. Batman Forever and Batman & Robin were made with an overbearing contempt for the source material, and I was glad when they stopped making Batman movies. My desire for superhero movies compelled me to watch them, even when I knew they would be miserable to endure. For a while there I was wondering if George Clooney was trying to somehow kill me with his rendition of the character.

The more recent Batman Begins finally rings true for me, and manages to be a compelling movie on its own. It’s not just a good chance to see Batman do his thing, it’s actually a good movie. I have high hopes for the upcoming movie, even though its trailer is a shot-by-shot re-creation of the one from 1989.


EDIT: In the comments below, someone suggests that the 1989 trailer has been edited here to match the newer one. I don’t have time to voyage through YouTube to figure it out at the moment, but perhaps all is not as it seems.


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45 thoughts on “Batman Vs. Batman

  1. Christopher says:

    Sure, movie trailers are pretty formulaic, but this one was too close to be coincidence. I think the producers of The Dark Knight were paying tribute the original Batman. Pretty cool if you ask me.

  2. apocriva says:

    Ha! That’s just too much! If you want another fun side-by-side, listen to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” with Chrono Trigger’s “Robo’s Theme”. :D

  3. Jeremiah says:

    Yeah, I’m with Christopher. My first thought was that they’re probably paying tribute to the original. I’m super excited about Dark Knight and fully intend to see it at an IMAX.

  4. Aaron says:

    Actually I have to go with Shamus on this one. I found the ’89 version a bit … off. Jack Nickelson is a fabulous actor, but his rendition of the Joker was just too far afield for me. I’m not saying that to irritate or cause an uprising, I just felt the character should have been darker in that movie.

    Batman Returns is what I’d been waiting for (in a Batman movie) ever since the ’89 movie. A dark, gritty, rough movie that’s closer to the Frank Miller idea.

    Those trailers are freaky when viewed like that Shamus. I know there is a way to do trailers, but I don’t know that I’d call that a tribute to the old Batman movie. Maybe just too lazy to come up with their own version of doing it? Or possibly that’s just how it’s done and it’s coincidence (I’m not a fan of the coincidence theory). If it is a tribute, well done!

  5. Kennet says:

    Actually, I am pretty sure that this is someone who purposefully used scenes from the original batman and edited them to match the new TDK trailer.
    If you follow the “This movie is a response to” link and read the description on that video, the guy says that’s what he did.

    So I guess that it is a tribute, just the other way around.

  6. Deoxy says:

    “Holy rusted metal, Batman!”


    “Well, there’s some metal, and it’s rusted, and it’s got holes in it…”

    Favorite part of Batman & Robin. Most of the rest of it was pretty lousy. Didn’t bother to watch the other ones (could see the stuff you’re talking about just from the trailers, etc).

    Didn’t see Batman Begins, either, having simply written off Batman movies… might have to check it out, now (maybe).

  7. HeadHunter says:

    “The love story stuck out like armpit noises in a concerto.”
    This is the most brilliant metaphor I’ve heard in a long time. It would also apply very well to George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels.

  8. Nilus says:

    First sign that the 1989 trailer is a fake. The Green start page has the MPAA URL on it.

  9. Roy says:

    I freely admit to having a soft spot for the 89 Batman, but I can completely see why some people dislike it. I *do* dislike that it seems to have been the source of one of my major movie banes- the “a superhero must kill, cause the death of, or allow the death of his major enemy in a super-hero movie” meme. I know that there are some exceptions, but it’s more common than I’d like, and it seems to have started there. Or, at least, that’s the first place I noticed it.

  10. Phlux says:

    Definitely a fake. Here is the original Batman 1989 trailer.

    And here is the dark knight trailer.

    The dark knight trailer is over 2 minutes long. The Batman trailer is only 1:37, and they don’t match up at all. It’s not to say that the movie won’t catch a lot of the same beats as the 89 one did…but unless there is another Batman trailer out there, this was a hoax.

  11. Give me a hundred Burtonized Batmans over a single one where the Joker is so badly mishandled as this new one seems to be.

    Nicholson’s Joker was a bit pudgy and old, but much closer to the source.

    Cirque du Soliel Joker. Ugh. *shudder*

    -The Gneech

  12. Spam says:

    Batman Begins is most certainly worth a viewing.

  13. Nazgul says:

    I’m in the minority that wasn’t especially thrilled with the ’89 Batman movie, although it certainly had its good points. I generally don’t care for Tim Burton’s work… And I’ll even go a step further into Minority Land and say that Batman Begins did absolutely nothing for me.

  14. Michael says:

    I dunno. I wasn’t wild about the first one, but Batman Begins irritated me too. I just don’t understand why so many people who apparently hate the franchise sign on to diminish it.

    I recognize that Batman Begins was visually closer to what many people want, but I thought it was a borderline clinically retarded interpretation of the character. I like my Batman forged into something almost inhumanly adroit and dangerous, not an unfocused, childish prat. I got my “adult tied into knots by Emo seeking revenge” out of my system with Brandon Lee.

  15. Martin says:

    Yeah, it’s a fake. Still, I can’t wait for the new flick. Ironman can take a hike for all I care.

  16. Nilus says:

    Hey hey hey, don’t knock the shell head. Acutally I am looking forward to both movies. I really hope Iron man does well enough for a sequel, because I would love to see them to a big screen version of “Demon in a Bottle”.

    As far as Batman vs Batman Begins. I loved Tim Burton’s version when it came out and I was like 11, but it has not aged well. Considering how out there Burtons world seem to be, Batman reaks of the era it was made. I think Batman begins was a truer interpretation of the Bat. That being said it was not perfect, but its the best on screen version of Batman IMHO. I hope the Dark Knight keeps up the trend

  17. Vyolynce says:

    Deoxy: That was actually a quote from Batman Forever (Robin’s first appearance in the pre-Begins movies), which had several good points. Batman & Robin had no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

  18. krellen says:

    I’m going to show myself as a huge outlier by saying Batman & Robin was my favourite Batman flick. Okay, that’s not true; I much prefer Adam West’s Batman movie, but Batman & Robin is a close second. It’s just so campy and over-the-top; it doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and Arnold’s just so funny delivering his horrible puns. I love me some campy Batman.

  19. Dan says:

    I’m still waiting for a detective Batman on-screen, but I really do like the Batman: Year One “feel” of Batman Begins.

    Shamus, you nailed it on the head about 1989 version. That’s exactly what I thought as I sat through it as a high-schooler. I was disappointed that there was no mystery, that Batman didn’t have to make a choice about taking extreme measures, that Joker died, that the stakes were low, and the humor muted. As a Burton picture, I can appreciate it. As a Batman flick, it doesn’t even register.

  20. SiliconScout says:

    The previous batman movies were crap IMHO. I watched them they were they and jack played a great joker for the style but they were trying to recreate the TV show not the comics IMHO.

    He’s called the Dark Knight because Batman is scary even to the good guys for crap sakes.

    The last movie and this one look much more like what the batman I read as a kid was like.

  21. Katy says:

    Agreed on all counts. I really liked the first Batman, but compared to Batman Begins, there’s no question that the latter was the better film. #1 on my list is that Christian Bale at least has the very much necessary physique to pull off fighting crime. I don’t think Michael Keaton could’ve handled jumping from a rooftop to land on the next building’s fire escape. (Not that stuntmen weren’t used.)

    I did like the detective side of Batman in the first film when he was figuring out how the cosmetics interacted to kill people, but Joker wasn’t really the Joker in the 1989 film. The Joker was just a keyed-up Jack Nicholson. I love Jack, but the Joker needed to be much darker and I was stoked as all hell when I heard of the lengths Ledger went to in order to “get into” his role as the Joker and how the screenwriter and director planned to use that character.

  22. Mari says:

    I’m not here to flame you for not liking the 89 Batman movie. Actually, it’s a relief to finally find someone else that doesn’t think it’s the bestest thing ever.

    Batman Begins was pretty awesome and I have high hopes for The Dark Knight although I have some reservations, too. Honestly, watching the trailer, did you get ever so slightly creeped out by the fact that Joker came off as pretty much Heath Ledger playing Jack Nicholson playing the Joker? I’m hoping that it’s just a fault in the footage they chose for the trailer or something. I’ve read the reports and quotes from other actors in the movie about how scarily psychotic Heath was as Joker, so I just don’t know what to think.

  23. Oleyo says:

    I dont know. I like the new “take” on batman that began with “Batman Begins” (wow, thats a weird sentence) I think Heath Ledger’s performance looks deeply creepy, in a good way, appropriate to the somewhat more “real” spin of the new movies. I am looking forward to it!

  24. Taellosse says:

    I’ve got to second Nilus on the original Batman. It’s a lot better in my memory than when I actually watch it–it doesn’t stand the test of time at all well. I watched Batman Begins and thought it was a pretty good treatment of the character, but I remember thinking, “yeah, it’s good, but not much better than the original Burton one.” Then I watched the original a few days later, for the first time in a while, and realized my memory had improved the thing enormously. It isn’t a terrible movie, per se (though neither is it a masterpiece), but it isn’t a very good treatment of Batman–its only saving grace is it was better than its sequels, which get progressively worse the farther in the sequence one goes.

  25. I still maintain that Mask of the Phantasm was Batman’s finest hour on the big screen, even if I’m the only person I know who saw it theatrically.

  26. quadir says:

    Or the new trailer was made in homage to it on purpose?

  27. MissusJ says:

    Yay for Animated Batman being the bestest!!! I’d like another of those, please!!! (At least the Batman: TAS type…)

  28. Kat says:

    De-lurking long enough to agree with Darth K: Mask of the Phantasm is pure Batman genius. :D

    Funnily enough, my husband had the same reaction to the ’89 Batman movie; he loved it in his memory, but when he showed it to me last year (I had never seen it before) he felt it fell rather flat.

  29. Shawn says:

    I loved the 89 Batman when I was in Junior High. I caught it a few months ago on cable though, and it really hasn’t aged well.

  30. Phlux says:

    Batman has been reinterpreted and revamped so many times in the various comic series you can pretty much pick whichever one you’d like and call it the definitive one and not be incorrect.

    You’ve got your detective batman. Your hard-bitten detective batman. Science-fictiony batman. Campy batman. Dark Knight Batman. And this is all without getting into the various live-action and animated TV-Series and movie offshoots.

    Dark Knight is the one that I think resonates the most today, and has probably the most literary depth, but it’s far from being the one and only “definitive” batman interpretations.

  31. Miako says:

    Shamus, this is totally off topic. nonetheless, i just got back, and I want to see you do an RPG review, sometime.

  32. Chris Arndt says:

    Burtonized Batman could barely move.

    Burtonized Batman was slow.

    Burtonized Batman went to Bruce Wayne scenes to break up action, and while Michael Keaton did a fantastic job the writing was horrendous enough that the scenes were there to break up the action, to take up beats. They weren’t really Bruce Wayne the character and they were not fun to watch. They were there to service Batman by avoiding/blunting overexposure of the Costume.

    Batman Begins? I actually enjoyed the Bruce Wayne scenes…. of course the fight scenes could have been 1000x better!

  33. Dev Null says:

    I’m with Shawn; I liked the 89, but I’ll bet it hasn’t aged well.

    One of the complaints I’ve often heard about it was that it wasn’t dark enough and gritty enough and real enough. Not sure if thats any of the reason you thought it didn’t feel right Shamus, so I’m not tarring you with this brush just yet, just responding to a few of the comments and things I’ve heard over the years.

    But here’s the thing. (You thought _you_ were being heretical?) Its really hard to make a story feel dark and gritty and real, when its about a guy who uses ludicrous Star Trek technology and his superhuman physical prowess… to dress up like a bat in a leotard. The fact that they manage to pull it off in some of the comics is a tribute to the skills of the artists involved, who could literally control every aspect of what you saw, but in live-action a dude in tights with his undies on the outside does not look dark, he looks dork. Batman is a silly concept that has been used to tell some wonderful stories (in amongst the dross) over the years – but the concept is a handicap to those stories, not relevant to them. Just ask yourself; would it change the story in any way if he was the Dark Knight instead, and rode around on horseback in a suit of medieval armor painted black? The whole bat thing is just a gimmick the writers are sick of but can’t discard without losing that half of their audience who only turned up out of nostalgia. In live-action its just a bigger handicap, which is part of why they end up 7 grades of schlocky fun, instead of dark and gritty enough for the purists, in my opinion.

    Don’t get me wrong – I like superhero movies, I just don’t expect them to be realistic (with the possible exception of Mystery Men – go the Shoveler!)

  34. Shawn says:

    Dev Null

    Yeah, I couldn’t help but think I would have enjoyed Batman Begins even more if he wasn’t Batman.

  35. Deoxy says:


    Aside the irrelevant, obligatory right-wing slams (many of which were true… and yet equally applicable to the other end of the spectrum, which he couldn’t see, of course), that was quite interesting. I didn’t really learn anything new (I even knew many of the bits of trivia), but it was well put together.

  36. Joshua says:

    Didn’t much like the 89 version myself, even at the time. It seemed to me that Burton just wasn’t interested in the action parts compared to the set design, and it could have been a better, more fun, and more exciting movie if he’d farmed out every sequence where Batman appeared to a second-unit director who’d had experience working on something like The A-Team or Magnum PI.

  37. Blackbird71 says:

    Anything Tim Burton has done has always felt a little “off,” for lack of a better word. I think of him like a modern day Edgar Allen Poe – he’s got talent, but a lot of issues. This has the effect of making his work a bit too “weird” for my tatstes.

    However, I actually enjoyed Batman and Robin, as it felt more like a throwback to the old TV series, lots of campy fun and corny humor. All it was missing was a few “Pow!”s across the screen. But that’s what it was essentially, a cheesy comedy flick.

    Batman Begins was a world apart from these, an incredible movie in its own right, and a fantastic retelling of an old and familiar story. Superb performances, a wonderful script, amazing special effects, all woven together into a masterpiece. I have high hopes that as a sequel, Dark Knight will create a tradition of excellence.

  38. Davesnot says:

    Just reminds me of Hollywood giving LoTR big awards for screen adaptation .. when the movie looks exactly like the animated movie.. who adapted what?

    Hollywood cares about money.. the first one worked.. why change it? Get a new crop of actors and make buckets of money again.

  39. Avaz says:

    If they make a Batman vs Iron Man movie (because Hollywood bigwigs figure, “One works. The other works. Let’s put them both together.”), I’ll officially stop watching movies forever.

  40. Lanthanide says:

    I was extremely impressed by Batmin Begins when I first saw it at the theatre, but I don’t think it holds up very well to repeated viewings.

    I think part of it is that the 1st half of the movie is a bit of a mystery with this gang lord guy and Bruce Wayne getting all this training up in Tibet or wherever. Then in the 2nd half you find out it is all really related and that the gang lord guy was a very small pawn. Watching the movie again with this knowledge takes a lot of the edge off.

    Compare this to V for Vendetta, which I have now seen at least 15-20 times, and it has never really gotten worse, and each time I still pick up new details I hadn’t noticed before.

  41. Kevin says:

    I was a big fan of the ’89 Batman, but then… I was six. It was so cool back then, before I’d really read any of the better comics. Nowadays… meh. It’s a pretty good movie, but it just isn’t Batman to me. Batman Begins, though… awesome. It helps that I have a huge man-crush on Christian Bale.

    Funny story about when I saw Batman Begins in the theater… as we were leaving, I overheard one guy complaining loudly to his friend that they got it all wrong by not having Jack Napier (the man who would become the Joker, at least in the ’89 movie) kill Batman’s parents! Just… wow.

    I have great hopes for The Dark Knight. I still think Jack Nicholson from twenty years ago could have made a more sinister Joker, with the right writing. But Heath Ledger looks damned good too. Looking forward to it.

  42. Kevin says:

    Lanthanide: Have you ever read the V for Vendetta comics? The movie was good, I’ll grant, but I really wish they’d gone with the darker tone and scarier V from the comics. And that they’d included the song! (“They give you masks and costumes and an outline of the story/Then leave you all to improvise their vicious cabaret!”). Search “vicious cabaret” on YouTube for a recording of it.

  43. swcrusader says:

    My brother-in-law and I join you Shamus in disliking the 89 batman. Both of us intensely dislike Nicholsons Joker who I thought was vapid, one note and not even remotely psychotic enough. It was fairly funny when my bro-in-law and I realized we weren’t the only people in the world who felt this way about the 89 film, it was such a relief!

  44. BeckoningChasm says:

    The 89 movie seemed (to me) somewhat hesitant, like it didn’t really know how to do a Batman movie but wanted to try to do it properly. Tremendous, awe-inspiring look to the whole thing, and Danny Elfman’s score was nicely Herrmannesque, but it just seemed like scenes stiched together. And yeah, the love story was totally out of place.

    Batman Returns, however, I think is a far better film than the others. Even Batman Begins, which I thought was good but left me cold. I admired the machinery that made it run but I didn’t care about anyone. Returns, though, seemed like a very human story and that’s the only Batman movie I own.

    Except for what I consider the best Batman film of all time: Mask of the Phantasm. None of the live-action ones, in my opinion, can touch that one.

  45. Geoff says:

    Yep, as you suspected, just read the YouTube comments section for a comment by the guy who posted this “trailer” comparison. He edited footage from the old movie to match the trailer of the new one.

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