Unless you’ve been hanging out in a cave for the past year (do you see what I did there…?), then you couldn’t have avoided the fact that the latest Batman film is released in the UK this weekend.
Due to the explosion in social media and ‘digital marketing’, the hype surrounding this film is unbelievable. It seems The Dark Knight Rises is everywhere. I’ve actually found myself skimming over Twitter and avoiding my favourite websites this week just to protect myself from potential plot spoilers. Is this the most talked about film ever? Avatar and Inception are probably up there but I think TDKR shades it.
Ironically, as film hype goes, the first film I remember getting this kind of media attention was Batman (1989). There was no internet back then but that didn’t stop the Batman logo being virtually everywhere. I was a student at the time and just remember seeing so many Batman t-shirts. The newsagents were full of special edition magazines, sticker books, poster books, Batman branded sweets and stationery. It was the first film I was consciously aware of having it own soundtrack as well as a score. Yes, there were movies prior to Batman that had soundtracks as well as scores but Prince’s Batman soundtrack was the first to show up on my radar (I was only 16 and not big in to music).
What I remember about the Batman soundtrack, the Batdance single and the movie posters for Batman was that they relied solely on one simple graphic – the Batman logo. Granted, it was heavily stylised and instantly recognisable but it became the icon that defined the summer of 89. To be fair, it’s probably only a superhero/comic book movie that can strip its promotional material down to a close crop of its main character’s logo – Superman’s ‘S’, Spiderman’s ‘Spider’, Captain America’s shield. Even to this day, I don’t think there has been a movie poster as simple or as effective than that Batman poster.
With Tim Burton’s Batman, you had two main characters, Batman and the Joker. In 1992 when the sequel was released, Batman Returns featured more main characters and this had an impact on the poster designs. There was the main poster that featured head shots of Batman, Catwoman and the Penguin but there was also three extra posters that featured these characters individually. Hell, I had a Catwoman poster behind my bedroom door. Since then, releasing multiple posters that featured the individual characters has been a theme that has been ever present since Batman Returns through to The Dark Knight Rises. It would be interesting to know if any films featuring multiple high profile characters DO NOT release individual poster and marketing material featuring individual characters. I’m going to stick my neck out here and say it was Batman Returns that first initiated this type of marketing.
But, as slick as these posters have looked with their glorious Photoshop character montages and epic Gotham skylines, I still rate the artwork for Batman as my favourite. As a huge Batman comic fan, I just loved seeing it everywhere – whether it was the regular yellow and black version or the stylised gold and black version from the film artwork.
1998 was a time when I was heavily experimenting on the Mac, constantly giving myself personal projects to do so I could learn the software. One such personal project was creating a set of images that featured my initials in a stylised way, such as a homage to Superman’s cape or the 1989 Batman logo.