Batman 1989’s Cut Marvel Comics & Archie Cameos
Before 1989 Batman changed public perception of superheroes and opened a new avenue for marketing summer blockbusters, the film had a notoriously twisted path to theaters. Producer Michael E. Uslan has been open about Hollywood’s dislike of his pitch for the film, which he saw as a dark story about a tortured hero. talk early about Batman in the 1980s it was still being played as a comedy, with Bill Murray in talks to play the role of Batman and Eddie Murphy possibly joining him as Robin.
The first treatments for Batman were written by everyone from accomplished screenwriter Thomas Mankiewicz to comic book scribe Steve Englehart. When Batman co-creator Bob Kane discovered the project was stalled due to scripting issues, he submitted his treatment, seemingly uninvited. After being hired as director, Tim Burton co-wrote a treatment with Julie Hickson that features a surprising number of moments that made it into the film. However, even in Burton’s darker version, Batman remains a talkative, square-jawed hero who’s not above the occasional joke. Warner Bros. continued to order new treatments, but executives felt no one was quite doing the job.
The script no one could decipher
Before superhero movies became as ubiquitous as the stars of the night, Hollywood considered a young writer its “comic book guy.” Sam Hamm first gained attention as the screenwriter of Never cry wolf a 1983 drama that adapted environmentalist Farley Mowat’s 1963 autobiography of the same name (which is somewhat famous as the only film released under the Disney banner to feature full-face male nudity.) while working with Warner Bros., Hamm realized their problem getting the script for Batman right and offered his services.
Hamm reimagined the stalled project, focusing the story on the Joker’s origin instead of Batman’s, and offered a dark vision that suited director Tim Burton, who saw Gotham as a dystopian nightmarish city lost in the world. time. While Warren Skaaren later rewrote and Charles McKeown and Jonathan Gems completed other uncredited drafts, Hamm was generally considered the prodigy who had finally cracked the code and allowed the film to start.
The success of Batman, which was not only the highest-grossing film of 1989 but also a cultural phenomenon, had Hamm as its first choice to screenplay rather than comic book adaptations. This included following Batman, of course, but also a compressed version of watchmen (which replaces the squid ending with a jaunt through time), an early attempt at The Fantastic Fourand MANTISa new superhero creation for the FOX network, produced by Sam Raimi.
Hamm’s Origins as “Comic Book Guy”
Hamm’s interviews at the time indicated that his primary familiarity with Batman comics was reprints of the violent, pulp-inspired stories of the 1940s and writer Denny’s 1970s “avenger of the night” reinterpretation. O’Neil and artist Neal Adams. During a late 1980s Hollywood writers’ strike that kept him from participating in other Batman rewritten, Hamm took on DC editor Denny O’Neil’s offer to script a story arc for Detective comics.
The three-issue script, in which Hamm teamed up with artist Denys Cowan, was released as “Blind Justice”, resulting in Detective comics‘Celebrating the 600th anniversary issue. “Blind Justice” offered new details about Bruce Wayne’s early years, introducing Wayne’s mentor, Henri Ducard. Years later, Christopher Nolan would draw inspiration from the arc when directing 2005 Batman begins.
Although Hamm never claimed to be the world’s biggest comic book fan, he knew the world of comics better than the average screenwriter of the 1980s. To promote the upcoming release of Batman, and maybe to allay fans’ fears about him watchmenHamm sat down for a two-part interview with Andy Mangels for the fanzine incredible heroes in early 1989.
incredible heroes #159 covers Hamm’s history with comics and offers a glimpse into the world, beforeBatman. Companies holding the Batman license were already producing Batman t-shirts, the hottest fashion trend of the year. Trade magazines published rumors about the production almost daily, usually speculating about celebrity cameos, which Hamm mentions in the interview: “There was this weird rumor that made the papers that (producer duo) Guber -Peters was trying to get Cher to appear (as Catwoman)… There was also a thing in the diary that Jack Nicholson wanted Elton John to interpret as his deranged sidekick Tom Thumb, but there is no Tom Thumb in the movie either, so…”
Hamm’s knowledge of comics inspired a nod to two lesser-known characters in his script for Batman — a tribute Warners lawyers would not tolerate. The nod to comic book fans includes two characters from the days when romance comics ruled the industry.
Hamm’s nod to the fans
Decades before she was made into the Marvel superheroine Hellcat, Patsy Walker was introduced to readers in November 1944. Miss America Magazine #2. Created by writer Stuart Little and artist Ruth Atkinson, Patsy appeared in numerous titles from 1944 to 1967, such as comics for teenagers and girls life, because the name of its publisher changed from Timely to Atlas and then to Marvel. The titles featured a young redhead named Patsy and her brunette rival Hedy Wolfe, with the stories shifting from humor to romance over the years. With another “girl’s book” Millie the model, Patsy was one of the few properties to survive the publisher’s shift from humor to horror to westerns to superheroes. Years before he developed the famous mad magazine flip-up back cover, cartoonist Al Jaffe drew many of Patsy’s comics.
Reaching a similar demographic, Katy Keene has appeared in various Archie Comics series since 1945. Created by Bill Woggon for Wilbur Comics #5, Katy was marketed by Archie as “America’s queen of pin-ups and fashion.” Raven-haired Katy has been everything from model to singer to actress, and largely seemed to exist so fans could submit original sketches of outfits and accessories to wear in the band’s future issues. drawn. (Literal paper dolls of Katy have appeared on the back of her comics.) Before she was given her own title in 1949, Katy made guest appearances in various Archie and Jughead comics, interacting with the Riverdale gang. It fell into oblivion over the years but was revived in the 1980s thanks to the dedication of artist John S. Lucas. She will later headline the publisher’s “Archie Romance Series” edition.
What does this have to do with Batman? In his interview, Hamm revealed to Mangels, “There are occasional little bits and references that would pass before a general viewer, but someone who knows the comics would know them. I had one in there that It was a sly homage to Marvel and Archie, when the Joker is responsible for the deaths of two supermodels who are identified on a news show as Patsy Walker and Katy Keene! Warner didn’t let it go through, so it’s over.”
When asked how the attorneys recognized those names, Hamm replied, “I don’t know. The studios have legal departments that do a search on a regular basis, and whenever a name comes up in a script, it’s is an existing fictitious person owned by someone else, or a celebrity, the name is usually changed.”
It’s a shame the joke didn’t make it into the movie, because it’s such a small reference that it’s unlikely Marvel or Archie followed up. Heck, both of these editors had plenty of references to the Batman movie in their comics after it came out in 1989, so it’s something they may have had fun with. Just imagine some of Patsy Marvel’s associates or Jughead’s “Hatman the Crowned Crusader” alter ego, swearing revenge for the senseless loss of their friends.