Reveal: Bob Kane Had Entirely Different Idea for “Batman 89”

Jack Nicholson as the Joker

We almost got an entirely different story for Batman (1989) if the GOAT himself Bob Kane had his way. The iconic rooftop battle scene between Batman and the Joker may have gone much differently, which includes Joker falling off a bridge to his death. Before Sam Hamm started the script, Kane wrote a 30-page treatment titled “The Return of the Batman” which can now be found as a bonus item in the book Batman: The Definitive History of the Dark Knight in Comics, Film and Beyond written by Andrew Fargo and Gina McIntyre. The treatment doesn’t jump right out at you, it’s attached to the inside back cover.

There is very little information about this out there on the internet, so if you want to know full details, you’re going to have to pick up a copy of the book. Kane reached out to Warner Bros. exec Lisa Henson on how the movie should go, and his letter dated June 12, 1986, states that he is “eagerly looking forward” to a meeting “with the new Batman writer, Sam Hamm, and Tim Burton.” He also stated that he was actively looking forward to working with Hamm on a creative consultant basis. That is how Kane ended up credited on the first four Batman movies (even though the man should always be credited he co-created the character).

The treatment, however, shows that he wanted to contribute in a much larger role. At 70 years old, the story starts in media res with Batman chasing Joker through Gotham City. Joker then meets his demise on a bridge. After that, Batman returns to Wayne Manor where Alfred has “coffee and cake” ready to go for Master Wayne. And it gets even weirder…

Kane wanted to avoid the “campy” mood set by the 1960’s TV series but parts of this treatment seem to do the opposite. Bruce divulges into a lengthy monologue about how Dick Grayson is off at college, explaining his absence from the film. Those who dug deep into the history of the film know that Robin was originally written in the script and then cut. After this monologue Alfred asks “Tell me, sir, you seem to be moody and introspective since you returned from your vigil tonight over Gotham City as Batman. Did you encounter any trouble?”

WHOA. A throwback to older Golden Age Batman comics much? And when is Batman not moody and introspective? Anyway…Bruce tells Alfred about his encounter with the Joker and then ponders to himself in his chair. Talking to no one at all he states, “My, my, how quickly time passes… I remember another stormy night such as this about twenty-five years ago…” and that is where our origin story begins.

And this whole time? Bruce is puffing on a pipe. Oh boy. the treatment also includes writing Robin back into the script in the third act, Joker returning and kidnapping a Russian athlete before the Olympics, and in pops Catwoman out of nowhere as an ally for Joker and usual Bruce Wayne love interest.

Kane also had a “Bible” for the characters that he hoped would serve as a guide to the creative team. At least one thing we all agree on, Jack was even his choice for the Joker in 1986.

We don’t want to give you all the juicy details the script has (which also involves some mind-erasing Egyptian medallion) but we can say, Alexander Knox, Vicki Vale, and Commissioner Gordon weren’t even thought about for the film. GASP!

If you want to know all the details, you’ll just have to pick up a copy of the book!

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Shaina Lucas

Hi! I'm Shaina aka the Jokergurl. I've been studying comics (namely Batman) since I was 12 years old, and possibly even before that. My forte is being up on absolutely everything there is to know about the Caped Crusader, and both the Clown Prince and Princess of Crime. I recently graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with an MA in English and Creative Writing and an MFA in Creative Writing from National University. I am also a Digital Marketing expert. I have a cat Strawberry and a dog Ashes and spend most of my time reading, editing, cosplaying, and gaming on Game of Honor. Have a happy!