It’s a twofold celebration: It’s not only the 80th anniversary of the first appearance of Batman, it’s also the 30th anniversary of director Tim Burton’s visionary film, 1989’s Batman, starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Kim Basinger. On this year’s Free Comic Book Day, May 4, Fathom Events has pulled together the first of the four original Warner Brothers Batman movies: Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns, and Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. The four Bat-films will screen over four days as part of Fathom Events’ Batman 80th anniversary marathon.
My sister and I saw Batman on its opening night in June 1989, and stayed in our seats to watch it again. The crowd erupted at every scene that revealed something iconic from the comics, but nothing compared to the ovation with the first appearance of the new Batmobile. The excitement makes sense–audiences hadn’t been dazzled with superheroes on the screen in this way since Christopher Reeve appeared in 1977’s Superman, more than a decade before. On the heels of Frank Miller’s success with the surprisingly dark and gritty four-issue mini-series The Dark Knight Returns in 1986, it was still a surprise when audiences got their first glimpses at Burton’s similarly dark, Gothic vision for the film. His choice of then comedic actor Michael Keaton for Bruce Wayne and Batman drew the same kind of ire as any outside-the-box announcement today. But Keaton was trying to show he had a different side, as demonstrated by his recent dark and outrageous role in Beetlejuice followed by his dramatic film Clean and Sober. As for Jack Nicholson, everyone just wanted to seem him play the role his smile was made for, as the crazed, maniacal, murderous jokester The Joker.
So if you missed them the first time, you get Danny Elfman′s defining theme, plus Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney as Batman, Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl, Chris O’Donnell as Robin, plus an arsenal of villains: Jack Nicholson as The Joker plus Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, Danny DeVito as The Penguin, Jim Carrey as The Riddler, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. And all four movies have in common Michael Gough as Alfred and Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon.
Batman will be in theaters screening at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. local time on May 4, Batman Returns at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time on May 6, Batman Forever at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. local time on May 12, and Batman & Robin at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time on May 14.
Check out the Fathom Events website here for more information, theater availability, and to order tickets now.
And if you want to get retro, check out the original Batman soundtrack, released with the movie and well in advance of Danny Elfman’s instrumental score, with songs written by and performed by Prince. It’s still available on all formats–check it out here at Amazon.