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Batman: I'm not going to kill you. I want you to do me a favor: I want you to tell all your friends about me.
Nic: WHAT ARE YOU?!
Batman: ...I'm Batman.
Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) has been fighting crime in Gotham as Batman for some time when this film starts, but is an enigma to a city unsure of what he is. The plot here chronicles his battles with Jack Napier/The Joker (Jack Nicholson). In terms of popularity, this film is the best regarded of this film series.
See also Batman the Animated Series, which took some cues from the Burton films and actually launched the same year as Returns, and went on to produce a few movies of its own. The notorious Catwoman film in 2004 has no continuity connection with these, but it's worth noting that the whole idea of doing a film about her alone was inspired by Pfeiffer's performance in '92.
Tropes from this film
- Actor Allusion: the infamous "let's get nuts" scene seems to be put in just to allude to Michael Keaton's role as a psychiatric patient in the comedy The Dream Team. His voice during that sequence is reminiscent of another crazy Keaton character.
- Jack Nicholson, playing a character sharing his first name who is driven insane by circumstances and famously goes Axe Crazy. And in his first appearance, Nicholson is sitting in a meeting shuffling a deck of cards.
- Armor Is Useless: Averted. This version of the suit seems to be one of the toughest versions of the Batsuit ever, given what kinds of hits it takes.
- Anti-Hero: Batman is not a stranger to this trope, but unlike most other incarnations, Burton's Batman has no problem with killing people (supervillains and Mooks alike), pushing him towards Type IV-territory.
- Art Attacker: The Joker describes himself as this: "I'm the world's first fully functioning homicidal artist. I make art until someone dies."
- Ass Shove / Toilet Humor: "This town needs an enema!"
- Award Bait Song: Scandalous! by Prince may be considered this.
- Ax Crazy: The Joker, as usual. Though the film implies that Jack Napier was crazy to begin with. (He seems positively genteel compared to Heath Ledger's interpretation of the character..)
- Badass Grandpa: Commissioner Gordon, although in subsequent films he suffers Badass Decay.
- Bad Boss: The Joker, even moreso than usual. Rest in peace, Bob...
- "BANG!" Flag Gun: Naturally, the Joker has one.
- Berserk Button: "HE STOLE MY BALLOONS!!!!!"
- Big Electric Switch: After Batman drives into the Batcave with Vicki Vale, he turns on the lights by throwing a switch.
- Billing Displacement: Jack Nicholson is the top billed actor, not Michael Keaton.
- Bizarrchitecture: Anton Furst's Gotham practically exemplifies this.
- Bloodstained-Glass Windows: Batman's final confrontation against The Joker takes place on top of Gotham Cathedral. .
- Board to Death: The Joker does this to his crime bosses.
- Bond One-Liner: The Joker gets a few ("Antoine got a little hot under the collar", "The pen is truly mightier than the sword").
- Brand X: In the Joker's Smilex commercial, at the "blind taste test", a man who is tied to a chair and gagged (with a disclaimer reading "Not An Actor") is said to have been using Brand X ("Oh No!").
- Break the Cutie: Poor Alicia.
- Broken Heel: Subverted than inverted quite neatly, when the Joker takes Vicki hostage and then takes off her high heels to subvert this as they both ascend to the eventual Climbing Climax at the top of the very, very tall Gotham Cathedral. The inversion is that because her heels were slowing her down until the Joker got rid of them, it allowed the hero (rather than the villain, as usual for this trope) to gain ground.
- Brooklyn Rage: The Joker's goons flash some of this on occasion.
- The Brute: Lawrence, Joker's only other named goon, who is also Bald of Evil and never seen without his Cool Shades. He also appears to be wearing a priest's collar, and frequently carries around a ghetto blaster to provide the background music.
- Buffy-Speak: After Batsy foils his scheme to poison the entire city with the Batplane, the usually eloquent Joker splutters: "Why didn't somebody tell me he had one of those....things?!"
- But for Me It Was Tuesday: Played with.
- Camera Sniper: When Vicki spots Bruce visiting the spot where his parents died, the camera goes into this style.
- Captain Obvious: Vicki Vale. "Bats", she points out, upon seeing the animals in the Batcave, "His parents were murdered in that alley. That's why he went there" while checking Bruce Wayne's newspaper files motivated by having seen him going to the alley, and then when she sees Joker's Smylex gas flowing out of a balloon, she comments "Smylex gas". In the first and third example, the referred items are in plain sight not only to her but to the audience as well.
- Captive Date: The Joker and Vicki Vale.
- Charity Ball: The Casino Night variant.
- Climbing Climax: The Joker is savvy enough to call ahead for a helicopter to pick him (and Vicki) up, but his escape fails big time. (The funny thing is that he pretty clearly made it up the cathedral in about five minutes - if he hadn't adjusted the time for when the helicopter should show up, he'd have made a clean getaway.)
- Cloudcuckoolander: The Joker, in spades. When addressing the public about Boss Grissom's death: "Yes, he was a thief. And a terrorist. On the other hand, he had a tremendous singing voice." That, and his boast about being a homicidal artist ("I make art until somebody dies.") His conversation with a charcoaled Rotelli is definite proof of Cloud CuckooInsanity:
Joker: Your pals, uh, they're not bad people. Maybe we, uh, outta give them a couple of days to think it over. (shakes head) No? (gasps in shock at the corpse) Grease 'em now? Well... okay. You are a vicious bastard Rotelli. (tightens Rotelli's tie) I'm glad you're dead! (laughs maniacally at own joke) "I'm glad you're dead!" Hee hee hee!
- Then there's this exchange, when Vicki asks Joker what he wants.
Joker: My face on the one dollar bill.
Vicki: You must be joking.
Joker: (absolutely serious) Do I look like I'm joking?
Knox: You know why they're so odd? Because they can afford to be.
- Vicki accuses Batman as one.
Vicki: A lot of people think you're as dangerous as the Joker.
Batman: He's psychotic.
Vicki: Some people say the same thing about you.
Batman: What people?
Vicki: Well, I mean let's face it, you're not exactly... normal. Are you?
Batman: (confronts her) It's not exactly a normal world is it?
- Companion Cube: The Batmobile, which gets several Awesome Moments whilst being remote controlled.
- Composite Character
- Vicki Vale resembles her comic counterpart in name and occupation only, as her characterization is much closer to another of Bruce Wayne's love interests from the comics named Silver St. Cloud, a blonde woman who learns about Bruce's secret identity as Batman. An early draft of the script featured Silver St. Cloud, but the character was renamed since the producers thought the name sounded too cheesy.
- The film forgoes Joe Chill and makes a young Jack Napier into the murderer of Bruce Wayne's parents.
- Cool Car: The Batmobile.
- Corpsing: One unfortunate news reporter does it before dying from Smilex.
- Crapsack World: What Bruce thinks the world is, and its that world that killed his parents and the reason he's Batman.
Bruce: I tried to avoid all this but I can't. This is how it is. It's not a perfect world.
Vicki: It doesn't have to be a perfect world.
- Create Your Own Villain: Despite changing the Joker into being the mugger who killed the Waynes, a lot of people really enjoyed the exchange Batman and the Joker had at the end where they wonder who really created who.
- Creator Backlash: A couple of months after the movie's release, Burton said that he felt the film as a whole was "mainly boring" and referred to it as "more of a cultural phenomenon than a great movie".
- Creator Cameo: Bob Kane's signature can be seen on the opinion cartoon handed to Knox. A more literal example is Burton playing one of the Joker's goons during the museum scene (or so rumor has it).
- Dead Line News: Some news anchors are discussing the Joker's act of chemical terrorism on Gotham, when suddenly a female anchor starts laughing uncontrollably, and then falls over dead with the victims' characteristic grin on her face.
- Deadpan Snarker: Jack Napier is a good example of this before his "Jokerization."
- Bruce Wayne is no slouch himself.
Knox: *referring to a samurai-style armor* Where did this come from?
Vicki: I have no idea.
Bruce: It's Japanese.
Knox: And how do you know?
Bruce: *beat* Because I bought it in Japan.
- Decoy Protagonist: If you're seeing this movie for the first time and are familiar with its comic-book origins, you might be forgiven for thinking that Jimmy (the boy with the map whose parents are mugged in the opening sequence) is the child Bruce Wayne when you first see him. Only when his father calls him by name (telling him to put away the map) is the truth revealed - and then it becomes clear that the scene is not a flashback when Batman swoops down to avenge the mugging.
- Demoted to Extra: Commissioner Gordon. Understandable in the first, since Batman isn't working with the police, but he just keeps vanishing into the background as the films go on.
- Despair Event Horizon: When Jack Napier first looks into the plastic surgeon's mirror and sees his "clown face," for a brief moment we hear - very softly - the sound of his sobbing. A moment later, he goes into hysterical denial, starts laughing....and doesn't ever stop.
Joker: That wasn't easy to get over! And don't think I didn't try.
- Dirty Cop: Lt. Eckhardt, who is on Grissoom's payroll.
- Disney Villain Death: The Joker. We even see exactly how far down he has to fall, as well as a close-up of his crushed corpse.
- Distressed Damsel: Vicki Vale.
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: The Joker does this twice.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Justified, as Vicki is wearing high heels and the situation she was in made ditching them prudent. She also winds up shoeless at the film's climax, and also removes her shoes while on her date with Bruce. The Real Life reason for this was that Kim Basinger is only a little shorter than Michael Keaton. Combined with the fact that her character continually wears high heels throughout the film, Batman would end up looking comically short when standing next to her, hence it was necessary to have her lose the heels in certain scenes.
- The Dog Bites Back: The very first thing Jack Napier does after becoming The Joker was kill Grissom as revenge for setting him up to be killed due to his sleeping with Grissom's wife.
- The Dragon: Bob, the Joker's right-hand man, who seldom speaks but is actually quite good at his job. You could say that he's the perfect henchman, which makes the Joker eventually shooting him just plain wrong, even for supervillainy.
- Dull Surprise: Kim Basinger as Vicky Vale, especially when she meets Bruce in the Batcave, and later when the Batplane gets shot down. Roger Ebert chided the former sequence, asking why Vicki's reaction was so mundane.
- Can be justified if you subscribe to the theory that Vicki had already figured out Bruce Wayne's secret while reading about his parents' murders with Allie at the office, and had obviously given herself time to come to terms with the truth before heading for Wayne Manor. (Indeed, sharp-eyed viewers will notice that Vicki is wearing a different outfit in the Batcave than at the office, proving that she at least took time out to change her clothes.)
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Well, it's not completely happy, since Batman, as the next movie reveals, is once again alone and nobody gets the girl - but everything still ends on a pretty high note for a story otherwise so firmly on the cynical end of the spectrum.
- Electric Joy Buzzer: "Antoine got a little hot under the collar!"
- Elite Mook: The mook at the top of the bell tower smacks Batman around pretty well for a little while.
- Enemy Mime: The Joker's goons masquerade as mimes at the courthouse.
- Enemy Rising Behind: The Joker's goons shoot Batman while he's on the ground, then turn away. He rises up from the ground behind them, then proceeds to beat them up.
- Enforced Method Acting: Keaton hated the Batsuit because he suffered from claustrophobia. Elfman and Keaton both decided that it would enhance his performance. And it did.
- Eureka Moment: Vicki may have had one after seeing the news clipping of the murder of Bruce's parents.
Knox: (to Vicki) What do you suppose something like this does to a kid?
- Even Evil Has Standards: The mob was legitimately horrified about Jack Napier/Joker's actions during the mob meeting.
- Jack's partner didn't anticipate him shooting at Bruce's parents.
- Before Bats takes out the muggers at the beginning, one chastises his partner for pointing his gun at the kid.
- Everything's Better with Bob: It's Bob, man. He's our number one guy!
- Evil Is Petty: To the Joker, anything can be countenanced by society - or, at least, should be countenanced - as long as it is funny; and if it is what one would presumably call a "misdeed," the question of whether it results in great suffering or mere irritation is simply irrelevant. So the Joker goes about doing every "naughty" thing he can think of, just to see what will happen as a result. For example: He electrocutes a fellow gangster just so he can make a bad pun and "comically" talk to the corpse. He hijacks a television broadcast with an irreverent "commercial" taunting Gothamites for having unwittingly bought poisoned household items. He sends the girl he lusts after a jack-in-the-box that pops up with a handful of dead flowers, which causes her to faint because she was expecting something far more deadly.
- Evil Is Stylish: The Joker is prominently obsessed with fashion.
Joker: (on seeing Knox's photo) Bad tie! No style...
- Executive Meddling: This was a big reason the Schumacher films turned out the way they did, but again, Burton's films weren't immune.
- Failing a Taxi: The tourist family in the opening scene has things especially bad. They had succeeded in hailing a cab, but as the father was giving directions to the hotel they were planning on staying at, someone else butted in and boarded the cab before he could finish, even though they were there first. Gotham, huh?
- Famous Last Words: When Joker is about to make his escape via the chopper, he says "Sometimes I just kill myself." A few seconds later, his leg is attached to a Gargoyle, that promptly breaks off, and then he falls to his doom.
- Fanfare: A dark one for the opening, and a triumphant one at the end.
- Faux Affably Evil / Laughably Evil: The Joker (a given with this character in any incarnation).
- This version of the character is takES the Faux Affably Evil trope so far that he Crosses the Line Twice and swings the pendulum right over to Affably Evil. Being portrayed by Jack Nicholson certainly helps. The film actually has to remind us with a flashback toward the end exactly why Jack Napier is a very bad man.
- Foreshadowing. "Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?" The Joker and Vicki Vale do so on top of the church. The Joker and Batman have their own "dance" later, though who the "devil" is is up to debate.
- The card Jack pulls from his "lucky deck"? The Joker.
- Form-Fitting Wardrobe: The batsuit was made to look like it.
- Freudian Excuse: Entirely averted with Jack Napier. Bruce Wayne reviews Napier's personal history and learns that he was a complete psycho even before he made it to junior high. At best, Bruce muses that he might have a Darwinian excuse ("He had a head full of bad wiring, I guess....").
- The film is notable as being one of the earliest examples of a work that tries to subvert the idea that the Joker is criminally insane and isn't responsible for his actions , an idea that only really emerged in the 70's itself. Like Batman the Animated Series, it does so by making him a violent criminal even before he had his toxic bath, though in this one he is killed before we find out if he would have been thrown in an insane asylum rather than prison (the animated one gets the asylum, but Word of God is that its only because he's managed to convince people that he's crazy, rather than actually being as crazy as he pretends).
Bruce Wayne:(reading profile) "Jack Napier, assault with a deadly weapon, age fifteen. Results of psychological profile: Violent mood swings, highly intelligent, emotionally unstable. Aptitudes include science, chemistry, and art."
- Good Is Not Nice: Batman, natch. He kills henchmen left and right, sends Vicki mixed signals about what's going to become of their relationship, and overall, seems to be more obsessed with enforcing the law and getting vengeance on The Joker than actually doing good.
- The earliest example is the muggers at the beginning. One isn't pleased his buddy turned a gun on the kid. Guess which one gets put through wall.
- Go Out with a Smile: The Joker's Smilex poison is all about this, and as the trope entry reminds us, he goes out this way himself. (Though considering his smile is a scar, he didn't have any real choice in the matter.)
- Going for the Big Scoop: This was Vicki Vale's role in the first film.
- Groin Attack: When Batman makes his way into the cathedral, the first of the Joker's goons tries a flying jump kick attack with spikes attached to his boots, but Batman subdues the goon by shooting a something that vaguely resembles a spatula out of his gauntlet which strikes the goon right in his groin, causing him to let out an audible "Uh!" just before he falls and grimaces. Later when the giant mook who resembles Ray Charles is giving Batman a humiliating beating, his last two moves appear to be punching Batman in the groin and then shoving his knee into his groin. Right before Batman kills him.
- Heroic BSOD: Bruce Wayne suffers from this when he sees Jack Napier return as the Joker. Specifically, he walks towards Joker as the latter is fleeing as if in a trance and with a clearly shocked expression, not even reacting to a bullet grazing his right arm, and even when Vicki Vale stops him from going into the street, he looks dazed before leaving. Bear in mind, this was all while there was chaos on the street due to Joker's mime henchmen firing upon the gathered crowd.
- "Hey You!" Haymaker:
Batman [to Joker]: Excuse me. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?
[Batman smiles, then punches Joker in the face.]
Batman: I want you to do me a favor. I want you to tell all your friends about me.
Mook: What are you?
Batman: I'm Batman.
- Interestingly for a trope that's generally used as a death threat, just before Batman holds the guy over the edge of the building, he tells the mook, "I'm not going to kill you."
- Hot Chick in a Badass Suit: Vicki wears a masculine-style suit in one brief scene.
- The Hyena: Joker
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Joker's got to get Vicki to the church on time.
- I'm Melting: When Vicki throws a glass of water into the Joker's face, he pretends that this is happening in a Shout-Out to The Wizard of Oz.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: In the fight at the cathedral, Batman apparently has a gadget that was designed for the sole-purpose of crushing an opponents nuts. And he does that to one of the Joker's mooks.
- Insult Misfire
Joker (to Vicki Vale): We're like Beauty and The Beast. 'Course if anyone else calls you "Beast", I'll rip their lungs out!
- Ironic Echo / Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Eckhardt! Think about the future!"
- Joker Immunity: Averted brutally with the Trope Namer's death—just as he was about to escape.
- Just Between You and Me:
Bruce: (whispers to Joker) I know who you are.
- Kick the Dog: Losing your balloons is a sad thing. We'll give you that, Joker, but shooting Bob afterwards was still a dick move.
- Also an Ironic Echo. Joker gave Bob a warning/death sentence earlier in the film when he imitated his own treacherous boss, calling Bob his "Number one guy". Now that's the Joker's kind of punchline.
- Kitschy Local Commercial: The Joker makes one of these to announce "Joker Brand Cosmetics, with Smilex", complete with him posing with carboard cutout models, shopping in a fake grocery store, and doing a side-by-side comparison with a "Brand-X".
- Kung Fu-Proof Mook: One of the Joker's mooks actually gives as good as he gets from Batman. Then Batman kills him.
- Lack of Empathy: When Batman revealed to The Joker that he murdered his parents, thus meaning that The Joker made him first, The Joker mocks Batman for the way he explained it, cumulating in "How childish can you get!?"
- Large Ham: The Joker, and also Grissom.
- Laughing Mad: It's The Joker, for Chrissakes!
- Let's Get Dangerous: After a long stretch of acting like a deluded fool following his transformation, the Joker is actually quite chilling when, in Vicki's apartment, he unexpectedly switches back to the persona of Jack Napier for an in-universe Call Back ("Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight? I always ask that of all my prey. I just like the sound of it.") Then blam.
- Then Bruce Wayne himself turns up and picks up a poker. "Let's get nuts!"
- Little No: Batman said it after Vicki Vale asked that all products are poisoned.
- Lured Into a Trap: Boss Grissom sends Jack Napier to retrieve the incriminating information from Axis Chemical so Lieutenant Eckhardt and his team of corrupt cops can kill him.
- Mad Artist: The Joker describes himself as "the worlds first, fully functioning homicidal artist", he disfigured his girlfriend Alicia Hunt and failed in his attempt to disfigure Vicki Vale.
- Mad Scientist: The Joker has shades of this as it is implied that he created the binary compound (CIA files on a nerve agent classified DDID) for the Smilex poison.
- Malevolent Mugshot: Done a lot with the Joker's face.
- Monster Clown: Who do you think?
- Movie Superheroes Wear Black: The Ur Example, if not, the Trope Maker. This movie was perhaps the first to turn superhero costumes black. Batman started off with a black and grey costume but quickly switched to blue and grey in the 40's and remained that way until this movie. Eventually, Batman began wearing an all-black costume to match the films.
- Multiple Choice Past: Notably averted in this film with the Trope Namer, where they actually did give The Joker an undeniable backstory in the film.
- Mythology Gag: In the first film, Vicki Vale had covered a conflict in Corto Maltese, the name of the disputed territory in The Dark Knight Returns. The Joker card in Jack Napier's "lucky deck" is patterned after the card the villain left to mark his crimes in his first comic book appearance.
- Neutral Female: Played with Vicki Vale. She does manage to save Batman from getting unmasked in the alley, and successfully distracts Joker while Batman is sneaking up on him. In all other cases, though, she's as useless as a snorkel in the Sahara.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Batman dishes a pretty brutal one to the Joker in the final climax, complete with Punch-Punch-Punch Uh-Oh from the latter. However, Joker manages to escape further wrath by using his own Playing Possum technique against him (which Batman had used only two minutes ago to evade a similarly nasty beatdown from one of his goons).
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Averted. When Batman takes on half-a-dozen of the Joker's goons in the alley, a sequence was filmed where Bob is actually able to hold his own in a knife-fight one-on-one with the Bat. For whatever reason, this was cut to Bob just abandoning the others and running.
- Oh Crap: Multiple examples.
- Those two muggers in the opening sequence, when they realize that Batman is, to say the least, Not Quite Dead.
- Jack Napier, when he finds himself in Batman's clutches at the factory.
Jack Napier: "Jesus!"
- Vinnie Ricorso on the steps of the courthouse. ("Hello, Vinnie....Time to pay the check!")
- Bob, when Batman calls him out with a "come here" finger-wiggle beckoning.
- Joker himself though does not really express his fear, this little dialogue, sums it all up when he finds out who Batman is.
Batman: You killed my parents.
Joker: *confused* Heh? What are you talking about?
Batman: I made you, but you made me first.
Joker: *scared* Come on Bat brain I was a kid when I killed your parents. When I say you made me you gotta say I made you, how childish can you get?
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Some of this can be heard a little more than midway through the film, as the Batmobile is speeding away from the city and toward the Batcave, as part of Danny Elfman's "Descent Into Mystery" suite. It is very hard to make out what is being chanted, but one of the first words heard sounds a bit like sanctus - a common enough term heard in Catholic Church music, as it means "holy." (A Mythology Gag, perhaps?)
- The One Thing I Don't Hate About You:
The Joker: Now you fellows have said some pretty mean things, some of which were true under that fiend, Boss Grissom. He was a thief and a terrorist. On the other hand, he had a tremendous singing voice.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: John Dair (Vinnie Ricorso) was a British actor playing an Italian-American character. He lapses into his natural accent during his very last scene (when he is talking to the newspaper reporters on the steps of City Hall).
- Origin Story: Infamously gave a solid one to The Joker, which caused a good bit of Base Breaking (since all other sources treat his origin as a total mystery).
- Parody Commercial: After the Deadline News incident listed above, the Joker hijacks the airwaves with this to reveal himself as responsible for the Smilex deaths, and to cheerily inform Gotham that more people are doomed because they're already unknowingly using the tainted products. ("And hair color so natural only your undertaker knows for sure!") He even spoofs the Brand X trope to prove his point.
- Playing Against Type: Comedian Michael Keaton as the Batman.
- Keaton himself lampshaded this in interviews with the observation that Bruce Wayne should be the person who looks least likely to be Batman.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Alexander Knox, a newspaper reporter who collaborates with Vicki Vale, in the first film. He serves as a Heroic Bystander at one point, though he gets sidelined quickly. Accidentally. By Vicki.
- Plummet Perspective: Used to horrifying effect, with the Joker's point of view shot of how far he has to fall to his bone-shattering death on the pavement of Gotham in the first film. His blood-chilling scream made it all the more nightmarish. Almost makes you feel sorry for the bastard. And it was also used when the Joker and Vicki are climbing up the bell-towers interior: Joker throws one of Vicki's high heels over the side, and we get a shot showing it plummeting down the tower.
- Police Are Useless: Despite Joker being a known murderer and psychopath, and publicly broadcasting the time and place of his whereabouts for the evening, the police force take absolutely no measures to respond to this until after he has already killed dozens of Gothamites and proceeded with his escape plan. Sure certain Gotham police are corrupt, but surely that can't mean the entire force is so incompetent?
- This was explained in the shooting script and the novelization, both of which make clear that Joker had laced the police department's coffee with a paralytic (but non-lethal) toxin that physically incapacitated most of Gotham's finest.
- Pop Culture Osmosis
- Pragmatic Adaptation: A number of changes between the film and the comic appear to have been made for the sake of drama and the tone they were trying to set. Notably, making The Joker and Joe Chill a Composite Character, and making Batman use much more violent, possibly lethal methods, rather than having him hew to his Thou Shalt Not Kill stance.
- Prop Recycling: The doctor's tools were originally Orin Scrivello's dentist tools, and then perverse gynecological equipment.
- Psychotic Smirk: The Joker, and surprisingly, Batman too. Two notable examples: when he says, "I'm Batman" to the initial mook, then when Jack Napier comments "Nice outfit".
- Race Lift: Harvey Dent. Burton changed him from the brown-haired Caucasian he was in the comics to....Billy Dee Williams.
- Rage Against the Reflection: As part of the buildup to the reveal of the Joker's face, he asks for a (hand) mirror to see the results of the surgery he got from a Back-Alley Doctor. The audience doesn't see the reflection, but when he does, he evilly laughs for the first time as he smashes the mirror. (This was later parodied in The Simpsons episode that was the trope namer for Lisa Needs Braces, when she got the ridiculously old-fashioned ones.)
- Ret Canon: The Grapple Gun from the film has since been adopted into the comic book canon and other Batman media, including Batman the Animated Series.
- Rich Idiot With No Day Job: While touring Bruce Wayne's mansion with Vicki during a charity party, Alexander Knox voices his opinion that Wayne is nothing but a vain, pompous fool. He does not know that at that very moment, Bruce is preparing to transform into Batman in order to go stop the mob from sanitizing its front company paper trail.
- Rooftop Confrontation
- Running Gag: A minor one: the news reporters look increasingly unkempt as the plot with the poisoned hygiene products unravels.
- Scary Black Man: The last of the goons Batman has to fight before getting to Joker himself. He actually manages to beat the living piss out of Bats at first, although to be fair our hero had already been seriously injured.
- Scenery Porn: Anton Furst won a Academy Award for his set design, which along with Blade Runner re-invented the German Expressionist set (though, to be fair, Furst also worked on Beetlejuice, which was also an influence on the set.)
- Screw the War, We're Partying: The Joker, big time. Prince's "Batdance" video takes it to a new extreme.
- She's Got Legs: Vicki Vale. They're the first thing Knox sees.
- Shock and Awe: Joker's lethal joy buzzer.
- Shoot the Television: Done twice by the Joker. The first is when he takes a boxing glove gun to the TV for mention of Batman in connection to an assassination that Joker pulled off on one of Grissom's underbosses, demanding to know, "What kind of a world we live in where a man dressed up as a bat gets all of my press?!" The second time, Joker shoots the television screen with a real gun after learning on the news that his poisoning scheme involving beauty products has been foiled by the Batman.
- Shout-Out. Bob Kane, and those Little Shop of Horrors dentist tools sure get around a lot, since last appearing in Dead Ringers.
- The Corto Maltese War, mentioned here as being Vicki's last big photography project, is the name of the conflict Superman puts an end to in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.
- "I'm Melting" from The Wizard of Oz
- In addition to the general architecture of Gotham, the Climbing Climax bears a striking resemblance to the cathedral fight in Metropolis.
- Silly Song: "Partyman"
- Small Name, Big Ego: Alexander Knox is set up as one, but he's mostly an aversion (if not an outright inversion). He fancies himself a great investigative reporter, even though he famously has a "useless reputation" and though his coworkers at the Gotham Globe offices relentlessly mock him for being one of the few people in Gotham City who actually believes in Batman. In addition, when he meets Vicki Vale and is instantly smitten with her, he arrogantly asks if she has come to photograph him nude, and boasts that in that case she will need a long lens. But Vicki actually ends up liking Allie despite his more annoying qualities, and in the end he is vindicated when the people of Gotham come to realize that he was right about Batman after all. The nearest Knox gets to a Break the Haughty is when Vicki accidentally hits him with a car during a panicked stampede in the streets and he falls off the hood and into a pile of garbage in an alley.
- Sorry I Left the BGM On: In several scenes, what appeared to be background music turns out to be emanating from a boombox that the Joker has a mook follow him around with.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Happens in a strange way with this series; the first movie was a dark, serious gothic film that featured a Prince pop number as its' soundtrack's main single, apparently because it was the song the executives wanted. "Batman Forever" and "Batman and Robin", on the other hand, are much, much Lighter and Softer but have songs like U2's "Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me" and Smashing Pumpkins' "The End is the Beginning is the End" as the major soundtrack songs, both of which sound like they should be on the soundtrack of much darker, deeper, better movies. Indeed, a remixed version of the latter song was on the soundtrack of the Watchmen movie.
- Stalker with a Crush: The Joker becomes this due to twisted infatuation when he sees a picture of Vicki Vale.
- The Starscream: Ostensibly Jack Napier, though it's hard to tell if it's a straight example or a subversion. While he was the one who killed Carl Grissom, he did not do so as part of a plot to take over. He killed Grissom out of revenge, and then decided to take over his empire as an afterthought. Then again, comments Napier made in passing to both Alicia and Lieutenant Eckhardt suggest that he may have been plotting Grissom's murder sometime in the future, or at the very least was waiting for the old man to die.
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: Batdance
- Talking to the Dead: The Joker does this to Antoine Rotelli's fried corpse shortly after dismissing the mob summit (He was the one who murdered Rotelli with a joy buzzer.), and he apparently is "told" by Rotellei's corpse to "grease" the mob bosses immediately, to which Joker complies and responds "You are such a vicious bastard, Rotelli, and I'm glad you're dead" before laughing hysterically.
- Technically a Smile: Batman smiles a couple of times. It's easily the scariest expression he's got.
- Tempting Fate: A crooked police lieutenant to Jack Napier near the film's beginning: "The future? You mean when you run the show? You ain't got no future, Jack!" (This culminates in an Ironic Echo at the factory, when Napier kills the lieutenant with a single shot.)
- That Man Is Dead: Used in the reveal of the Joker's face. "Jack is dead, my friend. You can call me...Joker. And as you can see, I'm a whole lot happier."
- The original line was a lot more blunt and angrier, with the Joker stepping out of the shadows and shouting, "DO I LOOK LIKE FUCKING JACK?!"
- The Reveal Prompts Romance: There was an exchange like this between Bruce Wayne and Vicki Vale towards the end, when Vale is shown into the Batcave.
- Throw It In: When exploring Wayne Manor with Vicki, Knox (Robert Wuhl) ad-libbed the jokes aimed at Bruce's decorative collection of odd-looking armour.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Averted, which may come as quite a shock to younger tropers more used to the modern Batman films where this trope is enforced. In fact, this movie is an attempt to return to the earliest version of Batman's character, where he did kill.
- Most notable in the ending of the licensed NES game, where Batman directly throws Joker off the cathedral roof to his death. Something got lost in translation, perhaps?
- Too Dumb to Live: Half of Gotham seems to be this way. It was already common knowledge that the Joker had murdered many people, but that didn't stop them from diving at the cash he offered in public. He even said into a microphone, "Now comes the part where I relieve you, the little people, of the burden of your failed and useless lives," but they're too engrossed to listen. A minute later, many are dead. And some who aren't dead yet still grab for cash.
- Took a Level In Badass: While working for decayed old-fogey crime boss Carl Grissom, Jack Napier's colleagues are forced to dress in the kind of extremely frumpy "old-man" clothes that even your grandfather wouldn't be caught dead wearing. Once Napier becomes the Joker and assumes control, they undergo a startling sartorial metamorphosis: everything form-fitting and in a sexy dark shade, including dark purple leather jackets, tight black pants, stylish black hats, and the Cool Shades. Oh, and some of them have apparently learned kung fu.
- Un Confession: Bruce Wayne tries to tell Vicki Vale that he's Batman, but he's interrupted by the arrival of the Joker.
- Unflinching Faith in the Brakes: Batman tells the Batmobile to stop, and it does... JUST in time.
- Undying Loyalty: Bob is the kind of staunchly loyal henchman that most any villain would be grateful to have, which makes Joker's shooting of him a major Kick the Dog moment.
- The Uriah Gambit: Involves crime boss Carl Grissom manipulating his lieutenant Jack Napier into being killed as punishment for sleeping with Grissom's girlfriend, a plot that drastically backfires.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: Vicky Vale unsuccessfully tries to hide the photo of Batman in her blouse.
- Villainy Discretion Shot: This is obvious in the first film with the Joker.
- Villainous Crush: Joker to Vicky Vale.
- Weaponized Car: The Batmobile.
- What Could Have Been: Sean Young was originally going to play Vicki Vale before Kim Basinger. Young had to bow out at practically the last minute after breaking her collarbone in a horseback riding accident.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: True of every incarnation of Batman, but Jack Nicholson's Joker is the Trope Namer.
- Sadly, we never got to see the second part of this. The Joker turns to his goons and says, "Well, don't just stand there--go ask him!!"
- White Mask of Doom: Alicia wears one after the Joker transforms her into a living "artistic masterpiece" (he corrodes half of her face).
- Wicked Cultured: The Joker enjoys classical (or at least orchestral) music, and he plays it on three "romantic" occasions: Percy Faith's "A Summer Place" while meeting Vicki in a museum café; Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer" while bringing some flowers (which, in a vile twist, are already wilted) to Vicki's apartment; and a sentimental waltz while he is, uh, ravishing Vicki on the roof of the city's Gothic cathedral. Interestingly, the latter piece - Danny Elfman's "Waltz to the Death" - is actually quite beautiful and grand, and would be completely innocent were it not exclusively associated with a disfigured mass murderer. He also quotes Edgar Allan Poe to Vicki in one scene - and, fittingly, it is a line from "The Raven," which is about a deceased sweetheart. (Joker had murdered his previous love interest, Alicia, in order to free himself up for Vicki.)
- He is also mentioned in his police file as having an apititude for art, which puts an interesting perspective when he and his goons vandalise most of the works at the Gotham Museum of Art (or when he dismisses most of Vicki's photography...except the ones of war and death). Presumably, he fully appreciates and understands all of this stuff on an artistic level, but still felt like smashing it up For the Evulz.
- For the evulz, or to bring them up to his own twisted sense of aesthetic standard? After all, when he brings Alicia in, she says "Jack, you said I could watch you improve the paintings."
- He is also mentioned in his police file as having an apititude for art, which puts an interesting perspective when he and his goons vandalise most of the works at the Gotham Museum of Art (or when he dismisses most of Vicki's photography...except the ones of war and death). Presumably, he fully appreciates and understands all of this stuff on an artistic level, but still felt like smashing it up For the Evulz.
- Wild Mass Guessing: Jack Napier's partner on the night Bruce's parents were murdered is either Bob the Goon or Joe Chill.
- Willing Suspension of Disbelief: In the fight at the Axis Chemical Plant, Batman deflects a bullet off of his steel gauntlet. I don't know which makes less sense; deflecting a bullet, or going around wearing steel gauntlets. Can bullets be deflected by steel anyway?
- Woman in White: Vicki wears a white dress, jacket and shoes at the climax of the 1989 film. By the end of the scene, she's lost the jacket and the shoes, and the dress is noticeably dirtied. Coincidence?
- Would Hurt a Child: Jack Napier attempted to murder Bruce Wayne shortly after he murdered his parents. Although he ultimately didn't go through with it due to his accomplice, the mere fact that he attempted to do so, and gave a nightmarish grin while doing so indicates that Jack Napier had absolutely no problem hurting or murdering children.
- You Killed My Parents: The Joker, while he was still Jack Napier, murdered young Bruce Wayne's parents while he was a child, and came very close to murdering Bruce Wayne himself as well that same time. The experience, just like in the comics (minus the Joker's involvement), turned Bruce Wayne into Batman, and during the final confrontation between himself and the Joker, he flat out tells Joker that Joker murdered his parents, meaning they created each other.
- You Wouldn't Hit a Guy with Glasses: The Joker actually puts on glasses and says this to Batman during their final confrontation. Batman promptly punches the glasses and his face.
- You're Insane!: Ironically, the Joker invokes this on Carl Grissom. Judging by Grissom's behavior, it's easy to point out Grissom was crazier than Jack pre-Joker.