Batman ’89 and Superman ’78, the names given to the 1989 Batman movie directed by Tim Burton and the 1978 film Superman: The Movie directed by Richard Donner, have been officially embraced by DC comics continuity, and their home is now officially on Earth-789.
Unification. What a deliciously warm-feeling word. While it’s always the theme whenever a Crisis story surfaces, this time there’s a sense of it applying to the whole DCU across all storytelling formats, from comics to movies, TV shows and games.
This all hit the news in spectacular way with James Gunn’s movie and TV slate announcement last month, but when it comes to comics, DC welcomed Batman ’89 and Superman ’78 to the world of sequential art in 2022, with two mini-series that told new stories following directly from the movies. Both are available in graphic novels as Batman ’89 Collected Edition and Superman ’78 Collected Edition. Both of these gorgeous books also include celebratory retrospectives of the movies.
What’s exciting is that we can all officially update our personal wiki files to include the news that the movies can be listed under the Earth-789 header, cleverly combining the year dates for the reference number. It all happened in Dark Crisis: Big Bang (2022), the one-shot released in the aftermath of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 when Pariah resurrected the infinite multiverse which had initially been shut down in Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, and then re-established versions in The New 52 (2007) and Flashpoint (2011).
Seasoned writer Mark Waid has been having all sorts of fun in the DCU recently (see Lazarus Planet) and in the Big Bang one-shot The Flash took a lightning tour through the multiverse directory. Under Earth-789, the description reads:
Superman and Supergirl are Earth’s only powered heroes; Batman’s parents killed by the Joker. (Superman ’78, Batman ’89)”
Interestingly this acknowledges the 1984 Supergirl movie too, so it would suggest that if DC comics wished to revisit Earth-789, writers could pick and choose stories and characters from all the Superman and Batman movies in those franchises. Of course, that’s for speculation. Right now we can be content in the acknowledgment of two classic movies existing in the same world.
We’re all used to living in an age of superhero movies but go back to the days before CGI and they were scarce. Either too expensive to produce, beyond the abilities of special affects and/or a struggle to find the right tone for mass audiences. It’s difficult to think of any movie outside the current era other than these two, that got superheroes so right to be able to set the world alight on such a box office-breaking way – it’s even more amazing that they’re still worth revisiting to this day.
So it’s official – forget the ten-year gap between the two and go ahead and dream of a movie starring Christopher Reve and Michael Keaton, with a soundtrack that manages to combine two of the most recognizable themes in superhero cinema. They could be going through their own version of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns right now!
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