Excitement sizzled like electricity through the air when Tim Burton was announced as the director who would bring Batman back to the screen with a new big screen update promising to take the Caped Crusader back from the campy wilderness he’d been living in since the 1960’s TV series. On the basis of just two feature films, Burton had already established himself as one a directory with a unique vision and cinematic style that seemed perfectly suited to the comic book world of the Dark Knight. And then, in the blink of an eye, the electricity was turned off and excitement at the potential of Batman actually becoming dark and edgy like the recent Dark Knight comic book reinvention fizzled.
The announcement that Michael Keaton would be playing Bruce Wayne/Batman. Although Keaton was just coming off some of his best reviews ever for his first stab at playing a serious dramatic role, his biggest hits to date had been comedies, including Burton’s own Beetlejuice. The fact that his breakthrough role was title character in Mr. Mom simply did not sit well with Batman purists. Reportedly, Warner Brothers received more than 50,000 letters complaining about the casting decision. The big ballyhoo behind hiring Burton to the direct the film in the first place had been to convince audiences that the big screen return of Batman was going to be as far away from Adam West’s comedic interpretation on the TV show as possible. This Batman was promised to be a darker return to the comic book roots. The biggest question on opening day was: could this promise be fulfilled with the casting of a star of family-friendly comedies?
The answer was an overwhelming affirmative as Batman went on to make more than 400 million dollars worldwide and produce one sequel directed by Burton and starring Keaton.