Tim Burton’s noirish Gotham still looks impressive, while Joel Schumacher’s come off a little wacky
Jack Nicholson’s 1989 turn as The Joker in Batman (★★★★☆) provided an almighty bang to start what was to become a tetralogy of movies, all four being re-released to mark the Dark Knight’s 80th anniversary in DC Comics. This Joker is a purple-clad supervillain who upstages Michael Keaton’s diffident Batman with no difficulty and whose capering craziness is periodically supercharged by the sound of Prince on the soundtrack. Directed by Tim Burton, the movie has a brooding noir feel. It even showed prostitution on the streets of Gotham City. The Joker is given an origin myth; Jack Napier (the JN initials leaning heavily on Nicholson’s own legendary bad-boy status) is a mobster and former street hoodlum with a fateful connection to the young Bruce Wayne. When he accidentally falls into a chemical vat during a shootout in a pharmaceutical factory, the fumes cause his face to contract into that hideous grin. A bad-guy barmstormer from Jack.