Classic Scene: “I’m Batman”
Directed by Tim Burton, 1989
The Scene: Two street thugs in Gotham City have successfully just robbed a family and are going through the loot. Little do they know the fearsome urban legend they are discussing as they do this has been keeping a watchful eye on them from the shadows. Suddenly he strikes, taking out one of the nameless criminals with ease and dangling the other off of a building by his shirt collar. The vigilante promises to spare him if he tells others about him. The stammering and terrified criminal asks who he is, and the hero replies in a gravelly almost whisper of a voice, “I’m Batman.”
The Deconstruction: Thanks to the 1960’s television series, Batman’s reputation among the general populace was not at its best. True the likes of; Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, Frank Miller, and Steve Englehart, had restored Batman to his dark and moody roots in the comics, but the campy take on the caped crusader was what the masses knew of. Enter Tim Burton, who took it upon himself to craft a Batman saga unlike anything else. This opening scene introduced a new Batman to the screen, he was not a bombastic Adam West, he was once again a Dark Knight prowling the darkness for his enemies with an obsession that bordered on psychosis. This scene also introduced a new Gotham City, as Burton’s design was heavily influenced by the Depression-era pulp roots of the character with an art deco flair.
Best Bit: Batman stretching out his cape to intimidate his enemies. Many complained at the time that Michael Keaton was too small to be Batman, but with psychological tactics like these he could overcome his foes with ease. Plus it just looked cool.