There are nine ways it did.

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the release of Batman, and I’ll admit that I was electrified by the hype and glory.  Those of us who were fans of the comic had been waiting more than two decades for an accurate rendition – nothing cartoony or campy, but presented as we knew it:  a dark, gritty psychological study of a character and his city and its enemies.

In retrospect, and I’ve had more than 25 years to reflect on it, there was so much wrong with Burton’s film, and not just nit-picky stuff, either.  The art direction and design were amazing, the casting of Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman was inspired, the surreal parade was fitting, but all of that was overwhelmed by a constant attempt to keep it light, and I think that’s what led to the slow slide into the ludicrous for the remaining three films.

Christopher Nolan managed to bring out the darkness in each of his Batman movies without resorting to cheap jokes.  Maybe with the first four of the movies – starting with Burton’s two – there was a need to finally purge the campiness of the TV show and the hokey animated version from the 1970s (NOT the incredible animated series that started in 1992, the one that “got it” and, arguably, still stands as the best rendition of the character).

But the change had to start somewhere.  And it did 25 years ago.

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