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What The Cast Of Batman Looks Like Today

Comic book adaptations make up a huge portion of the current Hollywood landscape, but back in 1989, the practice was less common. The Dark Knight of the Christopher Nolan films might never have existed if it weren't for Tim Burton's first crack at the character thirty years ago. With the moodiness and distinct visual flavor that have defined Burton's work for decades, Batman was able to move beyond his more family-friendly incarnations and into a complex character that better reflected the contemporary works of comic book luminaries like Frank Miller and Alan Moore. 

Burton's inaugural Batman film would spawn three sequels and inspire the much-beloved Batman: The Animated Series, which has served as a gateway to the comics world for many a millennial. Alongside Burton's stylistic and directorial vision, many incredible actors helped to reestablish the Caped Crusader's influence in popular culture. It's been thirty years since they populated Gotham, so what have all these talented folks been up to more recently?

Michael Keaton - Batman/Bruce Wayne

After having worked with Burton on the creepy cult classic Beetlejuice, Michael Keaton signed on to take the very different role of Bruce Wayne, the billionaire playboy of Gotham who is harboring a dark secret. Batman really highlights our favorite anti-hero's obsessive relationship with the Joker, inspired chiefly by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's 1988 graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke. As such, the film required an actor who could believably act out the inner turmoil of a man who is leading two very different and demanding lives. Keaton had just come off of playing the lead in Clean and Sober, in which his character struggled with a cocaine addiction. This was his first foray into serious drama after having first broken into film in more comedic projects, such as Night Shift and Mr. Mom.

Today, Keaton is still a fairly active Hollywood actor. In recent years, he took on the lead in Birdman, where he played the role of a has-been superhero actor looking to reignite his career. And though Keaton is far from being a has-been in any sense, it is interesting that his own inaugural superhero role gave him the success to propel him into increasingly diverse roles over his four-decade career. He then took on the role of the Vulture in 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming, indicating that he is still game for a little comic book fun. He can next be seen working with Tim Burton again on the director's live-action adaptation of the Disney classic Dumbo.

Jack Nicholson - Joker/Jack Napier

Jack Nicholson had already been a prominent actor in Hollywood for over thirty years by the time he was cast in the role of the Joker, Batman's most recognizable and idolized adversary. This incarnation of the Joker is the first time he is shown as having an alter-ego, that of Jack Napier, a second-in-command gangster who suffers a tragic chemical accident that results in his clownish appearance. The chemicals also disrupt Napier's already fragile sanity, pushing him to adopt the name Joker and commence plans to terrorize the city of Gotham. 

This incarnation of the Joker is also linked to the death of Bruce Wayne's parents, and therefore indirectly responsible for Batman's existence, a plot point invented for the film. Nicholson has long been praised for bringing a specific brand of manic terror to the role of the Joker that would pave the way for later interpretations, both on screen and in comics to this very day.

It's been nearly a decade since Nicholson has appeared in a film, and seeing that he will be turning 82 this year, it makes sense that he might want a break from his very illustrious career. He has, however, shown up as a celebrity guest on various award ceremonies and talk shows, and even on Saturday Night Live's 40th anniversary episode in 2015. For the most part, though, it seems that he will be enjoying retirement for the foreseeable future.

Kim Basinger - Vicki Vale

'80s sex symbol Kim Basinger was brought onto the Batman set on short notice, when actress Sean Young had to back out of the role after an unfortunate accident. Basinger had gotten her film debut with the 1981 film Hard Country, and then a couple years later had the opportunity play a Bond Girl opposite Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again. As Vicki Vale, Basinger is a stalwart photo journalist looking to crack a story on the mysterious Gotham vigilante known as Batman. She becomes romantically entangled with Bruce Wayne, ignorant of his nighttime crime-fighting escapades. And of course, the Joker becomes obsessed with her, drawing her further into the dangers of investigative reporting.

Basinger continues to appear in film and on television between acting hiatuses, though Batman remains the highest-grossing film of her career thus far. As she has aged, she's made the shift from playing sexy femmes fatale to wives and mothers, though she says that she is interested in seeing more film collaborations between women, and about women's friendships. She has also spent a great deal of her time and energy as a single mom to her daughter, Ireland.

Robert Wuhl - Alexander Knox

Robert Wuhl played Vicki Vale's journalistic partner, Alexander Knox, a man who fervently chases every lead he can about the enigmatic Batman, much to most of his coworkers' chagrin. When he meets Vale, he is buoyed by the fact that she is also interested in the mysterious figure, and he convinces her to work together on the story. Though Knox was never fated to get the girl, he was very much embroiled in the action of defending Gotham from the Joker's evil plot.

After spending six years in the lead role sports of the comedy show Arli$$, Wuhl disappeared from acting for about five years. He came back in 2007 to appear in mostly TV shows and shorts, and he produced and directed the TV documentary shorts Assume the Position with Mr. Wuhl and Assume the Position 201 with Mr. Wuhl, wherein he comedically explored some of the myths of American history. His most recent acting role was as a guest voice on American Dad! in 2017.

Pat Hingle - Commissioner Gordon

It's just not possible to have a Batman film without James Gordon, the Gotham City police commissioner and friend of the Dark Knight. Like Jack Nicholson, actor Pat Hingle was already an established actor for decades before he took on the role of this oldest of Batman's allies (Commissioner Gordon appeared in Detective Comics #27, which was also the first appearance of Batman himself). 

At the outset of Burton's film, Gordon is skeptical Batman's existence entirely, feeling that if he does exist, he's a lawless vigilante who is making detective work harder for the police. Of course, by the end of the film, he has embraced the Bat and introduced that most identifiable of symbols, the Bat-Signal.

Hingle would play Commissioner Gordon again in Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin. He also appeared in many beloved TV series, such as Murder, She Wrote and Gunsmoke. Later in his life, he became a favorite pick for roles of authority figures such as police officers, military personnel, and judges. His final film role was in 2008 as a judge in Undoing Time, just before he was unfortunately diagnosed with myelodysplasia, a type of blood cancer. He died on January 3, 2009, aged 84.

Billy Dee Williams - Harvey Dent

Best known for his portrayal of Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars series, Billy Dee Williams played the pre-Two-Face district attorney Harvey Dent in Batman. Dent's goal as an elected official in Gotham is to bring the law down on mob boss Carl Grissom, played by Jack Palance. Unfortunately, his role is small and Williams did not return for the role of Dent in 1995's Batman Forever, the role instead going to Tommy Lee Jones, denying audiences a chance to see Williams' transformation from serious government official into frenzied villain. Williams was able to take on Two-Face in The Lego Batman Movie in 2017, much to the joy of many fans-in-the-know.

Williams has had a consistent and steady career in both film and television since his start in 1959's The Last Angry Man. Lucky Star Wars fans have been delighted to learn that he'll be back as Lando Calrissian for Episode IX. Aside from his acting credentials, Williams is also an accomplished painter whose work even hangs in the National Portrait Gallery!

Michael Gough - Alfred Pennyworth

Where would Bruce Wayne be without his trusted butler and father figure, Alfred Pennyworth? And who better to portray him than the extraordinarily distinguished British actor Michael Gough? Gough was quite well-established in 1989, having a strong resume of Hammer Horror films under his belt, alongside roles in classics like Alice in Wonderland and Orlando. As Alfred, he helps to establish that fond fatherly bond with Bruce Wayne that continues to define the duo in all of their on-screen incarnations to this day.

Gough would continue to portray Alfred in the remaining Batman films of the '90s, and would work with director Tim Burton again in Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride, and a remake of Alice in Wonderland. He was favored in horror and mystery projects, and the dark conflict of Batman fit in well with his legacy. Gough died of pneumonia in 2011 at the age of 94, following a battle with prostate cancer the year before. He had a long and storied career, working right up until his illness got the better of him.

Jack Palance - Carl Grissom

Gotham City is notorious for its incredible crime rate, endlessly fed by crime bosses like Carl Grissom, played by Jack Palance. He was already a well-established actor, known especially for playing the less-than-savory roles in westerns and melodramas. As such, he was a perfect pick for Grissom, the most powerful crime lord in Gotham before Batman's appearance on the scene. He employed Jack Napier, whom he discovered was romantically involved with his own mistress, Alicia Hunt. Grissom would eventually become the first victim of Napier's new identity, as the Joker took over his illustrious position as most influential and terrifying crime boss in the city.

At the turn of the 21st century, Palance helped found the Hollywood Trident Foundation, to provide access and information for entertainment professionals who are interested in Ukrainian affairs (Palance was Ukrainian, born Volodymyr Palahniuk). In the final years of his life, Palance was still playing ne'er-do-wells like Scrooge in Ebenezer (a western-style adaptation of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol) and Long John Silver in Treasure Island. He died in 2006, at the age of 87.

Jerry Hall - Alicia Hunt

Jerry Hall, in her blonde, nearly-six-foot glory, was cast to play the mistress of both a mob boss and his second-in-command. Already quite a prolific model who had graced the covers of numerous magazines and with a handful of acting credits under her fashionable belt, she was the perfect pick to play the glamorous model Alicia Hunt. While Hunt has a heated affair with Jack Napier, things go sour after his transformation into the Joker, and her stunning looks pay the price when the newly cracked villain turns her face into a living "art project."

Hall's acting credits are few but steady, with new roles every year or two. Other than acting, she's performed country and western music with her band at the Glastonbury Festival in 2014. She's very proud that her daughters, Elizabeth and Georgia May, have followed in her footsteps as models. And though she is now 62 years old, it looks like she's taking on more acting again, her most recent role being that of Ms. Georgia Lake in the drama Hellbent.

Tracey Walter - Bob the Goon

If a crime lord needs a mistress, he also needs a henchman, and Tracey Walter is one of the best at playing such roles. As Bob the Goon, he is a close friend and right-hand-man to the Joker — until the Joker decides he doesn't need Bob's services anymore, of course. Bob has to do a lot of the Joker's dirty work, scouting out new digs, chasing the Batmobile, and delivering suspicious packages.

Walter has had a busy 45-year-long career and appeared in many other nerdy fan favorites, such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Justice League TV series. His last acting role was as a homeless man in 2016's Wakefield. Since he's mostly a character actor known for those minor parts that spice up a film or television show, there isn't a lot of hot celebrity gossip going around as to where he's been these last few years. But at 71 years old, and after 100 acting roles, it might be safe to say that it's time for him to get some well-earned rest.

William Hootkins - Max Eckhardt

Lieutenant Max Eckhardt is one of Gotham City Police Department's finest. That is to say, he's a relentlessly dirty cop who does a little side work for crime boss Carl Grissom. He gets involved in a ploy to lure Jack Napier out and kill him on behalf of Grissom, but the plan itself goes horribly awry when Commissioner Gordon makes it to the scene. Eckhardt isn't part of the film's proceedings for very long, but his presence is an important one, as his involvement is indirectly responsible for the Joker's transformation. He is portrayed by well-known character actor William "Hoot" Hootkins.

Hootkins had already been involved with other big blockbuster films like the Star Wars: A New Hope, Flash Gordon, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. He would take on roles in not only film, but in television and video game voice acting. His last role was in the 2005 film Color Me Kubrick. Hootkins died in 2005 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.