Today marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Tim Burton’s Batman, the film that could arguably said to have launched the modern age of comic book adaptations. And while in hindsight it is easy to see why the film was a huge success, at the time there was still some skepticism how it would turn out. After all, we were looking at a film being directed by the guy who did Pee-wee’s Big Adventure starring the guy from the comedy Mr. Mom. Sure, the marketing lead up to the film’s release did seem to indicate that the film was going to be much truer to the comic book iteration of the character than the campy 1960s TV series that was still somewhat fresh in the public’s mind, but some suspicions remained.
The folks at Warner Brothers seemed to know this early on and commissioned advertising agency Creative Partnership to create a 20-minute behind-the-scenes look at the film’s pre-production, before actual shooting had begun. The film was taking to meetings with various advertising and merchandising partners to showcase the serious tone that Burton would be taking with the film. It would have been great if they released it out to the public as well, it would have assuaged many fans’ concerns.
What’s really amazing about the featurette is the look it gives us of the blocks-long outdoor Gotham City set still under construction. One really gets an idea of the mammoth scope of the set, perhaps even more so than in the film itself. It also focuses on some of the unsung heroes of the production, particularly Anton Furst, whose designs for Gotham City, elaborating from screenwriter Sam Hamm’s page one description of “… as if hell had erupted through the sidewalks and kept on growing” and creating one of the most iconic fictional locales in cinema history.