Batman (1989)



Stylish, violent, and often dull Batman adventure.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: September 6, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1989
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Although he's ostensibly the good guy, Batman is played here as he was originally conceived, a dark and troubled vigilante. He's never as grotesque as the Joker, but Batman's behavior is often as violent. He tends to kill the criminals he pursues.


Numerous shootouts, 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 meet their fate at the movie's end while hanging from a ledge.


Implied sex between Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Vicki Vale.


Double entendres, frequent mild obscenities.


Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 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 electrocuted to death, along with numerous shoot-outs, wild chases, and vigilantism portrayed in a favorable light.

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?


Director Tim Burton is skilled at depicting the whimsical, the demented, even the nightmarish. If this movie is any indication, however, 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, sleep walks through his performance as the Caped Crusader. While the armor-covered Batman is nearly always in motion, Bruce Wayne barely puts out any emotional energy. Though he improved a bit in the superior -- but darker -- sequel Batman Returns, 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 so it's up to Nicholson to steal the show by quipping, shrieking with laughter, and boogying down to several catchy Prince tunes.

Families can talk 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? 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 vigilatism and contrasting that with what happens in the movie.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 23, 1989
DVD release date:August 22, 1997
Cast:Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton
Director:Tim Burton
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13

This review of Batman (1989) was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Smart and entertaining, but also very violent.
  • A darkly violent take on the comic-book hero.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

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.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great role models
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 joker (played by Jack Nickelson) over the joker played by Heath Ledjer. Why? Because this joker acts obnitoux and is very unpridictable, and this is the way he should be, not some siycopath that jabbes a pencil through a guy's eye. Now don't get me wrong, I loved the dark knight, infact, I thought that it was the best movie of 2008, but this is the batman movie that all batman fans wanted. It's dark, it's mysterious, and it's actually funny at times. Also, I think that Michle Keton is by far the best actor to ever play batman. If your a fan of batman you have to see this movie, otherwise you cant call yourself a batman fan. And if your not a fan of comic book movies then prepare to become one.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written byschuym1 December 26, 2010

Excellent Joker and Batman

I enjoy this movie. For people that don't like this or call it dull like Common Sense, just remember that there would be no Batman Begins or The Dark Knight if it wasn't for this movie.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide