Batman is a 1989 American film directed by Tim Burton and produced by Jon Peters and Peter Guber, based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It is the first installment of Warner Bros.' initial Batman film series. The film stars Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, alongside Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Corley, Billy Dee Williams, Martin Sheen, and Jack Palance. The film takes place early in the title character's war on crime and depicts a battle with his nemesis the Joker.
In the year 1970, at the grave of his deceased parents, Thomas, and Martha Wayne, Bruce Wayne goes to visit their grave after a long stay in Europe. While there, Bruce has an encounter with a cloaked woman, who has something to show him. Bruce reluctantly agrees to go with the woman and drives her west while in a car. Bruce was following the directions, however, the woman refuses to tell Bruce where they are going. Bruce becomes confused at where they are and demands answers from the woman. Bruce even violently grabs her demanding an explanation, prompting the woman to judo throw Bruce onto the ground twice when Bruce is acting violently towards her. Once Bruce is on the ground, the woman tells Bruce to listen to her or she will promise him a broken back. Bruce then asks the woman who she is and the woman reveals her name is Lynn. Bruce gets annoyed with Lynn and wants to go back to Gotham only to find that his car has disappeared. With no other choice, Bruce decides to walk with Lynn. While walking, Bruce complains about the heat prompting him to strip himself to his underwear and then Lynn takes Bruce to an underground tunnel. Once Bruce gets down to the tunnel, he meets two men named Bloody Knife and Chaka, and a woman named Chastity, who all begin to judge him with a mixture of opinions.
In 1989, as Gotham City approaches its bicentennial, Mayor Hamilton Hill orders Deputy Mayor Harvey Dent and police lieutenant Eddie Bullock to improve the quality of Gotham City by making it clear. Dent promises to do so by working with the FBI to launch an indictment against a crime lord named Carl Grissom, who sponsors most of the crime in Gotham. Meanwhile, reporter Alexander 'Allie' Knox and the shrewd photojournalist Vicki Vale begin to investigate rumors of a vigilante nicknamed by Knox as "Batman", who is terrorizing the city's criminals. Batman's alter-ego is Bruce Wayne, a billionaire industrialist who, as a child, witnessed his parents' murder at the hands of a psychotic mugger. At a fundraiser for the city's 200th anniversary in Wayne Manor, Bruce meets and falls for Vale, and the two begin a romantic relationship. However, the evening is cut short as Bruce is alerted by his uncle Jacob Kane, a general in the United States Army, to Lieutenant Bullock's sudden departure due to police business and leaves to investigate as Batman.
Meanwhile, Alicia Hunt, a vain supermodel with many modeling portraits of herself spread throughout her apartment and Carl Grissom's kept woman was having an affair with Jack Napier, Grissom's second-in-command. While Alicia felt no remorse about being an ally of murderous gangsters such as Grissom and Napier, she did have a tender side. She truly loved Jack and warned him to never let Grissom learn of their infidelity, because then he would have Jack assassinated out of jealousy. Alicia was then amazed by the fact that Jack never worried about this. Unfortunately for Jack and Alicia, Grissom did learn of their affair from Max Eckhardt, a corrupt police detective in Bullock's precinct. Eckhardt hated Napier and was more than happy to expose his affair with Alicia to Grissom, knowing that Grissom would indeed have Jack assassinated out of jealously. Grissom was unaware of this, that the reason Napier entered into an affair with Alicia was because of Napier's plan to assassinate Grissom and takeover his empire. After keeping Alicia in the dark in knowing about her infidelity with Jack, Grissom worked with Eckhardt to set Napier up to be murdered at Ace Chemicals by sending Napier there to retrieve incriminating documents before the feds could. When Napier got to Ace Chemicals with his men, the gangsters are shocked to discover that Grissom already had the evidence destroyed. Napier, upon looking out the window to find the police led by Eckhardt show up, realizes that he has been set up by his boss. Grissom's scheme is foiled when Bullock arrives with FBI agents and orders Napier to be brought in alive. Bullock even ordered a SWAT team, who was there, to leave much to Eckhardt's dismay. Bullock then ordered all officers and agents to bring in Napier alive. Bullock has deduced Napier has been set up and makes plans to offer Napier a deal to testify against Grissom, knowing that Napier would be a valuable asset in the indictment the mob. Napier kills Eckhardt in vengeance and then gets a ricocheted bullet through his cheeks when he tries to kill Batman. While suffering in pain, Napier looses his balance, falling off the catwalk. Batman catches Napier and tries to pull him to safety. Unfortunately, Napier's leather glove slips through Batman's and he plummets into the chemical vat below. When Napier doesn't emerge from the chemicals, Bullock begins to fear that the chemicals drowned Napier. Bullock orders Batman to be arrested only for the Batman to escape. Bullock then orders Charlie, his right-hand man, to clap a lid on the whole thing until they find out who Batman is. Napier is washed into Gotham Harbor by a drainage pipe. Still submerged, Jack stretches an arm upward through the water's surface, where his lucky deck floats. In the meantime, Bullock and the FBI vow to take down Batman in revenge for foiling their attempts to bring down Grissom.
Napier begins shocked to discover the chemicals caused his skin to be chalk white and his hair to be green. Napier goes to a surgeon named Dr. Davis, who lost his license years ago after performing a botched nose job on a socialite, for help. Napier would have gone to a hospital, but he didn't want Grissom to know he was alive just yet. Davis worked in a building with broken windows that was described by Jack as "being too low-rent even for rats", that was complete with one side table which held outdated surgical tools and a barber chair. The whole room was illuminated by a mere one dim light-bulb which hung over the chair. Jack did not like the disgusting environment, nor did he like a 'quack' like Davis, but Jack knew that Davis was the best that he could get. Davis had gotten bullets out of Jack in the past with both patient and doctor surviving. After he completed surgery on Jack's face, with a doubtful and insincere smile, Davis undid Jack's bandages and gasped. Angry, Jack demanded a mirror. A terrified Davis handed him a mirror. What Jack saw in his reflection was that his skin was bleached white, his hair had turned green, his mouth and lips were dyed red and his mouth was pulled into a permanent smile. That was sufficient enough to send Jack into eternal insanity. Davis, fearing for his life, hastily explained that Napier's nerves had been completely severed and that the instruments he had to work with were not sufficient for such an operation. Davis tried to reassure Napier that proper reconstructive surgery would heal him, but he backed up against his surgical table, covered his face, and was too afraid to look at him. Napier started to laugh maniacally, threw the lit light bulb into the wall breaking it, making the room dark, marched out of Davis' office, slammed the door behind him, and his screams of horrible laughter echoed throughout the building. To Jack, it was not the end, it was the beginning. Jack, now calling himself the Joker, headed over to Grissom's Apartment, revealed his survival, and made clear that he knew that it was Grissom who set him up to die in the first place, especially regarding Alicia as his motive, and also held Grissom up in order to prevent him from reaching for a stowed away gun. Despite Grissom tried to bargain with the Joker for his life, Joker refuses to accept it and kills Grissom in revenge for setting him up. Afterwards, the Joker seizes Grissom's criminal empire like he had originally planned before his disfigurement.
Joker, later on, called a meeting and tried to present himself in a more "regular" fashion. To do, he applied various cosmetic products to give himself a more normal-looking skin tone and hair color that resembled his original appearance. During a mob summit with the rest of the Gotham City Crime Lords, the potatoes as Grissom liked to call them, Jack claimed that his former boss was on vacation, just as the doctor ordered, for working too hard, and left him to be the acting President, and announced that starting with Gotham's 200th anniversary festival, their action would be to "run the city into the ground". However, most of the mob bosses, including Anthony Scarpelli and Warren Quilt, were suspicious of Jack's apparent orders from Grissom and his constant devilish grin. Quilt then wondered what would happen if he said "no". Jack then responded with a handshake and that would be it. Unfortunately for Quilt, Jack meant by that statement that it would be it for Quilt, as he fried and electrocuted Quilt with a Joy Buzzer, which horrified the rest of the Mob bosses and with Jack joking about his demise and then laughing at it. Jack then dismissed the mob as his Goons then rushed in and held them at gunpoint. Joker then ordered Bob to tail Knox and then decided (by talking to Quilt's charred corpse as if he were still alive) to "grease" all of the mob bosses at the summit.
Bruce decides to keep Vicki at a distance by telling her that he is leaving town for a few days for a meeting. Feeling brushed off, Vicki became upset with Bruce and his secrecy. Vicki decided to follow him and her tailing lead up to an alley, where Bruce stopped and placed two roses in a precise point in the road. Bruce then goes to City Hall where Scarpelli presents a false affidavit, claiming that Grissom signed over his businesses to him. Joker then arrived at City Hall and, after he claimed that the check was written with a dead hand, murdered Scarapelli (who claimed that Grissom had landed him with the check with his signature) with his quill pen after he claimed that he was his "Uncle Bingo" and then had the mime faction of his gang open fire. Bruce then realizes that Jack Napier is still alive and running Grissom's gang. Because of this, Bruce asks Jacob to get Napier's legal records. The Joker terrorizes Gotham City by lacing hygiene products with "Smylex", a deadly chemical which causes victims to die laughing with the same maniacal grin as the Joker. As he searches for information on Batman (whom he blames for his disfigurement), the Joker decides to confront Vicki about it knowing that she and Knox are working together to investigate the Batman.
Dent and Bullock meet on the rooftop where they are both disappointed in Hill for not canceling the Gotham City parade despite what the Joker is doing. Batman then comes out of hiding to give the two men information to give to the press about the Joker's Smylex, which were chemically altered cosmetic products that caused the wearers to laugh hysterically until death, where they were left with ghastly grins on their faces. As Batman explained this to him, Bullock tried to get a closer look at his face, but Batman managed to avoid letting him get too good a glimpse. Bullock hesitant to trust Batman, but Dent decides to submit the information to the press. Jacob then informs Bruce that he has a date with Vicki at the Flugelheim Museum. Bruce then becomes confused by this since he did not have lunch with her that day. As it turns out both Joker and Alicia were skilled at vocal impersonations. The Joker hatched a plan to get Bruce Wayne and Vicki Vale together at the Flugelheim Museum, at which point the Joker and his gang would arrive, kill Bruce, and kidnap Vicki. First, the Joker, imitating Bruce's voice, called Vicki and invited her to lunch at Flugelheim's café; then Alicia, pretending to be Vicki, called Jacob and told him she had accepted Bruce's invitation. While the Joker was getting ready, Alicia went to her lover and tried to get him to spend time with her since the Joker never gets to anymore. The Joker was starting to get annoyed with Alicia and contemplated killing her. All of a sudden, the phone rang and Joker was attempted to shoot it. Alicia then went to get the phone and Joker decided that Alicia may still be useful after all. Alicia then handed Joker the phone telling her lover that it was for him. Joker then got informed that Vicki was at the museum and told Alicia to get dressed, he was going to make some art.
The Joker and his henchmen defaced many of the paintings at the Flugelheim Museum. Joker went to Vicki to interrogate her about Batman only for Vicki to not know anything about the vigilante. Alicia then arrived upset since she wanted to watch Joker work on the paintings.Joker then rudely told Alicia to leave while he was talking to Vicki and Alicia left not before having one last look at Vicki. Batman then broke into the museum through the skylight, grabbed Vicki, and escaped the museum by using the grapnel gun. After he instructed Vicki to enter the Batmobile, which was parked outside the museum's entrance, the pair were pursued by Joker's Goons in their own cars; and the police pursued both factions soon after. Easily outmaneuvering its pursuers, the Batmobile was forced to stop when it ran up against a construction project for the Anniversary Festival. Evacuating the vehicle, Batman and Vicki ran down an alleyway where they were pursued again by the Joker's henchmen. Attempting to escape by grappling them both to an overhead catwalk, Batman was forced detach himself from the device after it couldn't handle the weight of two people. As Vicki was catapulted to the catwalk, Bruce fell back into the alley with the Joker's thugs. Shot point blank in the chest, Batman was momentarily incapacitated; which allowed the Goons to partially take off his mask, however, as flashes from Vicki's camera took photos overhead distracted them, Bruce donned his mask, dispatched them, and momentarily confronted Bob in the process. Once the Goons were dispatched, Batman turned his attention to retrieving Vicki, who disappeared from the rooftops that overlooked the alley and was in the process of hiding her photo film. After he instructed the Batmobile to lead the police, who were surrounding the parked vehicle, on a chase through the streets as a diversion, Batman managed to catch Vicki as she was descending a fire escape three buildings away. Batman then drugged Vicki and ordered the Batmobile to retrieve them.
Bruce visits Vicki at her apartment, prepared to tell her about his alter-ego. The Joker interrupts their meeting and asks Bruce, "you ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight?" before shooting him. Bruce uses a bent serving tray as body armor and plays dead. Bruce trains with Lynn nonstop after accepting the offer from Bloody Knife, Chakra, and Chastity to do so. Bruce learns that the people who trained him were philosophers, scientists, warriors, and even barbarians. Bruce is then considered to be a failure by the three individuals who judged him, but after reliving the painful moments where his parents died in front of him as a child, Bruce immediately begins to prove his worth against the opponents who have beaten him in his tests. The time spent of cellular rearrangement, torture, and painful nightmares were enough to make Bruce succeed. Bloody Knife, Chakra, and Chastity reveal to Bruce that they are spirits who have selected him to be a teacher and that everyone they have recruited was all of the victims of evil in the past. Bruce gets an offer to join them, only for Bruce to refuse since he wishes to return to Gotham, which they allow. Bruce is then taken back to the desert and goes to the car knowing that it will be there.
Upon reliving his memory, Bruce realizes that Napier was his parents' killer. Vicki is brought to the Batcave by Jacob, who has been coaxing their relationship because Vicki brings out Bruce's human side. After telling her that he cannot focus on their relationship with the Joker terrorizing Gotham, Bruce departs as Batman to destroy the Ace Chemicals plant. After destroying Ace Chemicals, Batman suddenly found Alicia's body in the trunk of a car, with a bullet in her head. Joker was then on a helicopter speaking to Batman through a megaphone, revealing that before he put a bullet in Alicia, she didn't beg her life, she begged for her baby's. Alicia would never beg for anyone's life besides her own, there was no baby, it was just a worthless tactic to save her worthless hide.
The Joker then went to Gotham's 200th Anniversary Parade where he lured the citizens of Gotham to a parade with the promise of free money, but while throwing cash at the crowd as promised. Bullock and the police make plans to go to the parade to arrest the Joker only for all the police officers to be killed due to the Joker having poisoned their supply of nourishment with Smylex, forcing Bullock to head there alone. At the parade, Knox and Vicki realized that the Joker is attacking them with Smylex gas released from his giant parade balloons. Batman arrived and tows the balloons above the clouds with the Batwing. The Joker gunned down the Batwing using a long-barreled gun, causing it to crash. Becoming horrified by this, Vicki searched the wreckage for Batman, only for the Joker to intervene and take her hostage by gunpoint. Bullock tried to stop the Joker once and for all but realized that he might hit Vicki if he took the shot. Joker then mocked Bullock about it and takes Vicki to the top of a cathedral.
Batman, who survived the crash, gets to the top of the cathedral to fend off against the Joker's remaining men despite his injuries. Dent and the FBI led by Special Agent King Faraday try to get into the cathedral once Bullock informed them of Vicki being taken as a hostage, however, the Joker uses a blowtorch he has in his pocket to burn a rope holding the bell, causing the bell to fall fifty stories down, blocking the entrance.Vicki eventually sees an opportunity to distract the Joker, and went for it by using her feminine wiles in order to "seduce" him so she could buy some time for Batman. Batman then fights the Joker only for the Joker to gain the upper hand. Joker then decides that before he kills the Batman, he might as well unmask him. Batman moans as the Joker removed his mask, realizing the true identity of the man who dumped him into the vat of chemicals. Joker pulls out a razor to slash Bruce's throat and Vicki tells Joker to not do it only for the Joker to not listen to her. The Joker stopped when he sees a flashing digital display on Bruce's belt. The Joker shrieked in horror and dropped the razor. Bruce then stood up wearing a great big Joker smile. Joker rushed to the stairs only to realize that they were destroyed when he caused the bell to fall. That made the Joker start screaming insanely. Joker then noticed his copter coming over and a rope ladder has dropped from its belly. Joker made a futile grab at the rope ladder only to miss. Joker then gestured wildly for the copter to make another pass. Joker then managed to grab hold of the ladder and cackles in mad triumph. All of a sudden, several bats started appearing out of nowhere and swoop directly towards him. Because of the bats, the Joker then screamed and lost his grip on the rope ladder, causing him to fall to his death, with his body hitting the pavement. Batman then pressed a button on his belt, causing the bats to move in assorted directions.
Bullock was later called over to the Gotham Forensics Lab for an autopsy on Alicia, whom the FBI found about Batman reported her death to them. Bullock and the coroner were both shocked to learn that Alicia was indeed pregnant as she had claimed earlier to the Joker. The baby started to craw out of her deceased mother's womb and almost crawled off the table until Bullock caught her. Bullock then started to hold the baby in his arms while he examined the Joker's face on a tv screen in the forensics lab, wondering why the Joker would do something like that and started trying to figure out what kind of monster the Joker truly is. Later on, Bullock recalled that Alicia had a sister in Metropolis, whom she had not been in contact with since she moved to Gotham. Deciding it was for the best, Bullock decided to assign Alicia's sister to look after her niece and to ensure that Alicia's sister never told the baby the truth about her mother in order to make the child have a peaceful life.
At City Hall, after Bullock made the arrangements, Deputy Mayor Dent announced that the FBI has arrested the Joker's men and unveils the Bat-Signal. Dent reads a note from Batman, promising that he will defend Gotham whenever crime strikes again. Bullock objected to this by arguing that Batman is a federal fugitive only for Dent to reassure Bullock to put it to rest, much to his dismay. Because Jacob used his status as a military officer, the FBI has decided to leave Batman alone and forgive him for what happened to Jack Napier. The reasons for that was because of Batman helping the FBI take down the Joker, his criminal organization, and for uncovering the secret behind the Joker's Smylex gas when the Bureau was unable to figure it out. But there was a catch though, the the FBI wanted access to the Bat Signal so they can ask Batman for help once in a while, terms that Batman agreed upon. Vicki is taken to Wayne Manor by Jacob, who tells her that Bruce will be a little late. She responds that she is not surprised, as Batman looks at the signal's projection from a rooftop, standing watch over the city.
- Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman
- Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier/The Joker
- Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale
- Robert Whul as Alexander Knox
- Pat Corley as Lieutenant Eddie Bullock
- Billy Dee Williams as Deputy Mayor Harvey Dent
- Martin Sheen as Brigadier General Jacob Kane
- Jack Palace as Carl Grissom
- Jerry Hall as Alicia Hunt
- Joe Morton as Charlie
- Tracey Walter as Bob the Goon
- Lee Wallace as Mayor Hamilton Hill
- William Hootkins as Det. Max Eckhardt
- John Dair as Anthony Scarpelli
- Christopher Fairbank as Nic
- George Roth as Eddie
- Hugo E. Blick as Young Jack Napier
- Charles Roskilly as Young Bruce Wayne
- Adam West as Thomas Wayne
- Sharon Holm as Martha Wayne
- Adrian Meyers as Jimmy
- Garrick Hagon as Tourist Dad
- Liza Ross as Tourist Mom
- Moira Kelly as Lynn