Batman came out 25 years ago today and was nothing short of a Star Wars-level giant at the box office. Forget the $411 million it made in the theater, the marketing of the movie was an inescapable wave of merchandise that swept over every mall in America. (I’m fairly certain I had at no less than two Batman beach towels that summer.)
The film paved the way for the current golden age of comic book movies. It remained the most successful superhero film of all time until The Dark Knight was released in 2008, and if you’re one of those people who can only enjoy Nolan’s Batman, buddy, you’re missing out. That’s a discussion for the comments though, the purpose of this post is to go behind the bat cowl and find out how Tim Burton and Michael Keaton brought Batman back from the campy days of the 1960s TV show.
From the Joker makeup to the controversy over Keaton as Bruce Wayne, here are 15 things you may not know about Tim Burton’s Batman.
1. Michael Keaton’s claustrophobia over wearing the suit helped him understand Bruce Wayne. Keaton was not a fan of wearing the suit and found it nearly impossible to turn his head because it was so skin-tight. Wearing the suit sent him into a panic at first, but as Keaton describes actually ended up helping him realize that it functioned as a bizarre security blanket for Bruce Wayne.
“I thought ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this, I’m feeling really scared.’ And then it hit me, ‘I went this is perfect’ this is designed for this unusual dude. The guy who has this personality that’s really dark, and really alone, and really kind of depressed.”
2. Batman’s ears were too tall for the Batmobile. The ears on Batman’s first mask were too tall for the Batmobile’s roof to close. Since the seat couldn’t be lowered costume designers had to make a new mask with shorter ears.
3. Jack Nicholson would fall asleep in the makeup chair. Supposedly, Jack Nicholson had it in his contract that he wouldn’t be on set for makeup any earlier than 9 am. Michael Keaton revealed to Grantland that while filming in London, Nicholson made the makeup artist’s job particularly easy and immediately fell asleep in the chair. The entire process took about two hours, giving Nicholson plenty of time to snooze.
4. Robin Williams had his feelings hurt. Tim Burton and Warner Brothers had always wanted Jack Nicholson as their top choice, but when he hesitated to take the part they began seriously talking to Robin Williams about the Joker role. When Nicholson caught word of this he accepted the part and Williams was left by the curb. Williams was so offended that he refused to play the role of the Riddler in Batman Forever or even do a Warner Brothers production until the studio apologized.