At a time when comic book movie sequels get a go-ahead before the first film is even in theaters and new adaptations often push the limits of what audiences can expect from a movie about characters in tights, it’s easy to forget that there was a time when they were considered a risky venture. Such is the case with Warren Beatty’s 1990 adaptation of Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy, a comic strip that premiered back in 1931 and ran syndicated in daily newspapers across the country.
After the massive success that was Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film, Disney had high hopes that their long-in-development take on Dick Tracy would bring in similar returns. While Burton’s film was dark and quirky, Beatty, who produced, directed, and starred in Dick Tracy, played it straight, with square-jawed heroes and villains plastered in prosthetics and primary colors.
While it failed to become the cultural milestone that Batman did, the film performed well enough at the box office that a sequel seemed inevitable. There was even some fairly extensive legal drama over the years, though nothing seems to give any real indication that Beatty, who turns 79 on Wednesday, will be donning the yellow fedora again anytime soon.