We take it for granted that comic book heroes are all over our summer blockbusters. Ever since "X-Men" and "Spider-Man" resurrected the idea that comic book properties could be made into quality blockbusters that transcend their core fandom, every property with even a vague semblance of buzz can get spun into cinematic gold. They don't always work (witness the just-released "Jonah Hex"), but the ones that do manage to satisfy both the thrill-seeking cinema-goer and inspire a little thought and introspection at the same time. But a little over a decade before that resurgence could happen, Tim Burton's "Batman" took over the cinemas for the rest of the summer starting on this day in 1989.
The film, which starred Jack Nicholson as the Joker and Michael Keaton as the man living a split life between billionaire Bruce Wayne and the titular Caped Crusader, was a box office phenomenon. It earned $40 million during its opening weekend and went on to gross over $250 million. The movie also catapulted Burton to blockbuster status, as while his previous efforts "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" and "Beetlejuice" were successful, they did not match the commercial power and crossover appeal of "Batman" (which, while wildly popular, was also extremely dark). It stayed on the top of the box office chart for two weeks, fighting off big summer hits like "Lethal Weapon 2," "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and "Ghostbusters 2."
More importantly, the flick turned the Batman character into a cultural phenomenon again. There were toys, T-shirts and a revitalized interest in the comic books. People were getting Batman tattoos and making barbers shave the movie's logo into their heads. Though the subsequent sequels (especially 1995's "Batman Forever" and 1997's "Batman and Robin") spent all of the public's good will, America was totally gaga for Batman in the summer of '89 (such a trend happened again in 2008, when "The Dark Knight" debuted). You could argue that we were a "Bat Country" for a brief period — and here's Avenged Sevenfold to make that case.