TV, Film, and Entertainment News Daily

Movie Legends Revealed: Was Vicki Vale Originally Going to Die in 1989’s ‘Batman’?

vicki-vale4-social

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Vicki Vale was originally going to die at the end of the 1989 film “Batman.”

One of the more difficult decisions a filmmaker can make is whether to kill off major characters. Often, those originally intended to die on screen are “saved” later in the filmmaking process – for instance, Robin Williams’ character in “Dead Poet’s Society,” Duke in “G.I. Joe: The Movie” and even Han Solo in “Return of the Jedi.” Was Vicki Vale, Batman’s love interest in Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster “Batman,” another example? Was Kim Basinger’s character initially intended to die in the film?

In the simplest form, the answer is no, because in Sam Hamm’s original draft of the script, Vicki survives “Batman.” At the end of the film, it’s Vicki’s co-worker Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) who dies at the hands of the Joker (Jack Nicholson). Batman (Michael Keaton) is badly injured stopping the Joker, and the film ends with Vicki helping him to recover. Here’s the scene from the script:

VICKI
I don’t know why I’m doing this. I
half wish you’d stay a cripple.

BRUCE
Ohhhh… you don’t mean that.

VICKI
(grasping for words)
I don’t, but… I do. It’s just… I
love you, Bruce. I —

BRUCE
(taking her hand)
Vicki. Do you love half of me? Or
all of me?

A hard question for VICKI to answer. She thinks it over for
several beats, then SMILES… SLOWLY, SADLY.

VICKI
I guess you did it, didn’t you. You
saved everyone.
(pause)
Almost.

For a moment he stares deeply into her eyes. Then he pulls
her over, takes her in a tight embrace.

BRUCE
I don’t know how to explain this so
it makes sense… but you saved
me.

vicki vale3

In addition, none of the other publicly available revisions to Hamm’s script involves Vicki dying. So the answer is a pretty clear no. However, it’s worth noting the film went through many revisions, and some notable scenes were basically improvised as producer Jon Peters and Burton clashed over how it should end. Therefore, I think it’s very likely that, at one point, they were planning on killing off Vicki Vale.

In his excellent book, “Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer,” Tom Shone wrote about the massive confusion surrounding “Batman’s” finale:

Things finally came to a head at the climax of the movie, in which Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) was to have been killed by the Joker, sending Batman into a vengeful fury. Peters decided that audiences wouldn’t accept Batman beating up a 50-year-old man, and so without telling Burton, he reworked it: the Joker would take Vale captive, and drag her up to the top of Gotham cathedral’s bell tower.

It would require an additional 38-foot model of the cathedral – costing $100,000, when they were already well over budget. Burton hated the idea, having no clue how the scene would end: “Here were Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger walking up this cathedral, and halfway up Jack turns around and says, ‘Why am I walking up all these stairs? Where am I going?”‘ “We’ll talk about it when you get to the top!” Burton called back.

“I had to tell him that I didn’t know,” Burton recalled. “The most frightening experience of my life. I knew they had to go up to the bell tower and they better do something up there. That was always a given. But what? Help me! Help me! It was one of those nightmares where you’re feeling big and small at the same time. Here you’ve got this big production with all these people waiting around and you’re supposed to be shooting this sequence that suddenly goes wrong. I thought, ‘My God, why didn’t I see it to begin with? How did I let this happen?

vicki vale1

Shone goes on to tell an amusing story about how frustrated Nicholson eventually became with the shoot, especially when he felt Peters had reneged on a deal to foot the bill for special leather jackets for the crew. Go read his book!

In their book on Jon Peters (and Peters’ longtime production partner, Peter Guber), “Hit and Run,” Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters also wrote that Peters changed the ending of the film to keep Vicki alive, as the producer presumed audiences would be horrified by her death (also, because the film suggests the Joker killed Batman’s parents, did Batman really need extra motivation to hate him?). So I tend to believe that, yes, at one point, Vicki Vale was going to die in the film. However, I think things were in such flux that I doubt it was ever firmly established in Burton’s mind that she was going to be killed off.

In either event, the legend is…

STATUS: False (with some truth mixed in there)

Thanks to Tom Shone, Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters for the information regarding the ending of the film.

Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of films. And click here for legends just about Batman!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

Comments

  • JEREMY

    SO glad they reworked the script.
    In so doing, a franchise was born.
    Now watch Ben Affleck ruin it.
    It would have been better to let the Batman movies rest after the
    Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale trilogy.

    Then just go ahead with ‘WONDER WOMAN’ (minus the Justice League).
    Diana, in her mortal identity, could be the CEO of a cosmetics firm
    called Themyscira(‘their motto:’In Beauty,there is Strength’).
    Like Tony Stark, she could have an active love life, frequently dating Bruce Wayne(Bale), Clark Kent(Tom Welling),or whoever she chooses.
    She can have a special comm system in her home to speak with her sisters
    on their island when necessary.

    Now wouldn’t this be a MUCH BETTER story treatment than what DC is doing
    in their movies?
    Finally,let’s have AN UNKNOWN ACTRESS PLAY WONDER WOMAN.
    Just like Christopher Reeve virtually came out of nowhere and made
    “SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE” the classic that still endures today.

    Alright,let’s have some feedback here.

    Couldn’t this work? I think so. How about you?

  • Adam Dale

    Aha! Great stuff! So, in between fucking a buncha guys and running a makeup company (great, practical cover!), she uses her secret phones (maybe disguised as a big black dildo in her underwear drawer?) to tell all her cock-hungry pals on a magical island about how prettier makeup makes you feel and how great receiving the peen is. The unknown actress I suggest is Bailey Jay, and I propose a slight change in the title. I’m thinking “Wonder Woman?!”, with the interrobang.

    No need to thank me.

  • Adam Dale

    Aha! Great stuff! So, in between fucking a buncha guys and running a makeup company (great, practical cover!), she uses her secret phones (maybe disguised as a big black dildo in her underwear drawer?) to tell all her cock-hungry pals on a magical island about how prettier makeup makes you feel and how great receiving the peen is. The unknown actress I suggest is Bailey Jay, and I propose a slight change in the title. I’m thinking “Wonder Woman?!”, with the interrobang.

    No need to thank me.

  • mel

    Isn’t this the plot to the unaired CW pilot?
    She was a business woman or something?

  • Michael Lukash

    No.

    Aren’t you glad you asked?

  • Cory McCasland

    To get back to the subject and away from petty little fanboys being just that, I seem to recall one of the earlier scripts (back when it was more Superman-esque and had Robin) Silver St. Thorne died. Maybe Burton wanted to keep that but for Vale.

  • Cory McCasland

    To get back to the subject and away from petty little fanboys being just that, I seem to recall one of the earlier scripts (back when it was more Superman-esque and had Robin) Silver St. Thorne died. Maybe Burton wanted to keep that but for Vale.

  • http://www.brooklyngrey.com Brooklyn Grey

    The fact you mentioned Bailey Jay, you win in my book, hahahaha

  • HumorPrint

    No, this would not work. Your day job is secure.

  • HumorPrint

    I cannot get behind those who say that the Keaton Batman films are superior to the Nolan films. I was 12 when the 1989 Batman film came out and it blew my mind. Loved it. It was the first VHS I actually went out and bought and I wore that sucker out. Yet I still find Bale’s Batman superior and the handling by Nolan. It made the franchise more grounded and real and less of a lampoon. Now when I go back and watch the older Batman, it’s almost campy and hard to watch. (Especially the 2nd one) I really am not a fan of the Keaton Batman portrayal. I love Michael Keaton, but he acts the same in his movies and I do not see Bruce Wayne when I watch him. I see Mr. Mom or Johnny Dangerously. Will Batfleck be up there? I have my doubts, but I think I will at least wait until the movie is out to declare it a disaster. I have hopes that Wonder Woman will surprise me and that as a cohesive whole, the movie(s) will work.

  • Elias Algorithm

    Silver St. CLOUD. She was working for Rupert Thorne in that draft.

  • Jon Williams

    *YAWN*

    You’re boring. Tom Welling sucks. Wonder Woman as a cosmetics CEO and a Tony Stark-like character sounds like the exact opposit of what she should be. I’m not sure I fully disagree about Batman, but what they’re doing is okay.