The Bonkers Behind-The-Scenes Story Of The Ending Of Tim Burton's 'Batman'
Back when the current movie Batman was but a wee toddler, there was Tim Burton’s highly-influential blockbuster take on the character, starring Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, Jack Nicholson and Jack Nicholson’s real-life buddy who was literally just cast so Jack would have someone to talk to about basketball between takes.
Batman ends with the Caped Crusader scaling a giant cathedral in pursuit of the Joker who has kidnapped Vicki Vale – kind of like the finale of the Hitchcock classic Vertigo but with a killer clown instead of Jimmy Stewart.
A lot about this ending doesn’t really make much sense; why would the Joker ascend a giant cathedral in order to board a helicopter instead of going … literally anywhere else? Like a building with an elevator, maybe? And why abduct Vicki Vale when your escape route requires climbing several stories of ancient stairs? Well this madness can be explained by the involvement of this dude:
Yes, Jon Peters, the maniac from Licorice Pizza played by Bradley Cooper, was one of the producers of Batman, and was the one who came up with the idea of setting the climax on the roof of a cathedral. The notorious Hollywood legend overhauled the finale, which in early drafts of the script featured only Batman and The Joker – and ended with Batman using a sonar device to lure a swarm of bats, like in the comic Batman: Year One, and later, Batman Begins.
But Peters changed the scene to include Basinger, who happened to be his girlfriend at the time. And despite the fact that the movie was over budget, Peters approved the creation of a 38 foot model cathedral that cost $100,000 without telling Burton. Because the whole scene was thrown together at the last minute, it had to be “largely improvised” by the actors. When Nicholson asked Burton why his character was “walking up all these stairs” according to Burton, he “had to tell him that I didn’t know.” As Burton later claimed, it was: “the most frightening experience of my life.” At least it ended up being less insane than Peters’ wacky ideas for his scrapped Superman reboot, which were so bad that he ended up getting paid $80 million to not be involved with the franchise.
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Top Image: Warner Bros.