Book Report: 1989 Batman Novelization


Batman by Craig Shaw Gardner

Book Report by Vincent

Fans of Robot’s Pajamas will know that I love the 1989 Batman film like life itself (check out some nifty toy commercials here). You can understand then that I was incredibly excited to find the novelization. While some of you could probably have predicted this, it wasn’t a very good read.

The first thing you should know about the 1989 Batman book adaptation is that it’s an almost word for word translation of what happens on screen. Yes, movie novelizations are supposed to reflect the movie, but this sucker is not very long. While there are some scenes that expand on the events of the movie, there’s not many. The biggest difference between film and book is a major departure. Bruce Wayne doesn’t use a serving tray to block a bullet in Viki Vale’s apartment, instead the bullet hits something on his utility belt he’s keeping in a bag. He then follows the Joker’s escaping van, gets into a car with Alfred to put on his costume, and then has a bit of a showdown with the Joker at Gothem’s bicentenial parade. The Joker ends up escaping on a rocket powered statue of himself. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds and it’s no wonder why it never made it into the film, the cost alone would have been enormous for this elaborate sequence, not to mention how stupid it would have looked to see the Joker flying away on a Joker rocket statue.

There are a few other extra bits that help explain things a bit better and make it worth reading for the die-hard ’89 Batman fan. Why weren’t there any cops stopping the Joker’s parade? Most of them were taken out by poison coffee!

Now I don’t want any hurt feelings here and I can’t really judge author Craig Shaw Gardner’s abilities based on one book, but the writing really didn’t jive for me on this one. The times where the focus was put on Joker were really… terrible. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but it just didn’t work for me.  But what do I know? For another opinion you can go here and see a guy who loves this friggen thing.

Overall, the 1989 Batman tie-in novelization is really only worth reading for die-hard fans of the ’89 film. Like me. If you can find it at a thrift store, do yourself a favor and pick it up. I really wanted to like it a lot more than I did, so if you do end up reading this sucker, I want to hear what you think.

  • PrfktTear

    The ’89 Batman film defined my late childhood. This might be something I’ll have to seek out.

    I’m on the lookout for book about the making of Batman. I saw it at a comic book store for $5 months ago, but as it happened, I didn’t have $5 on me. I’ve found it on eBay for relatively cheap, so it’s just a matter of time. It was neat though; it had full color pictures and had behind the scenes info.

    It reminded me of a magazine I had seen years ago at the supermarket, I couldn’t tell you the name of the magazine, it might have just been an “Info-fan-zine” trying to capitalize on the popularity of the film, so it might have not even have been official. All I remember was that it had info about the movie, characters, actors, etc. There was a picture of Batman on some sort of rotating wheel with curvy lines on it, and Jack Nicholson’s joker in his foofy art-museum outfit. I begged my mother for that magazine, but I never got it.

  • Vincent

    I don’t know if I have that book you are talking about, but I def had that magazine. I still have it! I probably looked at it about a hundred times before the movie came out.

  • PrfktTear

    @Vincent: Awesome! So it does exist, its not just a figment of my imagination! ^_^ Would you be able to tell me the name of the magazine, when it was published, etc. so I could possibly track it down? It’d be a real kick to see it again after all these years! I haven’t tried Googling it or anything, but I just remembered it honestly.

  • Vincent

    Its at my parents house, so I’ll take a look for it next time I’m there. I kept almost everything from the 89 film that I could get my hands on. Hell, I even have an old Cinnemon Twist packet with the logo on it. (they were introduced during the movie promo, you may remember)

  • PrfktTear

    Sweet! I was doing some Googling and found the Topps’ Batman Official Movie Souvenir Magazine which I actually DID have. I forgot all about that, I’m pretty certain I still have it too. But I don’t think that was the specific one I’m thinking of though. I’m sure there were other zines out there about the film. These were the days before the internet, so nerds had to resort to print media to get their geek on.

  • I had this book, but I don’t recall ever reading it cover to cover or anything. 89 Batman is the bomb. Nothing will ever top it.

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  • Hey! if you are still around, I know exactly the book and magazine you are referening!