Study Guide

Batman Genre

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Neo-Noir Superhero Film

Tim Burton's Batman is the superhero film that redefined superhero films. It was dark (for 1989), brooding, and serious, unlike the Batman TV series from the 60's or the popular Superman films starring Christopher Reeve. The darkness comes from the storytelling—showing us Bruce's family tragedy and chronicling the mad rise of Joker.

But it also comes from the literal design of Gotham City.

That's where the noir side of Batman comes in. It's art deco style takes inspiration from the 1920's and 30's, which saw the roots of classic noir. The character's costumes and style are from this era too, with Vicki Vale bringing classic Hollywood realness to the screen. However, the clothes and cars don't look dated, because the set design and costumes have a timeless style too. (That's the "neo" part, right there.)

Batman effortlessly mixes past and present. It uses a traditional narrative technique to tell a dark, modern story. It tells us Batman's past and Joker's future. And Gotham City looks like a place that exists outside time itself…

…which is good for us. Let's keep all the crazies where they can't get to us.

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