It’s June 23rd, 1989, I’m almost six years old and Tim Burton’s Batman is being released in theaters. I’m spending the week at my grandmothers in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina, and for the past week I’ve heard my Uncle Jeff, who I idolized (he was in his early 20’s) talking trash about Batman. He’d say things like, Michael Keaton was a joke, this Batman movie was going to be lame, yet he had tickets for opening night with his friends. Knowing that I was fascinated with Batman, my grandmother tried to get him to take me to the movies with him, but Uncle Jeff had no interest in babysitting a five year old, even if that five year old had Batman Fever.
I had discovered Batman a few years earlier thanks to the 1966 series airing in syndication. Every afternoon, I found myself glued to the TV to see the adventures of Batman and Robin as they faced off against their rouges gallery. I rented the 1966 movie a few times and had also rented any cartoons I could find.
On Christmas in 1988, my parents presented me with a trade paperback copy of A Death in the Family, the storyline that chronicled the death of Jason Todd at the hands of the Joker. It was a huge news story at the time, so they thought they were investing in a great item for me to hang onto and sell when I became an adult. The problem was, I was already reading and while I couldn’t make out all the words, the pictures helped me follow the story and almost every night I laid in bed and read through part of A Death in the Family. Within a month the book was so battered it barely stayed together. I mean, Superman comes and finds Batman in that book! How could I not being fascinated!?
I never got a chance to see Tim Burton’s Batman on the big screen, but once the VHS was released it was gifted to me and it quickly became a film I watched often. My birthday in 1989 was a Batman themed birthday and I racked up with all sorts of great Batman tie-in toys. I had several Batmobiles, small diecast Batmobiles, the Batwing, and even a Batcave.
Michael Keaton was my introduction to Batman, as the character I know and love now. Sure, Adam West’s rendition was my first, but I prefer the less campy, more brooding portrayal that Michael Keaton presented. Over the years, I’ve stood by my fandom of the Keaton films and as he prepares to make his big screen return as The Dark Knight, I cannot express how happy it makes me that folks seem to be going nuts over it.
I would love to see another Batman film with Michael Keaton as the lead, or even a Batman Beyond film. I doubt that’s going to happen, but I do look forward to seeing The Flash and getting a chance to experience that excitement as a kid one more time.