Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Batman (1989)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Batman (1989)

In Tim Burton's influential and dark blockbuster about the comic-book superhero, featuring Anton Furst's revolutionary, Oscar-winning art direction/set design of a Gotham City (part Blade Runner, part comic book) with massive architecture and statuary:

  • the opening credits featuring Danny Elfman's memorable, brooding march score when a Batman logo was revealed
  • the first appearance of black-masked vigilante Batman (Michael Keaton), who held up a crook named Nic (Christopher Fairbank) over the side of a building; after the mugger begged for his life ("Don't kill me!") - Batman made a request: ("I'm not going to kill you. I want you to do me a favor. I want you to tell all your friends about me") - the mugger asked: "What are you?" - and heard back: ("I'm Batman!")
  • the reappearance of growling mob enforcer Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) after he had been dropped into a vat of acid during a raid on the Axis Chemical Company; he had submitted himself to reconstructive facial plastic surgery; in the famous, oft-imitated 'reveal' scene, Jack (seen from behind, with face hidden) demanded a mirror from the flustered doctor after the facial bandages had been unwrapped; upon looking at his face in the mirror, he moaned and groaned at first as the nervous doctor rationalized: "You understand that the nerves were completely severed, Mr. Napier" - before Jack laughed maniacally and smashed the mirror, as the doctor pointed to his tray of crude instruments: "You see what I have to work with here"
  • the sequence of sociopathic Jack Napier's first memorable entrance (and revelation of his face) as the reinvented character of The Joker (with a painted red smile, chalky skin and green hair), when he came upon mob boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance) from behind - he sought revenge and explained his new name and identity: ("You set me up over a woman. A woman!...I've been dead once already. It's very liberating if you think of it as therapy...Jack? Jack is dead my friend. You can call me Joker! And as you can see, I'm a lot happier!"); the Joker then shot Grissom during a wild dance, emptied his gun, and then laughed and sighed non-chalantly: "Oh, what a day!"
  • the post-coital moment when blonde photographer-journalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) woke up to see love-interest - billionaire-industrialist Bruce Wayne (also Michael Keaton), the alter-ego of Batman, swinging like a bat while doing his exercises
  • the many classic one-liners by the cackling, villainous Joker: ("Winged freak terrorizes? What'll they get a load of ME!", "Where does he get those wonderful toys?", and "If you gotta go, go with a SMILE!")
  • the Joker's murder of disloyal, impudent rival subordinate Antoine "Tony" Rotelli (Edwin Craig) with a lethal joy-buzzer that burned him to a crisp: ("Whoo! Whoo! Oh, I've got a live one here! Oh, there'll be a hot time in the old town tonight. Antoine got a little 'hot' under the collar....Haven't you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?")
  • the confrontational challenge between the Joker and Bruce Wayne in Vicki's apartment, as the Joker held a gun on him: "Tell me something. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?...I always ask that of all my prey! I just like the sound of it"; after shooting at Bruce (who was saved by wearing body armor), the Joker added: "Never rub another man's rhubarb. Why is it, every time I come for you [Vicki], somebody always gets in the way?"; he then recited a poem to the terrified Vicki: "I'm only laughing on the outside / My smile is just skin deep / If you could see inside I'm really crying / You might join me for a weep"
Joker to Bruce Wayne:
"You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
  • the flashback in which Bruce Wayne remembered his parents being murdered by Jack - who used the same line: "You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
  • Vicki's scary ride through a dense forest in the Batmobile en route to the Batcave, when she tentatively asked: "Where are we going?"
  • the ironic silhouette of the Batplane against the moon to form the Batman logo
  • the death of the Joker - plunging from the top of a cathedral spire with a gargoyle attached after his climactic duel with Batman, and the macabre sight, after the Joker's fall, of his still-grinning face as he laid dead, splayed on his back on the church's front steps many stories below - a toy (in proxy for the villain) was heard laughing maniacally in his pocket
  • the final scene in which Commissioner James Gordon (Pat Hingle) announced: "Our police have rounded up all of the Joker's men. The reign of crime is over. Public safety in Gotham City is no longer a laughing matter"; District Attorney Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams) then read a letter from Batman promising to defend Gotham City against crime: "We've received a letter from Batman this morning. 'Please inform the citizens of Gotham that Gotham City has earned a rest from crime. But if the forces of evil should rise again, to cast a shadow on the heart of the city, call me'" - Gordon unveiled a new Bat-Signal to be used to summon Batman
  • the ending closing shot of Batman standing alone in a heroic pose on the top of a city building, the guardian of his Gotham City, looking up at the Bat-Signal projected onto the night sky
The Bat-Signal Above Gotham City

"I'm Batman"

Face-Scarred Jack With Doctor

Jack/The Joker to Carl Grissom: "You can call me Joker"

"Where does he get those wonderful toys?"

The Joker's Murder of Tony With a Lethal Joy-Buzzer

Flashback of the Waynes' Murder

Death of Joker With Grinning Face


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