From Screen to Page: Batman ’89 by Jerry Whitworth
Recently it was announced DC Comics will be publishing Batman ’89 and Superman ’78, comic book miniseries based on the Tim Burton Batman and Richard Donner Superman film series, respectively. The former will feature Batman (1989) screenwriter Sam Hamm and artist Joe Quinones tackling story elements that didn’t make it into Batman Returns (1992). Following Batman ’66, which was based in the world of the 1966 Batman television series, and Wonder Woman ’77 based on The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, Joe Quinones and Kate Leth pitched a Batman ’89 series in 2015. Quinones revealed this series would have seen the return of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, Billy Dee Williams’ Harvey Dent transition to Two-Face, and Tim Burton-inspired versions of Robin, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy. This series was rejected but could indicate some of what’s to come especially with Quinones’ involvement in the upcoming title. Lets take a look at what Batman ’89 could entail.
When Batman Returns (1992) was in development, its plot went through many revisions. Likely its biggest change was the complete removal of Robin. Referred in the script as the Kid, Marlon Wayans was cast as a streetwise mechanic who aided Batman throughout the story. Therein, the Kid removed the remote control device on the Batmobile, drove the vehicle, and redirected Penguin’s penguin commandos in the finale. Afterward, the Kid would have identified himself as Robin to Batman. However, it was decided the movie featured too many characters and he was removed under the idea he would be saved for the sequel Batman Continues. As such, Wayans was paid for a two picture deal and receives residuals for Returns to this day. Billy Dee Williams’ Harvey Dent was also written out of the movie over the concern of too many characters. Originally, Catwoman’s deadly taser kiss with Christopher Walken’s Max Shreck in the finale was intended for Dent setting him up as Two-Face for Continues. It’s already being reported Catwoman will return, Williams’ Dent will become Two-Face, and a Robin based on what was originally planned will make its way into Batman ’89. Joe Quinones has also provided some more details.
Taking to social media, Joe Quinones has revealed some design work for Batman ’89. His Bruce Wayne has grayed sides and the back of his head’s hair which appear to indicate some time has passed since his appearance in Batman Returns (1992). The under armor/plug suit Kenner designed for its Bruce Wayne action figure has also been adapted for the series. Harvey Bullock is depicted indicating his addition to the cast. But likely the most interesting revelation is the Joker Gang, a group of foes patterned after the Joker. Inspiration appears to include the Mutants in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, Jokerz from Batman Beyond, and performers from the music video for Prince’s song Partyman off the Batman (1989) soundtrack (including Prince himself). Rumor has it Batman Continues would have included the Riddler along with Two-Face which likely inspired what eventually became Batman Forever (1995). Further, Tim Burton wanted Robin Williams in the role for the Prince of Puzzlers. There were even rumors of Brad Dourif being eyed for the role of the Scarecrow in the picture but the actor has since stated he was never approached about the part. Only time will tell what will turn up in Batman ’89 and if it could extend beyond a miniseries.