Tim Burton’s Batman Was So Big Even Marvel Couldn’t Stop Talking About It

Today, we look at how the Marvel Universe responded to the Bat-Mania surrounding the Batman film released in 1989, directed by Tim Burton!

In Drawing Crazy Patterns, I spotlight at least five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Note that these lists are inherently not exhaustive. They are a list of five examples (occasionally I’ll be nice and toss in a sixth). So no instance is “missing” if it is not listed. It’s just not one of the five examples that I chose.

As it is has now been over thirty years since it came out, it may seem difficult to remember just how big of a deal Tim Burton’s Batman It was when it came out in June of 1989. The film featured Michael Keaton as Batman, Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale and Jack Nicholson as the Joker and it was an absolute SENSATION. It didn’t quite reach the levels of the 1966 Bat-Mania, but it really was a similar sort of thing. Not only was it a sensation, but as a comic book movie it was the first big comic book hit since Superman II, nearly a decade earlier! It was SUCH a big deal that even the Marvel Universe couldn’t help but reference the film, as well.


SEE “SISKEL” AND “EBERT” DEBATE MICHAEL KEATON’S CASTING AS BATMAN IN AN ISSUE OF INCREDIBLE HULK

We are so used to it nowadays that whenever a new actor is cast as Batman (well, not Christian Bale, actually, he didn’t get that much grief), people freak out over the casting, and that was definitely the case when Michael Keaton, primarily known as a comedic actor at the time, was cast as Batman. People were worried that the film would be campy and played for laughs.

We saw that concern play out in the background of incredible-hulk #355 (by Peter David, Jeff Purves and Herb Trimpe). At the time, the Hulk had taken on the identity of Joe Fixit and was living in Las Vegas as a mob enforcer and was dating an attractive young woman named Marlo Chandler. The Hulk seemed permanently stuck in his Hulk form, but then Bruce Banner eventually returned and he and Marlo had a lot of talks about the Hulk (basically Bruce thinking that the Hulk was not good for Marlo). Bruce and Marlo went to a video convention in Vegas and while there, two guys intended to be riffs on famous movie critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert (who had their own movie review TV show together) debate Michael Keaton’s casting in March of 1989, right before the movie came out…



RELATED: The 5 Worst Supervillain Reveals Were Disappointing for One Weird Reason

THE THING CAN’T GET A TICKET TO SEE BATMAN

October 1989 saw the debut of a new writer on the Fantastic Fourwith Walter Simonson taking over from Steve Englehart with Fantastic Four #334, with Rich Buckler and Romeo Tanghal doing the art for the first arc before Simonson took over art duties himself. At the time, Ben Grimm had been cured of being the Thing and worked with the Fantastic Four in a special Thing suit of armor while his girlfriend, Sharon Ventura, had become a Thing herself.

In any event, in this issue, he runs afoul of the Fantastic Four’s security system after returning from a failed attempt to get a ticket to see Batman…



SPIDER-MAN DOES HIS BEST BATMAN IMPRESSION

Todd McFarlane’s final issue of Amazing Spider-Man was Amazing Spider-Man #328 (written by David Michelinie). It was right in the middle of a story arc that carried along all of the three Spider-Man titles of the time where Spider-Man gained the powers of Captain Universe (the hook of Captain Universe was that it was a powerful cosmic force that possessed different people for a time, but this time it happened to choose Spider-Man).

Here, Spider-Man uses his new powers to stop some bad guys, but along the way, he does a Batman impression…


RELATED: The 5 Worst Supervillain Reveals Were Disappointing for One Weird Reason


WOLVERINE DOES HIS BEST JOKER IMPRESSION

The previous two titles, as well as Uncanny X-Men #258 (by Chris Claremont, Jim Lee and Scott Williams) were part of a crossover that was going on at the time called “Acts of Vengeance.” The idea of ​​that crossover was that the supervillains of the Marvel Universe would take down their arch-rivals by trading their opponents, so that the superheroes won’t be prepared to fight new villains.

In this arc, which introduced the new Psylocke (now in an Asian woman’s body), the villain was the Mandarin. Well, Wolverine got the drop on the powerful villain and quoted the Joker’s famous line from Batman“You ever dance with the devil by the pale moonlight?”



BAT-MANIA TAKES OVER THE PAGES OF SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK

Finally, a full YEAR after the release of BatmanSteve Gerber, Bryan Hitch and Jim Sanders III did a full-out satire of Batman and the media blitz surrounding the film’s release in Sensational She-Hulk #19, introducing a new character, Nosferata, who does HER best Batman impression on the cover…


The issue opens with young Purple Hayes (her parents are hippies) orphaned as a bad guy murders her parents while saying his version of the Joker’s catchphrase…


Young Hates decides to dedicate her life to avenging her parents’ murder….


But when she became a young woman, she still didn’t know HOW until a Darth Vader helmet hit her and she realized that the way to go was to MERCHANDISE!


Soon, she has used her fortune to blanket the area in merchandising and promotion for Nosferata (a parody of how much promotion there was for Batman)…


She-Hulk is in town to work on a contract related to this all and she gets to see the nonsense…


And finally, Nosferata debuts and does her best Batman…


Funny stuff, even if not particularly timely.

If anyone has suggestions for a future Drawing Crazy Patterns, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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