Twenty-some years after the campy television series, Batman was due for a true reboot for a new generation. In 1989, audiences would forever be confused when they realized that they never knew the Joker had killed Batman's parents (a fact that would become even more confusing when Batman Begins remedied that bit of tid). But for the most part, Tim Burton's Batman was a triumph.
This "first" Batfilm redefined not only Batman, but the whole comic book genre. Sure, Batman was now wearing black rather than blue and was himself pretty much mentally unbalanced, but the movie worked. The well worn character was new again, and more intimidating than ever. Gone were the sidekicks (at least for the time being), the gimmick Bat-tech (like shark repellent) and one-liners.
In the movie, Batsy faced off against the Joker - at the time, a relatively extreme onscreen depiction of the character. This Joker didn't want to make you laugh as much as he wanted to kill you. Unfortunately, the movie made the mistake of killing off the villain in the end and the next run of movies took missteps trying to top the Joker by overloading the films with baddies.
The movie was a huge success, spawning three sequels and revitalizing the comic genre (before later films would nearly kill it). Batman brought in over $250 million, roughly $450 million adjusted for today.
Up Next: Batman Returns