Comic book movies have always cited original source material, but it wasn’t until the advent of the MCU that said movies attempted to be interconnected as some of the most memorable storylines in comic books have been. So, while Tim Burton’s Batman may have introduced some possible story threads for future use, there wasn’t always a guarantee there was a plan in place or a long-term payoff.
One example is the inclusion of Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent. Fans of the comics would get the Easter Egg and hope for an eventual payoff of Williams’ character becoming Two-Face. Alas, creative differences between Burton and the studio over Batman Returns meant this thread was jettisoned and we got Tommy Lee Jones chewing scenery as Two-Face instead of Williams.
This brings us to Batman ’89, a six-part story that imagines what could have been had the original outline for a third Burton-directed Batman installment seen the light of day.
The six issues here feel very episodic and only tangentially connected by a running thread of Dent’s campaign to clean up Gotham and his evolution into Two-Face. The big problem is that Christopher Nolan and company gave us this story on the big-screen and the story that unfolds here feels like it’s borrowing some of the bigger stories beats from that version. I get there are only so many Two-Face stories out there, but I was hoping for a different take on this than what we got.
More interesting is the lurking presence of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman and the emergence of Marlin Wayans’ Robin to this niche of the Batman universe. Seeing Keaton’s Bruce Wayne/Batman conflicted about his relationship with each of them is a nice touch, even if the whole Catwoman thread kind of goes off the rails in the final installment.
There are a few other gems in here, but overall, the story doesn’t necessarily live up to its full potential. That said, it’s still a fascinating “what if” exercise into a universe that it appears we may not see on-screen again (despite Keaton filming some cameos) in the near future.