The Summer of Batman '89
30 years ago, when I was 6 going on 7 years old, the world belonged to Batman. It’s hard to explain to someone who didn’t live through it, because I don’t know if the fever pitch will ever be the same for anything. I know Avengers made tons of money this summer, but I don’t think the news was covering kids getting the Avengers logo shaved into their heads. It could be that the landscape of media has drastically changed in 30 years. Think about 30 years before Batman released. It would have been 1959, Ben-Hur was the big movie, there were not personal home computers, only 3 channels of television, Batman was just a comic, and would be 7 years before it became a TV Show.
Let’s talk about the TV show. Before ’89 Batman, we only knew of Adam West as the caped crusader. The internet will have you believe Mr. West petitioned hard to play the Dark Knight in this movie, but that was never going to happen. The Studio wanted to ditch the campy persona and move to a darker tone, akin to the the recently released “The Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller.
Much has been written about the casting and filming, but I want to talk about my experience. I remember at 6 years old people talking about seeing the “trailer”. It was shown before a movie, and most people went only to see the trailer then walked out. This original trailer was tape traded at comic-cons and card shows for years. I remember the first time I saw a picture of the Joker in a magazine and was mesmerized. It was one of my mom’s magazine, so naturally I tore the page out, folded it up and carried it with me everywhere. She hated when I randomly tore pages out of her magazines. (another one I carried around for a while was that super high end monopoly game order form)
Now I will admit, the Batman fever took a bit longer to get to me, as I was struck with Ghostbusters fever early in my Summer Vacation. Ghostbusters 2 was being released June 16th 1989, I was REALLY into The Real Ghostbusters, and had Ghostbusters everything. I remember having a book, maybe an adaptation of the story, which of course I didn’t read I just looked at the pictures. There was a frame from the movie of the GB firehouse opening and Lewis Tully being in the suite, but you couldn’t make out it was him, and the caption said something like “Ghosts break inside the Ghostbusters headquarters” and I remember being so excited about that. We would see this movie first.
My mom’s sister lived in Florida, and she had two sons that were roughly the same age as me and my brother, so every summer they came up to visit (we all had July birthdays too, it was weird) One day, my grandma took all of us to see the Batman movie at a UA theater in Trexlertown and this is when I remember my obsessions shifting. While I still loved and will always love Ghostbusters, It wasn’t the apple of my eye anymore. Batman was now my lone obsession.
There was plenty of stuff to feed said obsession. T-shirt, hats, trinkets and treasures, anything you can think of had the Batman logo on it. We had the cereal from Ralston. We had the action figures from Toybiz, frisbees, home made costumes, capes, video games. EVERYTHING WAS BATMAN.
This also ushered in the new obsession with the ’66 Batman TV show, and having an older brother made me Robin. The Family Channel would run marathons of the ’66 Batman show and we would spend all day and night glued to the TV watching. Hoping an episode with Batgirl came on.
Batman 89 opened a lot of doors for me, and obsessions I’m still into to this day. I had a bunch of Batman comics before that movie, but I started paying more attention after. I would become obsessed with the Knightfall comic arc and really stayed with Batman comic books for years.
Thats all for now, hope you’re having a rad summer so far!