Ready to Batdance!

June 24, 1989…it was 30 years ago today that I saw “BATMAN” for the first time.

As you may remember from my previous post that my life was forever altered by seeing Tim Burton’s “BATMAN” that fateful night but the transformation had already begun. I was not going into this movie blind.

I was 12-years-old at the time and, for better or for worse, a voracious TV watcher. Mostly I watched cartoons and reruns of shows from the 60s and 70s. On one of the syndicated television stations in Atlanta I could watch both “The Monkees” AND the magnificent “Batman” starring Adam West and Burt Ward. So even though I had not yet picked up a single Batman comic I had a baseline familiarity with the some of the main characters inhabiting Gotham City.

I don’t know that there was much of the cynicism that exists today in media consumption of the general public. I would guess that the number of people who first saw promotional material and the famous “BATMAN” movie trailer and said, “man, that’s gonna suck. They’re not doing the character justice” or any such prejudgement was probably less than 10. There was no internet to break and certainly no forum for people to build up a feedback pit of vitriol like there is now. Americans, by and large, were hyped about this movie coming out. And I was no different. In fact, I was so hyped that I dressed up for the occasion. And while I don’t have any pictures of myself from that night but I do remember exactly what I had on.

I had on this hat:

I had on this t-shirt:

On my YELLOW SUSPENDERS I had affixed these buttons:

And on my feet I wore these shoes:

I don’t currently own any of these highly fashionable items now but if you ever want to put together a 1989 Chuck Goes To See “BATMAN” cosplay then you have all the necessary tools to go forth and succeed. Sadly I don’t recall what kind of pants I was wearing but it was most likely grey cargo pants from Mervyn’s. You’re welcome.

Obviously when I saw the movie I loved it. I still do. It doesn’t hold my attention quite the same way it did when I was 12, of course, but now that I have worked in the film industry for a few years and have a greater understanding of the work that goes into a movie I am even more bowled over by the production design, set construction, and miniatures than when I was a youth. It’s a winner.

An added note: I just happened upon the 1989 Warner Bros. “BATMAN” Merchandising catalog on a Batman collectible’s blog, Under the Giant Penny. Imagine owning that airbrushed, rhinestone “BATMAN” jacket! These catalogs were passed out at the theater before the movie and I would wager that was the first time I became familiar with the name Bob Kane.

1989 The Number, Another Summer

Sunday is June 23rd and you know what that means! For those of you that went on dates in high school here’s a hint:

Imagine how difficult it was putting together the jigsaw puzzle I got for Christmas that year.

That’s right! It’s the 30th anniversary of the release of Warner Brothers smash hit movie “BATMAN!” I don’t think it’s necessary to go into all of the stuff about the movie itself. You can making-of documentaries or read about it in any of the many articles you can read by Googling “remember Tim Burton’s ‘BATMAN.'” But I will highlight what it’s impact had on me.

From a purely cinematic level it introduced me to some people with whom I would become obsessed with throughout high school, namely Tim Burton and Danny Elfman. I had already seen “PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE” and “BETTLEJUICE” in the theater but it was this movie in particular that captured my attention. Had I not burdened myself with evangelical religiosity as a youth I probably would have embraced the aesthetic of Burton’s visuals and Elfman’s sounds and been labeled a goth. Instead I attempted this awkward and unsuccessful balancing act of being the person I wanted to be with the person I thought I should be. As they are both pretty important figures to geek culture I will probably discuss them both individually later on.

But “BATMAN” had an influence on me far greater than increasing my awareness of those artists. It was the movie that really solidified my love of superheroes and it really made me deep dive into comic books. I had read a handful of comics at that time and I already had a subscription to “Groo the Wanderer” coming in the mail but this was the experience that prompted me to go around the corner from the General Cinema theater that showed the movie and into Titan Games & Comics. It was there that I picked up my first Batman comic which was also my first trade paperback: the collected “Batman: A Death in the Family.” The die was cast, my fate was sealed. The summer of 1989 was the breakthrough year.

I did not get to see “BATMAN” on June 23rd, 1989. We were having dinner at a Mexican restaurant that night. But at that dinner my parents and I made plans to see the film the next night. So for me my day of celebration will be June 24th. Celebrating 30 years of “BATMAN” will probably be less of an endurance test than when I celebrated 30 years of “STAR WARS.” That was a rough one.