Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns transformed the image of the Caped Crusader. Prior to those films, most viewers still associated the Dark Knight with the Adam West show. Don’t get me wrong, Batman ’66 is awesome in its own right, but by 1989, the comics had long moved on from treating the characters like a cartoon.
Burton’s take built on stories such as The Dark Knight Returns and injected a whole bunch of psychological complexity into this world, depicting Bruce Wayne as traumatized and tormented, the Joker as a homicidal artist and Catwoman as a whip-wielding dominatrix. The movies were massive hits, too, though the director’s third entry never happened due to marketing partners complaining that Danny DeVito’s Penguin was difficult to sell to children (and to be fair, he was pretty gross).
But now, after nearly thirty years, the Burtonverse is back, as DC Comics have just announced Batman ’89, which will continue the story from where Batman Returns left off. The tale is written by original screenwriter Sam Hamm with art by Joe Quinones and will feature many of the elements planned for the third movie.
This will likely include Billy Dee Williams’ Harvey Dent finally becoming Two-Face and a Robin styled after Marlon Wayans. We’ll probably also see the continuation of the romance between Batman and Catwoman, which eventually ended in marriage if the Burtonverse’s brief cameo during The CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earth” is canon.
Of course, you don’t have to be the world’s greatest detective to deduce that this comic might be laying the groundwork for Michael Keaton’s return to the role in The Flash. With both the MCU and DCEU apparently going full multiverse, it seems that the Keaton Bruce Wayne will be a key figure in the upcoming movies, so revealing what he’s been doing for the last thirty years is a smart idea.
Batman ’89 will also be joined by Superman ’78, showing the early superhero career of Christopher Reeves’ Man of Steel. These launch digitally on July 27th, are six chapters long each and will be released weekly. Print issues collecting the two stories will then be published in Fall 2021.