Batman (1989)
The Dark Knight Takes Hollywood by Storm

Perhaps the biggest impact on the Batman character was his emergence on the big screen in 1989. Directed by Tim Burton, Batman was a film that fueled a renewed and frenzied interest in Batman that had sparked earlier with such comics as Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns series. It was from Miller's own Dark Knight that Tim Burton, director of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice, drew inspiration for Batman's silver screen emergence. Written by Sam Hamm, the script for Batman was one that went through several revisions before its final filmed version.

Perhaps the boldest move was the exclusion of Robin from the storyline, much due to Tim Burton's vision of the Dark Knight. Burton asked that Hamm rewrite his script to not inclue the Boy Wonder, so that the movie would focus on the Batman character and the villian solely. Although the decision to make Batman sans-Robin was somewhat controversial, the biggest controversy during the movie's production was that of changes in the Batman character himself. The most notable was the decision to change the Dark Knight's appearance to something, well... darker. Straying away from the traditional blue and grey palette of the comics, Batman instead dawned a menacing cloak of black robes and body armor. This straying from tradition was a decision that many hardcore comics fans did not like, but Batman fans were also very opposed to another decision by Burton -- the casting of Michael Keaton as Batman.

Many fans feared that casting a comic actor such as Keaton would make a mockery of the Batman character, fearing that Keaton would portray the Dark Knight in jest. Burton defended his decision, claiming the need for an actor who had an acting range that included comedy and drama, as well as a dark edge, to effectively bring Batman and Bruce Wayne to life. Nevertheless, thousands of letters poured into Warner Brothers Pictures' offices objecting to the casting decision. Obviously, the decision to keep Keaton onboard for the role stayed, and the movie's production continued.

The staggering box office success of Batman made it an eventual franchise for Warner Brothers and set a precedent for comic book-based feature films to come. Proving that a comic book movie could take itself seriously while still having humorous moments, Batman simultaneously reenergized and redefined the Batman character to a true Dark Knight, owing much to Frank Miller's vision of Batman to accomplish this.