Tim Burton's Batman Was A Potential Career-Killer For The Top Brass At Warner Bros.

It may seem strange now, but there was a time when superhero movies weren't taken seriously in the movie industry. After all, superheroes and the comics they originated from were often seen as fluff entertainment, primarily for children and teenagers. Movies like "Superman" and pretty much anything released by Marvel at this time solidified this.

This perception began to change in 1989 when Tim Burton's darkly comic take on "Batman" hit theaters. Although it was still tongue-in-cheek, Burton's version of Gotham was distinct in its moodiness, proving that comic books can be adapted into adult-oriented entertainment. However, the higher-ups at Warner Bros. were allegedly bracing for its failure, at least according to the 2016 book "Hit and Run" by Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters. The book centers around the rollercoaster careers of producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber, whose big gamble on the film was shrouded in skepticism throughout the Warner Bros. lot. In fact, it was so intense that there were some less-than-hopeful rumors circulating around.

"A make-or-break atmosphere prevailed at Warner before Batman's opening," wrote Griffin and Masters, "where there were rumors that executives' heads would roll if the movie was a box-office disappointment."

The rest is history

It's not like these fears weren't exactly warranted. During its production, the film's budget ballooned up to $48 million due to Peters and Guber's expanding vision. Keep in mind, the original budget for the film was slated to be $30 million, but the last-minute changes the duo wanted to see in the final product caused a lot of headaches for Burton.

"Torture," he is quoted as saying in "Hit and Run" while describing the shoot. "The worst period of my life."

For pretty much any other production, the fears of doom and gloom would have been warranted. However, in the case of "Batman," it turned out that the talk about firings was a bit dramatic – the film's opening weekend smashed box office records at the time, grossing $42.7 million across the United States and hitting the $100 million mark ten days later. By every account, "Batman" was a success, and it kicked off a brand new era of superhero media that wasn't afraid to get dark.

However, with the success of the film now proven, a new problem arose. Who exactly was responsible for making the film a reality? According to "Hit and Run," Peters promoted himself as the single creative mind behind the project, saying that he "blustered to anyone who would listen that he had written, directed, cast, and single-handedly marketed the film." While this sounds and is a pretty egotistical move, it certainly sounds like a move Jon Peters would make.