Batman (1989)

Movie review by
Ed Grant, Common Sense Media
Batman (1989) Movie Poster Image
Stylish, violent, and dark superhero adventure.
  • PG-13
  • 1989
  • 126 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 27 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 90 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The lines between good and evil are not clear-cut, and though Batman/Bruce Wayne are the heroes, their motivations are as much rooted in vigilante justice as the desire to do good -- perhaps even more so.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though Batman/Bruce Wayne is the "good guy" in the movie, he is also shown as a flawed hero -- someone motivated as much by vigilante justice as he is by the desire to do good.

Violence

Numerous shoot-outs, killings, chases, and fight scenes. In a flashback, Bruce Wayne remembers witnessing his parents' killing; the film's first scene parallels this with a present-day child seeing his father killed by a mugger. The Joker kills one victim with a quill pen in the throat and electrocutes another. Batman and Vicki nearly die at the movie's end while hanging from a ledge. Fights with knives and swords. Talk of the Joker's ex-girlfriend committing suicide. 

Sex

Implied sex between Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Vicki Vale. The Joker makes sexual advances toward Vicki Vale. Prostitutes walk up and down a bustling and crime-filled city street; one of them accosts a young boy. 

Language

"Son of a bitch," "s--t," "dick," "bastard."

Consumerism

Movie based on iconic comic-book hero created by DC Comics, which has also led to the merchandising of toys, clothing, games, and so on. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigar and cigarette smoking. Champagne drinking -- a woman acts drunk with a man after a dinner date, stumbling, slurring her speech. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Batman is the 1989 movie starring Micheal Keaton as "the Caped Crusader"; this was the first reintroduction to the darker, more "noir" Batman instead of the campier 1960s Batman that was the most well-known version. Kids watching this movie will see the murder of parents before their own kids, disfigurement, a quill pen jabbed in a man's throat and another man electrocuted to death, along with numerous shoot-outs, wild chases, and vigilantism portrayed in a favorable light. Expect some profanity, including "bitch" and "s--t"; cigarette and cigar smoking; and champagne drinking -- a woman acts drunk before an implied one-night stand with Bruce Wayne. The Joker makes sexual advances toward Vicki Vale. Prostitutes walk up and down a bustling and crime-filled city street; one of them accosts a young boy. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byI Tell It Like It Is June 30, 2011

Excellent movie. Not for kids.

There is tons of violence... A guy gets electrocuted quite gruesomely. (That is the worst of it, but there are a lot of fights, often people have blood on their... Continue reading
Parent of a 13 year old Written byohya August 6, 2010
shocked csm rated this for 9 year olds
Kid, 11 years old February 15, 2010

AWESOME movie Ages 9 and up should see it!

It's a good movie in all, but I think there is a little to much cursing in it. Some blood and violence but not to much. I can't wait to watch it again...
Teen, 13 years old Written byShadowclaw46 August 6, 2009

The best batman movie, even better than the Dark Knight.

This is the way all Batman movie's should be made. I actually find this movie to be slightly better than "The Dark Knight". I also perfer this jo... Continue reading

What's the story?

After witnessing his parents' murder by a criminal as a child, millionaire Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) grows up to track and apprehend criminals in the guise of Batman. When crime lord Grissom decides to dispose of a troublesome henchman, Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson), by sending him on a fool's errand to a chemical factory, Napier battles Batman and winds up falling into a vat of toxic chemicals. Napier lives, but the fixed grin he has acquired as a result of the chemicals leads him to call himself the Joker. The Joker kills Grissom and then sets his sights on courting Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger), a photographer currently dating Wayne. The rest of the movie rotates around the Joker's plan to poison the city's cosmetics supply and his abduction of Vicki.

Is it any good?

Keaton's casting as the muscular Bruce Wayne remains one of the most wrongheaded decisions in movie history; the talented supporting cast can't overcome the stiff dialogue. And while director Tim Burton is skilled at depicting the whimsical, the demented, even the nightmarish, if this movie is any indication, he has little talent for creating "normal" people or telling a logical story. BATMAN does have its virtues: eye-catching production design and Nicholson's joyfully hammy turn as the Joker. Nicholson holds viewers' attention during the movie's first quarter, before the Batman/Joker conflict kicks in.

Keaton, however, sleepwalks through his performance as the Caped Crusader. Though the armor-covered Batman is nearly always in motion, Bruce Wayne barely puts out any emotional energy. (To his credit, he did improve a bit in the superior -- but darker -- sequel Batman Returns.) Here, it's up to Nicholson to steal the show by quipping, shrieking with laughter, and boogying down to several catchy Prince tunes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about vigilantism. When Batman decides to punish or kill criminals himself instead of handing them over to the police, is he doing the right thing? Why, or why not?

  • For younger kids, you might discuss whether Batman acts like a good guy when he dangles people over city streets or kills criminals. Older kids might be interested in discussing real-life instances of vigilantism and contrasting it with what happens in the movie.

  • This version of Batman was released at a time when the most popular conception of Batman was from the campy 1960s TV show. How is this version of Batman similar to and different from the other versions from TV, movies, and comic books? 

  • How are these versions of the Joker, Alfred, and Vicki Vale similar to and different from other characterizations past and present? 

Movie details

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